Skip to content
Archive of entries posted on May 2010

Summer Reading

The skipper and mate have already read several of the library of novels brought on board for this season. One book we both really enjoyed is Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. The plot is complicated, three stories in one with a Cambridge based private investigator as its central character, and combines mystery, family drama,and despair. The action is split between Edinburgh and Cambridge with some very credible characters, a few very unexpected twists – and a lot of humour. Altogether a really good read.

Spanner In The Works

Inverie

Inverie

We made the short hop up to Mallaig and tied up alongside a fishing boat. The toolkit lacked a 24mm spanner to remove the gearbox sump plug for the 50 hour oil change, so it was straight off the chandlers and back for this simple task. But no! The spanner’s jaws were too thick for the restricted access – so off to the boatyard to borrow a 24mm socket and bar. But no again! The socket was too long for the clearance available – so back to the chandlers to exchange spanner for normal length socket. But no yet again! No metric sockets, only A/F, and size selected was just too large. Swapped again for correct size but still could not shift nut, which was by now somewhat chewed up. Back to boatyard, and kind fellow came to help. After 5 minutes of muttering he managed to free it off at last. All this took a few hours, but we finally got away and spent the night at Inverie, on Loch Nevis. It was really clear and beautiful, thanks to the cold northerly breeze. Today we went up the Sound of Sleat, throught the Kylerhea narrows, under the Skye Bridge and round to Plockton for a recce before our return visit next week. It is a beautiful spot.

Wind At Last

Doirlinn Castle, Loch Moidart

Doirlinn Castle, Loch Moidart

We awoke to thick fog and the sounding of horns from the Calmac ferries, invisible from our mooring, as was the shore only 40 metres away. We went ashore early to the supermarket and the fog was already thinning on our return aboard. We left to catch the tide down the Sound of Mull, by which time the day was bright and sunny. We continued past Tobermory, round the NW corner of Mull, and down to Gometra, anchoring in the pool there. A quick ascent of the hill above (also called Gometra) helped work up a good appetite for dinner. Although still without wind, the next morning had fairly good visibility and we went north, past Ardnamurchan Point and through the tortuous entrance into Loch Moidart, anchoring just off Shona. An energetic afternoon saw ascents of Beinn a’Bhaillidh on Shona and Beinn Bhreac further up the loch. Then wind at last, but from NW, right on the nose for the short leg up to the sheltered anchorage at Arisaig, where it continued to blow Force 5/6 for the rest of the day.

Port Ellen

After four nights in Portrush we had to get away and left for Islay despite the initially rough sea, motorsailing to Port Ellen where there are visitors’ moorings and a small marina.

Portrush, Northern Ireland

The Crown Bar

We headed further along the Antrim coast, past the Giant’s Causeway (less impressive than its spectacular other end at Fingal’s Cave, Staffa) and round into Portrush. Of somewhat faded seaside glamour, the town was mobbed with many hundreds of bikers who had come to watch a major road race over the weekend. We took the train into Belfast and had a good wander round although it was cold with the occasional shower. Unfortunately, the City Hall was closed to visitors that day, but its Edwardian exterior is most impressive. We were also impressed by the Crown Bar, largely unchanged since Victorian times, and billing itself as the only pub with a webcam and still lit by gas! We also took a trip to Londonderry – a very attractive train journey, first to Coleraine and then along the coastline to Derry itself. We did the charity shops, bookshop, walk round the Walls and had lunch (Irish Stew, of course!) in a tearoom.

Rathlin, Northern Ireland

From Campbeltown we made for Rathlin and caught the tide just right at the Mull of Kintyre, reaching 9.9kts as we were swept out into the North Channel. Church Bay, Rathlin has a pontoon inside a large breakwater and provides good shelter (and showers).

Arran

Arran Peaks from Beinn Bhreac

Arran Peaks from Beinn Bhreac

A short passage south to Arran (first sighting of porpoises) took us in to Lochranza, always an attractive port of call. We spent two nights there while the Skipper added three more island Marilyns to his tally. The first day was gloriously warm and sunny with a superb sunset, but the next day reverted to being unseasonably cool in the prevailing northerly airstream. The weather was brightening as we headed south again down the Kilbrannan Sound to Campbeltown. Most of the shops were closed for a local holiday, but we were able to restock at a supermarket.

White Horses

Toward Point

Toward Point

The wind got up overnight and by morning a steady Force5 was sending white horses right across Rothesay Bay. It was not uncomfortable, but too rough to go ashore in the dinghy. We set off in mid-morning and with the wind gusting erratically between F3 and F6 had a short sail down the Easy Kyle, past the Burnt Isles and in to Tighnabruaich. The afternoon was spent on doing a few minor jobs around the boat – little things which were not necessary before the launch, but which need to be kept on top of. Boat maintenance is never ending! The sun shone in the afternoon, but the NE breeze kept the temperature low.

Underway Again

Cloch Point, Arran in distance

Cloch Point, Arran in distance

After her winter layup at Dumbarton, which saw a new engine installed, Arctica put in to Rhu Marina for a few days. A flying visit from the Technical Wizard saw further upgrading to the navigation, communication and blog systems.After the final loading of personal gear and yet more food and drink, we got underway from Rhu at 1530 on a fine but calm afternoon. We ran the required engine checks at 50%, 75% and 100% throttle on the way down to Cloch Point and found all to be well with our new Beta28 and feathering propeller. On rounding Toward Point we decided that Rothesay would make an easy and convenient anchorage, and picked up a visitor’s mooring at 1800. It is a nice location, but somewhat rolly as the ferries come and go.