Inshore waters forecast. "Mull of Kintyre to Ardnamurchan point. Strong wind warning." This is the opening sentence that we have got very much used to on Ruffian ever since we sought shelter all those days ago in Arisaig and then Tobermory, we have heard it every single day, morning and evening. That was until the wind abated whilst we were lying at anchor in Port Ramsay, Lismore and we were once again able to enjoy exploring in sunshine, walking in sunshine, sailing in sunshine and getting scared in the sunshine. More of that later.
With the sun making its presence very much felt it was time to go for a monster walk on Lismore. This is an amazing island. I am sure that many of you will have heard about Iona being the cradle of Christianity in the western isles. Well little did you know that Lismore Cathedral was founded before the Abbey on Iona by a rival monk, the only problem was that he lacked sufficient PR to make it known to the wider world. We took in 2 castles, a restored black house, some stone age brochs, limekilns a plenty and a cathedral. There was also wildlife abound with hares spotted and herds of deer. All within a 10 mile hike from the fair ship. It was so good to use our legs properly again.
From Lismore we made for Dunstaffanage as the marina held 2 key commodities that we've been needing on Ruffian. The first was red diesel, of which we have only used 50 litres since we were in Ireland. Quite amazing. This just goes to show how 'green' sailing is as a transport medium. The second was showers. After washing our 'tans' off Fiona commented that 'My clothes just slip on as I'm not slimy anymore.' It's not that Ruffian's ablutions are not luxurious, it's just that there is nothing like being able to stand under a powerful shower using water that is so precious whilst on board ship. This was the first time we had been among other boats or alongside since we left the Crinan canal only about a month ago, but this feels like a lifetime. Hamble and the Solent seem like a different age altogether. We weren't yet ready for the hustle and bustle of a marina so opted to anchor in the nearby Ardmuchnish Bay in the shadow of Lochnel Castle.
With the sun shining and breeze forecast to die, we planned an early start and a big day of either sailing, or sailing and walking. As we left from Ardmuchnish Bay, we could goto either Loch Spelve and then hike to the castle (to see Isobel's heritage), or anchor in the Black Isles and scavenge for scallops or maybe even push though even further south or west. All options with pretty big pulls. We ended up at the Black Isles where the anchorage is 1 cable wide. As a unit of measure, when you say cable, (if you don't know how big it is) think of the width of an electrical cable. This is how small the anchorage felt. With jaggedy rocks at every turn and heaps of tide we slowly nosed our way in. As we realised just how tiny this anchorage was we started to get a bit scared as rocks and boats are a bad combination. We turned tail and headed west for Carsaig Bay on the south of Mull, here we had only seals for company, birdsong for background music and cliffs, waterfalls, and rocks as a view. En route we even think that we spotted a whale (via the echosounder).
This feels like we are very much off the beaten track and what a great feeling that is after the busyness of Dunstaffenage.
With the weeks drawing into June we're now having to really start thinking about getting back the into the Crinan canal and then 'down south' for the happy occasion of Toby and Ann's wedding in Salcombe, consequently we are not sure what the coming weeks will bring. As always on Ruffian however they will be full of new experiences and we will grow in our confidence each other, the fair ship and that the decisions we make are the right ones.
Ruffian at tucked in at Anchor at Port Ramsay.
Ruins everywhere, particularly on Lismore.
We're just sailing in the sun, just sailing in the sun.
Downwind and sunny. Happy days.
Ruffian and sunsets in Ardmuchnish Bay, opposite Dunstaffonage.
We found tidal races before getting to the Black Isles.
Nearly out of the thermals.
Someone is catching fish. That someone is not on Ruffian, we still haven't landed a fish.