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Scottish Cruise - August 2011

Charter from Ardfern aboard "Findeln" - Westerly Ocean Ranger 38

Updated: 31-08-2011

Report from Barry Clarkson:

Crew at Jura Hotel Crew at Jura Hotel

Crew : Pam, Roger, Mick and Barry (Skipper)

The Scottish Charter this year was from Ardfern at the head of Loch Craignish. It was the same boat as last year, i.e. "Findeln" - Westerly Ocean Ranger 38, but due to an alteration in the opening hours for the Crinan Canal, Argyll Yacht Charters found that the canal was no longer viable as an operating base. Four intrepid sailors Pam, Roger, Mick and Barry set off on Friday morning for the long drive north, taking an overnight B&B as last year near to Loch Gilphead. Shopping in the morning, we found the boat available from 2 o'clock and set off for the marina on Kerrera (Oban Bay) at 4 o'clock a pleasant evening sail with a southerly wind arriving at 20.30, 20 nm. The ferry across the bay to Oban is free so in the morning we spent an hour looking round Oban before sailing for Tobermory in the afternoon. A S/Westerly F4 got us alongside by 19.00, 29nm, some headwinds this time, but the weather still fair.

A morning ashore in "Ballymory" and then more headwinds in the afternoon, we set off for the island of Coll arriving 16.45 on a mooring buoy this time, 25nm. Dinghy ashore to sample the local brew absolutely plagued with midges here we were glad to get back on board but the beer was nice.

Distillery Distillery

Leaving Coll and heading for a lunch stop in the Treshnish Isles we should have had a pleasant beam reach all morning, but the wind had backed into the s/east - another head-wind, funny that! Wind rising a bit we had to tuck in a reef. After lunch a trip down to Staffa under engine for a photo call of the cave and then for an overnight anchorage in Gometra harbour, all this stuff is on the west side of Mull by the way, 22nm today.

A peaceful night at anchor, we had a very heavy prolonged shower as we sailed towards the Sound of Iona, we were through by mid-day and on course for Collonsay, here there wasn't room for two yachts alongside the pier so we lay alongside the yacht that was occupying the berth, took on water and set off for West Loch Tarbert. This is described in the pilot book as the wildest and most remote anchorage in this part of the West Coast, it didn't disappoint the weather was beautiful and lots of photographs were taken, 43nm today.

Last but one day dawned, lovely weather, sailed off the anchor, hard on the wind down the Sound of Islay against the tide, we went slower and slower, and eventually we had the sails on and the engine. At the southern end of the Sound we tried just with the sails again but making very little progress when we caught the Genoa on the cross trees and the sail got a 2 foot tear in the leach.

We had intended to spend the last night in Ghia just off the Kintyre coast. A quick change of plan. I informed the owner and motor sailed into Craighouses on Jura. We went ashore here for a beer in the hotel, had dinner aboard, and went ashore again for a shower, a bit grotty (the showers not us). 31nm sailed.

Red Sky Red Sky

Before sailing from Craighouses the extra forestay was rigged and the storm jib hoisted which looked a bit odd as we had no wind, but it looked smart, I think it was brand new. We motored up the Sound of Jura and at lunchtime anchored behind Carsaig Island on the mainland shore. Tony Benett from who we chartered the boat arrived alongside in his fast response rib to remove the genoa and get it to his sailmaker for repair. The wind filled in a treat as we were having lunch and we were able to sail all the way back to Ardfern making about 4.6 knots with the storm jib in 15knots of wind on the beam. Arrived at 5.35, the fuel berth had just closed at 5.30. 25nm today.

An evening ashore in the pub, clean the boat up next morning, shifting to the fuel berth at 9 o'clock to fill with diesel and we were ready for home.

The weather this year was good, plenty of sunshine , the views were outstanding and plenty of wind for sailing a good time was had by all, total distance sailed 195nm.

It has been suggested that we try for the Outer Hebrides next year, that means either chartering from Skye, an awfully long drive to get there and also the return, or it might be possible to negotiate a 10 day charter with the boat we had this year.