Trip on Lochmarin starting 2008-06-11 in BSAJuly08

A delivery from Oban to Dublin to .....Oban? – report by John Robinson

This is a report about a trip that Rob Mellor and I did last month. We were asked to help a friend and his fiancée deliver a boat from Oban in Scotland – to Portland on the south coast. We were joined by the girlfriend’s brother, and the plan was to set off on Wednesday 11th June.

The boat was a 55ft Ketch called “Lochmarin” – (it had been called “Ardevora” in a previous incarnation, and there’s a chapter in the Adlard Coles book “Heavy Weather Sailing” which talks about the crew’s experience on the boat of using a sea anchor off the coast of Chile in 1997. Lochmarin has an aluminium hull – lifting keel – and spade rudder. She has also benefited from a complete refit. New standing rigging, decking replaced, new sails, and lots of new navigation equipment. Lots of room downstairs – en-suite stuff, a TV, as well as washing machine. And a couple of fridges. … So sailing from Oban to Portland wasn’t going to be much of a hardship!

We left on Wed 11th June, mid-morning. The boat was on a swinging mooring across the bay from Oban by the Kerrera marinaMap, and we set off at about 11am. We decided to do the trip in two legs. The plan was to sail to Dublin and arrive sometime on Thursday, and complete the final leg to Portland, or Falmouth after a bit of sightseeing in Dublin. There were no time constraints, so we could pretty much suit ourselves about how we did it. We had 12 to 15 knots of wind from the North which helped us make good time through the Islands down to Corryvrecken and on to the Sound of Jura, where we stopped for lunch, and to wait for a beneficial tide round the Mull of KintyreMap. We passed The Mull in the early hours of Thursday – about 3am, and had good north westerly winds most of the way down to Don LaoghaireMap on the south side of Dublin Bay. We tied up late on Thursday evening after a difficult approach to the pontoon, and had a meal on board.

The next day, the plan had been to chill out, visit Dublin, eat oysters and drink Guinness, but the skipper called everyone to the saloon to make an announcement (this was Friday 13th). He told us that he was no longer going to continue with his original plan, but was going to turn round and sail back to Oban. His relationship with his fiancée was over – this was news to her – and that he’d pay for flights and ferries to return everyone to where they’d come from – and that if anyone wanted to help him take the boat back up north he would be happy to have them on board. I was having a very enjoyable sail, so despite being disappointed about not carrying on to the south coast, and seeing that everyone else was leaving the boat, I decided to go back to Oban with our skipper. I squared it with the fiancée, who was grateful that someone was helping him return to Scotland because she appreciated that the boat might be hard work to sail singlehanded.

The crew left on the Friday evening, and me and the skipper had an evening in Don Laoghaire, followed by a day in Dublin, where everyone seemed to be female, dressed in pink with springy antennae and brummy accents. The Guinness was brilliant and the oysters were very good. We had a very pleasant day considering.

When we got back to Don Laoghaire late afternoon, we met some Americans who seemed to drink half pints of Mount Gay Rum and who were heading for Oban in their 46 ft wooden hulled boat? We helped them with the chart work which they were unsure about, and we promised to return their hospitality when they arrived in Scotland, and I don’t remember much of the rest of that day.

Sunday we recovered which was OK, because there was absolutely no wind. I found a market which provided Thai takeaways, hand carved buttons, excellent fudge and a good fish stall – which had sold out of oysters. If you are in Don Laoghaire on a Sunday, go east along the front and you’ll find it. On Monday we set off for BelfastMap. We had a good sail, the wind being predominantly from the west, and arrived at about 9pm having seen no dolphins, turtles, basking sharks or Wales – as it was a bit overcast.

The next day we left early, and with light winds from the south west we made slow progress towards the Mull until the wind picked up late in the morning, and we had a good sail, averaging 7 – 8 knots all the way to CorryvreckenMap. The weather turned pretty miserable later in the day, and we had squalls coming through early evening – lots of rain and the odd hailstorm. It all cleared and the wind dropped as we approached the north of Jura, so we turned the motor on and motor sailed north, arriving at Oban at 1am-ish.

The engine started to falter after we passed Corryvrecken, and the skipper explained that the fuel starvation may have been because while the boat was laid up for the re fit, some contamination may have occurred. The fuel had been treated to sort this out, but there were still inactive bacteria in the fuel system clogging up the filters. It was very dark as we approached, and the engine was faltering as we picked up a buoy at our second attempt off the Island of KerreraMap – after which we had a small celebration which involved whiskey.

I stayed on the boat for a day and a half, and decided that I would have to spend more time sailing around the West Coast of Scotland. Wonderful cruising – wonderful people and great whiskey. (Secretary’s note: The “whiskey” with an “e” may be great in Ireland, but on the west coast, or anywhere else, in Scotland it is definitely great WHISKY.)

I flew back to Bristol on the Thursday.

The fiancée is still talking to me.

The Americans arrived in Oban on the weekend after I left. They “followed a light” and turned up in North Wales by mistake?

Kerrera Marina  56.4177,-5.4971
Mull of Kintyre  55.2977,-5.8604
Don Laoghaire  53.2985,-6.1376
Belfast  54.6378,-5.8726
Corryvrecken  56.154,-5.6821
Island of Kerrera  56.4193,-5.4952