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Archive of entries posted on August 2009

The Final Few Days

The Final Few Days | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

We got away from Arisaig on a grey morning, but by the time we rounded
Ardnamurchan Point the weather had improved and we had good sailing in
to Loch Sunart, where we anchored off Charna Island. The showery, gusty
weather pattern resumed, but next day we had an easy sail up the Sound
of Mull, then a storming broad reach across to Oban in a Force 7 wind.
The visitors’ moorings are quite exposed so we had a fairly rough lie
until the wind moderated during the night. We had to motor the next
passage down to Crinan against a southerly wind, but by early afternoon
we were at anchor off Crinan sea lock in bright sunshine. Our intention
was to return to the Clyde by way of the Mull of Kintyre, but the
forecast of a southerly gale prompted us to opt for going through the
Crinan Canal instead. Short handed, we teamed up with another yacht with
four aboard and so made steady progress, but the day of transit proved
the wettest of our whole summer’s cruising. Today we left Ardrishaig and
are spending our last night aboard at Rothesay, before the last leg
tomorrow up river to Dumbarton, where Arctica will be lifted out to
complete a very successful season’s cruising.

Gales and Strong Winds

Gales and Strong Winds | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

The forecast proved accurate – we had an easterly gale followed by a
westerly gale as a deep depression passed over the Outer Isles. However,
our third day at Castlebay (photo) saw the return of fair weather and we
were able to get ashore for the 13 mile walk round the island. Despite
our familiarity with Barra, we never tire of this walk with its ever
changing views and the contrast between east and west coasts. Departing
the next day, we crossed the Sea of the Hebrides to Rum, passing between
the lonely light of Haskeir and the Humla Rock to its NE, and stopping
outside Loch Scresort to catch mackerel for tea. A calm night followed,
but with the wind rising and another gale expected we slogged down to
the shelter of Arisaig, where we anchored just off the moorings. We are
now on our second day of steady rain, little visibility and strong
winds, with little prospect of change in sight yet. We are comfortable
with plenty of books to read!

Lots More Hills

Lots More Hills | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

The morning was grey and misty, with a SW wind against us as we made
down to Lochboisdale. It dried up after our arrival, so we walked the
six mile round trip to the Daliburgh Co-op for provisions. At tea-time
the mist cleared off the hills, and the Skipper set off for an evening
ascent of Beinn Ruigh Choinnich and Triuirebheinn above the anchorage.
The next day we anchored in Acarseid Mor, Eriskay and cycled over the
causeway back to South Uist to climb Roneval and Eashaval. We enjoyed a
pint in the Politician before returning aboard. The following day gave
us perfect weather for the day’s expeditions to Muldoanich and Pabbay
for their hills (photo of anchorage at Pabbay). We passed close by a
minke whale off Gighay and saw a dolphin, but sadly no basking sharks.
We are now in Castlebay, Barra fully restocked and ready to cross the
Sea of the Hebrides to the Small Isles, but our departure may be delayed
by the current forecast of strong easterly winds.

Meeting Other Boats

Meeting Other Boats | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

We headed out through the Sound of Harris and anchored off Pabbay while
the Skipper climbed its hill – Beinn a’Charnain. The island is small
with sandy beaches and good sheep grazing – all reminiscent of the
larger Taransay. Returning through the Cope Passage, we crossed Vaccasay
Basin again to the shallow Bagh Chaise, from where Crogary na Hoe was
climbed. Then it was off again for the short trip round to Lochmaddy
and a mooring off the pier (photo). The next morning dawned bright and
sunny, so we did not wait for the shop to open, but left early for Loch
Eport a few miles south. There we met Norman and Gillian on Curlew, and
had a good chat with them over coffee before climbing Eaval, a fine hill
giving extensive views over the Uists and Benbecula. In the afternoon,
we moved further south and anchored in the Wizard Pool, Loch Skipport on
the NE of South Uist. Shortly after arriving, we were joined by Milvina
and her Scottish/Canadian crew, whom we had met earlier in the season at
Fair Isle. They had not long returned from Norway, where in Alesund they
had met Peter and Neil in Seol na Mara. We enjoyed a convivial evening
with them, watching a bright orange moon rise in the east.

Back Aboard

Back Aboard | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

We resumed our summer cruise at Lochinver after travelling up by bus via
Inverness and Ullapool. It was a fine, balmy evening and we met the
first midges of the trip. A prawn fisherman gave us these four lovely
whiting, which fed us for the next two days. We left on a fine, sunny
but windless morning and motored down to Loch Gairloch, where we moored
at Badachro. We left next morning in a S5 gusting 6, which gave us good
sailing west across to the north of Skye and past Eilean Trodday. We
decided to make best use of the wind and carried on across the Little
Minch to the Sound of Harris, anchoring in Vaccasay Basin at Hermetray.
It was low water springs and Dirt Rock was showing as a nasty row of
rocky teeth. There is now a fish farm in the basin, but there is still
plenty of room to anchor clear of it. The wind gradually died away to
give a quiet evening.