For a number of weeks now on board Ruffian we've been lugging around quite an exotic pet. More exotic even than Larry, who is quite exotic being a llama and from South America. The exotic creature that we've been lugging about is a metaphorical one being an elephant and he's been sitting right in the middle of the salon. The elephant was being quite successfully ignored until we met Euan and Julia. We have now however tackled the elephant and come to some decisions about our future on Ruffian. We will come to what this decision is in due course.
Having arrived in Loch Harport successfully we put the hook down infront of the Talisker Distillery. What a great backdrop and what a great smell the brewing gave to Ruffian. Iain went to school up the hill from the Gales Ales brewery in Hampshire and was constantly being reminded of childhood memories whenever there was a gust of wind. With the smell being so prevalent we had to join the tourist trail and go on a tour.
On the tour we learnt lots about the process of making whisky but primarily Fiona decided that she likes the smell of beer above that of whisky and Iain found out that the reason why he doesn't like whisky is because it tastes of mud - read peat, and wood - read oak barrels. Clearly all those on board Ruffian are not connoisseurs of whisky, although as expected, Larry had a tipple and again embarrassed himself. Bad llama.
So onto the elephant. We decamped for the evening from Ruffian, to clear our minds of the jobs list, and gravitated to the local pub, with its excellent beer, to enable us to answer the question 'Just how far north are we going?' This is a question we've been asking since we arrived in Scotland all those weeks ago. We've already pushed back the journey south by months which has meant we will have to take public transport to be in Salcome for a wedding June, but just when should we head south? We now had lots of options due to charts and lots of places we wanted to go, both north, south and West of the Talisker distillery.
We sat down in the pub with the charts, pilot books, the internet, tidal atlases, and scribbled notes with the goal of not leaving the pub until we had a plan. Slowly a plan formed, amongst lots of funny looks and we realised just how much we want to see south of Skye, so as of our next sail we are officially heading south. We were also aware that we didn't want to risk getting 'stuck' on one of the outer isles and we also had a forecast for the next seven days. The forecast in many ways sealed things. The outer isles will be seeing 45 knots on Sunday with 30 knots for the days before and after, the Isle of Mull will only be seeing 30 knots with sailable conditions before and after. South it is then to Mull. Our time northing has been amazing and it's been getting better and better the further north we go, we are sure however that there are as many undiscovered gems south of us as there are north.
The first of those gems was given to us with our glamour sail south from Skye. It's not often that you can hurtle effortlessly downwind, in fair tide and sunshine all day long. We were going so fast that we arrived at Arisaig an hour early and had to wait off for enough water for us to berth in this fair harbour.
So the next week's plans are all based upon the low low pressure system that is to the north of us. We're expecting heaps and heaps of wind and buckets and buckets of rain, consequently we are, as ever, making haste for somewhere safe and sheltered.
Larry sampling the local brew again.
Fixin' 'n' Fettlin' on Ruffian. This time the dinghy bag.
The Cuillin Hills stopped all the clouds, rain and wind.
A great sail south. Too fast for fishing.
Sailing in the sunshine with heaps of wind.
Sunset in Arisaig harbour.
Sunny, sunny, sunny.
We finally have some literal sundowners.
Red sky at night, the barns alight, red sky in the mornin', the barns still burnin'.