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Archive of entries posted on May 2008

West Loch Tarbert

West Loch Tarbert | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

After a spectacular sunset, the day started bright and the wind had
abated to a Force 5, but the forecast was for rain to come. We motored
through the Sound of Harris, finding a number of the buoys marked on a
newly purchased chart were missing, but following the Cope Passage was
straightforward. Clear of all dangers, we set reefed sails and had a
grand sail across to Toe Head at the SW end of Harris, but faced a
headwind round in the Sound of Taransay, which saw us motorsailing
thereafter. The predicted rain arrived and the hills took on a gloomy
aspect. We anchored for the night in a sheltered spot off the old
whaling station in Loch Bun Abhainn-eader, 3 miles west of West Loch
Tarbert, and moved up there the next morning.


2(F+J) | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

No, we are not trying to resurrect our schooldays algebra – this refers to
the Skipper and Mate having the company of both Fan & James and Fin & J when
the latter pair arrived in East Loch Tarbert for a holiday at Seilebost, on
Harris. They dined on Arctica, and all four went on photo safari during the
day, making good use of the availability of a hired car. We could not resist
showing our own attempt at an artistic photo of rocks and lichen.After
waving farewell to Fan & James on the ferry to Uig, and thence via Glasgow
to South Britain, we decided to visit the west side of the Outer Hebrides,
and sailed the first leg down to Hermetray, just off North Uist at the end
of the Sound of Harris. Vaccasay Basin, where we anchored, now has an
extensive fish farm, but there is room to anchor and avoid Dirt Rock. We let
out plenty of chain and were untroubled by the strong winds which continued

Sea Lochs of North Harris

Sea Lochs of North Harris | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

The sun was obscured by a layer of high cloud which cooled the day
considerably and drained the colour from the landscape. This provided a
good opportunity to explore Loch Seaforth, a fjord-like loch extending
inland for some 15 miles. We went half way up, passing the extensive
fish farm inside the entrance and the inlet of Loch Maaruig, and
anchored off Ath Linne (photo) just past Seaforth Island, which boasts
its own ‘Marilyn’. The Crew opted for an afternoon of relaxation aboard,
while the Skipper took to the handy hill track (signposted ‘Walkers
Welcome’) and climbed Cearnabhal 378m and Liuthaid 492m, a nice pair of
hills. We moved back out and round the point into Loch Claidh, where we
spent the night in the lovely anchorage tucked in behind Eilean
Hingerstay, where we saw black throated divers, otters, seals and a stag
on the skyline above at sunset.

North Uist

North Uist | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

We left Loch Skiport with the intention of staying a night at Kallin,
Grimsay but found pier extension works in progress and the visitor’s
mooring temporarily removed. Resuming passage northwards, we carried on
to Lochmaddy – and still the sun shone, showing everything at its best.
The photographers revelled in the quality of light and range of subjects
to catch their eye, while the skipper bagged a few more hills. Good use
was made by all of the excellent facilities at the new Tigh Dearg Hotel,
with a first class fitness suite, sauna and showers. Today we had an NE
wind on the nose and motorsailed up to North Harbour, Scalpay where the
sun came out again after an overcast morning.

Barra to South Uist

Barra to South Uist | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

A smooth crossing to the Outer Isles saw Arctica back in Castlebay,
Barra for the third time in three weeks, all in good weather. Fine views
of islands were had from Heishval Mor 190m, the highest point of
Vatersay, from Muldoanich (photo) down to Mingulay, while Fan and James
visited Eoligarry at the north end. Acarseid Mor, Eriskay, a short sail
north, was the next harbour. A new pontoon for lobster boats is in place
beside the pier and ongoing earthworks give sign of further development
to come. Beinn Scrien 185m was added to the list of island summits while
the photographers immersed themselves in their art. A moderate sea with
a light following breeze made for rather rolling progress to Loch
Skiport, S Uist, where we anchored in the sheltered Poll na Cairidh and
devoted the remainder of the day to the three R’s (reading, relaxing,


Knoydart | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

With the Skipper on his own, the Marilyn theme and the fine weather
continued with short trips to Inverie (photo) and Loch Hourn to climb Druim
na Cluain-Airighe c500m and Beinn Mhialairigh 548m respectively. Back at
Arisaig, on the return aboard of the Mate, a shopping expedition to Fort
William saw stores replenished ready for the arrival of Fan and James for
the next sortie. Before their arrival we enjoyed a bright, still evening -
with Arisaig and views west to Eigg and Rum at their best. We left for
Canna, planning to cross over the Sea of the Hebrides the next day to Barra,
then gradually working our way north up the Outer Hebrides.

Hills and Harbours

Hills and Harbours | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

On another fine day, but without a sailing wind, we crossed back east to
the Inner Hebrides passing north of Canna and on to Kilmory Bay on the N
coast of Rum, where we anchored. The bay is wide and sandy with rocky
enclosing arms, and dozens of red deer were at rest on the sand or
standing in the water’s edge. We climbed Mullach Mor 304m, a modest hill
with a big hill feature – a succession of false summits – but holding
many attractive small lochans in its rough ground. The night was spent
at the head of Loch Scavaig, a superb anchorage close to Loch Coruisk
and the high Cuillins (photo), where we had the pleasure of meeting
Norman and Gillian from ‘Curlew’ and spending a few hours chatting to
them. In the morning we climbed Sgurr na Stri 497m and on return Andrew
took an unscheduled dip as he slipped on the rocks when boarding the
dinghy. Later, we headed for Mallaig Harbour to spend the last night of
a very successful ‘boys’ week’.


Marilyns | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

When Iain and Andrew arrived we immediately left Arisaig for Rum,
dropping anchor in Loch Scresort off the old stone pier in company with
four other boats. After dinner, we walked west some way along the track
and on return found out that once again we had missed David and Stroma,
who were over at Inverie for the night. An 0630 start next morning saw
us heading for Barra, passing south of Canna and out past Hyskeir. We
raised the cruising chute and had a grand sail over to Castlebay,
changing down to reefed genoa as the wind got up to Force 5. As it was
still early afternoon we made a leisurely ascent of Ben Tangaval, a
‘Marilyn’ (hill over 150m with a re-ascent of at least 150m on all
sides, of which there are some 1500 throughout the UK) which Andrew was
keen to climb. Next morning we anchored off Muldoanich 151m (another M,
and the lowest one to qualify), which the crew climbed while the skipper
kept watch aboard as the anchor was set on rock. After the short hop
across to Sandray, we all climbed to its summit, Cairn Galtar 205m (yes,
another M) from the lovely sandy beach at Meanish Bay. Our chosen
anchorage tonight is the ‘Blue Lagoon’ between two outlying islands, a
seldom visited spot requiring careful pilotage through the rock-strewn
entry channel, where we are watched over by nesting golden eagles.

Back to Arisaig

Back to Arisaig | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

On Coll we met the crews of two high speed launches which were playing
the part of ‘terrorists’ for the multinational naval exercise taking
place off the west coast of Scotland. Shortly after they set off for the
day’s manoeuvres we too left, sailing N up the deserted north-east coast
of Coll to Sorisdale Bay, and on past the Cairns of Coll to Muck.
Arriving at mid-tide, many of the drying reefs were covered, so we were
careful to identify the leading line for a safe approach to Gallanach
Bay and anchored well inshore. It was a very peaceful and attractive
spot, with panoramic views of hills and mountains on Skye, Rum, Eigg and
the mainland. We left in the morning with the forecast of a rising gale,
motored across to Galmisdale on Eigg to recharge the batteries, then
sailed double-reefed over to Arisaig to complete the week’s circuit with
Jim and Linda.

Call at Coll

Call at Coll | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

Sailing SE from Barra across the Sea of the Hebrides, we passed through
Gunna Sound which separates Coll and Tiree, and N into the anchorage at
Arinagour, Coll’s only village – complete with gun to repel unwanted
visitors! The northern two-thirds and extreme SW tip of the island are
Lewisian gneiss, its low hummocks infilled with peat bogs and lochans.
The remaining third consists of very ancient metamorphosed sandstones
containing quartz and marble. The west coast has a covering of
wind-blown shell sand, forming dunes over 100ft high and machair
suitable for grazing. The highest point is Ben Hogh at 341ft. On our
walk across the island and round Cliad Bay we were delighted to have a
chance encounter with Mhairi and John and young family, who were
holidaying on the island.