Richard returned safely yesterday, so all was ready to start our trip properly. We left Dunstaffnage around mid-day to get the tide up the Sound of Mull. By then cyclonic conditions were firmly established. The sea was totally flat, but the wind unpredictable. We managed to sail a bit, but needed the engine for much of the time. At least that gave us a chance to enjoy the scenery. Last year it was so cold and wet, that our impression of the Sound of Mull was rather forbidding. At that time there were waterfalls cascading down all the vertical surfaces. This year it was much more benign and very dry. Not a single waterfall in evidence.
Anchored for the night in one of our favourite anchorages from last year, Loch Drumbuie. It’s a perfectly sheltered loch, south of Oronsay, at the mouth of Loch Sunart. The entrance is very narrow, but once inside totally peaceful.
It turned out to be lucky that we had a break so early in the trip. The outboard needed to be repaired, and I managed to break a tooth the first evening – both things that took several days to sort out. I also wanted to get some varnishing done that we hadn’t had time for in the yard.
By Wednesday, the outboard was working, the varnishing done, and I had a temporary filling, so I had time to enjoy myself. I realised that we weren’t going to sail round the west coast of Mull – so cheated and bought a ticket for a coach/ferry tour through Mull to Iona and Staffa. What a wonderful day.
Three Lakes, Mull
The drive through the centre of Mull is dramatic,
Iona is beautiful,
but Staffa was quite amazing. The day was totally calm with almost no wind so landing there was very easy – there can’t be many days of the year with so little swell. It also meant that I could walk right into Fingal’s Cave.
The volcanic geology is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, but the real highlight of the day was the puffins. They were nesting and hundreds of them were just pottering about on the cliffs taking no notice of the tourists.
It was only 8 miles to Dunstaffnage and, for the first time this trip, it was a beat, but still good wind and flat seas. The sun was shining again, and we arrived around 10.30am. We had booked a berth in advance, but the marina is not really set up for visitors and there was some confusion over where they should put us. We left the boat on a temporary berth on the outer breakwater, had a shower and then really enjoyed a lunch of fresh salad at the local garden centre. It was the first fresh food we had had for a few days.
By the time we got back the marina staff had organised a permanent berth and we set about putting the tent over the cockpit and mooring up extra-securely so that I would be comfortable on my own for the next week.
Clear blue sky in Loch Spelve
There seemed little point in moving just for the sake of it. We were very comfortable with the anchor well dug in, and had a number of jobs to do. The sun shone all day, although it wasn’t warm enough to sit in the cockpit until the afternoon. Richard serviced the anchor winch and made some repairs to the teak in the cockpit, and I did some polishing that we hadn’t had time for in the yard. We read a lot and relaxed.