We have had a world of firsts on Ruffian recently. Not firsts of the usual kind when we have been thrashing boats around race courses, but the sort of firsts which fall into the new experience category and are so much more memorable for it. There has been a first year anniversary of boat ownership, we've sailed in our first gale force 8, we have weathered out our first (and fingers crossed last) severe gale force 9, and the real big first is that Iain has admitted that he should really wash his thermals more often.
We had seen that the weather forecast was predicting 50 knots+ of breeze in the outer isles and cowardice proved to be the better form of valour with us starting our push south where we would 'only' be expecting 40. We wanted to get to Tobermory which would be sheltered from the westerlies but before that we had to get there. So just imagine the feeling of lying in a nice warm bed in harbour in Arisaig and just outside you can hear the howling wind and lashing of rain, mix that with the sub zero temperatures and you'll very much want to snuggle down and have a duvet day. This however couldn't happen on Ruffian.
We begrudgingly left Arisaig and immediately were greeted with the splendour of blue skies, lots of breeze from the North (the most comfortable, albeit cold, direction) and 4 tornado's giving us a flypast. This was going to be a good day. The sail to Ardnamurchan point, Britain's most westerly point and then into Tobermory was downhill and it was easy to ignore that we were actually sailing in a gale. This seemed so easy and Ruffian, as ever, looked after us.
With the expected severe gale 9 coming, Tobermory harbour was quickly filling up and all preparations were being made, boats were literally battening down the hatches. The rain came with the breeze and high above in the cliffs we could see the tree's taking a battering. Onboard Ruffian all was serene as the breeze flew over the top of our mast. We were however boat bound. Being boat bound is in some respects similar to being in prison. The primary difference is that prisoners are let out for ½ an hour of exercise a day and their cells are heated. All those on board Ruffian were not treated to such luxuries as we stayed happily on the boat whiling away the hours.
Whilst we were happily sitting safely in Tobermory harbour we realised that we have now been boat owners now for a year and what a year it has been. This time last year we were just getting ready to move back into London to refurbish the flat and rent Sunnyside, we had no idea how to run or maintain a boat and we both had proper jobs and were full time contributing members of society. We had no idea if this journey could happen how it would go and where it would lead. The destination is still unknown but the journey is proving amazing in ways you can only imagine.
Iain with his teeny tiny scallop......
And Fiona with her monster.
The very very windy downwind sail around Britain's most westerly point.
We squeezed in a walk around some deserted crofts before the storm. The clearances were a shocking period in our history. Fiona loves looking around these old buildings.
Nature taking over completely.
Iain with Ardnamurchan point in the background.
Larry looking cool and feeling great with Ardnamurchan point behind.
The storm hits and the visibility closes in. The waves were blown flat in the Sound of Mull.
The front passed at 1930 and bought with it a period of sunshine.
This is what hit us. We were where the 'orange'rain and heaps of wind is.