4th to 8th September – Loch Linnhe

We set off from the pontoon in the rain. I had readied the sails and on the way out of the bay the halyard got itself caught around the radar reflector and I had to spend around 20 minutes to free it as Alan circled the boat. The weather was pretty miserable all the way and we decided to stop at Kentallen and not continue on to Ballachulish and we picked up a mooring opposite the Holly Tree Hotel.  The weather improved and we put the outboard on to the dinghy and crossed to the pier. We had a shower at the hotel and then made our way to the Captain’s Bar for something to eat.  I would thoroughly recommend the Holly Tree, fantastic views across Loch Linnhe, a warm welcome from the staff, good showers, great towels and a wonderful meal in the Holly Tree.  We used the hotel’s WiFi and my Modbro app to watch the Scotland game – a few bottles of Jarl were consumed in celebration!

Kerrera to Kentallin

 

As it turned out, the moorings, just as in Kerrera, were pretty exposed and we spent another lumpy night. We decided to abandon our plan to continue up the loch, particularly since the weather was poor and you couldn’t really see much of the scenery. We left the next morning for the short trip to Port Appin where we hoped to get a bit more shelter from Lismore Island. The wind forecasts over the past couple of days have been very inaccurate with hardly any of the websites showing similar data.  When we arrived at Port Appin, we picked up a mooring near the jetty in the hope of making the short crossing to the hotel, however, the swell was so bad it would have proved impossible to get the engine onto the dinghy and rowing was out of the question, so we stayed on board.

Kentallin to Port Appin

 

Another lumpy night and we decided to make a return visit to Dunstaffnage where some sort of shelter would be a bit more likely and it would be a short trip across to Loch Spelve and the mussel farm! We beat our way down the Loch and arrived in fairly good time and found a berth on the pontoons.

Port Appin to Dunstaffnage

 

The fridge decided to pack in so that meant warm beer for the rest of the trip and limits to the fresh food that could be kept.  I contacted the boat electrician who has worked on the boat and have arranged for him to fix it when I get back to Largs. We took the bus into Tesco in Oban and spent the afternoon and evening in the town before returning to the marina where we went into The Wide Mouthed Frog  for a couple of beers before  going back to the boat. This has been one of the few disappointments on the trip. We visited this restaurant many years ago when sailing with an old friend and it had a touch of class to it. Last year’s visit was OK but this year it was quite noticeable how it has gone downhill. Once a go to destination for sailors and locals it was significant that on both of our visits this year it has been all but empty, we were the only diners on our previous visit earlier in the trip and the bar was empty on our second visit. The staff were not particularly friendly and the food was pub food quality but restaurant prices. Easy to see why it isn’t as popular as it once was.

It’s good to make plans but once again ours were foiled by the weather. We woke to constant rain and very little wind, despite what was forecast by the Met Office. It would have been a wet miserable slog across to Loch Spelve so we decided to stay another night in Dustaffnage and to go to the cinema in Oban to see the film adaptation of Stephen Kings “Dark Tower”.

It was a struggle, but we found a seat.

I have read the Dark Tower series and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to the film; however, it was a real disappointment relying on special effects to hold interest and failed to develop either of the main characters or the original plot. On reflection, it’s no wonder that it was so poor as it is a 2 hour film based on a seven novel series.  The Phoenix Cinema in Oban is a nice wee cinema, not a particularly big screen, but comfortable seats and a good sound system. We found a great wee pub, The Oban Inn, beside the north pier and visited it a number of times during our visits to Dunstaffnage and Kerrera.

On our journey north we had sailed up the Sound of Luing past Corryvreckan and the Fladda lighthouse, but, for our return we had decided to take The Sound of Cuan route south. We had spoken to a number of other sailors and were reassured that, as long as you got the tides right, then it wasn’t too bad a passage.  In order to make the tides we needed to be at the North West end of the sound between 1100 and noon at the latest. The forecast wasn’t good with winds of force 6 and 7 with gale 8 at first. We decided that we would leave Dunstaffnage, head south and see how things panned out knowing that if things were too bad that we could head for Kerrera.  We left at 0730 on Friday 8th and as soon as got out of the shelter of the marina it was clear that it was going to be difficult to make Cuan before the tide turned. Heading into 35 knot winds and a heavy sea we made for the relative shelter of Kerrera and Oban Bay. We had only travelled 5 miles but it did bring us a little closer and also the tides would be around 40 minutes later on Saturday.  At the pontoon in Dunstaffnage we were stern on to the wind and rain and the two rear hatches hadn’t been closed tightly enough and water had dripped on to the bedding and mattress of the rear cabin. We took advantage of the time in Kerrera by drying out and doing a laundry.  Whilst, the facilities in the marina may need upgraded, the laundry is brilliant with the best and most efficient driers!

We spent a great night in the wee restaurant at the marina in the company of the managers and a guy from Chichester, Andy, who was sailing around Britain (clockwise) and was heading for Corpach the next day to transit the Caledonian Canal.

Kerrera