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