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Archive of posts filed under the Summer Cruise 2009 category.

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.

Home again, Home again………………………

Home again, Home again……………………… | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

The weather seemed to settle into a pattern of warm, sunny days with
thundery showers breaking out in the evenings. We spent an afternoon in
the pub watching Andy Murray’s exit from Wimbledon, and another walking
from Lochinver to the bookshop and cafe at Inverkirkaig – always an
interesting place to visit. We were given some lovely fresh pollack for
tea after failing to catch any ourselves. Lochinver seems a good place
to leave a boat, so we have left Arctica on the pontoon there for four
weeks and gone home to do other things for a spell. We are signing off
for now with this calm photo of warm sunshine and a smooth sea. To be

A Change in the Weather

A Change in the Weather | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

We were joined for lunch by Ken and Ann, who drove over from Kirkwall in
their open-top sports car. A Caterham 7, its dark green body, yellow
nose and red leather seats drew admiring glances in Stromness. Soon
after, Seol na Mara arrived with crew of Peter, Neil and Angus. In the
evening we had a lively ceilidh with everyone in good form. We left
early next morning for the crossing to the N coast, and motored in
bright sunshine and a smooth sea across to Talmine, at the mouth of the
Kyle of Tongue. Five miles out from Hoy and in deep water we were caught
on a fishing buoy, but fortunately got it detached without difficulty.
After dinner some showers started drifting over – the first rain for
many weeks. Another still, bright morning saw us motoring again, west to
Cape Wrath (photo) and south to Kinlochbervie. On the way we saw the
spectacular sight of killer whales breaching repeatedly. Once berthed,
we watched the cockpit thermometer rise steadily to an oppressive 99.7F
(37.6C) but before it could reach 100F there was a dramatic weather
change. In the space of minutes the sky darkened, lightning flashed,
thunder rolled, a sudden howling wind shook the boat and the rain beat
down in torrents. It was certainly dramatic if not downright scary!

The Sun Shines On

The Sun Shines On | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

In Fair Isle we tied alongside ‘Milvina’, a Canadian flagged aluminium
yacht with Canadian/Scottish owners, which overwinters at Ardrossan.
Invited on board for a sundowner, and later a nightcap, we enjoyed a
very sociable evening with her crew. It was southwards again next day
for Orkney, where we spent the night at Stronsay pier. Big spring tides
(Summer solstice) meant we had only two feet under the keel at low water
and had to be careful not to get hung up on our warps. On our way down
to Kirkwall we didn’t allow sufficiently for the fierce 5+kt cross tide
off Muckle Green Holm at the mouth of Westray Firth, and were carried
well off course north of Shapinsay. Entering the Wide Firth, north of
Kirkwall, we heard on the VHF a Dutch yacht calling the Coastguard for
assistance as the Skipper had a suspected broken ankle. The Kirkwall
lifeboat was despatched and we saw crew being put aboard to assist her
in to the marina, and the casualty to a waiting ambulance. Happily, it
was a case of only a sprained ankle. We have lost count of the number of
consecutive sunny days with light easterly winds (photo) and are now in
Stromness, awaiting the arrival of Seol na Mara on her way north.

Lerwick to Fair Isle

Lerwick to Fair Isle | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

‘Boys’ Week’ was a great success, but the return of the Mate saw a
great step-up in the standard of catering aboard. That evening, we
found a live music session in the Douglas Arms and the Skipper
contributed a few moothie tunes to the proceedings. On a beautiful
morning, we turned up at Tingwall Airport for our day trip to Foula
(with its two Marilyns) but were warned that thick fog was expected and a return flight could not be guaranteed. Reluctantly, we called off the trip and later kicked ourselves as no fog materialised much north of Orkney. However, we enjoyed a walk into Scalloway and a picnic in the sun on the waterfront. Jim caught the overnight ferry to Aberdeen and next morning we departed for Fair Isle, keen to be off agaain, but sorry to miss the Taste Of Shetland event and associated activities about to start in the tented village on the pier. The photo is of Sumburgh Head just before we rounded it to the west to avoid the ‘roost’. At Fair Isle, we enjoyed a sociable evening with the Canadian/Scottish/English crew of ‘Milvina’.

South from Unst

South from Unst | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

Next morning, the forecast of an impending southerly gale propelled us
into a quick ascent of Saxa Vord, the most northerly Marilyn, and a
short visit to the fascinating Unst Boat Haven museum, before departing
south to Whalsay. Sod’s Law of the Sea was at work again – now that we
had changed direction, so had the contrary wind. We sat out a bad
weather day in Symbister, but visited the restored "bod" (trading booth)
from the days when Shetland traded with the Hanseatic League, based in
Bremen. On the pier we saw this example of wheel clamping Shetland
style! We then returned to Lerwick for Bob to catch the ferry home,
leaving Jim and the Skipper based there for a few days until the Mate
returns. A ferry trip across the sound, a walk across Bressay, and a
short hop on the RSPB rib took us over to the nature reserve of Noss,
with its spectacular cliffs and seabird colonies. Today we bussed to
Hamnavoe on the west coast island of Burra and walked back to Scalloway
and over the hills to Lerwick. The weather was showery, but we dried out
comfortably between showers.