Summer Skyes…

Back on the pontoons…

We didn’t stop long in Oban after our last fabulous cruise and we were on our way up to Ardnamurchan Point en route to Skye when we spotted a water spout.  A Minke whale was just astern of us! After a long sail up through the Small Isles we arrived as darkness fell, to anchor in a new place for us – just outside Soay Harbour in the shadow of the dramatic Cuillin Hills. We were back in Skye!

We spent the next day exploring Loch Scavaig before heading around into the Sound of Sleat to spend the night at one of our favourite spots at Isleornsay. We waited for the tide to take us up Kylerhea before arriving at our home for the summer on the pontoons at the Kyle of Lochalsh. It was great to be back.

First dinner cruise

After some settling in time we welcomed our first guests on board for a dinner cruise. This was arranged through Frances and David who run ‘thistlesonskye’ – a boutique B&B near Isleornsay and who we met during our first transit of ths Crinan Canal last year.

We were fortunate that it was a gorgeous sunny evening and the Waverley – the last sea going paddle steamer in the world – was due to dock at Kyle that very evening. We cruised down to the head of Kylerhea to meet her and while she docked at Kyle, we carried on cruising under the iconic Skye Bridge to another of our regular anchorages in Badicaul Bay where dinner was served and the sunset was admired!

First Skye guests

Our first Skye & Lochalsh bespoke cruise guests, Joe and Brenda, joined us for seven nights in early June, arriving by train on the famous Kyle Line from Inverness. With the weather initially favourable, we headed north for Loch Torridon, with a lunch stop at the Crowlin Islands on the way. The afternoon turned somewhat threatening and it became a race to get into Loch Torridon before the rains and wind hit us….. we made it and anchored for the night by the village of Shieldaig where there was time for a short stroll ashore before dinner.

We explored Loch Torridon the next morning, spotting an eagle as we cruised through the Torridon narrows. We then headed north to Gairloch with a lunch stop at picturesque Badachro. After an exploration of Gairloch, the evening was spent at another Shieldaig, with a short stroll ashore before dinner.

From Gairloch we headed across the Inner Sound, the north of Rona  (porpoises sighted here!) and the Sound of Raasay to take in the majestic Trotternish coastline of Skye – The Old Man of Storr and the waterfalls at Lealt. A new lunch stop was Invertote Bay – where we saw ruined buildings from Skye’s industrial past.

We crossed back to the lovely anchorage on Rona of Acairseid Mhor, where Joe and Brenda had a walk ashore up to a viewing point where they could look back down onto Red Moon at anchor and out to the Sound beyond.

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We next headed south down the sheltered east coast of Raasay, spotting a pair of eagles on our way through the Rona channel, down to ‘hole – up’ in Loch Sligachan – the wind by this time was gusting up to force 8! Joe took advantage of a longer stop at anchor to take stimulating walk along the coast of An Aird, the Skye side of the Raasay narrows.

With the wind having abated somewhat the next day we motorsailed down into Broadford Bay, where Joe and Brenda were able to explore Skye’s second largest town. We then went to anchor at Caolas Scalpay where we enjoyed the best sunset of the trip.

Our final day took us east to Plockton for lunch and a visit ashore. From Plockton we raised both headsails and sailed down to our final nights anchorage at Badicaul Bay.

Eleven day epic

With just a day in between, we welcomed our next lovely guests, Ken and Hazel, who were to join us for an epic 11 day nostalgic re -visit to this corner of western Scotland, where they lived many years ago. The early weather forecast for this trip did not favour our planned itinerary to go north from Kyle, so we made a short trip across Loch Alsh to Loch Na Beastie, a peaceful, green, steep sided loch where we have spotted plenty of seals and on occasion an otter or two.

Our first full day took us through the Kylerhea and then a rather lively trip down the Sound of Sleat to Loch Hourn. Whilst transiting the narrows we got a couple of glimpses of an otter feeding along the edge of the fast moving water. We cruised almost to the top of the loch before anchoring for the night in what we hoped was another promising otter spot…..but whilst the otters remained as elusive as ever, we did see a mother and baby deer drinking by the water’s edge and then a mother and baby porpoise swam close around the boat. It was a very magical evening.

The next morning after exploring the pool at the very top of Loch Hourn, we made our way out and down to Loch Nevis to stop for lunch near Inverie. We went ashore to explore the venue for the ‘most remote pub on the UK mainland’, popping into a shop selling local venison and crafts. From Inverie we made our way through rather a misty evening to anchor in upper Loch Nevis – a remote but atmospheric spot. On our way we spotted something rather strange on the beach – a whale! It was made of wood and apparently is to be a trans – atlantic ocean going vessel! We happened to see that there was a NZ flag flying on the flagpole on the shore…….that might explain things….

We had hoped to go south from Loch Nevis to visit the Small Isles but sadly the sea conditions dictated otherwise so we headed across the Sound to visit Isleornsay and had a very enjoyable time ashore looking at the oils of William Swann which were displayed in the little gallery there. Hazel and Mary also just had to pop into the lovely shop called Floraid Skye to peruse the gorgeous knitwear and other Scottish made clothing and accessories…!

We spent that evening, having come back up Kylerhea, in peaceful Loch Duich where we saw an improvement in the weather. Ken and Hazel enjoyed a fine evening on the aft deck after dinner watching the sunset.

Next morning we had a quick provisioning stop at Kyle and then cruised under the Skye Bridge and went north to explore a new anchorage for us, at Poll Domhain on the Applecross coast. This proved to be a lovely spot – we were entertained for hours by the antics of the local seal population.

We also explored next door Poll Creadha before heading to the Crowlins for a lunch stop and then finishing up at Caolas Scalpay for a special dinner – Hazel’s niece Andrea and husband Ewan came on board to join us for the evening.

After a late start and brunch the next day we headed east, past Plockton and into Loch Carron to start the nostalgia part of the trip. Ken and Hazel lived by the shores of Loch Carron many years ago when Ken was involved with the buidling of the North Sea oil platforms in neigbouring Loch Kishorn. The next morning was a Sunday and there was a visit to their old church and a walk along the village and foreshore before lunch back on board. Next port of call was Loch Kishorn itself which we cruised slowly round so that Ken could relive his time there – although there have been many changes around the Loch since then.

We spent that evening in another new peaceful anchorage – Loch Toscaig which is just south of Poll Domhain. The following day we cruised west to Raasay and stopped for lunch in Churchton Bay. This allowed for a short walk ashore before we sailed up to Rona for our night at anchor in this pretty harbour – complete with succesful eagle and otter spotting! From Rona we were able to go north about to Loch Torridon. We had lunch in another great new bay for us – Loch Diabaig – and it was a lovely sunny day too!

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We spent that evening at Shieldaig after a cruise around Loch Torridon itself and the sun continued to shine. On our way out the next morning we got a fabulous close up view of an eagle in the branches of a tree on Shieldaig island – a really fantastic sighting. After lunch at Poll Creadha we reached our final night anchorage of the trip by the coral beach at Port An Eorna not far from Plockton. Scott, alone, saw yet another otter!

Something to write home about…

A few days later we were joined by freelance writer Martin, who was to be our guest for three days and write about life onboard Red Moon and this fabulous area with a view to an article appearing in one of Archant’s glossy publications!

It was quite a busy schedule and started with a night in Loch Na Beastie followed the next day by a packed trip down Kylerhea and the Sound of Sleat, taking in the Sandaig islands, Loch Hourn and an afternoon stop at Isleornsay, before heading back up Kylerhea to stop the night in Loch Duich.

The following day we cruised under the Skye Bridge, headed for Raasay where we had a lovely coastal walk, then sailed across to take a peak at Portree and the fabulous coastline north of that town ( complete with another eagle sighting) before heading to our night anchorage on Rona. We had some great weather and a particularly glassy, still evening in Acairseid Mhor. We had a full morning exploring ashore on Rona, visiting Church Cave and the abandoned village of Acairseid Thioram where many of Rona’s population once lived.

We crossed back to the Applecross coast to take a look at Poll Domhain, before reaching Plockton where an explore ashore just had to take in a local brew at the Plockton Hotel looking out over the pretty bay! We had an evening cruise back to Kyle for dinner, before Martin’s early departure the next morning.

Downtime

After all that cruising activity we entered a quieter time for bookings but it has been anything but dull! After a short trip back to Devon for Mary to deal with family matters, we decided to go back to one of our new favourite anchorages, Poll Domhain and do some exploring ashore to scope out walks for guests. Returning to the boat via …. we came across the Applecross Photographic gallery.

We had a chat with the very helpful lady there, Anne, and the upshot was that the owner and photographer, Jack Marris, came down to talk to us about getting a few shots of Red Moon at anchor.
Happily for us all, this turned into a full on photo shoot the next day with Jack taking lots of new interior shots and then climbing hill and glen to get the best views of Red Moon. The climax of all this was a drone video of Red Moon under ( almost) full sail cruising around the fairly small and rocky (!) bay of Poll Creadha! We are looking forward to using many of the pics for our website and in future advertising. Also check out our Facebook page….

Just before we left Kyle to come north we took delivery of a brand new poster to display on the dockside at the pontoons in Kyle – hopefully this will attract the local population and the many visitors who stop at Kyle before haeding across to Skye.

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Early Summer cruising…

Islay & Jura

Next onboard in early May were our lovely honeymoon couple from Tennesse, who joined us for five nights. Their mission was to arrive at their favourite whisky’s distille ry, Lagavullin on Islay, by boat! But first we fitted in a stop the slate island of Easdale before spending the first night anchored in Jura’s West Loch Tarbert.

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The following morning we achieved their mission with a rather wild ride down to Lagavullin at the south end of Islay and they went straight ashore for an afternoon of tasting sensations!

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While we gave  the wind a chance to die down we explored Loch Ant-Sailein off Ardbeg and checked out the wildlife….

That evening we headed across to the Sound of Gigha for a night at anchor and the next day sailed up to Tayvallich – where the sun came bursting out just in time for a lunch stop and explore ashore. We spent that night in a very idyllic, peaceful anchorage – at the aptly named Fairy Isles.

After a visit to Crinan, we completed their tour of these lovely islands with a sail across the Firth of Lorn with our guests helping to hoist the sails.

Our final gorgeous evening was in Loch Spelve where bluebells were still covering the hillsides.

Mull

With just a day in between we were onto our fourth cruise of the season with another five nighter! Still in Oban we welcomed Kevin, Georgina, Michael and Glynn onboard for what turned out to be one of the most magical weeks we have spent in the Western Islands – the sun shone and the sky and sea were vivid blue all week!

This trip was a counterclockwise cruise around Mull. For our first night however, we cruised up to Loch Aline and the group went ashore for a short pre dinner stroll. We then took in colourful Tobermory – with a brief shopping expedition to buy some shorts to make the most of the suunny days! Back across to the mainland and Loch Drumbuie for our second night and then around the north coast of Mull and down to the Treshnish Islands.

Perhaps one of the highlights of this trip was time spent on Lunga communing with the colourful and vocal puffins! That night was spent in intimate Gometra harbour, with time to enjoy apperitifs on the ‘poopdeck’.

The next day was another classic – across to Staffa and a visit into Fingal’s cave, followed by lunch anchored in the Sound of Iona and an afternoon ashore exploring – and another shopping opportunity! We spent that night in the Sound of Erraid – another idyllic, anchorage complete with white sand beaches.

The return trip along the south coast of Mull included an eagle spotting and ended in Loch Spelve with a pre-dinner walk ashore. After dinner, still enjoying the evening sun on the aft deck we spotted some wild deer and another eagle! Our final morning started in a rather muted way with grey skies having returned – however, this was no anti – climax but a prelude to the most thrilling sail up the Firth of Lorn in the company of several pods of frisky dolphins! No one could have asked for a better end to the cruise

Summer on the horizon…

 Early 2017 continued cold but mainly dry and we were able to explore a bit more of the area around Greenock with some lovely walks up in the hills, where the very first signs of spring were on their way.

Springtime in Greenock saw Red Moon’s crew hard at work sprucing her up for the new season ahead. On a still and gorgeous morning in March we made our way up the Clyde to Clyde Boatyard at Rothesay Dock. We both had a feeling of excitement as this was our first trip out on Red Moon since the chills of winter.

We spent a warm and sunny weekend in the boatyard and saw some of the most amazing sunsets we have seen up here!

After a rather nerve- racking lift out of the water, we gave Red Moon a lovely coat or two of paint watched by the boatyard dog …

Back in James Watt Dock Marina we continued the spring clean and general pre -season preparations which included taking delivery of some lovely new covers for the aft deck.  By the end of March we felt we were just about ready to receive our first guests…

Our first cruise of the season was a surprise birthday trip – the surprise lasted pretty much up to our guest’s arrival at James Watt and Red Moon!  We took Nicola and Tom to visit Arran and its lovely distillery, spending the first night in Brodick Bay anchored within sight of Brodick castle. After a visit ashore to Arran Brewery we up – anchored and headed to Lochranza for their Distillery trip.This seemed to go well with them staying on for an extra tasting session and coming back with some samples… We all enjoyed the smooth taste of Arran Gold and a little on-board testing of the 18 year old single malt which can claim another whisky convert in Nicola!


This was followed by a night stop at St Ninian’s Bay on Bute; the next day we had a leisurely scenic cruise around the Kyles of Bute, including a walk ashore, with picnic (described by Nicola as a ‘full buffet in a bag’!), from Kames Bay to Tighnabruich and then onto our final nights anchorage in the Burnt Isles.

Following quickly on from this cruise we were joined by Beth, Dave and Allie for our delivery trip up to Oban. We spent the first night in Loch Fyne by Barmore Island and awoke to a gorgeous morning – and Mary’s birthday! It also happened to be Good Friday so after lovely hot cross buns and copious cups of tea and coffee we set forth for our transit of the Crinan Canal.

For Allie, Beth and Dave this was their first experience of the Crinan canal and after a rather rapid initiation they soon got the hang of the lock gates. The Crinan canal is a very pretty canal but requires fast flurries of intense activity followed by a short interludes on board. After the first few locks we got into a team rhythm, but by then it was time to stop near Cairnbaan Hotel where we went ashore for a delicious birthday meal.Having done the canal for the first time on our own the previous October we were very appreciative of having some extra help…


 After exiting the canal we went for a little explore in Loch Craignish and spent a windy evening at anchor. The next day we sailed through Dorus – Mor , the Sound of Luing, past the slate island of Easdale before we took a little diversion over the Morvern peninsula where we hoped to catch a glimpse of some sea eagles. Sadly we didn’t see them but there were lots of seals, gannets, shags, the ubiquitous seagulls and more surprisingly rather a lot of noisy Canadian geese!

A final fish and chip supper on board followed once we were moored in Oban and then sadly it was time to say good bye….

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Now we are in Oban awaiting our next guests who are coming all the way from Tennessee for their honeymoon on Red Moon…❤️

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A Red Moon in Winter

As a rather blustery September drew to a close we saw a weather window that would give us a favourable trip south and so we decided it was time to head to our winter home which for 2016/17 was to be Greenock on the Clyde.

We had a fabulous trip down with our first transit of the Crinan Canal – hard work with just the two of us but we thoroughly enjoyed it – especially the enforced Sunday day of rest when the canal locks are all closed!

After we left the canal we headed for the Kyles of Bute to anchor for the night – one of our favourite places. Just after we rounded into west Kyle, Scott suddenly shouted “Shark”!

As we were safely onboard I wasn’t too worried and we spent sometime going round in circles watching the fin slicing through the water behind us – it seemed to be very interested in our tender!

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That excitement over we sailed on but I was l still looking out for the shark still through the binoculars when suddenly I saw the unmistakable sight of a spout of water – yes, a whale! So some more going round in circles waiting for glimpses of the whale – who didn’t disappoint – but then was gone and we carried on anchoring for the night off the Burnt Isles.

In early October we made it to Greenock and settled into James Watt Dock Marina for the winter. The good weather was still with us so we hoisted our sails, to dry them for removal – and wished we were out on the water again…

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In the run up to and including Christmas itself, we were both busily working as Mary took on some freelance chef jobs with Scott as her sous chef! We dressed Red Moon overall with Christmas lights and even had a tiny tree in the wheelhouse.

The weather this winter has so far stayed generally cold and dry, with a few stormy bits in between, so we have managed to get out for some wonderful local walks in the crisp sunshine and snow!

We saw in 2017 with good friends in Devon and it has started as we hope to go on …with bookings starting to fill up our diary! Now it’s the run up to a new season for Red Moon with essential maintenance and general TLC to get her in prime condition for what we hope will be a busy and happy summer.

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Season’s changing colours…

Autumn has arrived in Skye & Lochalsh bringing some fabulous changes to the scenery with heather and bracken on the hillsides and the trees just on the turn. It has also brought some wild and wonderful weather – from 4o knot gusts to as calm as the proverbial millpond, sunshine, showers and rainbows galore.

In the middle of September the Kyle branch of the RNLI hosted Kyle Maritime Day which proved a very popular event. Despite the gusty weather some brave souls still completed the annual open water swim from Kyleakin to Kyle and there were a mixture of lifeboats on the Pontoons at Kyle for people to visit and chat to the lifeboat crew. Red Moon held an ‘open boat’ and had many visitors including Stormy Stan who attracted lots of children and happily posed wherever asked!

We had a number of dinner cruise enquiries following the Maritime Day and Red Moon Cruises was able to take one family out on a special surprise birthday dinner on a particularly calm evening from Kyle, under the Skye bridge to Plockton and back.

We have been busy trying to increase our website traffic and have had a couple of special Autumn cruise ads out in both the Scots Magazine and BBC Discovery Wildlife publication, so please take  a look at those…

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When not out on trips or exploring we have found ourselves out at anchor in a couple of favourite spots – Badicaul Bay and Loch Duich. Here we have had time to watch to amazing skies and colours and witness plenty of wildlife close up. Loch Duich has come up trumps with seals, porpoises, herons, otters on the beach and quite probably an eagle! Badicaul has a big colony of seals and we have had a couple of magical days just drifting in the tender with them just watching us…watching them…

And just some more fabulous sunsets……

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Our first Skye summer

Summer is not over yet, and we have high hopes of an Indian one ( based on optimism not meteorological knowledge!), but so far we have been able to get out on three trips which have helped to develop our ideas for future cruising in this wonderful area.

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Late June saw the arrival of Neil and Debbie who joined us as our first guests for an exploration of our new cruising grounds. We started off with a sail to Loch Carron where we anchored for the night and went ashore to check out the Loch Carron gallery and other local shops etc – including Loch Carron Bistro which looked so welcoming we booked a table for that night. This proved to be a very good move as we had a fabulous meal…

From here our route took us to Plockton for a  quick recce ashore and then via the Sound of Raasay to anchor at Rona for the night. We went ashore here and hiked up to see the tremendous views over the Sound.

Next, a sail across to Portree and a fact finding trip ashore then south along Skye’s coast where we spotted a sea eagle….before ending up at anchor off Scalpay.

We explored ashore at Broadford, with a nice walk from the Corrie Pier before heading back to Plockton for a final night relaxing and tasty dinner in the Plockton Hotel.

 

In early July we had guests from Australia, Valerie and Jon, with young son Scott and they joined us for a four day adventure. Here ‘big Scott’ and ‘small Scott’ handle the helm between them.

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We spent a rather windy wet first night on the pontoons to get everyone settled in then  the next morning set off down Loch Alsh to view Eilean Donan castle and take a trip ashore for a walk through the pretty village of Dornie and alongside lovely Loch Long. We caught the afternoon tide to travel south through the Kylerhea with a chance to spot eagles, otters and seals – at least the seals cooperated! We spent that evening in view of the lighthouse of Isleornsay.

The next day we headed north through the narrows again and around to Raasay for a circular walk ashore, taking a peak at Raasay House which is now a multi activity centre. The afternoon was spent cruising to our night anchorage in Fladday Harbour  which is between Fladday and Rassay. We spent some time just idling while we watched an eagle high up on the cliffs just south of Portree, willing it to spread its awesome wings and fly – but it kept to its perch!

We sailed on through the Rona channel and down the Inner Sound where we stopped to lunch at the Crowlin Islands  enjoying the contrast between the pink rocks and unbelievably green water. Our trip ended with a walk ashore at Plockton before heading back to the pontoons at Kyle.

 

 

The Tapster family joined us in mid August – along with their Canadian canoe which we were able to strap on Red Moon’s roomy roof. This trip looked to be very promising weatherwise and we left Kyle and headed under the Skye Bridge all the way to Loch Carron.

 

As there was a bit of a ripple on the water we rejected the idea of canoeing and took a walk ashore. We went in all the galleries including that of painter and printmaker Michael Stuart Green, then into Poppy’s ( who is actually a gorgeous border collie) and finally a re-visit for us to the lovely Loch Carron Gallery. After a walk further along by the waterside we ended up at the appropriately named Waterside cafe where we all indulged in some very yummy cake and tea – the girls hot chocolates were to die for!

We headed north the next day and were delighted to catch sight of a large pod of porpoises. We anchored in the Crowlin Islands and now it was perfect to get the canoe down and Emma, Lucy and Molly carefully got in and paddled off – being watched by a nearby curious seal. We had a rather boggy walk ashore and sat atop a hill to have our picnic. From the Crowlins it was a short spin to Rona for the evening, with an eagle sighting as we passed through the Rona Channel. Before dinner Scott took Terry and the the girls for an explore in the tender, sneaking up on some seals and looking for the resident otters.

The next morning was calm with the promise of some sun, so we all went off in the tender before breakfast to see the seals. Emma was the only one brave enough to get in for a swim, at a respectful distance from the seals – who seemed pretty nonchalant about it all. After  a hearty breakfast we had a lovely sunny walk ashore on Rona to visit the Church Cave and abandoned settlement at Dry Bay. In the afternoon we had a great sail with genoa and staysail up (and engine)  to the head of Loch Torridon. That night we had dinner ashore in the Torridon Inn and then a moonlit trip back in the tender.

An even brighter sunny day dawned so we decided to stay at anchor and explore ashore and have some fun with the canoe. Dinner that evening was a BBQ on a small island where we could watch the sunset and enjoy the heat of the day to the last possible moment.

Our final day started with a visit a little way up the loch to Sheildaig. It was on the way that we spotted a pair of white tailed sea eagles  sitting a few yards apart on the rocks and nearby branches. Shieldaig is an attractive village with a couple of very nice cafe/bars where you can sit and watch the water activity.

The day and trip finished with a long cruise to Plockton ( for yummy fish and chips and a pint by the harbour) , giving some a chance to catch up on sleep, postcards or books or just sit back enjoy the sun and ever changing view – which on this day included a submarine on manouevres!

Don’t forget to look at our website redmooncruises.co.uk!