The Mull Circumnavigation

Afternoon walk from the marina

Grazing in the meadow

Currently we’re at Oban Marina on the island of Kerrera, where we’re now fully provisioned for the Classic Malts Cruise, and awaiting the arrival of Helen, Brian and Nick.  The freezer is on because we’re not at all sure where we’ll be able to step ashore and provision over the next week of sailing.  Village shops seem to be rare in the places we’ll be visiting.

Last week we collected our new Manson Supreme Anchor from Oban Marina, where it had been delivered from Inverness.

New anchor!

Pipistrelle was well endowed with anchors, 2 x 60lb CQR’s, 2 x Fortress anchors, and a Danforth kedge anchor.  Technology has however moved on, and the Manson Supreme is the only production anchor holding a Lloyds certificate for super high holding power.  It also has a slot in the shank, into which the chain shackle is fastened, so that if the anchor is snagged, one only has to “run over” the anchor, and it will free itself without a tripping line.  Being the proud owners of a “super yacht”, we felt that with the anchoring technology being available, and anchoring in kelp in Scotland ever problematical, we owed it to Pipistrelle!

From Oban we sailed to Loch Spelve on Mull, which has an interesting entrance with a shallow area called The Mushroom on the south side, and a dangerous rock just past this on the north side, and a narrow channel through which the tide attains 5-6 knots!  Having found a sheltered spot, the anchor had its baptism, and held us in the exact position all night.

Pipistrelle and Ribbit

Our next stop was Tobermory and into another delightful anchorage, with towering trees and heronry on one side, and Calve Island on the other.  In the distance were the brightly coloured houses of Tobermory.   We had another couple of fine feasts of dressed crab and scallops, washed down of course with chilled white wine.

The next day we had a great sail down the west coast of Mull in warm sunshine and a following breeze, past the Treshnish Isles where we spotted puffins, and then a basking shark to the south of the islands.   We then slowed down to pass very close to Fingal’s Cave on Staffa, before arriving at Loch Scridain on the SW corner of Mull to anchor for the night in yet another scenic bay.

Staffa & Fingal’s Cave

We then had an early start to catch the tide through the Sound of Iona, which is a narrow and rock strewn passage between Mull and Iona.  Iona cathedral stands alone and dark against the bright green of the grass of the island, an awe inspiring sight in the sunshine.  As we were clearing the dangers to the south we spotted a ketch leaving Tinker’s Hole, an anchorage to the south of the island.  Whilst they were way ahead of us, once we had switched off the engine and unfurled the genoa, romping along at 7-8 knots, we soon began to catch them.  We then found ourselves in a situation where modern technology provides the ability to photograph a yacht under sail and presents a one-off opportunity!  Elaine took the pictures of Sirocco Star, Bob called them on the VHF, photos were taken of Pipistrelle, email addresses were exchanged, and we carried on our respective journeys!

We continued to the same pretty anchorage that we had used a week before, Puilladobhrain, which was as sheltered and unspoilt as we had found it before.  As the wind was going to ease to being very light overnight and for the following two days, we decided to spend the next day doing maintenance and relaxing.

Imagine our surprise at lunch time, when Sirocco Star motored gently past us.  Inevitably that led to imbibing together on both yachts, and we’ve now exchanged photos.  We very much hope to meet up again at some stage in the future.

Being so far north, it isn’t dusk until well after 11 pm.  The evening colours are beautifully soft, often leading to spectacular sunsets.  This, coupled with the distant mountains turning from shades of grey to darker shades of mauve, the darkening of the leaf foliage, the dark water, makes the whole Scottish experience magical.

Sunset Hues

And so to Oban Marina, where we were lucky to berth straight onto a pontoon on our own (a novelty just before an event), and prepare Pipistrelle to welcome her visitors.  The registration for the Classic Malts Cruise has now taken place, distillery visits organised, and we are looking forward to what promises to be a great two weeks of sailing and nosing.  Due to the remoteness of the places we plan to sail to, we’ll update the blog again in Campbeltown on the 26th July, where we plan to refuel before our passage south and where we know we’ll get a good signal.

So this is Yacht Pipistrelle now signing off for a couple of weeks.

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