Wednesday, May 22, 2024

2024 May 21st days 53 - ?, Kyle Rhea and hiding from another gale.

Bad news on Wednesday morning; on Tuesday the forecast had been for strong northerly winds and I was planning to shelter on one of several anchorages near Rassay, probably Churchtown Bay, but this mornings this was the inshore forecast at 07:00:

24 hour forecast: Variable 2 to 4, becoming north or northwest 3 to 5 later. Smooth or slight. Showers, fog patches in west. Moderate or good, occasionally very poor in west.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: North or northwest 3 to 5, increasing 5 to 7, perhaps gale 8 later. Smooth or slight becoming slight or moderate. Rain and showers. Good, occasionally poor.

And worse the met office model I downloaded showed gusts of 50 knots Wednesday night.  

With the direction of the wind not 100% certain I changed my plan and went to Upper Lochcarron, the best anchorage in a northerly that I know of in the area, sensible depths, there would be a reasonable distance behind in case of problems, mountains to windward are some distance away reducing the chance of mountain affects and there is good protection from wind and sea from the NW to NE and some from every direction.

Anchored at the red circle, chart by Antares.

Getting there required passing three tidal gates in one tide, The Kyle Rhea, The Skye Bridge narrows and Strome Narrows at the entrance to the loch. To do this I timed my arrival at the south end of Kyle Rhea for slack water, easy enough to do as I was only about 7 miles away, leaving at 10:50 I was there on time at 12:35 and went through with only a modest maximum tide of 2 knots. 

Sandaig, home of Gavin Maxwell and the Otters.
Annoyingly a nice sailing breeze set in as I entered Loch Alsh but it was dead on the nose and if I tried beating against it I would miss the tidal gate at Strome Narrows. So I motored on.

A unique sight for me, Skye bridge and a clear sky.
Naturally the wind died as I went under Skye bridge when I could have sailed so it was a motor all the way. I arrived at 16:35 in time to get 10 litres of diesel, a few items from the shop - a long row up wind, and again failed to replace an empty Gaz cylinder.

The entrance to Strome Narrows centre left to Plockton right.
Strome Narrows.

On Wednesday it became even more apparent that the change of plan was a good call, all forecasts in the area were worse  and looking further out, as is normal with a passing depression up here the wind will veer, from N or NW to NE which could cause a problem in some anchorages.

With the possibility of gusts of 40 - 50 knots some additional precautions are in order, either backing up the anchor, putting out two anchors or both.

A significant change in wind direction makes having two anchors out problematic so the first job  on Wednesday, before the heavy rain arrives was to back up the anchor with 10Kg of anchor and 5 metres of 8mm chain that should stop the anchor from being jerked out. Hopefully the anchor will reset by itself as the boat swings from lying to the west to NW, but that should happen soon when I will be awake.

Ready to go
In action with the normal shock absorber to stop the chain
“Grumbling” against the roller. The wind is c 18 knots less
than 10 minutes after it being zero.
The lull before the somewhat delayed storm. Coincidently
its 3 years to the day since I last rode out a storm here.

Hopefully I will be able to move out on Friday.

Lots of pictures to follow.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

2024 May 20th Day 52, Tobermory to Camas Croise.

Another lovely morning, but no wind.

With bad weather now forecast on Wednesday afternoon it was either leave or be there for the rest of the week and be on a mooring somewhat exposed to the north winds, so off I went.  

A light breeze came in from the east as I entered The Sound so up went the cruising chute. It actually got quite windy as I approached Ardnamurchan point reaching Force 5, only acceptable with the chute on a very broad reach, I would have to head up when past the point so down it came and a few minutes later the wind completely disappeared so on went the engine. 
At 13:40 a south-westerly wind crept in and the chute went back up until just short of the anchorage when the wind moved backed to the SSW and the chute would not work on the dead run, there was no point in rigging the pole or hoisting the symmetrical spinnaker  so I motored the last 2 miles.
The Hebridean Princess mini cruise ship, I have seen her at least
once on every trip to Scotland and multiple times in the Scilly
Isles and the West Country. The Isle of Rum in the background.
The anchorage at Camas Croise.
39 miles in 9 hours.

Slide show with lots of pics to follow, probably when I get home.

Click here for a rush to Lochcarron for shelter.Click here for a rush to Lochcarron for shelter.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

2024 May 18th Days 50 & 51, To Tobermory.

 WIP, no pics yet except those on the iPad

I left early against the tide to make the best of the day at Tobermory, the morning was very busy, rowing in twice to replenish Diesel and Water, both of which were low and a heavy lift. The a row across the harbour to the beach outside of the COOP for a major shop with some heavy items, fortunately, unlike the shop in Ardglass most of the items had long use by dates, I had decided to stay on the mooring for two nights and left some items for Sunday only to find none of the fruit and veg I wanted  to be in-stock so a second trip was required in the afternoon - I had spied the coop delivery truck leaving as I arrived in the morning.

The rest of Sunday morning was spend doing an oil and filter change on the engine, it was not due  but would become so when I would be out in the wilds of NW Scotland or the Hebrides and I prefered to do it on a mooring with supplies available locally rather than at ancho in some remote place.

A newly built "Pleasure Craft" (according to AIS) came in
for a few hours after anchoring in the fairway. In my view a
very unattractive bow, presumably that long to give room for
the Helipad forward.

The forecast are again all over the place, fat Loch Aline the strong winds had failed to materialise, on Saturday night gale force winds were forecast for Thursday, now on Sunday morning they are due to arrive on Wednesday afternoon with light winds Monday and Tuesday. I therefore gave up on crossing the Sea of Hebrides where I was hopeful of a repeat of last years spectacular display of wildlife. 

Instead I will head up the Sound of Sleat, going as far as I can under sail on Monday then heading for the Kyle Rhea on Tuesday, a fair tide is mandatory here as the tide is stronger than the boat will go, fortunately it starts to run north at 12:30 so I should be able to get through there and past Skye Bridge. An anchorage suitable in a gale force northerly may be a stretch for Tuesday but possible if there is not going to be time on Wednesday before it arrives.
14 miles in less than 3 hours.
Click here for Camas CroiseClick here for Camas Croise

2024 May 17th Day 49, to Loch Aline

Pic album to follow

The strong winds did not materialise, now they are due tomorrow night so with no wind I bit the bullet and headed for the Sound of Mull on a lovely day apart front he lack of a sailing breeze. I started early against the tide to get favourable tides where the run strongest, on a neap tide currents were modest but I followed my already plotted route to give the Gulf of Corryvreckan, famous for it's huge whirlpool and strong tides, a very wide berth.

Passing the Gulf of Corryvreckan

Approaching Fladda and about to exit the rout inside Jura and
Scarba into the Firth of Lorn
The route requires accurate navigation in strong currents
but is not difficult, pots buoys being the main hazard
for a well engined boat.
I was rather concerned when I saw lots of yachts heading for
The Sound of Mull, probably with only half showing on AIS,
if this was a rally going to Loch Aline or Tobermory space
was likely going to be an issue. It turned out it was a local
version of the three peaks race.
This crew were taking the race seriously having sliding seats
fitted to each hull and two guys rowing.
The tide was foul shortly after entering the sound but not strong and I was at anchor in Loch Aline at 16:30 on a very pleasant evening watching a few seals.
A couple of seals moving out of the way as I go into the anchorage.
From the anchorage
47 miles in eight and three-quarter hours.
Click here for Tobermory

Thursday, May 16, 2024

2024 May 16th Day 48, Craro Bay to Muilean Eiteae Bagh, Loch Caolisport.

 WIP and no pictures due to poor intermittent internet.

The forecast was for very light winds during the day and brisk or strong winds overnight, also for northerly winds for several days. Fed up with all of the motoring on this trip I decided on a short hop to one of the limited number of anchorages sheltered from the north, most of which are not usable if there is any swell from the south, not currently an issue. 

I left at 07:45 and arrived at 11:00 somewhat annoyed as there appeared to be a home made pot buoy on the exact spot I had marked to anchor but when I got very close it turned out to be a dead bird so I continued with my plan although as the previous night a light southerly set in as I approached, on this occasion I anchored under power going astern to make absolutely certain I was in the right position with a good anchor hold in advance of a F5-6 wind expected overnight.

Muilean Eiteae Bagh is my kind of anchorage; no habitation or roads in sight and when the wind died after anchoring complete, absolute silence – a rare thing. Until the cuckoos  started calling; I do not like them having, years ago, been sleep deprived for weeks when one took up residence at the end of the garden and stated calling in the pre-dawn every day.

I suspect it will be another short hop tomorrow to somewhere around Crinan and then I will have to bite the bullet and motor to the sound of Mull as that needs to be done in one go and the tide is just about acceptable on Saturday.

16 miles in three and a quarter hours.

Click here for the Sound of Mull and Loch Aline.

2024 May 15th Day 47, Browns Bay to Craro Bay, Gigha.

Wednesday I left at 05:00  initially under engine making good time until some wind filled in at 08:15 so off went the engine except for an hour to avoid going into the Traffic Separation Scheme off of the Mull of Kintire. Heading north I was able to sail for a good portion of the time. With a northerly wind forecast overnight I went to Craro Bay on the SW corner of Gigha.

Typically just after I anchored in the 80 yard wide anchorage a wind set in from the south from which there is no protection, fortunately it was light and variable and unlike on a previous visit the anchor had penetrated the weed and had a good hold as the boat went all over the place during the night, quite close to an islet on the west side.

50 miles in eleven hours.

Click here for Muilean Eiteae Bagh, Loch Caolisport.