In Port Ellen we awoke to ‘mizzle’– that’s a cross between mist and drizzle. May the word not be used frequently in the blog over the next couple of weeks!
We seem to be dodging a lot of adverse weather at present. Leaving Dublin last Monday, June 23rd, in reasonable weather was exactly the right thing to do, and in fact we had to motor for most of the 22 hour passage to Campbeltown. This was our first overnight venture on Pipistrelle with just the two of us, for we had said goodbye to Mike that morning, who had been with us for three weeks.
Mike we are indebted to for his culinary talents, his ability to climb up the mast, his gas engineering skills (he sorted out the faulty burner on the cooker where the Corgi engineer couldn’t), his sail trimming expertise, his general contribution to our getting to know Pipistrelle and not least his endless store of Tommy Cooper jokes. We hope Mike will join us again later in the summer….
Campbeltown afforded us a welcome port of refuge – the weather turned miserable just after we arrived. But though not a pretty town, the people were friendly, it has a thriving fishing community with trawlers constantly departing and arriving with their catch. We benefited that first evening when we wandered round to see the trawlers being unloaded, enquired whether we could buy some of the catch (large Clyde prawns), only to be given a bag containing about a kilo of them. Campbeltown was also useful for laundry and provisions, and diesel, cheaper than the Hamble! We also discovered the Linda MacCartney memorial garden, Paul MacCartney’s Wings and the Mull of Kintyre!
The square rigged Royalist also paid a brief visit. We have seen her in the Solent, but were unaware that she is a Sea Cadet training vessel.
Our next stop was Port Ellen on Islay where we anchored for the night. Even though it was sheltered there was considerable swell. The real find was the scallop packing plant which we eventually found well tucked away….. recommended by a friend who’d sniffed it out last year. Well worth the trouble – absolutely tremendous cooked in a mixture of olive oil and butter with a generous slug of white wine added at the end for the sauce!
But did it blow up then! The wind was so strong and the motion so great in our cabin in the bows, we decamped to one of the aft cabins for some quiet – some hope! A disturbed night nonetheless convinced us to move on next day.
From Port Ellen we had brilliant sailing with a SW’ly behind us up the Sound of Jura to Craighouse, home of Jura Malt Whisky and the small Jura hotel which served an excellent meal. We were joined by Jonny Moore, www.jonnymooresailing.com , a 16 year old who is sailing his Corribee 22 from Holyhead around the UK, raising funds for the Kendal Sea Cadets. We feel that this is a magnificent effort. 10/10 to Jonny together with his supportive father and family. Good luck to him on his travels.
From Craighouse we needed to find some shelter from a forecast gale, but we had time to spend one more night at anchor first, and so made for the Fairy Isles. This is a group of tiny islands almost at the head of Loch Sween, very close to Tayvallich. We had another brilliant sail right up the loch, and with a boat leaving as we arrived had this delightful anchorage to ourselves. Seals and their pups were resting on rocky outcrops, and herons fishing within feet of us, all totally peaceful.
The Ardfern Yacht Centre beckoned for shelter from the forecast SEly gale, so it was a quick sail round the corner and up to the head of Loch Craignish. Here we were surprised to find another Pipistrelle, a 19ft Cape Cutter, proudly owned by David Farquhar.
We were delighted to entertain David and his wife Cherry on board the big sister, and the following evening while the wind howled and the rain lashed down we enjoyed the most delicious smoked fish, lamb and venison chez Farquhar (on dry land in the cottage they rent and complete with log fire), together with the company of their daughter Fi. We returned on board feeling really spoilt.
With the wind abating it was time to move on, and time our passage through the Dorus Mor, with it’s tidal race, and on northwards through the islands towards Oban. Again we had the wind behind us, so enjoyed great sailing, and speeds over the ground up to 12 knots.
We have anchored in another idyllic place, Puilladobhrain, pronounced Puldohran, which is on the NW corner of Seil Island, well known for Clachan Bridge, or Bridge over the Atlantic.
The water is crystal clear, and scenery breath taking. We have even had some warm sunshine today, the first since southern Ireland, albeit followed by a torrential downpour. One disadvantage of this area is that the internet connection has been dire, hence the reason for the time it has taken to get this published, and the lack of photos. However, these will be posted once we have a good connection again, probably in Oban.
More bad weather is forecast this weekend, so we are off to Loch Spelve on Mull tomorrow, and will shelter there until Sunday at the earliest.
Meanwhile, enjoying the moment, we’re putting the final touches to this blog on deck in the late evening sunshine and have just feasted on scallops again. These we bought from a shellfish specialist in Ardfern. In their shells they presented a new challenge for Bob to prepare them. He didn’t have any trouble with the two crab we got at the same time. The boat must have reeked of fish!