China Girl, UK Circumnavigation - Year 6

Vessel Name: China Girl
Vessel Make/Model: Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 41DS
Hailing Port: Ipswich
Crew: Ann and Steve Crome
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21 July 2024 | Stromness marina
21 July 2024 | Stromness
28 June 2024 | Stornoway inner marina
18 June 2024 | S Harris Marina, Tarbert, Harris, Outer Hebrides
12 June 2024 | Loch Dunvegan near the castle
02 June 2024 | Arinogour on Coll
02 June 2024 | Arinogour on Coll
30 May 2024 | Kerrera Marina, Oban Bay
26 September 2023 | Troon Yacht Haven
26 September 2023
26 September 2023 | Troon Yacht Haven
15 September 2023 | Ballydorn in Strangford Lough, county Down
15 September 2023 | Ballydorn in Strangford Lough, county Down
04 September 2023 | Arklow
04 September 2023 | Arklow
27 August 2023
21 August 2023 | Kinsale YC marina
21 August 2023 | Kinsale YC marina
21 August 2023
11 August 2023 | Lawrence Cove
Recent Blog Posts
21 July 2024 | Stromness marina

Orkney here we come

Two nights in Sandside Bay. Considered going for a swim, tested the water temperature, decision easily made, no. Crossing to Stromness on the 19th, 30 miles on a beam reach. 13-20 kts of wind, reasonably flat sea. Cracking sail. Another tidal gate to get right, Hoy Gate, can be 8 kts against us. [...]

21 July 2024 | Stromness

Time flies

Wow, three weeks since the last post, time has got away from me. Two reasons, no internet and no rain (latter = need something to do = do the blog).

28 June 2024 | Stornoway inner marina

A bit of everything.

Here we are in Stornoway preparing to fly home next Wednesday (3 July) and hoping to get a walk around the castle fitted in between the showers. Which brings me to the weather...

18 June 2024 | S Harris Marina, Tarbert, Harris, Outer Hebrides

Hard on the Wallet

Well, interesting times in Dunvegan on Skye. We dinghied into Dunvegan Castle pontoon to go and se the castle and gardens. The castle is interesting, a lot of history of the MacLeod clan; the oldest continuously occupied castle in Scotland. The gardens are brilliant, more different species of plant [...]

12 June 2024 | Loch Dunvegan near the castle

It's so bloody cold!

I was right, we did have to hide in Lochboisdale. Arrived on Monday 3rd, first chance to escape without getting blown to bits was Sunday 9th. So we hired a car for 3 days and toured South Uist, Benbecula, Eriskay and Barra by car.

02 June 2024 | Arinogour on Coll

Don't you just love the British weather

Just a quick note to post a photo taken of the same view from the same spot a few minutes ago.

Orkney here we come

21 July 2024 | Stromness marina
Ann and Steve Crome | Clouding over.
Two nights in Sandside Bay. Considered going for a swim, tested the water temperature, decision easily made, no. Crossing to Stromness on the 19th, 30 miles on a beam reach. 13-20 kts of wind, reasonably flat sea. Cracking sail. Another tidal gate to get right, Hoy Gate, can be 8 kts against us. Need to get there at the start of the east going (ingoing) tide at 1619h Arrived at 1555h, not bad. Mooring in Stromness marina was difficult in 20 kt winds. Got lots of help but quite stressful. Still, we're tied up safe here now until Wednesday, then off for a grand tour of Scapa Flow. Boredom of washing at the moment, then a walk around Stromness which is a very pretty town. A mooch around the museum interesting history of the navy in Scapa Flow .

Photo shows the top end of Stromness harbour and the marina. CG is in there somewhere

Time flies

21 July 2024 | Stromness
Ann and Steve Crome | Sunny at last.
Wow, three weeks since the last post, time has got away from me. Two reasons, no internet and no rain (latter = need something to do = do the blog).

Flew back to Stornoway from Glasgow on the 11th after a decent train trip via Peterborough and Edinburgh. Left Stornoway on the 13th for Loch Nedd on the mainland, which is 42 miles. Wind was further round to the east than forecast making it a beat so some dynamic passage planning took place and we diverted to Loch Roe, about 15 miles further south and 20 degrees further off the wind. A fine reach at speeds up to 7 kts with both sails reefed in winds up to about 25 kts, 37 miles done. A great sail but lumpy and so tiring. 14 July quick hop to the Badcall islands, only 16 miles, a beat but we can do that for 16 miles but not for 42. Very pretty anchorage.

15 July plan said Badcall islands to L Clash. Latter is a pretty anchorage we were told that saves going in to Kinlochbervie (KLB) which is the best place to set off from to go around Cape Wrath. Lunch stop at Handa Island on the way. only 10 miles. No wind, motoring day, easy going. However, L Clash, after 8 attempts to anchor resulting in the anchor sliding over rock clogged with kelp we abandoned the idea and went to KLB.

Daaa da da da....Next day the terrors of Cape Wrath. 32 miles KLB to Loch Eriboll. Check tides, check wind, check tidal gate, check swell, recheck everything. Go at the right time. Cross fingers. No problems encountered, the reward for good planning; one period of vaguely rough water lasting about five minutes. Motto: more planning. less worrying. Just like when we rounded Portland Bill in 2019. 'Wrath' means 'turning' in Nordic (Viking), nothing to do with the wrath of the sea gods.

Loch Eriboll, we picked the anchorage the shortest distance into the loch to get us in a good position for the 30 mile trip to Sandside Bay the next day. Sandside Bay is right next to Dounreay power station but the cliff in between is just high enough to hide it from the anchorage and make a very pretty place. Anchored easily in sand, light winds, very little swell, we decided to stay two nights.

Photo shows the view across Sandside Bay.

A bit of everything.

28 June 2024 | Stornoway inner marina
Ann and Steve Crome | Mostly rain with dry bits
Here we are in Stornoway preparing to fly home next Wednesday (3 July) and hoping to get a walk around the castle fitted in between the showers. Which brings me to the weather...

My moans about the cold were partially assuaged for a few days and I actually broke out my summer kit for a few days. Not as extreme as shorts though. Back to really chilly now though. The winds have been everything from motoring weather to hiding from a gale.

That said, we have found several days of about the right amount of wind from a reasonable direction and our total sailing hours for the trip so far are 56 compared to 51 motoring, so pretty good (usually its about 60% motoring).

Picking up from the last blog. We left Tarbert on Harris on 20th to cross the Minch to the mainland to Staffin Bay on Skye, aka the middle of nowhere. Full sails, reefed sails, motor on, repeat, 8 hrs of every type of wind; a great day. Next day from Staffin to Loch Shieldag which is in The Gairloch on the mainland. Jib only, 19 kts of wind on the beam, 5.5 to 6 kts another great sail. Next day we moved within Gairloch to Badacho Bay, 2 miles on the motor. Both very pretty places, no 4G. 23rd, Gairloch to L Ewe, wind, no wind, motor on, off, but mostly off; 25 miles in 5.5 h in mostly SUNSHINE the real rare commodity of the trip so far. From there two days later to the Summer Isles near Ullapool. Very pretty.

The weather is building, the forecast is for a gale in Rockall which is several hundred miles SW of us but it's heading our way. Forecast for a gale in our area, Hebrides, in 24 h. We abandoned our plan for our next trip to be to a remote bay back across the Minch on N Harris and fled to Stornoway. Another interesting 7 hour 33 mile day. Cruising chute, white sails, motor when the wind died. We got in a quarter hour too late to avoid the rain that had been chasing us across as the front approached and got soaked. But a good day nevertheless.

So here we are in Stornoway now until we fly home on then 3rd, back on the 11th then off around the top of Scotland to Orkney and maybe Shetland.

Photo shows the view across Loch Shieldag. CG is the one closest to the exact centre of the photo (i think!)

Hard on the Wallet

18 June 2024 | S Harris Marina, Tarbert, Harris, Outer Hebrides
Ann and Steve Crome | Still bloody cold!
Well, interesting times in Dunvegan on Skye. We dinghied into Dunvegan Castle pontoon to go and se the castle and gardens. The castle is interesting, a lot of history of the MacLeod clan; the oldest continuously occupied castle in Scotland. The gardens are brilliant, more different species of plant and tree per square meter than I've seen anywhere I think. Because we used the pontoon, we were charged £26 each for the entry fee; had we come in a car it would have been £13.50. This we felt was a rip off and complained, but they're not interested. Dinner that night in the Dunvegan restaurant. Fabulous. Done like a Michelin restaurant (which it's not), with a fixed menu and superlative service it was a real experience. You pay for what you get though. My credit card is wilting a bit.

Our two nights in Dunvegan turned into three when we bottled out of what looked like a very windy crossing back to the Outer Hebrides at Lochmaddy on N Uist. Next day was not that windy but we were hard on the wind so it was a lumpy crossing and quite hard work. Just an overnight in Lochmaddy in a remote spot away from the village, didn't go ashore. Next day (Sun 16th) a short hop of 14 miles straight line distance to Loch Finsbay on South Harris. It was a dead beat and we had to tack so did 19 miles into winds up to the mid-20s, a hard work sail but only for 4 1/4 hours. Again overnight in a quiet spot, then Monday off to Tarbert on the isthmus between N and S Harris (funnily enough Tarbert means isthmus in Gaelic). we expected to beat again but the wind came around just enough and dropped to high teens letting us fine reach all the way, 14 miles in 3 1/4 hours.

We're here now till Thursday (20th), in S Harris marina on a pontoon. Been cycling today; washing and shopping tomorrow.

Photo shows the view down L Tarbert from the bike-pushingly steep hill overlooking the marina. CG on the finger pontoons.

It's so bloody cold!

12 June 2024 | Loch Dunvegan near the castle
Ann and Steve Crome | Sunny but cold
I was right, we did have to hide in Lochboisdale. Arrived on Monday 3rd, first chance to escape without getting blown to bits was Sunday 9th. So we hired a car for 3 days and toured South Uist, Benbecula, Eriskay and Barra by car.

Then things cheered up and we got a fantastic 5 hour sail across to Canna; engine only on to leave and arrive the harbours. Two nights there to allow us to do the walk to see the puffins. About 2 hours each way so there had better have been some, and there were. I have a photo which shows some in the distance and they look like black dots. I'm going to have to do a lot of cropping and expanding get them up to visible size. Next day off from Canna to Rum, only 12 miles but we sailed all the way there, so an enjoyable trip. We saw two eagles! Not sure if they were white-tailed or golden, and moving too fast for my camera skills, but we can say we saw them, one of the reasons we went to Rum.

Today from Rum to Dunvegan on Skye, our first no-wind motor-all-day trip of the year. 44 miles, but at least we have hot water for showers.

The consistent thing about the whole trip so far is that it has been so bloody cold. It's June for God's sake and we are sailing in thermals and full waterproofs. This is not funny; forecast shows little improvement in the next week either.

We're here in Dunvegan for two nights, off to see the castle and posh restaurant tomorrow (Thursday) then hoping to cross back to the Outer Hebrides - Lochmaddy on North Uist of Friday, But the weathers looking dodgy....

Photo shows A view across S Uist towards Barra, nice white fluffy clouds but sooo cold!!

Don't you just love the British weather

02 June 2024 | Arinogour on Coll
Ann and Steve Crome | 'orrible
Just a quick note to post a photo taken of the same view from the same spot a few minutes ago.
China Girl's Photos - Old Harry rocks

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