Antipole cruises

The Outer Hebrides with Sarah G

We met up with Sarah at Inverie as planned and had a good evening in The Old Forge.  On Sunday we sailed to Oban, put Nick and Becca ashore and took on stores and water.  Then we set sail with Sarah for Canna, the outermost of The Small Islands.  We had an excellent sail under a blue sky with clear views of the isles of Skye, Muck, Rum and, to the south, Mull.  Beyond on the mainland, the highland peaks receded endlessly into the distance.

The Post Office, Canna

The Post Office, Canna

Canna is the smallest of the inhabited Small Isles, but, as you can see it still has the essentials such as a post office.

It boasts the best shelter of the Small Islands and is a popular anchorage.  The entertainment hereabouts is anchoring. There is a lot of heavy kelp weed on the bottom and it is difficult to get an anchor to hold, complicated by trying to position yourself clear of other boats.  It took us five goes, with hard work by Ynskje and Sarah to get the vast amount of kelp off the anchor after each failed attempt.  Eventually we were successful.  Then it was our turn to sit back in the cockpit and watch later arrives struggling to get a secure hold in the ever decreasing space available.

IMG_1656Canna and its close neighbour Sanday have only a handful of inhabitants.  Sanday has a restored church which now houses a Gaelic Study Centre with the extensive library of the late folklorist  Dr John Lorne Cambell.  Although in the photo of the church you can see the harbour with Antipole, it is actually a good hour away via a tidal road.  It must surely be the remotest reference library in the UK and it seems fitting that those wishing to study gaelic folklore have to travel so deeply into the isles to do so.
Lack of wind led us to spend a second night at Canna.  When the wind did appear it settled from the north for some days.  So we had to abandon plans to visit Barra and Vatersay at the southern end of the Outer Hebrides as it might have taken too many days to make our way north again.

Great Skua swimming alongside

Instead we sailed to Loch Skipport on South Uist and thence northwards to Lochmaddy on North Uist. On that passage we were becalmed for an hour or so and were visited first by a Great Skua, which flew round us a few times and then settled on the water for a while.  Then we were circled for five minutes by a Minke whale, which came very close by, blowing and diving around us.  It is unusual to have one staying with a boat rather than passing by. Sitting out a calm often brings gifts we would otherwise miss.

From Lochmaddy we had an excellent sail up to Tarbert (yes another one!) between South and North Harris.  We dinghed ashore to sample the west coast, hitching there and taking a bus back.  With the boat, we have been only on the east coast of the Outer Hebrides, which are all steep to with rocky lochs as inlets.  By contrast, the west coast has sweeping sands with spectacular views.  The water is azure or turquoise, even when it is raining, which it was much of the time.  [We never got to Barra, but its air service to Glasgow lands on the beach – flight times having to fit with the tide.]

IMG_1672In Tarbert we have now having a meal ashore with Sarah before she gets herself to Stornoway to start her flights back home.  It has been good having her aboard and she has adjusted well to life aboard.  We will miss having extra crew too.  We will be sailing up to Stornoway for a laundry/stores stop before heading for the north west corner of the mainland.
love to all
Ynskje & Tony
Sarah writes: Here I am at the end of a 10 day epic trip through the highlands of the west coast of Scotland and the Outer Hebrides. I walked for two days with friends from Kiln Loch Horn to meet Mum, Tony, Nick and Becca in Inverie. Since beginning my trip I have been up almost every day before 7am (way earlier than I ever get up for work – I am not at my finest at that time but I seem to have coped well). Because I had to carry all my clothes everything has been worn numerous times – I feel sorry for who has to sit next to me on the plane! Luckliy for them I managed to find a spa hotel three days ago and had a sauna, steam and shower and washed my hair. I have been pulling ropes, scrubbing decks, washing up, cooking, learning to tie ropes and trying to learn my HGV theory test – all the signs of a boot camp. However, I cannot complain as the scenery has been stunning and the early mornings certainly worth it!! Despite getting eaten alive by midges on the trek, we walked through spectaular scenery. Then on the boat we sailed through amazing scenery. I have seen so much wild life on this trip – horses, mountain cattle, rough sheep, deer, seals, whales and dolphins.  I even went horse-riding in Inverie. I have enjoyed every second – it was in every sense a more enjoyable way of spending the days than working! Thank you Mum and Tony for being such excellent hosts, I have learnt so much, as well as relaxing, and I took time out to enjoy our beautiful country. Bon Voyage – see you on the next trip!

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