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July 2015 - West Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland

Scotland | Canna Island |hiking

Northern Ireland | Giants Causeway

July 26, 2015

Dear Family and Friends, Facebook has certainly made remembering to write a log difficult. Most of this log appeared with pictures in facebook. I can't believe it's been a month since I last wrote July 4th and I apologize for it being such a long log. Sunday July 5th We sailed to Portree on Island of Skye in Scotland. Monday We had a nice bus ride to Dunvegan Castle in Loch Dunvegan on Skye. Nice castle and great garden walks.

Tuesday We sailed to Acairseid Mor anchorage on Rona Island. Beautiful anchorage but tricky entrance. The eddies tried to pull us straight onto the rocks. Two seals were playing or fighting on the rocks and in the water by the boat. One climbed up onto the rocks and had some blood on it's side. The other swam around below him slapping his flipper on the water. Not sure who won that battle... We went for a walk above the harbor and had a nice supper on the grill. Unfortunately around 10:00 PM the wind picked up and our anchor began to drag in the soft mud. We tried to reset but finally decided we didn't like the situation so we left. Once again the eddies grabbed the boat but we were ready for them this time. We had 10nm to return to Portree, 25-30kts of wind and 2-3meter seas. The seas set the boat rolling until we crossed the channel and could head more down wind to Portree. It was dark by the time we arrived so a bit difficult to find an empty mooring. We were so happy to crawl into bed at 1:30. After another cold, wet, windy day Wednesday in Skye we decided it was time to start heading back to Ireland and maybe some warmer weather.

Thursday July 9th we sailed through Kyle Lochalsh by Eilean Donnan Castle down into Lock Duich where we anchored below beautiful mountains known as the Five Sisters which still had snow on them! Quiet night at anchor and then sailed Friday down Kyle Rhea to Isleornsay for another quiet evening. Some more gale force wind in the forecast so we took a berth July 11 at Mallaig Marina for a few days. Jacobite Steam train arrives there once a day better known as the Hogswart Express used in the Harry Potter movies. We had a lovely seafood dinner at Steam Inn.

Monday we sailed to our most favorite spot all summer Canna Island. Lovely anchorage, cute cafe and beautiful hiking on hills above the anchorage. It just had a very warm welcoming feeling to it. Tuesday We sailed by the Isle of Straffa on our way to Coll Island but didn't go ashore. Staffa is called the Island of Pillars as like the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland Straffa was formed when molten basalt solidified into hexagonal crystals (pillars). We had hoped to go ashore and visit Fingal's Cave but seas made it impossible to land the dingy.

Wednesday We had a great spinnaker run along bottom of Skye to Luiing Sound. Then a fast sail down the sound with 5kts current running with us. We moored for the night at Crinan and then locked into the Crinan Canal the next day. The Crinan is only 9 miles long but your canal license allows you to spend 5 nights and 6 days in the canal. It provides a quick passage from Sound of Jura to Loch Fyne in the Clyde cruising area. Once again gale force winds were in the forecast for several days so the Crinan was a happy place to be.

We stayed in Crinan basin for two nights then began our beautiful narrow tree lined passage down the canal. Our first 6 locks were the most difficult. Locking up drives strong currents into the locks and needs a bit more muscle to keep the boat from banging against the walls. The next 4 locks were much easier as we were locking down. Five hours and we had only traveled 4 miles of the canal. We were happy to tie up to a pontoon and go for a walk on the hills above the canal. We visited some prehistoric stone art and had lovely views of the countryside.

The next morning last Sunday we continued down the canal to Lochgilphead pontoons. Our engine has started a knocking noise when idling. Al fears it may be the cutlass bearing on the prop shaft. (more later) Great supermarket in Lochgilphead, Scotland and lovely boardwalk along the bay. We had a nice barbecue and enjoyed a quiet sunny day. Our last night on the canal was cold and rainy again so we stayed in Ardrishaig basin overnight.

Tuesday we sailed down to East Loch Tarbert marina. We had a nice lunch at a cafe in town and took a short walk out to West Loch Tarbert. Some great hiking above the town. So we took a picnic and went for a 4 hour hike on Wednesday. A rainy morning turned into a gorgeous afternoon.

Thursday we intended to sail to Campbeltown but our quiet sail turned into gusty winds 35-42kts and seas. So we switched directions and had a nice fast sail to Lamlash on Arran Island. It was too windy to dingy ashore but we had a good weather window to sail the 64nm to Bangor Marina in Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland. We decided we'd better have Artemis lifted so we could deal with the knocking noise that started in the Crinan Canal. Great sail and lovely day. The boatyard at Bangor could haul us Saturday morning but they didn't have a prop puller and they couldn't launch us again until Tuesday if we weren't ready by noon on Saturday to relaunch...

Our new thought was what if the problem wasn't the cutlass bearing. Could it be the zinc collar on the prop shaft or something wrapped on the prop. Al decided to take out our SeaBreathe and dive down to check the situation. He removed the zinc on the prop shaft (it was loose) No more knocking noise! We just saved over $600. So off we went sailing down to Belfast Marina for a few days. We had a yummy celebration at McHugh's Pub. Al had a Seafood cobbler and I had fantastic lamb shank.

After mass today we watch the end of the Belfast Triathlon. Swim 15C water, 15k bike and 6k run in the cold rain. Yuck this can't be fun! We'll stay a couple more days here. Maybe visit Giant's Causeway or Londonderry or both. We're looking forward to my sister Brigid's visit. She'll be meeting us in Dublin Aug 3-13 and we have some land travel planned. We continue to wonder if summer will ever arrive or has it already gone by? The forecast this week is for abnormal lows 40F. Hope all is well... Love and God Bless Sally

Scotland | Isle of Mull | Tobermory

July 4, 2015

Dear Family and Friends, Happy 4th of July! We are on a mooring buoy in Plockton Scotland east of Skye blowing a ENE gale. Unfortunately the forecast was for more E going SE which would be fine here only that hasn't happened. Artemis rides well in the breaking waves but we can't dingy to shore in the "praire chicken" our little dingy. Hopefully it'll turn more southerly and we can get to shore and enjoy the day.

We've had some nicer, warmer days this past week so we got in some nice hikes. After Oban we spent three days at the pontoon in Lochaline off the Sound of Mull. Nice walk to the Ardtornish Estate and walked it's wild gardens. Then later in the day we visited the old Kiel cemetery. There was a small museum that had medieval tombstones. Great walk above the town and down to the sea. We stayed an extra day at Loch Aline when the harbor master informed us a third day was free:-)

We had a nice sail on Monday up the Sound of Mull to Tobermory. Very picturesque village on the Isle of Mull. The old buildings on the harbor front are all painted in variety of bright colors. We were on a mooring buoy there for two days.

Tuesday was a beautiful sunny day. I even got a little sunburn where I missed with my sunscreen. We took a lunch and hiked up out of town looking for the lighthouse. We came to a fenced area and followed a horse trail through countryside along a stone wall, gorgeous views. We ended up in a boggy pasture near Ardmore Point well beyond the lighthouse we never found. We followed the cows to get across a gully and eventually came upon a farm track. Whew I wondered how we would get over the high cliffs along the sea. We arrived at the farm and eventually a road that took us back to Tobermory. Great 3.5 hour hike and beautiful day. We stopped for a pint of beer to celebrate summer!

Wednesday we had a quiet sail from Tobermory past the lighthouse we didn't find on our hike. It was below that huge cliff I had worried about on our hike the day before! We sailed around Ardnamurchan Point, past the Small Island of Eigg, into Loch Nevis to Inverie Bay. We picked up an Old Forge Restaurant mooring for two days. The moorings are free if you use the restaurant. It was another beautiful day on Thursday so we decided to do a 2.5hr hike to a waterfall. It was an easy walk on gravel roads but I missed one of the directions so we didn't turn onto the gravel road to the falls. We had a beautiful walk 45min down into a valley to a river bridge almost to the sea before we met some hikers that insisted there was no waterfall from where they came! Back up the mountain 45 minutes to the gravel road we went. It was a gorgeous track down to the river again but after a half an hour and no possible waterfall in sight we turned back to Inverie. Once again we didn't find what we had set out to see but had a gorgeous day in the Scottish highlands:-) The restaurant/pub was closed on Wed. so after our hike we had a couple of pints and a nice dinner at the Old Forge. The new owner is from Belgium. I had an excellent leek/scallops on flavorful mashed potato base with beautiful presentation) Al had a fish chowder of cod, scallops and mussels with a smoky flavor. We shared so we had some of each. Excellent chocolate mousse was shared for dessert. YUM

Another beautiful day on Friday so we left Inverie early to slowly sail up toward the tidal gateway of Kyle Rhea.(narrow passage between Island of Skye and NW mainland Scotland. We pulled into a lovely bay off Skye called Isleornsay for lunch and to wait for the NE stream to go through Kyle Rhea. Despite it being springs we only had 3.5 kts of tide with us (book said 6-8kts). We decided Loch Alsh was not a good place to be for the strong East winds in the forecast so we moved on to Plockton, mooring. Beautiful quiet night so we grilled for the first time this year. The wind started to blow about 0200 and the barometer started beeping warning of a gale about 0400 which brings us back to Happy 4th of July. hopefully we can get to shore an use some internet later. Love and God Bless Sally and Al


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