About us and the boat

About us and the boat:

We were lucky enough to retire early at the start of 2013 so we could head off and "live the dream" on board our Nordhavn 47 Trawler Yacht. The idea is to see some of the planet, at a slow 6 - 7 knots pace. There are no fixed goals or timings, we just had a plan to visit Scotland and then probably the Baltic before heading south.

The Baltic has been postponed as we didn't manage to see everything we wanted to in Scotland during our first year owing to family issues. The idea is to visit the nicer areas in these latitudes before heading south for warmer weather. If we like somewhere, we will stay for a while. If not, we will just move on. So, for the people who love forward planning and targets, this might seem a little relaxed!

If anyone else is contemplating a trawler yacht life, maybe our experiences will be enough to make you think again, or maybe do it sooner then you intended!

The boat is called Rockland and she is built for long distance cruising and a comfortable life on board too. If you want to see more about trawler yachts and the Nordhavn 47 in particular, there is a link to the manufacturers website in our "useful stuff" section. For the technically minded, there is a little info and pictures of the boat and equipment in the same section


Richard and June

Sunday, 31 August 2014

A little more Ballycastle...

One evening we were treated to an unusual sight. Casually glancing across to the Ballycastle fuel berth astern of us we had a double take moment. It was a "dry" night so the view wasn't influenced by any intake of alcohol (shame). No Photoshop use was involved in this image either, honestly:

Goats trying to find food on the quay wall isn't a normal daily event in our world. Ballycastle clearly has some dumb goats in its population though - this couple could not read the sign asking for the fuel berth to be kept clear. They did try a bid for freedom but were a little restrained as someone had tied them up to the fuel pump. Interesting move:

Finally we watched them get bodily lifted into the cockpit of a small boat which then took them across to Rathlin Island. It was bumpy out there and the trip takes a while and we are not sure if goats have sea-legs. Wonder how the crew got on cleaning up the boat after they arrived...

A very enjoyable day was spent in Ballymena. Returning that afternoon, the heavens really opened, luckily as we were on the bus (all alone again). Getting off at the seafront in Ballycastle, a full rainbow greeted us - both ends visible. We only had the mobile phone with us and so you only get to see a blurry image of one end, sorry:

This is, of course, meant to bring good luck (seeing both ends of the rainbow, not having a mobile phone or luck would be very busy) so we will let you know what transpires.

Maintenance news

The pesky navigation PC that had been playing strange games producing a series of random errors, has suddenly started behaving itself. Since the trip to Tobermory, it has worked flawlessly for some reason. Sometimes you don't like to look a gift horse in the mouth but we fear that this particular horse is powered by Microsoft and so will bite us again sometime, no matter how well we feed it...

By the way, the PC got mysteriously better before the rainbow appeared by the way. Hence we still await our good luck.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Ballycastle at play

A very chilled time here. As we arrived, the harbour master told us that the Lammas Fair would take place on Bank holiday Monday and Tuesday. The oldest event in Northern Ireland, dating back to the 17th century and quite a huge event too. The population of around 6,000 folks is swamped by the visitors - 60,000 are not unusual.

So, we had to stay and see what the craic was going to be like (for the non UK folks, see Craic information). We took a bus into Coleraine for the captain's birthday. Remember that N Ireland drivers are either Joey Dunlop or rally / hill climb devotees. This bus driver was no exception and the stunning scenery (Giants Causeway, Antrim coastline) whizzed past. He even managed to intimidate a Range Rover to pull in and let him pass by driving inches from the car on back roads at silly speeds. Despite all this, the views were great and we lived to tell the tale.

The town hall area is nicely preserved:

and the captain was very surprised to see that the BMW Dealership (JKC) was on the same site that he used to visit many many years ago

On Friday evening, Brian the Redbay RIB owner and his friend Kieran invited us for an impromptu trip across to Rathlin Island. It was blowy and there were some nice waves to test out the RIB. AWESOME piece of kit. No slamming, gentle landings even from big waves and a very stable ride. 20 knot cruise in conditions that would keep most people in harbour and a nice 34 knot run across the smaller waves as we approached Rathlin. Great evening and great fun. Here is a picture of her taken by the boat builders on a much quieter day:

The enclosed Redbay would be an excellent boat to have on the pontoon outside the house when we are forced to "go ashore" again in x years time.

One drawback of Ballycastle (or at least our berth at the head of the marina area) is that we are right next to the fish quay where some sizeable trawlers come in to unload. The skill of the skippers in threading their relatively unwieldy craft through the narrow entrance and onto the quay avoiding us is impressive - luckily! For a couple of evenings, they were rafted three abreast and we could just about reach over and touch the bow of the outer craft. At night, they look impressive too, if a little close:

Yes, the pictures were taken from the boat and without any zoom lens use....

The Lammas fair was a very busy event. Very. It felt like all the market stalls, fast food vans and fortune tellers from Ireland (both parts of it) had congregated in the small town. There was even a horse sale, with the associated gipsy types hanging around, chaperoned by lots of police. The most surprising - a stall run by a funeral director. Looking at the burgers, sweets and junk being consumed by some rather portly folks, we understood why a funeral director might be touting for business.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Port Ellen to Ballycastle

You know how sometimes things just seem impossible but then work out for the best? Yup, It was that kind of day.

We knew that the Port Ellen anchorage would get very unpleasant tomorrow as the wind swung round to a brisk southerly. So, we planned to head over to Northern Ireland and wanted to try and visit Ballycastle, hidden behind Rathlin Island. Why? Because we'd never been there and didn't know that part of the coastline at all well. Why did it seem impossible? Well, the harbour there is pretty small (just over 70 berths and most of them are small ones). We knew that because of the strong tides and overfalls around Rathlin, we ought to leave Port Ellen about 9am so we arrived at slack water.

The difficulty? Well, Ballycastle is a council run operation. They tend to have short office hours and we didn't want to head over there in the hope that there was some space. Anchoring off was not an option owing to the weather. So, we tried calling them about 8:30 am. No reply. Same game just after 9. We decided to prepare for the off and just before we weighed the anchor (for the non English speakers that means winched it up!) we had a call back from the Ballycastle harbour master who said there was a spot big enough for us. Excellent news.

The anchor came up with a ton and a half of weed attached. Minor issue for the captain, a slightly larger one for the crew who had to clear it all. The trip across to Northern Ireland is an interesting one. You see the islands of Islay and Jura behind you. Slightly to one side, you see Gigha island and then the Mull of Kintyre (Scottish mainland). Ahead, you see Rathlin Island and the coast of Northern Ireland. To starboard you see County Donegal which is part of Ireland. You also get glimpses of the Mull of Galloway / Stranraer area. This is how the PC navigation system sees it all:

Or at least that is how the camera saw the PC navigation system in the hands of a photographer who despite the lack of alcohol could not get a level picture.....

Perhaps this is better, it also shows the pesky little Traffic Separation scheme area (the purple bit) that messes up direct courses sometimes:

So, lots of countries / islands to admire during a trip of under 30 miles. The trip is across an area with strong tidal flows too - lots of water has to get between Northern Ireland and the Mull of Kintyre each tide and it does it by flowing fast.... Luckily it was neap tide time. Amazingly we saw no big commercial ships, just one on the AIS plot. It was all very quiet bar a few fishing boats (and of course, Calmac ferries don't come to annoy us this far south!) The weather was grey and gloomy one minute, then sunny, then foreboding. Here is the view across from our position above to the Mull of Kintyre which was looking moody under some cloud:

The north-west fresh wind meant that the further away from Islay we travelled, the bumpier the sea got. About half way across we needed to wake up the stabilisers. The waves were coming on our stern quarter and that is one of the least comfortable directions, causing the boat to corkscrew across them a bit and the crew objects to this motion for some reason. Still, the stabilisers sorted that out.

As we approached Rathlin Island, the tidal flow around it slowed us down by a knot and a half, then we got the back eddy from the island and had 2 knots help even though it was "almost" slack water. Here is the lighthouse on the west side together with the wildlife observatory:

Between Rathlin and the coast, the stream runs pretty fast and it was nice and bumpy - the stabilisers had to work harder - kind of aerobics for them. Luckily they didn't run out of puff.... Nice views of the island and the rock formations in the sun though:

We called Ballycastle as instructed and guess what, there was no reply but again they called back quickly and allocated us a nice spot on a hammerhead. The entrance and harbour are very small and space is tight - one of the harbour assistants came to take our lines and so it was a matter of pride to spin the boat around and onto the berth with no thruster use. Good practice!

Suitably settled in, we had another "Norn Iron" welcome. So like Bangor last year. Brian, the man who owns a lovely "hard as nails" Redbay RIB moored next to us chatted happily, showed us his lovely new boat and offered a trip out over the weekend so we could see that she is as good as she looks out to sea. Have a look Redbay article for info on this particular boat - it is kind of the fast boat equivalent of our Nordhavn - looks the part and unlike many boats, it is the part as well. Looking forward to playing with something that can do 38 knots instead of our 6.5.

To help you feel at home and understand the linguistic and cultural challenges the crew faced, try this lesson on Northern Ireland language use but don't play it loudly at work or in front of delicate people....

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Kilmelford to Port Ellen (Islay)

The forecast just kept on getting worse somehow. The “window” of sun and light winds that was promised from Tuesday to Friday became a very small one with a little less sun and a lot more wind. Still, it was way better than the weekend – see the last post! So, we wandered into the office, had a chat with David the owner and paid for our berthing then headed off into Loch Melfort. Looking back to the Kilmelford area in the sun was great – we’d had such lovely surroundings for the past few days no matter what the weather did to try and disturb things:

Today was a NW 4 to 6 but we were well sheltered by the various islands en route to Port Ellen. A nice blue sky and puffy clouds to enjoy as we were heading down the sound of Jura. Passing the infamous Corryvreckan, it looked nice and turbulent – then we heard on the radio a yacht calling a trip boat to say there were swimmers in the water! Brave or stupid or??

The crew did a little helming, with Patrick on lookout duty:

Both of them seem to adopt a very hands off approach to helming, perhaps based on the theory that the Furuno kit and the Simrad autopilot know best. That is often a good theory.

Patrick enjoyed seeing Jura as every time we had made this run before it was either foggy or rainy. Also we were on the west side of the sound for a change, close in to Jura itself and so there were some nice new views to enjoy:

Our initial plan was to anchor in Craighouse if possible and if not to continue down to Port Ellen (Islay). The wind was pretty brisk and the Craighouse anchorage looked very exposed. The mooring buoys are not chunky enough for us and as the holding there is reported to be poor (sand and weed) we opted to continue south. Passing the sound of Islay (runs between Islay and Jura) the usual Calmac ferry managed to pop out just as we were in the middle of the channel. We quite clearly act as a magnet for them. Luckily this one turned astern of us and for once we didn't need a course alteration. 

The trip down the coast of Islay is a treat for the alcoholics amongst us. You just cruise past distillery after distillery. The first was Jura - as you can see we stayed a reasonable distance off to avoid temptation (and the rocks....)

After that, Ardbeg:

They like white buildings with their name written on the outside. Then we were treated to Lagavulin:

By now, thirst was getting the better of us and so the kettle was duly put on. A nice freshening wind as we headed into Port Ellen was ideal. The only possible berthing spot for us would be the hammerhead of the local pontoons and of course there was a yacht on there so we anchored in the bay instead. The crew got a touch chilly out on the foredeck whilst we got suitably secured in about 8 metres of water. Nice spot though but it would be horrible in the more normal south westerly winds as it is very exposed to any swell. Of course, the distillery thing was still evident- Port Ellen Maltings were busy:

Despite all the temptation, not a drop of alcohol passed our lips all day. Such self control (or stupidity?)

Continuing our lighthouse theme, here is the rather functional (ugly) version on the west side of the bay approaching Port Ellen:

Guess what, our evening was only disturbed by Calmac, yet again. The wash from the evening ferry meant a bit of disturbance for a little while - we hadn't put the "flopper stopper" out to dampen the roll as it was all OK when Finlaggan was tied up:

The evening forecast confirmed that the weather window had shrunk even further and that there would be a breezy SW'ly wind coming, not at all good for our anchorage. So tomorrow we will hit somewhere in Northern Ireland - hopefully Ballycastle 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Penguin (mis)behaviour

Just when you were feeling sorry for Patrick (separated from the love of his life Bronwen, tricked over a phantom baby by Steve, no cwtch from Linda who has abandoned him etc etc) the truth is out. There was a TV documentary on Gentoo penguins. Here is the newspaper review of the program:

As we recognise some of these traits in Patrick, we will try to get his breed clarified as a matter of urgency.

In the meanwhile the nearest folks are quite a waddle away for a penguin with bad intentions so we think the Kilmelford inhabitants are pretty safe:

Not much around us here and bearing in mind the weather:

we have no plans to rush off anywhere. For the non boaters, sea state "high" means 6 to 9 metre high waves. No fun at all. "Rough" tomorrow means up to a mere 4 metres. Much more tempting. Despite the cruddy weather all is well, even managed to complete two tax returns thanks to the local WIFI connection. Pity that life as a liveaboard doesn't let you escape from such chores.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Oban to Kilmelford

We had some fun during our time in Oban. For example, the raft race in the harbour area attracted some serious dressing up:

Is the water really so polluted that you need NASA style protection? The race also attracted some very 1960's psychedelic rafts:

Not sure that Vikings were into mind altering drugs like LSD though. Think they had other substances in those days....  Despite all the frolics, when a nice weather window opened up (ie once the tail end of tropical storm Bertha had moved over to annoy the east coast) we decided to depart.

Sometimes, things don't go to plan. Sometimes, plans change. This was to be a day with both.

Original idea was to head off just after 8:30 (remember the key fob deposit game at Dunstaffnage marina?) and then to take the tide down to the lovely anchorage at Puilladobhrain for the night. Then we would trundle down past Fladda and the sound of Luing and hole up in Killmelford for the weekend, before the nice winds and rain arrived.

The first part of the plan went sick when the office was still shut at 8:30. A little notice in the window contradicted the internet info and said it opened at 9am. Hum. See earlier thoughts on the organisation here in the last post. Still, to get our £20 key fob deposit, it was worth waiting half an hour.

One fringe benefit of this delay was that the captain managed to get WIFI connected for about 10 minutes, by hanging about the bridgehead (and looking furtive of course). The advertised free WIFI doesn't work at all on the pontoons but if you cuddle up close to the aerial, it sometimes is kind and lets you in. This revealed that the strong south westerly winds and soggy stuff  that were forecast for Saturday & Sunday might be arriving a little earlier. OK, plan B was decided upon - go to Kilmelford today then get some walks in on Friday before hunkering down over the weekend.

Leaving Dunstaffnage it was regulation grey and gloomy. The west coast of Kererra kept us busy - it was a forest of pot markers so plenty of dodging around. Mull looked grey and broody again with low cloud cover:

Luckily, the sun peeped out a little and it was less grey (well, slightly less) as we approached the prettiest part of the trip - heading down the Sound of Insh:

Typical west coast scenery, island upon island stacked into the distance.

As lighthouses are making quite a showing here, we decided to treat you to the other side of the Fladda version too, this is also to prove that the sun did come out:

Down the sound of Luing, the tide was busy shoving us along. Spring tides but we were not experiencing the strongest flow which was an hour and a half earlier All the same the speed over the ground increased dramatically and we got very excited seeing over 12.4 knots (as per the picture, speed through the water was 6.5kn) Of course, we missed Linda squealing in excitement at this new record speed for our slow Nordhavn:

So glad we were not going the other way, we would still be out there......

The nice folks at Kilmelford moved a yacht about on their pontoon so we could have a mooring there rather than out on a buoy for the soggy days ahead. We were treated to tea in the office and felt quite at home! The local rowers were out again:

impressively in time and with oars aligned too. Sue, one of the rowers who we met last year, came to join us for tea and a chat later on. Yes, this place feels like home somehow! The day ended with a lovely sunset, what could be better after a nice trip with great scenery and a warm welcome back to the lovely setting of Kilmelford:

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Wet and windy day musings on Marinas, Harbour masters and statistics (for those so inclined)

During wet and blowy days, the thoughts of older folk, with strange sideways views on the world, tend to turn to entirely non-productive things. No attempt to invent a better wheel or cure a nasty disease from us. No, instead it was a comparison of the harbour master / marina staff across the various places we have visited on our travels so far.

The summary – Northern Ireland and Wales are the friendliest. Scotland seems the grumpiest, Jersey is the most money orientated (no surprise there!), the reception in Guernsey can be great but is very staff dependant and England varies from great to “let me process you”.

All-time highs? Well, the staff and manager in Penarth who found us a winter spot and were so helpful and friendly during our winter there.

The staff in Bangor, Northern Ireland who were equally helpful and friendly (another marina run by the Quay Marinas group – maybe they recruit and train their staff well??) Salcombe harbour (amazingly) where the attitude has changed so much over the past few years and you feel welcome rather than an inconvenience now. The lift staff and dock masters in Shamrock Quay where the boat was lifted this year for their care and overall friendly approach. Last by by no means least, the folks in Kilmelford Yacht Haven who looked after the boat so well last year when we had to disappear down south for extended periods:

All-time lows? MDL at Hamble Point where the prices are just simply mad and you certainly feel processed not served for the amount they extract from you. 

Most laid back? Peel - the harbour staff were very chilled about things and it was like being in a wonderful time warp.

Most confusing? The Tobermory harbour master. The blurb on their website and in the office says that he and the staff exist to welcome people to the area and create a good impression. Look at Tobermory website  In reality, it was so mixed. Good help, but not especially friendly, in getting a mooring buoy. Then we felt like intruders when we went to the office to pay for a couple of nights berthing – perhaps they thought we had come to steal money from them, not offer it up willingly. Deciding to stay for a third night, we bumped into the harbourmaster on the dinghy pontoon and he told us that we had been charged the wrong rate earlier by his administrator lady (£5 per night too cheap) but that we could have our extra night at the same lower rate! However, it wasn’t said in the way that made you feel good and thankful – an abject lesson in doing exactly the right thing in slightly the wrong way and hence leaving a poor impression.

Most disorganised?  Dunstaffnage. Some of the staff are strange in the way they deal with the public eg complaining to us about their colleagues. Their processes seem very paperwork, stapler and clipboard list intensive but they also spend lots of time staring at the PC rather than talking to you.  The office never seems to open when they say it will and there appears to be some kind of on-site war going on with the Alba Sailing charter yacht people about the use of their empty berths that spills over to become a customer’s problem. Would love to have a few months running the place!! Nicole, the American Mid-West lady was great though so if you visit, you know who to ask for things…

Now, the Statistics (for the numerical types or sad folk with nothing better to read / do right now)

Some folks asked about “the numbers”. Well, here they are:

So far this year in our 4 months underway, we have run about 275 main engine hours (not as many as expected since we spent over a week in Jersey waiting for nicer weather to make it to the UK, then 10 days enjoying the Isle of Man). Andrew (yup, the Welsh one, you are getting good at this) has helmed the boat for nearly 25% of this time. He needs to buy his own...

The genset has been used for about 170 hours (lots of nice time anchored or on mooring buoys / remote pontoons with no shore power plus the Caledonian Canal time)

The wing engine has had its regular short runs – only about 5 hours in total so far though. 10 hours per season is all we normally manage, just enough every couple of weeks to get it to operating temperature, run with a good load for a while and then cool off / shut down again.

Fuel burn – not sure yet, haven’t measured it and I’m not starting the main engine just to read the Murphy gauge information! We are still over 2/3 full (from our Guernsey fuel stop) so nothing to worry about anyway! Remember that the boat has plenty of fuel for a round Britain trip including genset use. At the speeds we normally travel, we could get 4,000 nm range easily.

Distance travelled – according to the log around 1,700 nautical miles. Actually, we’ve gone further than this as we’ve often timed our passages to take advantage of the tide. Looking at the GPS distance travelled, it is more like 1,900 but the Caledonian canal stuff (about 110 nm?) isn't included as we didn’t need the navigation gear switched on (apart from the foggy Loch Ness trip with the baby ducks in tow of course).

So, no huge distances, engine hours or fuel burn. Lots of lovely places visited and great memories though without any ocean crossings yet. Yet is such a teasing word….

Finally about you lot. Again, ignoring the internet crawlers and tools that scan the drivel in our blog, there have been about 12,500 page reads. This equates to a lot of wasted time on your behalf and we apologise unreservedly for causing this. Posts about Patrick are the major cause of time wasting we fear. 

This is hotly followed by the post on fuel burn and economical cruising (because Phil Roach, the Nordhavn Europe man has pointed several people at it who ask him “how much fuel does a Nordhavn use and what is the best cruise speed”). To save all those folks from reading the fuel burn post, our answer is “not much” and “travel at a speed that keeps the engine loaded properly, the boat and crew comfortable in the weather conditions and your bank account happy”

Feel enlightened after that lot? If so, bet you love The Big Bang Theory on TV……

Friday, 8 August 2014

Tobermory to Oban (thanks to Bertha)

Our plan was to head up to Mallaig and then Skye but that got changed as we looked at the long term weather forecast. The remnants of tropical storm Bertha were going to upset the weekend and the early part of next week. In fact the forecast was pretty grim (40 knot plus wind gusts, Force 7-8 promised) from Saturday until the following Thursday with some nice rain to accompany it. So, we pondered being in Mallaig sheltering from the weather for nearly a week. Nice place (see our earlier “by car” post) but not for a week. You could get stir crazy. We also contemplated the timing of our trip south which only had one fixed point – Bangor by September 12th to meet John (the Knees / seat) and Tina also to attend the Belfast BBC Prom in the Park.

So, the decision was to head back to Oban (almost a metropolis!) and hide up there during the grim weather. Then we will potter south stopping in all the places and anchorages we haven’t seen yet like Jura and the northern coast of N Ireland. Based on that, think we will be back up here next summer to go further north…. Could be a while before we hit the Baltic at this rate but we want to explore Scotland properly first.

Of course, we needed to depart at stupid o’clock to take the tide with us down the sound of Mull. More 4:30am alarm clock nonsense. Luckily it is just light enough to see at that crazy time. We headed off with a nicely freshening wind and no other traffic (not a huge surprise of course). No pictures either as it was grey, windy, spitting with rain and the scenery was a reversal of the trip up here a few days ago. We even had the Calmac ferry Clansman pass us heading for Tiree and making a huge wash again.

As we hit 5:15am the official sunrise time, the grey gloom got a little less grey but it was hard to get excited about the change in shade. Still, it was very atmospheric and a reminder of how bleak this area must be in mid-winter storms and why we will overwinter further south once more:

We gave the little wing engine some exercise, the big Lugger engine a good long wide open throttle run and again struggled to get the folks in Dunstaffange to talk to us. The office really doesn’t open at 8:30 as advertised. Once it did, we were given a nice hammerhead berth – of course as we approached it the wind picked up, gusting to 38knots and the rain really started. It was also directly into the face of the poor captain on the flybridge who had to look roughly in the direction of travel. The crew could shelter a bit until the act of tying up was needed. Berthing duly completed, the rain stopped, perfectly on cue. How does it do that? Any answers or hints on how to modify such bad behaviour by the weather would be happily received.

Breakfast was needed – all that before 9:15am was most certainly not a normal start to a retired person’s day.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

What’s the story………

Well, being in the home of the TV programme Balamory, we had to use that cheesy line at least once. The story was the normal Scottish blend of summer sun and rain. When it rained, it meant it too. So we had a half day aboard swinging around our mooring buoy quite happily waiting for it to dry up a bit. Then the sun came out and we enjoyed a good walk around the town including a stop in the Tobermory Chocolate company (bit of a trend here after Oban) where we sampled a rather excellent carrot cake. Not quite as good as the all-time great from St Ives but well up there. Our cake leader board is getting very busy now. Maybe we will have to revisit some and make a top 5 listing during the winter.  Suitably fuelled we hit the hills above the town and enjoyed some lovely views across the moorings and Calve Island which offers some shelter from the NE and easterly winds.

What was the story in the town? Well the yacht chandlers had an amazing selection of proper stuff (not just clothes and the kind of junk that Nauticalia stock) and the cheapest 24v halogen bulb we’ve ever seen (£1). However, the Hydro board shop (for the non Scots that is the local electricity supply company and they still have shops selling electrical equipment) was shut owing to staff vacations:

A little further down the harbour, the post office was closed too, for the same reason:

The locals were up in arms – 2 places shut and the local GP surgery opting out of giving out of hours cover seemed to be stirring their passions (or at least those of two older gentlemen chatting in the Co-op shop). So much unrest in such a lovely spot:

We were less upset by this news of course and just bobbed about in the wash of passing ferries and the typical RIB hooligans. We also got run into again! Less dramatic this time but clearly 2014 is the year for us to be a target. Dad and two kids were drifting about in a little fishing dinghy and somehow managed to drift into our bow, not noticing until they heard the clunk. Dad sheepishly started the outboard engine, studiously avoided our somewhat hacked off gaze and motored away as one kid asked him “did they drift into us or did we drift into them." Look at the big rope, buoy and make your own mind up:

The background is worth a glance or two as well......

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Dunstaffnage to Tobermory (Isle of Mull)

 OK, for the UK readers with small children, we will get all the “What’s the story…” and TV show references and jokes out of the way now please. OK, got those out of your systems?? Good, then we can continue (for the non UK readers, if intrigued have a look at Balamory WIKI)

We didn’t head for Tobermory until Tuesday morning, despite our intent to do so on Monday. Why? Well, Monday was way windier than forecast and very wet early on. We needed to leave promptly to take the tide with us and four things tempted us to stay in Dunstaffnage another night: The wind, the rain, the undoubted delay in returning the key-fob to the office when they finally opened about 8:30 and general sloth. The former were just inconveniences we know. It was the last one that sealed things. Actually it allowed us to get very up to date with washing and to clean all the grime off the boat from the last couple of weeks. However, with water hose pressure that rivalled Corpach, that proved a tricky and long-winded activity.

Tuesday was sunny and calmer with a nice easterly 4 to 5. Heading towards the Sound of Mull, the Oban Calmac ferry joined us. As this was our first trip to the Island, it seemed appropriate to be chased by “The Isle of Mull” somehow:

Entering the sound, you can cut between Lismore Island and an outlying rock. That gave us a huge 9.5 knots over the ground (even though it was a neap tide) at our normal 6.2 knots speed through the water. The southern end of Lismore has the regulation lighthouse and as we have treated you to several lighthouse pictures, here is one more for your collection:

Duart Castle on Mull is quoted as a “picture postcard” place. Not that photogenic today though – kind of grey against grey with a few green bits around it:

The rest of the trip, passing Loch Aline and Salen was quiet. Wind from astern, tide from the same direction so pretty flat. We had one exciting moment when the crew spotted another Nordhavn in the distance, heading for us. It was a 55 foot job, called Trisheen of Bute and looked well polished. (We had seen her under prior ownership when she was called Lady Rosario and was not as well fettled). The “Nordhavn owner wave” was duly completed as we passed each other. We still like the 55, maybe not all the cleaning that comes with one though. See what you think:

The crew had called the Tobermory harbour master who said that there might be a pontoon spot free, if not the single 50 ton capacity buoy was empty. When we got closer, he told us to use the buoy. First job was to dodge the other Calmac ferry heading purposefully down the sound:

Then after entering the harbour area, we had to find said buoy. There was nothing obvious about any of the free buoys that screamed “I can hold 50 tons of boat on a blowy day”. We ended up picking up the one that looked the chunkiest and then calling the harbour master again. Of course, it was the wrong one… He kindly came out and showed us the one to use (looked in a different position to the harbour plan we had picked up on-line a while ago) so we moved to the correct location.

Each time the crew was both lucky and skilful. Lucky because the pick-up line was all rope, not chain. She had to tackle chain in Kilmelford last year and it nearly killed her. Imagine having to heave about 7 metres of heavy duty chain out of the water up to the height of our foredeck. Not amusing at all. Skilful because she hooked it first go despite the windy conditions. Suitably secured, we celebrated with tea and Waitrose bikkies that came from Guernsey with us. We still know how to live.

Tobermory is the picture postcard town with the famous coloured houses along the waterfront. Here is the view from our mooring buoy: