But not quite yet....
22 July 2007
Tuesday 17 July
A lovely morning, so we set off after breakfast to go to the small island of Gometra, on the west coast of Mull, passing the Treshnish Isles on the way. At lunchtime I hove the boat to, sitting where I could lean against the tiller to keep it steady, and we had smoked mackerel and bread and butter. It was absolutely delicious! We carried on, beating towards Lunga, the largest island in the group, then motored for fifty minutes or so to pass through the gap between it and the Dutchman's Cap, and then motorsailed towards Gometra as the wind died away. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the sea was flat calm. We were the first boat into the anchorage at the south of Gometra, and we savoured the isolation and beauty of the place for all of half an hour before the first of five other boats arrived and anchored round the small bay. But everyone was in the spell of the place as much as we were, and it remained quiet, one of the most peaceful anchorages of our trip.
Wednesday 18 July
Another lovely morning, with little or no wind. So we upped the anchor and motored south towards the Sound of Iona. This was the first time we had gone through the Sound, so we had spent some considerable time looking at pilot books, plotting waypoints and entering them onto the GPS, and we felt ready to negotiate this tricky stretch of water, which has some very shallow patches in it. All went well until I spotted that one of the waypoints was not looking right, and Ju scuttled down below to double check coordinates. I had entered it wringly into the GPS apparently. So she fixed that, and we continued our journey, with my eye rarely leaving the depth meter, as it read alarmingly low numbers. Another waypoint was wrong, which didn't help. We motored past the entrance to Bull Hole and spotted Jane-O's cottage, and then towards Foinnphort where a multitude of tourists and tourist buses and cars were milling about waiting for the Iona ferry, and I looked behind us at one of the other boats from Gometra anchorage. It was apparently ignoring all the shallow patches and barrelling down the sound under full sail, right down the middle!
When we were clear of buoys and rocks, we hoisted sail also and followed our planned track to pass clear of the Torran Rocks. The wind gradually went directly behind us, so I had the dilemma of whether or not to use the cruising chute. Instead I opted to rig a preventer on the main, and pole out the genoa, which we reefed slightly as our pole is a bit small. We pootled along nicely in this fashion for some while, passing one of the two new cardinal buoys. Another amazing smoked mackerel lunch followed, then I noticed a yacht motoring towards us at approximately 45 degrees on a collision course. I watched, fascinated, as it got nearer and nearer. With a preventer rigged and a poled-out genoa, my options were limited, but I was definitely under sail! He was motoring! Didn't he have a copy of the colregs aboard? Hadn't he read them? He came on and on, and I could see that he was in the cockpit, and could see us plainly, but still no alteration of course. When he was within fifty metres of hitting us, I pulled the tiller towards me and went parallel to him for a little, and he carried straight on across our bows, missing us by about twenty metres. Ju waved at them, but I couldn't even bring myself to look at them as they went by. I won't name the boat here, but they know who they are!
We were heading for a small anchorage called Ardalanish, which Sam had told us about during our weekend on the gaff-rigged pilot cutter Ezra. We hadn't thought there were any good anchorages on the Ross of Mull, but this one looked good. We found our way in, but not before the only shower in miles hit us spectacularly so fast we didn't have time to put on our oilies. From bright sunshine to soaked to the skin in two minutes! Wow! The sea looked pockmarked! We dropped the Rocna right in the middle of the small anchorage, and tried to guess how many other boats would join us. Ju took Tessie ashore in the afternoon, quite a difficult landing as it is all rocks, and took her boots and socks off to get on to the rocks. I looked over a little later and she was having a brief dip in the water. Very nice!
As time went by another five boats arrived. One, from France, anchored so close to us I was moved to go up the deck and ask if they didn't think they were a bit close. A chance to practise my French, I thought. They were fine about it, asked me how much chain we had out, and said they had the same, and we should all be fine but they would keep an eye on it, as the wind was forecast to go round to the east during the night.
Later one of the six men aboard brought us over a bottle of claret, as a gift, to apologise for causing us concern. And while Ju was ashore with Tessie they did move their anchor forward about twent metres, so we were OK after all.
Thursday 19 July
A quiet night, and I woke up to realise Ju wasn't there. She appeared in the doorway and informed me that she coudln't put her weight on her right foot, her foot was painful, and she had been up since four unable to sleep because of the pain. There was nothing to see really except a couple of scratches on the side of the foot, no swelling, no inflammation. I got up and boiled a kettle, and got her to put her foot in a warm bath. It seemed to help a little. But not much.
I took the decision to head home, as I felt that the injury required medical attention, and the Ross of Mull is pretty remote from any possible source of help in that direction. So I took Tessie ashore, then streamed the dinghy, and we set off under engine. I had reckoned that if we could make Fladda by 12 or 12.30 we could get through the Dorus.
The wind was easterly and not very strong, but we did 5.5 through the water, and the tide along the Ross of Mull gave us a boost so we did 6.1 over the ground, and so there was no problem. Ju went below and slept a little, and when she came up we were nearly past Belnahua.
I left her on the helm as we went down the Sound of Luing at 11 knots, and I made some lunch. So that was how our holiday trip ended, with Ju having another foot bath once we were safely on our home mooring, and then with me driving her to A&E in Lochgilphead, from where she emerged on crutches with her foot bound up in bandages, and an instruction to come back in the morning for an X-ray. We stopped for fish and chips on the way home. End of the holiday!
Friday 20 July
A quick trip by car into Lochgilphead, and Ju had her X-ray done, which was clear. She came out without the crutches and we drove down to Skipness for lunch at the Seafood Cabin - excellent food. It was a little cold, however, and eating outdoors was a bit of a challenge. We came back to Ardfern via the Coop in Lochgilphead, and bought some fresh supplies. We decided to spend the night at home, then go down to Lussa Bay in Little Else tomorrow morning early, as it would be Ju's birthday and it is becoming rather a tradition to spend it at Lussa.
Saturday 21 July
Hardly a breath of wind as we motored down all the way to Lussa Bay, taking a more direct route across the tide north of Ruadh Sgeir, just to see if we could, and it worked very well. Though we did see a pot buoy being dragged down by the strength of the tidal current just north of Ruadh Sgeir.
We had Lussa Bay to ourselves for a little while, in perfect sunny conditions, then Stralsund appeared and anchored near us. We went over for pre-dinner drinks and had a chat with Irene and Maitland. The wind did not strengthen above three or four knots all day or all evening, so we had a very comfortable night at anchor. I baked some chocolate brownies and stuck a birthday candle in the top, and that was Ju's birthday cake!
Sunday 22 July
Another lovely day, with hardly any wind, so we simply motored back up to Ardfern behind the islands and began to tidy up the boat a little after our four weeks of living aboard her. Ju is back at work tomorrow morning, and I'll be taking Tessie to have a hair cut, but then I will get on with all the things that I have been postponing until the end of the trip, like servicing the engine and changing the oil, servicing the heads pump which has been a bit iffy this trip, and sorting out the autopilot which does not seem to be coping well at all with following a waypointed route. But that is definitely the end of the annual four weeks on board. We may well sail her next weekend, weather permitting, and weekends after that, then we have a week booked in September. Great. So it's goodbye from her and it's goodbye from me for now.