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Archive of entries posted on August 2005

Cloch-ing Off




Cloch-ing Off

Originally uploaded by arctica.

Passing close under the Cloch Lighthouse at Gourock signalled that Arctica was about to complete the last few miles of her summer cruise – into the River Clyde at Greenock and up to her home port of Bowling. The weather on this long final day was particularly fine, right from leaving Campbeltown in the early morning, through the Kilbrannan Sound and Kyles of Bute and up to Bowling. The cruise lasted sixteen weeks (with a 2-week gap) and covered nearly 1600 nautical miles over the route Clyde – Crinan – Mull – Coll – Barra – Eriskay – South Uist – Benbecula – Scalpay – Stornoway – Loch Laxford – Cape Wrath – Kyle of Tongue – Scrabster – Longhope – Stromness (incl Folk Festival) – Rousay – Eday – Stronsay – Sanday – Westray – Fair Isle – Shetland (Grutness and Hos Voes) – Mousa – Noss – Whalsay – Out Skerries – Fetlar – Unst – Muckle Flugga (the northernmost point of the British Isles) – Yell – Colla Firth – Lerwick – Fair Isle – Westray – Stromness – Kinlochbervie – Lochinver – Summer Isles – Gairloch – Portree – Mallaig – Canna – Arisaig – Oban – Ardinamir – Tayvallich – Islay – Mull of Kintyre – Sanda – Campbeltown – Clyde. Apart from dragging anchor through the kelp at Noss at 3.00 am, the trip passed without incident – and our thoughts are already turning to next summer……… Norway? Faeroes? Round Ireland?

Bowling Harbour Ceilidh Band




Bowling Harbour Ceilidh Band

Originally uploaded by arctica.

Obviously not one of your upstart boy bands – grey hair or lack of it
predominating! The band featured as a fringe event of the Campbeltown Folk Festival and played at the Byron Darnton Tavern on the isle of Sanda over the weekend. We played for a total of sixteen hours over Friday evening to Sunday afternoon and it was a great gig. Due to bad weather, the ferry to take the other four band members off the island
did not turn up so the whole band (plus two other strandees) sailed on Arctica to Campbeltown for linking transport home. Arctica will make an early start tomorrow for the longish trip back to her home port of Bowling, and the end of a very successful cruise.

Folk at Sanda




Folk at Sanda

Originally uploaded by arctica.

Arctica is now at Sanda, a small island two miles off the Kintyre coast and thirteen south of Campbeltown as the crow flies. An attractive spot but somewhat exposed to the north-west, from which direction a Force 4/5 is forecast but not expected to last long. This was the tranquil scene last night as the sun set behind the Mull of Kintyre. The island has a pub (plus lighthouse and some self catering – nothing else) called the Byron Darnton, after an American liberty ship wrecked here in wartime, and this is the venue for a Folk weekend. The Bowling Harbour Ceilidh Band is taking part and the Skipper with his moothie is the advance party; Peter, Ken and Alan are being ferried in tonight. The stage is set for a good boys’ weekend!

Heading South




Heading South

Originally uploaded by arctica.

Tayvallich, six miles up Loch Sween from the Sound of Jura, is a completely landlocked anchorage and well worth the detour from the direct route south. The head of the loch splits into three parts, each surrounded by hills and trees; quite a contrast from the almost treeless Northern Isles. A very enjoyable evening was spent here in the company of friends old and new, before moving on again – to Islay. The day was one of continuous rain, a Force 5 on the nose and an uncomfortable cross-sea. For almost twenty miles down the Sound of Jura there was no sight of land or another vessel, until the Calmac ferry to Port Askaig loomed out of the murk and passed astern. I was glad of GPS positioning and a Chart Plotter, and not having to rely on dead reckoning. On cue, Ardmore point appeared close to, and we made in to the Ardmore Islands, a lovely group of islets and skerries offering shelter from the seas outside.

More Visitors




More Visitors

Originally uploaded by arctica.

At Ardinamir, a popular anchorage on the east side of Luing, Arctica was visited by these Mute Swans which gobbled up fresh bread offered from outstretched fingers. So far we have fed eider ducks, seagulls and seals…..and hope we don’t end up feeding the fishes! Heading south again tomorrow to Tayvallich for a rendezvous with “Sea Swallow”.

Home Waters




Home Waters

Originally uploaded by arctica.

Here we are in Oban, a bonny West Highland town and the gateway for Calmac sailings to Mull and the Hebrides. It looked fine on arrival – the esplanade in bright sunshine and the scene overlooked by McCaig’s Folly on the skyline – but today it is gey dreich, a not uncommon
situation in these parts. After spending so much of the cruise in distant Orkney and Shetland waters this feels much like home waters again, but there is still a fair distance to go, round the Mull of Kintyre and into the Clyde estuary. Now sailing single-handed since the Mate went home from Mallaig with a bad back, and making gradually for Sanda (off the M of K) where there is a folk weekend and the Bowling Harbour Ceilidh Band, of which the Skipper is an occasional member, is appearing. Have written a humorous sea song “The Bowling Belle” for the occasion.

Creatures of the Sea




Creatures of the Sea

Originally uploaded by arctica.

Today Arctica was visited by this Grey Seal which frequents Mallaig Harbour, and has grown fat through the generosity of the local
fishermen. It obviously expected to be fed but turned up its nose at the
bread offered, which was quickly snapped up by the seagulls. One of them was bold enough to be hand fed. Porpoises were seen on the short passage south to Arisaig, and we nearly ran down a young (15ft) basking shark off the mouth of the South Channel which leads in to Arisaig at the head of Loch na Ceall.

Stranger Still




Stranger Still

Originally uploaded by arctica.

Early in our trip as we passed through Gunna Sound, the passage between Coll And Tiree, we saw the strange sight of a playful dolphin chasing a Great Northern Diver which was too full of fish to take off. The latter was panic-stricken and attempted unsuccessfully to shake off the dolphin by madly flapping its wings and running across the water, much to our amusement. However, today brought an even stranger sight. On Canna, we came across this rabbit coolly (sorry!) sitting in a burn. What on earth was it doing? Had Mrs Rabbit told him to go cool his ardour? Or was he merely enjoying a paddle? Very strange.

Boats, boats, boats




Boats, boats, boats

Originally uploaded by arctica.

On this trip we have seen boats of all shapes and sizes – from canoes through rowing boats, ribs, Orkney yoles, Shetland sixareens, lobster
boats, fishing boats, lifeboats, roro ferries, pelagic trawlers and
cruise liners to oil tankers. We’ll likely collect the full set with a
submarine in the Clyde! But today we passed this beautiful restored Dutch barge at the Raasay narrows. What a picture with her gaff rig, tan sails and traditional barge boards. But when it comes to maintenance – I’d stick with the modern ‘plastic’.

The Mountains and The Sea (apologies to Tom Paxton)

The coastline of Wester Ross features large bays with sheltered sea
lochs leading off – but the dominating feature is the dramatic backdrop of mountains. These rise spectacularly from low moorland to give a constantly changing vista as we sail past. Well know and instantly recognisable peaks such as Suilven, Culs Mor and Beag, Stac Pollaidh, An Teallach, and the Carnmore group (which includes a’Mhaighdean – the most remote munro) brought back memories of wonderful hillwalking in this area and reminded of the need to return. The photo shows the Torridon hills from off the mouth of Loch Gairloch as we neared the entrance on a fine summer evening.