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Life After Little Else......
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig!
08/23/2011, Ardfern

Last Wednesday was a lovely day, and we set off from Kerrera (Oban) about 8am and motored south in 2 to 3 knots of north-westerly breeze. It was sunny and visibility was good. We reached Fladda light before the beneficial effects of the south-going tide speeded us up from our usual 5knots to a record 12 knots over the ground! At the same time the wind rose so we hoisted sail, and covered the rest of the distance through the Dorus Mor and up Loch Craignish under sail.

We spent the night on the mooring, and put the boat on the pontoon on Thursday to offload most of our stuff, and change diesel and oil filters on the engine. After that I had the exhilerating experience of single-handing the boat for the first time ever from pontoon back to mooring, which I managed to pick up at the first attempt! Decidedly something I want to do more of, single-handing, I mean.

We spent the weekend in Edinburgh, then got back to attack the washing, and the garden, in that order!

More journeys soon, once the washing dries!

Little Detour!
08/15/2011, Oban

We set out from Lochaline in sunshine, with not very much wind, then none at all, then lots. The engine was on, off, the sails were up, rolled away, up again. It kept us busy! The tide was with us as we barrelled down the Sound of Mull towards Duart Castle, crossing the path of the car ferry on the way. As we headed out of the Sound, however, the wind increased, so we put reefs in the sails, and altered course to head for Puilladobhrain (pronounced Pulldoran, pool of the otters), a favourite anchorage for west coast yotties.
The wind was not forecast to be strong, but nevertheless suddenly it was, and we had fun trying to stay on course as the spring tide met the oncoming wind and gave us surf like Bondi Beach. Little Else definitely does not like the nodding donkey style of sailing, bows plunged into each following wave, showers of spray everywhere, and seemingly no way to make it all stop and go away!
We stood it for a while, then decided to turn and head for Oban instead. Instantly everything was better, and amazingly the tide seemed still to be with us, as our SOG - speed over the ground - was still 6 or 7 knots!
Into a welcome berth in the marina, where we booked in then went for a lovely seafood lunch - grilled oysters with cream, garlic and parmesan - yum!

We'll see what the weather does tomorrow!

This is Connor playing on a swing a couple of weeks ago

One fast week
08/09/2011, Tobermory

Gairloch was lovely, and we had a fine sunny day to head south down the Inner Sound and through the Skye Bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh. The small pontoon was crowded, there was just one space, on the inner side of the pontoon, in what looked like no water at all. A fellow yachtie appeared and encouraged us to go there, as there was enough depth. He was right, and we stayed there overnight, warping the boat round in the morning so she would be easier to get out of the confined space.

We set off through Kylerhea with the tide on Sunday afternoon, and sailed with genoa only for a long way down the Sound of Sleat, when the wind died and we motorsailed to Mallaig.

When we got there all the moorings were occupied, some with very small obviously locally-owned inflatables. The 12 'visitors' moorings aren't really that at all. We were invited to raft up to another yacht we had seen in Kyle, so we did so, and settled down for the night. Around four in the morning the forecast strong wind arrived. I couldn't get back to sleep so I got up and kept watch for a while, then went back to bed. Later, around 9am, the boat lurched suddenly and we knew that the mooring line had parted, and we were now tearing free from our ropes to the other boat. Very quickly we got the engine started, the crew of the other boat surfaced and helped us pull the ropes in again, so we could try to reconnect to the mooring buoy. After a lot of motoring forward and jousting with the Moorfast boathook, we managed to get a thin rope through the mooring buoy pickup, then replaced it by our wonderful rope and chain spliced mooring rope, tied it off over the bow roller, and relaxed a bit.

The large thick blue rope we had been attached to had simply unknotted itself over the hours we had been attached to it, and simply let go!

As the mooring our rafted-up boats were attached to was the rearmost in the harbour, we had only around thirty metres of water separating us from the shingle shore, and if our springs and stern line had parted at the same time before we could start the engine, well, we would have been in schtuck! But hey, it happened during daylight, not the middle of the night, and we had enough people to deal with the situation, so it was a success.

Mallaig's much-vaunted new pontoon layout is only now taking shape, but is not yet available for yachts to berth at. The project is running late, and we felt sorry for a number of yachts who came into the harbour today, in fairly choppy conditions, only to find that there were no available moorings for them, short of rafting up on a fishing boat, so they had to leave again and find another anchorage.

It is getting noticeably colder at nights now, and the high winds have accentuated that. Time to dig out the thermals again!

On TUesday we set off at 9am down towards Eigg and Muck and Ardnamurchan Point. Half the journey was under sail, for a change, as we had enough wind to sail by. By 3.30 we were in Tobermory, one week to the day since we left Stromness! How about that?

08/09/2011 | colin and Nichola Yacht Emerald
Great to hear you've made it so far south! We are still stuck in Kirkwall, having taken the one opportunity to get north from Stromness. we're now going to try to get south to the East Coast, having that gales for days!
Fair winds
Colin and Nichola

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