Saturday, 31 July 2010

Day 6 - Loch Scavaig to ...??

As often seems the case with sailing, plans have to be flexible. The previous day saw group opinion split in deciding whether to attempt the Outer Hebrides or to navigate a challenging stretch to the North of Oban. After significant debate, the decision was made to head toward the Kyle Rhea (continuing our journey up to Plockton). After a brief stop in the small fishing village of Mallaig (for water, showers and food supplies), we continued on our journey. Plockton was our heading for much of the day; the ‘tidal race’ meant we had to have our timings perfect with up to eight knot currents taking us through the narrow channel.

As previously mentioned, flexibility was required. Abandoning the sail to Plockton early, we decided to give ourselves a greater challenge. The Outer Hebrides seemed unreachable in the unfavourable wind, though we were ‘hugging’ the Isle of Skye on our previous course. We (unanimously) decided to circumnavigate Skye for the last few days of the expedition. Beef stew and dumplings gave us the energy boost required for a sail of more than one hundred miles. It was challenge we were seeking and this certainly started early on our new course.

This decision was more difficult for some of the crewmates than the others. While most of those aboard were spending their time alternatively on deck or fast asleep down below, Michael Durbar and Alistair had far grander plans: rather than spend their time off watch to get some well-earned rest they took it upon themselves to bake a cake. Considering the ingredients at hand, this would be a great task even under normal circumstances. Yet with the boat pitching every which way it is incredibly impressive that they not only completed the preparations of the cake with little mess but did so in less than 15 minutes so as to get back on watch with time to spare!

Waves larger than those experienced previously on our journey were found just off the coast of Skye. Nevertheless, pancakes seemed like a good idea, so Nutella, sugar and lemon made the salt water barrage more tolerable. Later the sail proved to be pleasant, even though the waves themselves were large in size, allowing many an opportunity for admiring the beautiful views. Watching the skies over Skye amazed the Port watch with an awe-inspiring array of red and gold as the sun descended below the horizon. The appearance of a gibbous moon illuminating the night and the seas behind us provided a truly magnificent backdrop for the long watch. The cloud was also very impressive with high cirrus and stratus cloud illuminated from behind, fading to a clear, cold blue light with the dusk. The day finished at midnight with a chorus of Happy Birthday from the entire crew for Michael Beavis. The rest was short-lived as a night of tricky (and somewhat rougher) sailing was upon us!

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