…to Skye. Yes, an obvious title but the next part of our journey saw us arrive in Skye or to be more precise to our new home within sight of the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh.
After our misty morning rounding the Mull of Kintyre we sailed north stopping for one night at Gigha, then the next at Seil island, near Easdale, one of the slate producing islands for that area. It was a fairly short hop then to Oban where we met up again with some of the Majestic Line crew.
After a brief shopping stop in Oban we headed over to Tobermory and moored for the night – a rather monochrome evening.
A visit ashore the next morning to the colourful village and then we continued to our next anchorage by Goat Island in Loch Ailort. It was a great feeling to be exploring somewhere completely new to us and we decided on a little excursion ashore – lured by the golden looking sand and wildflowers.
Finally, we were nearing Skye. We saw our first view of the dramatic Cuillin hills with a real feeling of excitement that we were ‘nearly there’. We peaked our nose into Loch Scavaig and then motored to the top of Loch Slappin to see if it would make a good night anchorage for a ‘southern Skye’ cruise – it would!
We retraced our steps and sailed round and alongside the the Sleat Peninsula, stopping for a quick look at Isle Ornsay – where we spotted our first otter! Our anchorage for that night was at Inverie bay in Loch Nevis – where you can sample the local ale or a wee dram at Britain’s most remote mainland pub.
The next day we headed up Kylerhea and after a diversion to Loch Duich to view the famous Eilean Donan castle from the water, we finally saw the Skye Bridge and with a very definite feeling of ‘arrival’ we prepared Red Moon for her first docking at Kyle of Lochalsh pontoons – our new home.
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After some fond farewells we set off from Holy Loch bound for the Crinan Canal. We never quite got there. First, a minor engine blip sent us further up the Clyde to James Watt dock where an investigation of fuel filters provided Scott with the answer to the problem. At this point our stalwart crew Alan left us – not before a final night ‘wine tasting’ session -to head back to Ludlow where he and wife Jane own and run Sutton Court Farm holiday cottages. We were sad to see him go.
From now on it was just Scott and I. And Red Moon.
Still intending to head up to the Crinan Canal we meandered through the very pretty Kyles of Bute on a flat calm evening. Always one of our favourite spots. It was good to be back. By chance the aforementioned Iain Duncan was out with his boat Splendour and he whizzed over in his tender to say hello and take some more pictures of us underway. He asked if we were going round the Mull – as if we would be mad not to on such a rare and balmy evening. He was right. So we altered course and after a check on tides decided to anchor near Campbeltown for the night – or some of it – and head off early to go round the Mull of Kintyre.
That evening cruise to Campbeltown will always stay with me – so calm, so stunning, just the two of us, our boat – oh and a whale…
As we approached Campbeltown there was a massive band of fog obscuring the entrance. We decided to head into a little bay just outside and settled for a few hours sleep before setting off at 0230 to go round the Mull. What an extraordinary experience – so very unlike the last time we went round there- hardly a ripple in the water, but plenty of the mist of that song. And there is always something very satisfying about an early start on a boat – you have an excuse for a massive cooked breakfast just as the sun peeps out at dawn…!
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Our first evening in Scottish waters was memorable. For Scott and I the sight of Ailsa Craig, that massive dome of rock that marks the start of the ‘Approaches to the Clyde’ was like a beacon welcoming us home. We are not Scots born and bred but from the time that we spent working for the Majestic Line out of the Holy Loch and then Oban, it has felt like another home to us and it has taken a while but we are very glad to be back. We sailed towards Ailsa Craig and looked beyond to Holy Island and Lamlash harbour where we were going to anchor for the night…
From Lamlash we were on a mission to get to Largs and meet up with friends Vicky and Simon Jinks ( @ SeaRegs Training) and daughter Maddy. They were in a yacht themselves and took some gorgeous pictures of Red Moon – our first of her underway and in weather conditions that look more like the Med than the Scottish coast!
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From Largs we had a leisurely cruise straight up the Clyde and into Holy Loch…stopping off to view the Piper 50th Anniversary races, knowing that friends were out there racing. In Holy Loch Marina we were met on the dock by our friend Iain Duncan who runs Argyll Cruising and who was engineer with us when we were all working for the Majestic Line.We spent a couple of days in Holy Loch with sublime weather and good company.
Planning for our passage to Scotland involved lots of options to take account of weather, sea state and the needs of our guests who were only accompanying us part way on this journey. After a night on the Gower we decided that the conditions were so good we would put in a long day and evening saw us approaching lovely Abersoch……..where we were escorted in by more dolphins and as we laid the anchor there was a small red moon in the sky…
The following day was a short hop round to Holyhead where we stopped and stretched our legs ashore and for our fantastic crew Alan – some deck swabbing etc…!
After discussion with our guests it was agreed that we would move onto Douglas on the Isle of Man the next day. This would allow them a final leg before they needed to depart and travel onto to other things. We arrived in Douglas and were put on the rather appropriate MFV harbour wall berth. Everyone had a walk ashore – where the TT races were in full swing. We knew that there was a strong Nor’easter forecast but we thought we would manage to make it into the lee of the Mull of Galloway in time…..
We woke early the following morning to the sound of wind screaming through the rigging – the Nor’easter had arrived ahead of time. However we had to get off the harbour wall as Red Moon was likely to suffer damage there in that particular wind and we decided to venture out northwards with just the three of us on board – Scott, Mary and Alan. We knew that Red Moon was built for these kind of waters and we had every faith in her – but it was very lumpy and uncomfortable and we were not in a rush, so we turned south and took shelter in St Maryport where we sat at anchor with a brilliant blue sea and sky around us.
The next day, with the wind abated we decided to head out and see if the sea state was acceptable for us to continue. It was – but only just. We had favourable current to start with but the wind had continued north easterly and with our course almost due north, it did not make for the most comfortable of rides. However we kept going and within five to six hours we could see the Mull of Galloway and once it was abeam of us the seas settled and the wind was just right for us to hoist some canvas – and the Saltaire. We were in Scottish waters at last!