Antipole cruises

Coping with more weather

During the pause between gales, we had a good passage from Rathlin Islan to Port Ellen on Islay. We arrived in Scotland at last. Once again we had to sit out a F9 severe gale. We tied onto a pontoon with double ropes and used all our shock absorbers to ease the snatching on the lines. We hunkered down in the cabin while it rained and rained.

Whisky Galore

Once the storm had passed, we were able to explore Islay. When we were on neighbouring Jura in 2014, we had visited the distillery there and purchased some whisky, which has almost all gone. Islay has no less than seven distilleries. We used our bikes to cycle the excellent Distilleries Path which runs through lovely countryside from Port Ellen to the three distilleries on the south coast. At each we were able to taste samples before choosing a bottle from each.

Between samplings, we cycled a further seven miles to old Kildalton Church, where we marvelled at the High Cross.

This was carved about 1,300 years ago in blue stone and is perhaps the finest in Scotland. The craftsmen may have been from Iona. It is a beautiful and quiet location.

We also visited the old castle ruin of Dunyvaig, overlooking Lagavulin.

Gigha

The weather settled down for the last day of June and we had a gentle sail 20 miles across the Sound of Jura to the Isle of Gigha. There, off the habitation of Ardminish, is an anchorage much favoured by yachtsmen as it is the first shelter after rounding the Mull of Kintyre.

Gigha is an interesting and fertile island. In the gardens of Achamore House the Scarlett family created gardens featuring their collections of Rhododendrons and this was developed further by Col. Sir James Horlick (of the beverage). Gigha has in the past suffered from various changes of ownership and the population declined. However, in 2002 the island was purchased by its community – the largest such buyout in the UK. The island is now thriving and the population growing. The community has installed three wind turbines and a battery store and sells spare electricity to the National Grid.

The community has taken over the Achamore gardens and continues to develop the plant collections. We enjoyed visiting, although the Rhododendrons and Azaleas are well past their best. The Gunnera were magnificent.

The weather again

We need to pass through the Sound of Islay to reach the Sea of Hebrides. Our intension had been to visit the outer Hebrides islands before working our way back via the Isle of Skye to the Isle of Mull and hence to the entrance to the Caledonian Canal.
The weather seems to have other ideas – the further we go NW the worse it gets. We put off passing through the Sound of Islay as yet more stong winds awaited us. We crossed to Jura to sit out the next blows for three days in Graighouse Bay, where there are visitor’s buoys.

Jura

The buoys off Craighouse have been fitted with pick-up lines, which makes it easy. Except that the lines are just for picking up and not strong enough for mooring. For that, we need to pass our own warps through the shackle on the buoy. The shackle is too small for us to thread a line using our threading gadget. After 15 minutes hanging over the bow or side and failing to thread even the first line, we had to launch the dinghy and take the lines out that way. Clearly, those who set up the buoys have not tried picking them up from a yacht. Once secured and settled down, it was time to sit back and watch later arrivals struggling with the same procedure.

One feature of the day here is the procedure for those with dogs on board to dinghy them ashore morning and evening for their necessary business. The dogs stand eagerly in the bow in anticipation. Especially when it is driving rain, we are glad to not have to take part in this ritual. We can only imagine the cabins filled with wet dog smell once the dogs return on board.

Jura is a good sized island but only marginally accessible by a road running along past of the south coast. Most of it is mountains, accessed only by deer stalkers. The population is only ca. 200 mostly around Craighouse which has the Jura Distillery, a hotel/pub, café, community hall and a few houses.

With only a fleeting mobile signal, there are few distractions. We spent Sunday lunch in the pub, where there was live music from a visiting band. Later in the afternoon, there was a rare treat of a concert given by the international concert pianist Catherine Nardiello, who is on a postponed tour of these parts. Quite how she came to be in Jura we did not learn. We were two of about ten in the audience. She really needs to be heard on a grand piano rather than a keyboard.

The weather yet again

We understand the South Coast is enjoying days of sun. There seems to be little improvement in sight for north west of here and so we have abandoned our plan to visit the western isles – at least for now. Instead, we will pass east of the Isle of Mull, where the winds are consistently less and there is more shelter.

On Tuesday we had a rare good sailing day. An early 5:00am start allowed us to catch the tide through the Sound of Islay. We needed to tack against the wind, which picked up more than expected amongst the steep mountains. So we deployed our new furling stay sail – the first time in need. With that and a reef in the main, the boat was very easy to handle and we made good speed. Once clear of the sound, the sun appeared for some hours – wow! In moments like these, the views of the mountains are breath taking. We had a fast passage to Oban where we have berthed in a marina while we restock, do laundry and hunt for CalorGas. It is misty and drizzling again.

Readers of this blog may recall we had serious difficulty getting CalorGas last season and, it seems, the problem still persists in these parts. We have made contact with a marina that claims to have the requisite item but we will not reveal where, lest another yacht pips us to it 🤫.

That’s the news for now

Tony & Ynskje

One thought on “Coping with more weather

  1. heleen

    Hi Ina en Tony,
    Just back from Germany – had a great time: seeing NordArt in Regensburg and going to Hamburg.
    For you I hope the weather will be beter: here in Amsterdam we expect very hot weather: 30 degrees celsius and maybe more in the daytime.
    Anyway, have a good time, safe sailing and stay healthy.
    Love, Heleen

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