We spent three nights in Oban. The first two were at the Karerra Marina, which is actually on Karerra Island and not Oban itself. It has good laundry facilities. The CalorGas in nearby Dunstaffnage turned out not to exist and we have purchased a Campingaz cylinder and regulator (additions to those at home) so we can manage without CalorGas. French Campingaz is much more expensive but at least available. Another ‘win’ for Brexit it seems.
For our last day, we crossed to the Transit Marina in the centre of Oban so we could make two trips to supermarkets to restock.
The Sound of Mull
After having taken the easier way by coming to Oban, it was then time to head north through the Sound of Mull – 24 miles through the mountains where the wind is either with you or against. Against in our case, of course – we had to tack almost the whole way. The wind was tumbling over the mountains – alternating between calm and blasts of F5-6 from various directions, usually bringing driving drizzle. For most of it we had a reef in the main and the staysail set, which made for very easy handling. 5nm short of Tobermory, the wind ceased altogether for the evening and we had to motor the last bit.
Tobermory is a lovely pretty town which we visited in 2014 with Nick & Becca. It has a good harbour and we spent three nights waiting for suitable wind before venturing out of the sound. The weather looks like it will be improving. To our delight, the mists mostly cleared and we could enjoy the sun for periods! We walked up behind the town to enjoy the views. We also walked 2km along the shore to the Rubha nan Gall lighthouse. The views of the mountains across the sound were fantastic.
Sound of Sleat
A very easy passage around Ardnamurchan Point and into the Sound of Sleat (pronounces Slate) between the Island of Skye and the mainland in a south wind F4-5. This headland is one to be reckoned with but it was very benign for us. With the south wind it was nicely warm and we had hazy sun.
As it was to blow overnight, we took a visitor’s buoy in Armadale. It was rather rolly because of slop into the bay.
There are a number of very spectacular lochs hereabouts. Some run deep into the mountains with narrows dividing them into sections. But, in other than gentle weather, the mountains can cause vicious down draft squalls which can rip your anchor out. We have had to pass them by.
The Kyles (narrows)
We had a fast run down the last part of the Sound of Sleat and into the Kyle of Rhea – the narrow passage separating Skye from the mainland. It is only one cable wide in places and the tide rushes through creating swirls at the side. We had chosen a good moment and had only about 5k of tide to add to our 5k through the water.
We were spat out into Loch Alsh and in heavy squally winds sought shelter overnight in Loch Na Beiste. This loch is not in the guides but did provide shelter, albeit with squalls into the night.
From Loch Na Beiste we had a rather exciting beat with the staysail and reefed main through the narrows under the Skye Bridge and then up the Inner Sound.
We passed through the narrows between the isles of Ramsay and Rona and entered the harbour of Acairsaid Mhor (Big harbour) on Rona. This anchorage gives perfect shelter and is much esteemed by yachtsfolk.
Rona is vey hilly and mostly rock and bog. Yet in the 19C there were three small communities.
In 1878 a mission house was built. Up until then the population worshipped in a cave over on the east side, now known as Church Cave. We visited but it is extremely difficult to get to across boggy moor and down a steep descent. The cave has rows of stones for seats and a rock that served as a font filled by drips from the roof. There have been services since in 1970 and 2003 and a couple were married there in 2010.
The weather is easier now with fewer days with serious winds.
From Rona we had a good sail to the beautiful Loch Torridon. The loch is in three sections. We avoided the inner most which is very spectacular in between steep mountains but subject to violent squalls in even moderate weather.
We have seen the sun a few times recently and got quite excited about it. But then we are enveloped in squally drizzle 🙄.
From Loch Torridon we had an easy sail to Loch Gairloch, where we moored in the enclosed harbour at Badachero.
The harbour is very sheltered, being guarded by the island of Eileen Horrisdale.
The Badachero Inn is very popular and we had a good evening meal there.
The next day we walked over the mountains past several lochs to South Erradale. It was tough going over stoney paths and boggy moor. We were relying on refreshment at the pub in South Erradale only to find it had closed some years ago.
Tomorrow we expect to sail for Stornaway in the Outer Hebrides. Our track is available here.
Tony & Ynskje xx