Messages from Ship's Chicken

30 July 2015 | Largs
30 July 2015 | Loch Drumbuie
29 July 2015 | Mallaig
17 July 2015 | Lochboisdale
17 July 2015 | Canna
17 July 2015 | Canna
13 July 2015 | Arisaig
13 July 2015 | Kerrera and Tobermory
23 June 2015 | Loch Aline
20 June 2015 | Tarbert, Loch Fyne
18 May 2015 | Largs/Gifford
14 May 2015 | Largs
10 May 2015 | Largs and Gifford
08 May 2015 | Castle Carrick, Loch Goil

What would Malcolm say?

30 July 2015 | Largs
So the push South continued but the wind direction was not as forecast so a lot of motoring followed as it wasn't in our favour at all. We thought we'd go to Oban or a nearby anchorage but yet again, high winds were predicted. We realised the tidal gates were all in our favour so we decided to push on further southwards and get to Craobh Haven to sit this one out.
We were treated to an excellent sighting of two huge sea eagles on the east side of Mull as we passed many yachts also with bare poles in the flat calm. And yet still the forecast gives us strong wind warnings!
Into Craobh, onto the pontoon without incident and in a sunny evening, we enjoyed the terrace at the Lord of the Isles for drinks. We spotted Luinga Mhor, BBH's twin who we'd last seen on the Sea of the Hebrides, on the adjacent pontoon. No one on board sadly but we had a nosy at their set up and got some ideas.
Sunday saw us stretch our legs ashore whilst we waited for those high winds to come in. Which they never did. Really annoying. It did start to rain though. Bleep, bleep, bleeping, bleepetty, bleep we said.
Monday morning, we headed on down to Crinan to return to the Clyde via the canal. As we approached, we realised that VIC 32, the restored Puffer, was about to exit the sea lock. Amazing timing for a wonderful historic sight.
We went through most of the locks with Kendra, a day boat with three guys onboard returning from a family birthday party at the Crinan Hotel. The locks were increasingly wet and midgy. We traded midge repellant for birthday cake with Kendra which kept everyone's spirits up. We spent the night at Cairnbaan and finally had drinks in the hotel we have passed so many times, on land and water.
Tuesday continued in a rainy, dead flat calm as we motored on towards Largs. Porpoises were everywhere and two seals entertained by repeatedly leaping out of the water and splashing back in as they swam by.
We have now returned to our berth in Largs for a while to attend to various things from home and to see if the weather might like to sort itself out and stop Rosemary turning into Malcolm Tucker as we struggle to interpret it into anything at all useful to seafarers who prefer to use their sails and drop their anchor.
We've done 597 nautical miles since the end of April and gone from Largs to Lochboisdale and back, learning a lot along the way. Back soon for more!

All points South

30 July 2015 | Loch Drumbuie
Mallaig has improved as a town. The houses are cream instead of grey, there are flower lined streets and, on the harbour side, Cameron Mackintosh is constructing two very high spec. flats and a store house to keep his things for his estate up Loch Nevis in. The bonus for yachties is that the ground floor of his building will house showers, toilets and a laundry. Chris at the marina was a little downcast that they are not ready yet. Latest date is early August. Hmmm.
So instead, at the moment, you have to head to the Fishermans Mission. After a scenic but, yes, boggy walk to Loch an Nostarie on Wednesday, the next day was chores day and so Rosemary geared up to go to the Mission loaded with laundry, iPad, book, lists notebook etc., anticipating a long morning watching things go round. What a delight to discover the lovely lady just takes your washing and does it for you!
Mallaig fills up and empties with the steam train timetable and coach trips, as well as the queue of people heading to Skye on the ferry. We peered in the train windows and Rosemary was pleased to see wizard costumes for sale and a toy owl on the catering car counter. It was tempting to take the Hogwarts Express ourselves but we're here to travel by sea just now. That was Gordon's reasoning anyway!
We had a lovely seafood dinner ashore and enjoyed two convivial evenings with Stewart and Dorothy from Anna Mae, comparing boats and stories of sailing treats and tears. Gordon got his hair cut and we provisioned up so we were ready to get going again.
The question was where? The weather, our cruel and fickle mistress, suggested South rather than North was going to work better for any wind for sailing. So, reluctantly, we made that the plan as we set out on Friday.
Back round Ardnamurchan point for us. A lot calmer this time. But all that talk of anchorages with Anna Mae has made us hanker to drop ours somewhere, rather than head back onto the pontoons or moorings buoys. We opted for the old favourite of Loch Drumbuie and a fine, settled evening ensued.
We were up early the next morning and left in the still, calm light with thousands of jelly fish filling the waters around our hull. Onwards South it was.

A new low

29 July 2015 | Mallaig
Forecast of low pressure that is. Every day brings a fresh one. Instead of being ten days to two weeks apart as you could reasonably expect at this time of year, we seem to get one good weather day and then another prediction of a storm.
So the daily dilemma of where to shelter the next one faced us in Canna again. We thought it was all beginning to get a bit like that bit in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows where they are constantly moving location, listening to the radio for news of the outside world whilst the horcrux slowly drives the wearer mad. It's hard to plan much in weather like this.
Initially we thought we'd stay in Canna as it is lovely. But it was only Tuesday and there might not be another window to move until Friday. As boats started to leave mid-morning, we reversed the plan and decided to go too. One boat which we know is really an East Coast racing boat from our time in Port Edgar had had to put out second anchor out to stay put in the previous night's wind. Poor souls took nearly two hours to get them and their ropes back up through the Canna weed. It must have been really annoying to see us slip the buoy and flit. Actually we were so tightly tied on, Gordon had to go up to the buoy in Pip to loosen our first rope.
A fine motor sail followed and we contacted Mallaig Marina en route. They were very busy but would squeeze us in. We arrived and were directed straight into a berth, one over from a 50+ foot catamaran that dwarfed us and hid half the bay from view. Anna Mae came in from Canna soon after and rafted up to us. Rosemary made friends with Molly the dog whilst everyone else did ropes and stuff. A fine evening followed. We watched Lizzie May, owned by Jerry from the Parliament, sail off her buoy and deftly out between us all on the pontoon and the fishing fleet that keeps Mallaig harbour busy. But it was sheltered and we could stand down from weather watch for a while so it would do us fine.

Would you like WiFi with your cake?

23 July 2015 | Canna
And now the longer edit...
The wind and rain set in on South Uist so we took the Post bus to Kildonan Museum - interesting and with a good lunch in the cafe but not free WiFi. Took bus back to Lochboisdale cafe for cake and free WiFi.
Had a boggy walk into the interior before going to cafe for lunch, cake and WiFi. All this internet access is great but not for the thickening waistlines. Took bus to Co-op and waited for return ride in local hotel. Quiz programmes on telly, locals on lagers. Welcome to Saturday teatime!
Reluctantly decided to leave the Western Isles because of the poor weather forecasts. Great sail back over to Canna.
But it was wet and windy on Canna too. We walked across the island and visited the souterrain and other archaeological sites. Guess who went underground into the chamber of unknown use, age or stability and who wore the sensible trousers and stayed up top wondering just how you raise an alarm here?
Stopped at cafe for.. Oh, you write the rest! Booked table for dinner. Got soaked in seawater on dingy back, to add to the rain. But that table was booked so it was jolly boat ashore again. Warming soup, excellent fish and chips, another alarming forecast.
"Lively" night as BBH clung to the buoy, Pip clung to BBH, Rosemary clung to Stowaway Mouse (have we mentioned him yet?).
Is it still July?

Westwards, ever westwards

17 July 2015 | Lochboisdale
Fortune favours the brave so we decided to go for it and left Canna bound for Lochboisdale, South Uist. Managed three hours of glorious sailing and passed BBH's twin under full sail too. What were the chances? But the wind was sending us in the wrong direction so the motor went on and we reached the new harbour pontoons at 17.30 along with six or so others.
Thursday was fine so we cycled across the island to an amazing beach. We'd got there by taxi, bus, two trains, ferry, yacht, cycle and walking! Found a piece of New England fishing float on the beach, proof that we are truly on an Atlantic Coast.
Thursday night saw the big storm come in so we may be here for a while. There are now 22 boats here. Hurricane party perhaps?

Eternal question answered?

17 July 2015 | Canna
Rocky, Ship's Chicken
Hi! Rocky here. The Ship's Chicken. Finally allowed to do a post! Here I am in Canna, admiring the local eggs that Gordon got from the community shop. Happy to say the answer to the question therefore is....the Chicken! Because I was here 15 years ago on my maiden voyage, and it did feel good to be back. Of course Gordon, Ship's expert on many things and guest lecturer du jour, has another explanation involving reptiles inventing eggs but I think I know best.
Vessel Name: Blueberry Hill
Vessel Make/Model: Vancouver 34 Pilot
Hailing Port: Largs
Crew: Rosemary, Gordon, Rocky (Ship's Chicken)
Gallery Error: Unknown Album [1:]:34365
Blueberry Hill's Photos -

Blueberry Hill

Who: Rosemary, Gordon, Rocky (Ship's Chicken)
Port: Largs