|Vessel Make/Model:||Beneteau Oceanis 411|
|Crew:||John and Barbara Sumner|
We didn't have a great night - I lay awake for ages listening to the wind which had really piped up, and probably about the time I fell asleep John woke up and started worrying about the strong winds which are forecast for early next week! During the evening as the wind rose we could hear a peculiar banshee type of wailing, and offered various suggestions as to what it might be: (a) the dog on the next boat not feeling very happy, (b) the wind howling in the rigging of the various boats in the harbour, or (c) wolves on the island. Eventually we decided on option (b) as being the most likely. However, this evening in our safe harbour (more of which later) we've been reading the blog of our friends on Taransay Mhor who visited this area some 8/9 years ago and mentioned the seals' mournful singing! So that is what it must have been! What an eerie sound! (Actually I rather liked my choice of wolves on the island). Anyway we awoke to grey cold morning and decided to head back to safety in the Sound of Mull/Loch Sunart area. We left at what seems to have become our routine departure time of 10 o'clock, to find some quite strong winds and rough seas outside the safety of our harbour. At least we had a good sail even if it wasn't very comfortable. Still wearing 5 layers (me) and 6 layers (John). We had 15 knots on the beam so Tonic enjoyed herself even if we weren't so keen! We put a reef in to make things more manageable. We decided to go into Loch Sunart and investigate the little inlet of Sailean Mor off the island of Oronsay (there seem to be a lot of islands in this area called Oronsay, or Ornsay). There is only really room for 1 boat in here and it had been recommended to us as a "cosy" anchorage, so we were pleased that there were no other boats here and we were able to anchor in the middle of the widest part (maybe 100m across). The entrance is narrow so we are almost completely enclosed and the surrounding land is high enough to provide some shelter but not so high as to create strong down draughts which we're told can happen on Skye and some of the other higher islands. And best of all we have a data signal so can stay here tomorrow when I have a zoom meeting to attend! We put up the cockpit enclosure in advance of the rain which is forecast for tomorrow and are very snug! 36 miles - 5 ½ hours.
Had a late start as it was raining till midday. We slipped our mooring at 12.30 and headed up the Sound of Mull under engine and mainsail. We got a good view of Kilchoan where I nearly went to live about 30 years ago (long story)! After lunch, rounding Ardnamurchan Point, we were able to get the genoa [...]
Thankfully the rain had stopped during the night so we were able to get the cockpit enclosure down while it was dry. We went to the fuelling berth to top up with diesel (not self-service), then into a finger berth to fill up with water - the hose wouldn't reach from where we were before. By the time we were ready to set off it was nearly lunch time which meant the tide would be with us. We had several options of where to go, our main objective being to find somewhere sheltered from some strongish South Westerlies which are forecast. We decided to go to Tobermory and possibly anchor in a little bay nearby. The wind was very squally, going from 21 knots to 3 knots within the space of about 5 minutes! It settled down a bit when we entered the Sound of Mull and as the water was nice and flat we were able to goosewing with the genoa poled out. The anchorage at Doirlinn we had planned to go into turned out to be not very sheltered but also very small - again the Antares Charts proved very helpful and warned of a wreck in the middle of the bay and we didn't want our anchor chain to get caught on anything, so we aborted that idea and went and picked up a mooring buoy outside Tobermory (£17). There were several to choose from and it's very sheltered here with a lovely view of the colourful town, just a pity the sun isn't shining. There are some very black clouds around! 26.4 miles - 4 1/2 hours.
John spent the morning dismantling the holding tank in the forward heads to see if he can bypass the thermistor and avoid the need to wait for a replacement part. (successfully, I'm pleased to say). Confusingly, Oban Marina is not actually in Oban but on east side of the island of Kerrera facing Oban. There is a new transit marina in Oban which would have been more convenient for access to the town, but it's more expensive and is exposed to the SW and also subject to washes from the CalMac ferries. There is a little ferry run by the marina which goes across to Oban and back 4 times a day, which you have to book online, so we booked for the 2pm ferry. It rained all morning and we were glad we had put the cockpit enclosure up the night before! I put a load of washing on (£5 for a token, and the dryer uses coins - 20 minutes for £1 - I found £3 was adequate). It was still raining when we went to get the ferry, and continued to rain pretty much the whole day. There was only 1 ferry we could catch back which was at 6.10pm so we had lots of time to kill. We went to the Oban Distillery but there weren't any tours so we had a little look at the shop - all very expensive and neither of us are very keen on whisky anyway! ban is a pretty town with some nice shops, but like everywhere, rather dismal in the rain. It's a very busy ferry port with frequent Caledonian MacBrayne ferries going to and from the surrounding islands. We went to the famous Chocolate shop in search of a hot drink, but it was full and several other people were already waiting for a table, so we went and found a little café called the Little Potting Shed where we had tea and the most delicious carrot cake ever! There is a Tesco superstore just on the edge of town so we were able to get all the provisions we needed. We were very wet by the time we got back to the boat, but fortunately it's not as cold as it has been.
Rather a dull grey morning, it had rained in the early hours but stopped by the time we set off. I spotted some seals on the rocks and one in the water in the Loch. The wind was mostly too far behind to sail, although we had 11-15 knots and were able to sail with the engine off some of the time up [...]
We set off at 10am. The boat was lovely and dry for the first time, no rain or dew! The anchor had a lot of weed and mud on it. There was no wind to start off with so we didn't even hoist the mainsail. We motored around the top end of Gigha and headed across to the Sound of Islay, seeing a couple of dolphins in the distance, and lots of sea birds bobbing on the smooth water, including black guillemots (which have startling red legs and feet) and some eider ducks. As we came into the Sound of Islay there was a bit more wind so we put the genoa out. The tide rushes furiously here and we had about 4 knots underneath us. The views are stunning, we saw Jura House to starboard which has recently been converted into a luxury hotel with golf course. We went past the Caol Ila Distillery on Islay. Then we headed north and up into Loch Tarbert where we were able to make use of our Antares charts (worth the £15 cost) as there is a very narrow entrance to Upper Loch Tarbert through some rocks. There were already a couple of boats there and we anchored just beyond them off a little beach. It was lovely and sunny but a bit too windy to launch the kayak so we just relaxed in the cockpit for the rest of the afternoon. A few other boats came in a bit later - it's obviously a popular anchorage. The only downside is there's absolutely no phone or data signal either on 3 or EE, which maybe is actually a blessing! 30 miles - 4 hours.