Friday, 23rd August: Sailing to Skye
We had two plans for today. One was to start early and sail up the west coast of Skye to reach the northern lochs. With good southerlies, this would be a full-on, whole day sail. So we got up in good time, Dominic measured the constant wind in our safe haven of Loch nan Ceall, and we decided it would be too much of an uncomfortable and long sail. Time for plan B.
After lunch we set off out through the maze of rocks, but with the perches and our line of entry showing on the nav screen, Dominic steered us out with no problems. Towards the exit we saw two skerries full of seals, and a cormorant bowing its head to the wind. We got out into the sound and felt the full force of the waves and wind, and I was really grateful we weren’t doing plan A. With waves constantly bashing on the beam it would have been a looong day.
We rounded the headland, set the autopilot to 20 degrees and off we went towards the Sound of Sleat, to Skye and new adventures! There were big swells and 1-2m waves, but as we were going with the wind it was absolutely fine. We saw a couple of yachts going south and being brutally bashed by the swells. But most of the time it was just us and the Mallaig ferries. Flocks of guillemots were cruising on the waves; here one second, gone the next, here again…. They look so small in the big seas.
We need diesel soon so looked at our options using the Almanac and Pilot. Mallaig really don’t do yachts, and reports were of awkward encounters with staff. We rang Armadale and they said they only supply to customers using their buoys and we don’t fancy sitting on a bouncy buoy all night. The Harbour Master in Loch Alsh didn’t answer, but we got through to the HM in Portree who was friendly and confirmed that both he and his colleague at Loch Alsh would be happy to supply 200 litres of marine diesel, but they are not open on weekends. So now we know and will sort it next week.
We got to Isleornsay just after 5pm, anchored in the bay, did the sail planning for tomorrow and then just enjoyed the warm southerly air, sitting outside with a bottle of white all evening. No howling winds, no rain and plenty of peace and quiet. Ahhhhh, lovely!
Stats: distance 19.7 NM, underway 3hrs 49m, average speed 5.2 knots, max speed 8.0 knots
Saturday, 24th August: Kyle Rhea, Skye Bridge and off to Raasay
We were off just after 8am to catch the strong tidal streams at Kyle Rhea and under Skye Bridge at favourable times. Kyle Rhea, quite frankly was a bit of an anticlimax. I guess we’d played it too safe and it’s neaps, and the most we got was 8.8 knots. But it was still nice to whoosh gently along.
I loved the approach to Skye Bridge. Such wonderful views! We were in this area a few years back on Principia, but we never went under the bridge that time. We’d obviously checked that the mast would fit under the bridge, though when we were approaching it I almost panicked as it simply didn’t look like we’d get underneath. But we did and, unscathed, sailed into the Inner Sound.
We sailed very fast past Pabay, Longay and Scalpay and anchored in Churchton Bay by the SW point of Raasay. On the electronic charts you can put in comments for other users, and someone had mentioned that the mooring buoys that used to lie in the bay in front of the hotel have been taken away, but that the chains have been left on the seabed. That’s a bit of a nightmare for anchoring, so we knew to go further out and nearer the village.
After lunch, we waited for the waves to abate so we could go ashore without being too bashed about and wet. But unfortunately by the time this happened the rain came, and then it got a bit late. We had a really wonderful sunset though.
Stats: distance 25.5 NM, underway 4hrs 3m, average speed 6.3 knots, max speed 10.0 knots