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Force 5 to 7, 8 later!

Updated: 07-09-2009

Force 5 to 7, 8 later! That sums up the forecasts that we got courtesy of the coastguard for our week's charter in Scotland at the end of August 2009.

Bellanoch Bellanoch

Arriving in Loch Gilphead on Friday evening, four of the crew had an evening meal in the Argyll Arms, Saturday morning was spent shopping in the Co op, after a walk along the Crinan canal.

Sally joined us later in the afternoon and after a boat hand over we left the canal about half past four. Full sail with a rising wind dead astern, through a choppy Dorus Mor, navigating by eyeball at this stage, I missed having Ruth monitoring our position from the nav table.

We arrived after office hours at Croabh Haven (say it 'Croove'). An evening meal in the Lord of the Isles, which was jumping, bursting at the seams with newly arrived yachtsmen ready for the round Shuna race the next morning, we were invited to join, but declined, insurance, you know. The live music was good too.

Next morning was wet and windy, “must be mad” was heard from the Flying Fifteen sailors as they were preparing their boats to be towed out to the start line. We decided to stay in for the day, we only had to move the boat off the hammerhead where we had parked the previous evening to an allotted berth when the office opened. Pretty place Croabh, but not a lot to do all day, some of us went for a walk.

Croabh Haven Croabh Haven

Monday fortunately dawned much better, see photo right. The forecast was only 5/6, 4/5 later, sail was set for Tobermory, a fine day and sail, slightly foreshortened by the repeat of the inshore waters forecast at 10 past 2 which promised for Caledonia, gale 8 soon, no idea where the 4/5 went.

The cowardly skipper decided that a diversion was prudent and we went to Ardentrive on Kerrera, opposite Oban, arriving about 4-30.

More rain through the night, still windy the next morning and showery. A trip over to Oban on the free ferry, a walk and some shopping. After listening to the inshore Caledonia forecast we left in the afternoon for Tobermory, a wonderful sail across the Firth of Lorn to the sound of Mull, 8 knots at times, we sailed more sedately up the sound to Tobermory, picked up a visitors buoy about 7 o’clock.

A beautiful evening, Tobermory A beautiful evening, Tobermory

The next morning the wind and rain were back, rather than blow the dinghy up, the boat was moved to the marina, all very new since I was last there. A walk ashore wearing oilies in the morning.

 Loch Aline Loch Aline

After lunch we left for a sail down the Sound to Loch Aline. The only time through the whole week that we had to beat, so tacking down in progressively lighter wind we arrived for an overnight anchorage and calm night in the loch. Loch Aline is supposedly the best anchorage in the West Highlands, you can anchor almost anywhere the holding is excellent and “the wooded shores soak up a deal of wind” according to my pilot book.

The following photo shows the small tidal range , it was taken a little past low water.

A beautiful evening, Tobermory Small tidal range, Loch Aline

Thursday saw us motoring out of the Loch, wind light at first, but soon back to double reefed main and half a dozen rolls in the genny. Back through Cuan sound always an interesting passage with its fast running tides. We were heading for Ardfern, which is about 4 miles from Crinan. Sailing gently through Shuna sound under full sail by this time in the sheltered water, there was a bang and the genoa descended the fitting attaching the swivel to the halliard had sheared. That night in Ardfern it blew a gale through the marina but it appeared to have calmed down in the morning. The owner and the boat yard men arrived at nine to fix the problem.

Our last day, we fuelled the boat and at 10:30 set off in increasing wind for a lunch time stop at anchor behind Carsaig Island, perfect shelter behind the island, but by the time lunch was over there where white horses everywhere out in the sound.

??? Sound of Luing

Three reefs and the engine was the rig for the return to Crinan sea loch, on the way back I noticed 40 knots over the deck in one of the gusts. Once in the canal on the way back to Bellanoch it was perfectly sheltered. Back to the Argyll Arms that evening to celebrate David's birthday. All ready for the journey home the next day via the Sound of Shap.

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