Loch Spelve is beautiful. One of our favourite anchorages since arriving in Scotland. Not quite so rugged as some, and much greener. After a peaceful night at anchor woke up to what promised to be a better day. The Loch is so sheltered that it was difficult to know what to expect once outside. The forecast has not been very reliable on Mull so, as it was dry, we decided to stay and do some jobs that had been postponed because of the wet weather. Richard finished repairing the teak trim across the transom that had split and refitted some teak plugs in the hatch cover that were removed when fitting a new lock. By this time the sun was relatively hot; amazing! We then changed the oil in the gearbox again as it had appeared contaminated when we change it the last time. We will see what it is like at the end of the season. After completing lots of other little jobs we decided to stay another night and enjoy this lovely spot.
More rain… and swell – which we had not expected in this sheltered spot. It was a warning that once out of the Loch we might be uncomfortable. We motor-sailed out into a headwind of about 20 knots. Our intention had been to go down the west coast of Mull, but after a couple of hours tacking into increasingly strong winds, big waves and poor visability, we decided it was a bad idea – and turned back. The weather changed every few hours and it seemed rather fool-hardy to carry on as there are not many sheltered harbours or anchorages on the west coast. Instead we ran back down the Sound of Mull, braved the overfalls on the Firth of Lorn again, and anchored for the night in Loch Spelve on the south coast of Mull. The entry is narrow and the Loch is full of mussel beds so we were unsure what to expect but, as we entered, there was a break in the clouds and the sun shone for a short time . There was even another Rustler 36 anchored there – Pinot which is number 004 (Harvard is 093) – so altogether we felt things were looking up.
Next morning Richard walked to the Tobermory Fish Company and bought some locally smoked trout, scallops and sea bass fillets. We filled up with water and then sailed the 5 or so miles to Loch Drumbuie. Although this loch is on the mainland, it feels very remote. The entrance is unmarked and very narrow and, once inside, there are no buildings at all in sight. Just steep, wooded sides coming down to rocky shores and clear water. It couldn’t be more sheltered and, as such, is supposed to be very popular, but we were the only boat there. Probably because of the weather. Another boat did eventually turn up, but anchored a long way away from us. We were able to enjoy our fish lunch and supper in “peace”, listening to some very noisy birds (oyster catchers and terns I think) and watching a seal silently gliding about the loch looking for fish.
The weather seems to change all the time on Mull. At 6am the sun was shining, but by 6.30 it was pouring with rain again. Still there were plenty of breaks between the showers, so wemanaged to go ashore and then ducked into the distillery for a tour.
Mull has the highest rainfall in the Hebrides (easy to believe!), but the lady doing the tour told us that the distillery’s private water supply had dried up for 3 weeks in June… it didn’t go down well with the group… but made us think that we should return earlier in the year next time which we plan to do. Still we liked the whisky and bought a bottle of their 10 year old malt.
Walked up the hill behind the harbour to an arts centre, An Tobar, that sold delicious soup and sandwiches and had a great view over the bay. We didn’t realise quite what a good choice it was until we went back down to the main street to do some shopping – it was very busy with people and tourists. Bought some local venison steak, black pudding and cheese at the weekly local produce market, then went to the Co-op to stock up on supplies.
We went back ashore in the evening when there was another break in the rain to try the Mishnish pub, recommended in the excellent Scottish Anchorages website of a fellow Rustler36 owner.
I’m sure a bit of sunshine would have helped us enjoy Tobermory more and we understood why the prices in the shops needed to be higher than elsewhere; and it was the height of the season. However, many of the people in the shops were very dour and made no effort at all to be pleasant. The main industry seems to be tourism, and yet they seemed to resent having visitors – and a lot of the goods on sale were poor quality.