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Day 35 Mallaig - Skye

Three days in Mallaig is enough, we are going! The storm of Friday disappeared overnight, but the wind was still blowing at 17 knots when we left. We didn't know what the sea state would be but the coastguard did. The announcements over the radio were that the seas were smooth or slight. As it happened there were a few white caps shortly after we left in the narrows between Mallaig and Skye but as soon as we were past the pinch point the seas flattened out.

I was determined to sail for as much as we could the point was 4.5 miles directly to windward but that was not too far to tack to and in any event we were not going far, only 14 miles. We cleared the point but were still heading south as we needed to turn west. The problem was that the further south we went the more the wind swung around to the west from south west. Eventually I decided to tack and we could not make the anchorage as the wind had shifted by 30 degrees, it was very annoying. So undeterred we kept going and as luck had it a change of tide pushed us west and in half an hour we were sailing on track for the anchorage. Ahead of us was a boat that had motored to the point and was 3 miles ahead but they were only doing 5.7 knots whereas we were doing 7.5, it was a race. The computer was saying it would take 2 hours to catch them but we were only 1 hour 40 minutes from the anchorage which meant that they would arrive 20 minutes ahead of us. Try as I might I could not close that gap.

We had a cracking sail it was fantastic and you can see Linda's happy face in the main photo, this is what sailing is all about. We were heading for Loch na Cuilce a must according to the pilot books. It is reputed to be Eric Hiscocks most favourite anchorage. It is a very small anchorage and very protected with room for three boats only inside or you can anchor outside if there is no room in deep kelp, "but beware it may take several attempts to get your anchor to set".

We went inside to this very shallow pool, which should have meant a short amount of anchor chain was needed and that would also limit the swinging room. The other boat had had the same idea and they were in the best place. We were left with an adequate spot but between them and some rocks. We tried twice to get our anchor to set but the boat kept going backwards. I didn't want to put out more chain incase we swung into a rock or the other boat. We really had no choice but to leave, I was a bit crest fallen. The book said room for three boats but obviously not the size of Sea Crusader. If we had got in first I am sure we would have set our anchor and been able to stay. It looked lovely with a number of small boats bringing in tourists to see the spectacular waterfalls that empty into the lagoon.

Outside the sea was dark and the skies were dense and filled with rain. The mountains cast a black backdrop and the whole area felt very exposed but I suspected that it was not. What I did know was that I would not sleep well I would be worrying about waking up on the rocks, so we headed back out to sea. I was bitterly disappointed. As we headed back out we both knew exactly where we were going Loch Harcourt - Carbost some 22 miles down the coast.

As we headed out to see we were once again going head to wind and it was cold, then it started to rain but it was as though the clouds were attached to the surrounding mountains and as soon as we were away from them it would stop and it did. Fortunately when we get to the point we will turn 110 degrees and be able to sail straight to the entrance.

The funny thing about sailing in Scotland is that the wind seems to funnel through the mountains and so wind direction can be misleading. We turned at the point only to find that the wind turned with us and so we were obliged to motor the rest of the way which was a great pity.

We found our anchoring spot just opposite the Talisker distillery and immediatly launched the dinghy and went to the pub.

  • Our intended stop - spooky you can see the boat ahead...
  • Skye in the distance
  • A change of plans
  • Then the sun came out.
  • Waterfalls everywhere.
  • We arrived in our anchorage with a funny smell - should sleep well tonight.



© 2021 Paul Reading