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Archive of entries posted on June 2010

Friends Visit Arctica

Jim and Euan on An Cruaidh

Jim and Euan on An Cruaidh

We had two days in Gairloch before the arrival of our friends. Sunday was misty and drizzly all day – just fine for catching up on boat chores, reading and relaxing. Monday was a beautiful day and, after finding a taxi when the bus failed to appear, the Skipper took to the hills between Gairloch and Loch Maree. This is a lovely stretch of hills – not high but very rugged, rough walking and with a nice sense of isolation. When Morag & Euan and Jim & Linda arrived we had lunch and blethered for a few hours before taking a short walk up Flowerdale. This sharpened appetites for a bar dinner at The Old Inn, which we can highly recommend – good menu, excellent food and fair value. Next day the men went off for an enjoyable longish walk to a little hill, leaving the ladies to their day of more sociable activities. Again we dined at The Old Inn before returning aboard for a nostalgic singsong. Today we said goodbye to our friends and sailed up to Lochinver, where we are leaving Arctica for three weeks before resuming our cruising.

Flowerdale

Flowerdale House

Flowerdale House

A fellow sailor, from a boat that was rafted up to Arctica for a night, recommended a walk which starts just across the main road from the pier at Gairloch. He didn’t mention the house! I don’t think there are many like this in Gairloch. A nice leaflet, bought at the start of the walk, says that Flowerdale is part of the Gairloch Estate and has been in the hands of the Mackenzies of Gairloch for seventeen generations. It still looks pretty good to me. Today, in bright sunshine, I thoroughly enjoyed walking around this estate. With the gurgling burn, wild flowers and good paths, I would endorse the recommendation.

Shark – O!

Loch Skipport, N Uist

Loch Skipport, N Uist

Continuing strong northerlies kept us in Lochboisdale for a day then we continued up South Uist nevertheless. Off the north entrance to Loch Boisdale we almost ran into a basking shark. The sea was fairly rough and only at the last moment did we see the black triangular dorsal fin and the tip of the tail. Throttling back immediately seemed to wake the shark up and it dived with a big swirl of tail. Loch Skipport gave access to a pair of good hills – Hecla, just short of 2000ft, and its sharply protruding neighbour Ben Corodale. Lochmaddy was our next stop , and the Skipper made good use of the local bus connections to climb the final two Marilyns of North Uist. The Mate bussed to Eriskay and Berneray, where by chance she met Fan & James who were over for the day from Harris. Today in quiet conditions we crossed the Minch to Gairloch, an 8 hour trip, and are now settled on the pontoon at Gairloch Pier.

Skye to South Uist

Raasay Sound from Ben Tianavaig

Raasay Sound from Ben Tianavaig

We thoroughly enjoyed our few days at Plockton in the company of family and friends. They had wonderful weather throughout their week in Scotland, and it has continued since then. We went back to Portree for diesel, water, showers, haircut and two more hills, including the very fine Ben Tianavaig overlooking Portree bay, the haunt of sea eagles which we saw. Our next stop was Isle Ornsay in the Sound of Sleat after a lovely sail in a light northerly, from Raasay under the Skye Bridge and down through the Kylerhea narrows with the ebbing tide. Today we gave the new engine its first long run as we motored the 52 miles out past Rum and Canna and across the Sea of the Hebrides to Lochboisdale, South Uist. Perversely, the wind got up on our arrival and we are now swinging about at anchor just astern of the moorings in a gusting fresh breeze (Force 5).

Position Report – Isle Ornsay

Dolphins

Dolphins

Dolphins

Dolphin Watching

Dolphin Watching

After a couple of nights at Portree, and hills on Scalpay and Raasay, we returned to Plockton to meet up with family and friends who had taken a house nearby for a week’s holiday. We had dinner and stayed overnight with them. The next day, one of glorious weather, we were joined by Fin and his friends Jules and Anna with their young daughters Liv, Freja and baby Chloe for a trip through the Kyle Strome narrows into Loch Carron. Much to the delight of guests and crew alike we met up with the resident dolphins, which cavorted round the boat for a mile or so. We nosed in among skerries for a close-up view of basking seals, then turned in to anchor off Lochcarron village. The girls were taken ashore for beachcombing, and their parents (hardy Swedes) took the opportunity for a swim. The weather was perfect – Scotland at its best – and we all enjoyed an unforgettable day. The next day started overcast but there was a sailing breeze. Fan and James came aboard for the day, and after topping up with water at Kyle pontoon we sailed up to the Crowlin Islands and went into the inner pool to anchor and have lunch. We made to leave an hour before Low Water Springs but ran out of water at the sill and grounded gently but firmly on shingle. We sat comfortably but slightly off the level until an hour after LWS when we floated off and were able to inch our way gently out and sail back to Plockton.