We opted to try and use the new(ish) pontoon at Loch Aline rather than anchor as some strong winds were forecast so the crew called them. A very friendly lady said that we could have the northern hammerhead - dead simple (so we thought)
The trip is a pretty short one but very scenic. Very scenic. Here is the track for information:
Heading over to the south of Lismore, we had the first of many Calmac ferries against the backdrop of Mull and the Morven area:
A bit Paramount pictures like if you cut out the ugly ferry - cloud over the mountains and all that.
The southern tip of Lismore has a very distinctive lighthouse on it:
Just to the south of it is another rock and most small craft head through the narow gap between them. We were following a yacht and had to slow right down as there was oncoming traffic too. Amazing - a first in Scotland for us, a Solent style traffic jam. We hope this is not repeated, thought we had escaped the summer lunacy down there.
The eddies around the island are fun - our speed approaching Lismore was about 6.3 knots at 1450 rpm. It then went down to 5.7, up to 7.0, down to 5.4 and up to 8.0 within 5 minutes' travel time. Our track through the water was suitably wobbly too. Then we hit a commercial vessel traffic jam:
Oh, and a coaster was coming down the Sound of Mull too. This place gets more and more like Southampton water - except it is very warm and sunny here and rainy and grey in Southampton today. We were pleased when we were properly tucked in the sound and the yachts and commercial ships all vanished. This was more like the Scotland we love! Just before Loch Aline you see the ruins of Ardtornish castle:
Ever so slightly spoiled by the boxy little light tower thingy that someone with no sympathy for the scenery at all has erected. Still, one small blot on the landscape is OK. Sitting on the flybridge, we headed into the Loch and spotted the pontoon moorings. We also spotted a Trader motor yacht on the hammerhead. Hum, this was starting to feel like Dunstaffnage all over again. The second hammerhead berth had an Elling on it (one we knew - they also used to berth at Swanwick where we kept our Nordhavn from 2009 to 1013) so we were stuck - the finger berths were tiny and no use to us at all.
No answer on the VHF, the land line or the mobile number (amazingly we had a phone signal to call them with!) Should we just anchor or? Well, the nice lady then answered the phone and apologised profusely that the promised berth was occupied. Apparently it was a local boat whose mooring was being lifted and fixed so he would head off very shortly. With this in mind, we just picked up an empty and very chunky looking mooring bouy and swung around happily enjoying lunch. There was a lovely old fishing boat astern of us:
and a modern plastic pig in the background of course. The Loch still has a working commercial pier where they take away sand that is mined here:
Whilst we were "swinging about" a coaster arrived through what must be a very narrow entrance for something their size and moored on the pier:
Note the pollution levels from his funnel - not quite as bad as the antique Commodore ferries in Guernsey though. The mine apparently produces very high quality sand - have a look at the history and how production was set up during the second world war to enable specialist glass manufacture on Lochaline quartz sand website. Walking around the area later we have to agree that it is incredibly white stuff compared to most UK beaches based on what they have spilt!
The Trader motor yacht on the pontoon didn't seem to want to go back to its mooring though - later we discovered that it was called "Rogue Trader" - kind of apt. Eventually we saw it move and so we headed in, moored, paid a very reasonable sum to the still apologetic very nice lady, admired the excellent new facilities building and went for a wander in the sun around the village thinking how much better it is than the Solent (on days like this).