In 2019 we took three months out to go sailing. This was the opportunity of a lifetime. Join us by watching our videos that cover our trip sailing the west coast of Scotland, the Hebrides and the Orkney Islands.
As we prefer to visit some very remote places, we chose to use a yacht as our means of transport and accommodation. As well as sailing, our videos also feature us exploring ashore by foot, by folding bicycle as well as paddling our kayak. We really like to immerse ourselves in these remote destinations, observing their wildlife, natural beauty and history. As a Photographer, I love the challenge of capturing the essence of the locations we visit.
In this episode:
- Boat Preparation
- An Introduction to the 2019 Season
- Our Sea-Trial
- Setting Off For 3 Months
- Isle of Canna in the Small Isles
Preparation for our season started back in April, with lots of hard work both before and after launch. Our boatyard (Ardoran Marine) is set in a very pretty glen so we thought we'd include some video footage to get you in the mood for our journey.
As usual, during the prep work, we realised that out boat seemed much larger out of the water and was a lot of work to polish. We were suddenly glad we hadn't got a bigger boat. 36 foot suddenly seems very big!
In trying to describe what happened on our first few trips of the year, we needed to look back at our trusty logbook. We had done so much sailing this season and had lost track of what we've done. This made us glad we had kept a logbook as these memories were precious and further motivation beyond the usual technical reasons for keeping a logbook.
It had been an amazing year and, as always, out first trip was a sea trial, to check if everything worked. We allocated a weekend to sail to Loch Spelve on Mull, which is a short sail from our base in Loch Feochan.
After a successful sea trial, it was soon time to start our three month live-aboard adventure. It was exciting to think about what it was going to be like. Not limited to just spending a couple of weeks on the boat, but actually living on the boat. Are we going to love it, or go stir crazy living in close proximity on something that's only 36 foot long?
Then we considered the cruising opportunities. Our challenge on the average sailing holiday is worrying about how you are going to get back to base. You get to somewhere that's fabulous and you're constantly thinking, “oh well, we can't stay, because what if i get stuck if the weather turns? We might never get home again!”.
For example, if we get as far as the Outer Hebrides, it might have taken a week to get there while we waited for the right weather conditions before crossing the Sea of The Hebrides, even though it might only be 3-days of passage making. If you only have a two-week holiday, you start to wonder if you feel confident that the weather will be OK for the last three days of your holiday. You are already starting to look for a weather window for the return passage after your first week, just when you have arrived in your cruising area. We realised that with three months to play with, we could weather out storms for days or even weeks in some safe remote harbour and still have plenty of time to be able to get back.
We started our cruise on the 5th of May, at 06:20 to make high tide. 2019 was not a warm year for us and we had to contend with ice on the decks! This made it a challenge to slip the mooring. Slip in every sense of the word!
Loch Feochan is not a busy place, with very few visiting boats. However, as we turned the corner, we found we were sharing it with the Red Princess, a huge logging ship coming through the entrance in the opposite direction….
Once out at sea, the wind really picked up, so we were sailing with one reef in the main and we had 16 to 18 knots of wind, which then picked up to 19 and more so we were making a good six knots. Not bad for our boat and ideal for passage making along the Ross of Mull, through the Iona channel and to our overnight anchorage at Bunessan.
We set off from Bunessan early on a beautiful calm morning and had breakfast underway. We motored north, making for Canna in the Small Isles. The highlight of the passage was encountering a pod of dolphins. It was lovely to see dolphins early in our journey. It doesn't matter how many times you see dolphins; it is always special.
After 47 miles of motor-sailing, we arrived at Canna and picked up a mooring. Strong winds were forecast for the next day, so we left the boat in the sheltered basin and spent the whole day exploring the island. But that’s a story for another time.