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Kyle of Loch Alsh to Tobermory 21st June 2007


Right! Decision made, I am leaving tonight. With the boat refuelled plus a spare 20 litres, there doesn’t seem much point in waiting until midday tomorrow. Malcolm will be away in the morning, in the opposite direction, so I may as well head on down through Kyle Raea with the tide. I have a couple of options for the next stopover.  Inverie has been recommended by Dave Monks who lives at Loch Slapin, Faoilean, opposite Torrin. He says this is a gem of a place. You can only get to Inverie on foot or by boat, and you will find the "Remotest Pub in Britain". It's called the Old Forge, where the food and beer are superb, and there’s a good chance of finding some live Scottish fiddle/guitar music, depending on who turns up, so this sounds good to me. I leave the pontoon at 23.30 and head towards the entrance to Kyle Raea. Its pitch black, so I have to rely on the navigation lights to check my position, along with the GPS. As I near the entrance to Kyle Raea I keep clear of the Sgeir-na-Caillich light F2, 6secs Flashing Eclipse 0.3 0. 1s 0.3 4.4s and leave it to Starboard, and on entering I can see Kyle Raea light which is the guiding light through the pass. There are steep cliffs both sides of the channel 9 meters high, which add to the blackness. I have to stay in the green sector all the way through, If the light turns to Yellow I need to steer to port, if it turns Red I need to TURN to port. As I pass the light the same rule applies, but now I am looking astern, and heading towards the narrowest part of the channel. Once through the narrow section, the cliffs diminish, and the channel opens out, allowing more light to show the way into the Sound of Sleat. The first part of the sound is just under a mile wide, another 4+ miles and the sound is about 2.5nm wide. The wind is very light F1-2 so I am motor sailing, and by 1:35 I am motoring past Loch Hourn. The sea is flat, and I feel very comfortable with George (tiller pilot) so I go below to make a brew. I have been having trouble with George; he keeps loosing himself, which only seems to occur when the heading is about 20deg either side of 180deg, which isn’t good as I am now heading south. The hot coffee and a snack keeps me perky, and by 2:40 I have reached Loch Nevis, so I have to make another decision. Do I head up the Loch to Inverie? Or do I carry on. I can still remember stopping off at Mallaig, with David and Liz Bradbury, in their Boat NaMara, and then struggling for hours, trying to beat round Ardnamurchan, getting very wet and cold in the process.

I feel good at the moment so I decide to push on to Tobermory. By 04:05 I am off Mallaig and setting a course to pass north of Bo Faskdale 15 miles away where there is a starboard light Fl (3) 18.0s. Dawn has arrived and the sun is up there somewhere, covered by the sullen grey sky, there is mist hanging off the Sleat Peninsula, and there is little or no wind. Giving me no trouble since Spurn Point my Yanmar 1G10 beats on, pushing me to my next destination.

07:00 and I spot a large pod of dolphins off my starboard quarter about half a mile away heading south, and it’s not long before four of the group are playing close to me, not riding the bow wave but going under the boat from port to starboard, I recognised them as common dolphins I had the video out but the camera focused on the rain drops on the lens instead of the dolphins. One of the dolphins was alongside watching me watching him/her, and then they were gone.

The mist was still hanging about, and Ardnamurchan wasn’t yet visible but by 08:10 the mist had cleared and I was rounding Ardnamurchan Point the most western point of mainland Britain in hazy sunshine. I head for Ardmore point on Mull then at 09:30 round Rubha Nan Gall. I picked up a buoy off Tobermory at 10:05 and knelt on the cockpit sole, resting my head on the seat cushion, where I fell asleep. I was awakened at 11:30 by the mainsail flapping in the breeze, I didn’t realise how tired I was because I felt fine before I lay down my head. I quickly dropped the main, tidied the boat, had a drink and retired to my bunk, where I slept until 15:50. When I woke up I had a quick look around, and decided to move to a buoy nearer the pontoon. I was amazed at how many boats were moored, the pontoons were full, and there were not many buoys spare. The last time I was here there were no pontoons, and only three buoys, usualy with one spare, and no fuel pump or water available, water was only available from the ferry terminal. I had my evening meal on Clar Innis a Westerly Ocean Quest invited by the skipper and three crew. What a great lot yachties are.




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