Monday, 16th and Tuesday, 17th September: Oban Marina on Kerrera
After walking with Daniel to the train station I had to switch from holiday mode, to overwintering Idun mode. My first call was to the harbour office, and Vicky the Harbour Master. We have electric bikes on the boat, but as they are rather too heavy and cumbersome we just don’t use them, and have decided to take them home. HM very kindly agreed to store them for us until Thursday. After doing a few errands in town, we then got ready to set off to Kerrera, the island off Oban where Oban Marina is situated.
Poor Dominic’s got a terrible cold and not feeling at all well, so was struggling to keep going, but we had a lot to do so no chance of just resting. All bedding, blankets, clothes etc needed washing before packing away in vacuum bags. That’s a lot of walking back and forth to the laundry room up in the main buildings! We winterised the watermaker, cleared and cleaned the fridge and freezer, took off the sprayhood, unpacked and dried the dinghy and kayak before repacking again, and took down the foresail. One of our neighbours lent us a wonderful tool for taking out the battens; we need one of those for next year. We also cleaned Idun carefully inside and polished on the outside, and checked the dehumidifier and the two electric heaters. It doesn’t sound very much when you write it down, but it was a bit of a slog!
We finished all the necessary paperwork for Oban Marina and spoke to Sam, Robin and Paul about what will happen at lifting on Wednesday, and what work we would like done on Idun during the winter.
Paul came round on Tuesday evening and said they are very short staffed tomorrow and he will need us both to help when taking Idun out of the water and it will be a bit later in the morning as Joe has to do the ferry run first.
Wednesday, 20th September: Idun is lifted out
We were ready for lift out, and when Paul drove the hoist into the water we slipped our lines for the last time this season and Dominic motored slowly into the sling. I was fending off the hoist on starboard and Joe was on the port side. We were then lifted up into the hoist while onboard. We were a bit surprised that we had been asked to help out with this, but it all went well.
We stayed on Idun while it was being driven up and settled into the metal stand. I thought I’d be terrified at climbing up and down the ladder and being on the boat high up, but strangely enough I wasn’t.
The two anchors and chains are stored on pallets in front of Idun and the RIB resting on wooden blocks. We’ve thoroughly checked and photographed the hull for damage and what copper coating repairs are needed. We inspected the anodes which all seem in pretty good shape. Idun is now comprehensively cleaned, everything stowed, de-humidifier and heaters are on – ready for a Scottish winter.
Unfortunately as they were short staffed in the marina, the mainsail, mast and boom will be taken off later this week. We have also set us up on a monthly inspection, which will mean we won’t need to go up to Oban to check periodically ourselves.
We took the small ferry back to Oban and spent the night at the Premier Inn, which was a surprisingly lovely hotel with hardworking and very friendly staff.
Thursday, 19th September: Collecting the car
We took the morning train to Glasgow and had three hours of watching gorgeous mountain and loch scenery. We collected our hire car and drove back to Oban where we picked up the electric bikes that fitted neatly into the back of the car. After an early dinner at The Little Potting Shed we caught the 5pm ferry to Kerrera for a last visit to finish a few bits we’d remembered still needed to get done on Idun. After a drink we had an early night.
Friday, 20th September: Driving back south
We set off after 9am for the long drive back, having had a wonderfully filling buffet breakfast. I felt quite sad about leaving the Highlands and north-western Scotland. But as I’ve never been to north-western England I really enjoyed the drive, seeing how the stark mountains changed to more rounded ones, the industrial landscapes, the lakes, the changing character of the types of housing. It was really noticeable how much more wind power is being produced in Scotland, with turbine field after turbine field. In England we hardly saw any, despite driving through areas where there are constant high wind warnings.
NOT ALL THOSE WHO WANDER ARE LOST –
MAY TO SEPTEMBER 2019
Apart from the two weeks that we were home in August we have spent a long time on Idun this year, from the very beginning of May to mid-September. I enjoy the gentle rocking of the boat as you go to sleep, and will probably find it strange to sleep in a static building. (I’m not that bothered about the nights when strong winds mean you have to hold on to the side of the bed so you don’t fall out ha ha!) I find satisfaction in the compactness of living on a boat; the simplicity of space. I like going to small community food shops where you buy what you can, rather than choosing from an unnecessarily large variety of goods.
This summer has been quite different from last year. We have obviously travelled much further north in Britain than I’ve ever been before, experienced remote islands with small but strong communities, managing a life many of us just couldn’t cope with. We’ve met all sorts of people on a variety of boats. We’ve seen the resilience of some, the ingenuity of others, felt kindness and warmheartedness, openness and strength.
I think we have both learnt more about ourselves and each other. It has by no means always been easy. The weather has also made it quite hard at times. We have made mistakes, but are learning as we go along. I know that I can cope with far more than I ever expected but I still need more time to get the confidence and skills needed for more adventurous sailing.
All in all I think we’ve had a lovely sailing season. I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing so much of the beautiful nature along the west coast of England, Wales and Scotland (and with a bit of Isle of Man thrown in for good measure!). Although whale and otter have eluded me, I have so enjoyed seeing dolphins play along with Idun cutting through the waves, I am in awe of the flying skills of the birds of prey, and the agility of gullets, terns and other seabirds fishing in the sea. The colourful flowers by the roadsides have cheered me, reminding me of home many moons ago in a not that distant northern village in Scandinavia. I have read about local and social history; been exposed to real-life stories of the injustice of the clearances, the harsh life of those living off the kelp industry and fishing. It’s been a summer of learning in so many ways, and I can’t wait to start our new set of adventures next spring!
J.R.R. Tolkien still says it with perfect clarity:
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”