Saturday, 31 July 2010

Day 7 - North tip of Skye to Tobermory

I see gulls

Here, there and everywhere (and buoys)

As our previous blog promised, a morning of rough sailing was upon us. The Starboard watch embarked on the ‘graveyard shift’ at midnight (much to the dismay of birthday-boy, Michael). The waves continued to send saltwater into the cockpit, rendering much of our clothing noticeably soggy. Port watch’s resumption of duty coincided with dawn – the sun appearing like a pink disk over Skye – providing an elongated profile alongside which we continued to navigate until we had an unspecified lighthouse (thanks Phil) on a bearing (?). Fortunately we decided to hoist the sails and steer a course as close as possible to the south-easterly wind.

The navigation around Skye having proved simple enough, the wind was now ruining our plans. It was blowing from the exact direction we were heading, meaning that tacking was required. Though we were travelling at good speed, the fact that we were tacking meant that very little headway was gained from our effort. Due to the poor weather conditions, the wildlife of the area was not seen as much as earlier in the week. Two records were broken in the night with Tenacity reaching her most northerly (the top of Skye) and westerly (five miles from the top of South Uist) points. The tacking provided much needed practice with Port watch managing to perform an exemplary tack, wholly unaided, before Alistair turned us into the wind again (to his credit he recovered the situation). In their second watch of the day, Port watch saw a friendly gull following the boat, naming him Oliver. It was more interesting to observe than the solitary pink fishing buoy.

The watches of the day continued until approximately 3 PM when refuge was sought in a small anchorage on the coast of the Inner Hebridean Island, Rum. The entire crew slept until 5 PM when a hot-pot was prepared by Skipper Colin and the Starboard crew. Our journey to Tobermory continued after our meal with a twenty-five mile sail. The wind was present in a favourable direction, though was not of a significant magnitude. This meant that a watch of yes-no sailing was required, alternating engine and sails in a cycle.

As we arrived, Port watch were woken to see an enormous Dutch vessel in the style of an ancient warship, as well as to watch the magical lights on Tobermory’s waterfront. As we moored up, with assistance from some kind Swedes, we could hear some kind of ruckus from the land. It turned out to be a lively ceilidh, with the band interspersing its reels with a rendition of Brown Eyed Girl. We then cracked out the birthday Champagne, along with the beautifully iced cake and the delicious oyster-like (not terribly integral) rice crispy cakes.

After the frivolities which rounded off Beavo’s birthday, we decided some sleep was in order to ensure we were fully recharged for the final leg of the journey to our terminus, Oban.

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