Trip on a yacht starting 2012-09-22 in BSAOct12
Charter from Alba Sailing, Dunstaffrange Marina, Oban, Argyle and Bute 22nd September to 29th September 2012 – report by Nick Kinsley
Friday 21st September 2012
We left Bristol on at 8.15 am. After about 10 hours travelling, including breaks for refreshment, fuel and change of drivers, we arrived in sunshine at the marina. David and Julie Banks of Alba Sailing were helpful and friendly and, as previously agreed, allowed us to sleep aboard that night, even though the charter did not start until the next day. We enjoyed a meal in the Wide Mouthed Frog marina restaurant that evening.
Saturday 22nd September 2012
We awoke to a sunny day with wind SE 4 to 5. The hand over was clear and efficient by David Banks. The yacht was a very well equipped Janeau Sun Odessey 35. It has a chart plotter both below and at the wheel.
David kindly lent me a fleece-lined arctic standard sleeping bag, when I said that mine did not seem to be up to the Scottish challenge. We slipped at 11.15 and made for Tobermory on Mull which is NW up the Sound of Mull, with Mull on the left and the Morven Peninsula on the right. The wind soon dropped to 2Kn and by 2pm was northerly. By then we had to motor, with the occasional flurry of sailing. We arrived at 15.20 having travelled 28NM. It was a fine evening and we had an excellent local beer in the quirky bar in the Mishnish Hotel, followed by a good meal there.
Sunday 23rd September 2012
We had heard reports of large numbers of basking sharks, perhaps minke whales and seals so we decided to make for the islands of Coll and Tiree. At 09.00 the wind was E 5Kn so we had a brisk sail in search of marine life. By about noon we were about 4 miles off Coll The breeze stiffened, gusting 25Kn and the sea state made any sightings unlikely, so we beat back for Tobermory where we moored at 15.30, having travelled 36NM. That evening’s weather forecast for Monday was E/NE 6 to 8 rising to 9. We went in search of local beer which we found in MacGochans. It was disgusting, but the Tobermory malt was a saving grace. The food there for the most part was tolerable. That night the wind increased considerably and we doubly secured lines to the pontoon which leapt and crashed all night.
Monday 24th September 2012
The barometer had fallen dramatically and, in view of the continuing wind and the forecast for even higher wind, we decided to hire a car and explore the island down the single track roads where, we were told, there were sea eagles, golden eagles, peregrines and buzzards along the north coast and on the cliffs of the western sea lochs. Indeed we did see all these birds soaring above the cliffs at Calgary Bay on the NW coast. On the edge of Loch Na Keal we saw a tenacious mink killing a rabbit twice its size. A short ferry crossing off the SW corner of Mull lies Iona and its Abbey. We visited the grave there of John Smith, Leader of the labour Party whose untimely death in 1994 led to the Blair/Brown deal. That evening we returned to the Mishnish hotel to eat.
Tuesday 25 September 2012-10-07
Gale warning in Malin NE 8 to 9, mooring on the pontoon proved challenging and required considered use of all available warps and fenders. Second day in Tobermoray and time to visit the distillery, which was very interesting and where some of us made an investment. We finally discovered The Fish Café where we thoroughly enjoyed oysters, seafood linguine and a Scottish version of bouillabaisse and a Chilean chardonnay. The mooring fees were £20 per night.
Wednesday 26th September 2012
At last. Wind NW 5 to 6. Slipped at 08.30 and made for Loch Aline on the mainland Morven peninsula, about 16 NM down the sound of Mull. We enjoyed gybing all the way and headed to the top of the loch where we anchored for lunch in sunshine. We moored for the night on new pontoons on the north side of the loch where we met Pontoon Pete who took our mooring fee. We knew that was his name because it was written on his hat. He wore a Royal Mail Jacket so in the day he was obviously Postman Pete. We walked a mile or so along the loch side to a hotel bar restaurant decorated in the early seventies style, where some of us ate haggis, tatties and neeps!
Thursday 27th September 2012
What a change. Wind N 2Kn. Slipped at 08.45 to make for the southern end of the sound and turn NE up Loch Linnhe, keeping to the west of Lismore Island. Light winds so we had to motor.
We reached Kentallen Bay and anchored for lunch. The wind had veered to a SWly and was building. This gave us the opportunity to sail for a couple of hours. Again the forecast suggested SW winds force 6 to 7 so we decided to make it back to Oban for the night . So navigated the narrows between the mainland and Shauna and Lismore islands and into the Firth of Lorn. Wind on the nose and starting to rain heavily. Squalls of biting rain and reducing visibility did not help. Engine back on and we headed back towards the marina. We moored at 18.30. We ate Capt. Price’s pasta and sauce before we adjourned to the Wide Mouthed Frog for a drink. A bumpy night on the pontoon. We were told that the gale last Monday 24th had wiped out several pontoon fingers and we saw divers working on the main pontoon which had shifted from its fixing.
Friday 28th September 2012.
Showers all day with strong SW winds and we decided not to take the boat out again in order to complete the handover that afternoon to enable an early start for the 10 hour drive home. Oban Distillery looked an interesting prospect, close to the busy harbour, and we decided that it would be rude not to visit and learn more. The free dram was an excellent farewell to Oban.
We enjoyed good sailing, when the weather allowed and saw wildlife and scenery to remember all in excellent company.