Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Wizard Pool to Loch Harport

Hi everyone,
Today we sailed from Wizard Pool to Loch Harport on the Isle of Skye.  We departed at 0800 after spending 30 minutes coaxing the anchor out of the lovely gloopy mud in which it had totally buried itself during the gale.  Twas a messy experience but no complaints!

Once out of the pool we set full main and double-furled yankee in a 15 knot N breeze.  The wind made our course a beam reach which Zen Again loved.  The weather was total overcast, steady rain and very chilly!

Waterfalls into the ocean from Skye
Skye
As we approached Skye the wind became quite gusty so we put in a reef and further furled the yankee.  The coast of Skye is dotted with dramatic waterfalls which dump rain directly off clifftops into the sea.  Spectacular.

As we entered the loch the wind became very light so we motored to the mooring area, zigzagging between the fishing floats.

Zen Again on mooring in Loch Harport
We arrived at 1300 with the rain continuing.  After tidying up we crashed for a while.  At 1700 the rain had stopped so we dinghied in to The Old Inn for a couple of pints and fish & chips.  Fantastic.  Spent a little while chatting with the crew of a charter boat.  They said they've visited Wizard Pool several times and always dragged.  Get a Manson!  ;)

Lochboisdale to Wizard Pool

Hi everyone,
At 0830 on 17th May we departed Lochboisdale after a single overnight stay.  We waited for the ferry to depart before proceeding.  The ferry docks in town but passed close by the marina entrance - you wouldn't want to get in its way (shades of Sydney Harbour ferries)!

We had a NE 6-8 knot breeze so set full sail.  High clouds were clearing.  An hour later the clouds were gone and we had a nice ENE breeze and we having an excellent sail.  A further hour later and the wind had died so we motored in to the loch, around the fish farm and into Wizard Pool.

Heading north from Lochboisdale
Approaching Wizard Pool
Who wouldn't want to visit a place called Wizard Pool?  We anchored at 57 19.3N 007 14.4W on the NW side of the pool in 7m over mud.  Very good holding as it turned out.

Friday at Wizard Pool was spent fitting the new boom brake, consolidating lazarette stowage, and stripping back and oiling the companionway hatch guides.  Weather was partly cloudy with occasional sunny spells, but cold!  The surroundings were - umm - spell-binding!  Very tranquil apart from the jets overhead at cruising altitude which were clearly audible in the otherwise silent surroundings.

Saturday at Wizard Pool was spent stripping back and oiling the teak strakes on each side of the companionway slide.  These and the companionway guides have been varnished previously and we've been gradually eliminating external varnish over the years.  A great improvement.  Weather was again partly cloudy with sunny spells, but still cold!

Wizard Pool
Ditto
Sunday at the pool wasn't the plan but the weather forecast was for a gale from the south so we decided to stay.  It was drizzly and increasingly windy during the day and evening.  The night was dramatic, with our Manson Supreme anchor once again earning our heartfelt respect.  From 2300-0200 we had 30+ knots of wind with bullets well over 40 coming down off the hills.  The anchor didn't budge but Zen Again was tacking to and fro and heeling up to 20 degrees at times.  The main cover unzipped itself at one stage, necessitating a cold wet adventure on deck.  In short it was very similar to the storm at Cocos Keeling, except the air and rain was 25 degrees cooler!  Not nice.

The track below covers our stay overall.  Prior to the gale the wind was from the SSE.  During the gale it was from the SSW.  We seem to "tack" through about 30 degrees when on a 3:1 to 4:1 scope (varies due to 4m tide range).

Wizard Pool GPS Track
Monday at the pool was spent chilling out after an all-too exciting night and waiting for the wind and rain to ease.


Wizard Island in foreground, bullet-factory in background
After the above I feel our Manson Supreme anchor richly deserves re-galvanising!

We loved our time in the Western Isles (Outer Hebrides).  Our next destination was the Isle of Skye.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Castlebay to Lochboisdale

Hi everyone,
At 0815 on 16th May we departed our anchorage off Vatersay.  The wind was NNW 8-10 knots and the sky held only scattered clouds, clearing as the front moved off.

We had a great sail north to Lochboisdale.  Loads of birds.  Several seals.  Occasional sunshine!

Heading north from Barra
Entering outer Loch Boisdale
Sadly the wind died altogether as we approached our destination so we motored in.  Lochboisdale has a small marina and - amazingly - is a UK port of entry.  Apparently yachts over-winter here since the rates are very low.  We secured Zen Again in a pen and arranged a taxi to take us shopping.

Zen Again in Lochboisdale Marina
The taxi driver was a local and very friendly.  We paid him to take us on a short tour of South Uist island after we completed our shopping.  This included a stop at the Politician pub, named after the cargo ship which went aground nearby with a cargo of whisky.  Whisky Galore!

It was very interesting seeing the hinterland and learning about the island from a man born and bread there.  Good to meet you Alistair!