Mytilly crew and passage logs
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1st May Harwich to Lowestoft

Set off on schedule at 10:00am Saturday from Shotley Marina.

Winds from the north force 4/5 gave us a hard sail (beat)into a confused and bouncy sea but we arrived at Lowestoft on schedule after a 9 hour sail.

Milady Clarik started from the Crouch on Friday and had Northerly winds for two days. Gordon and crew arrived safely in Lowestoft at about 2200 having been delayed by the strong spring tide.

 

  rnsyc

Tuesday 2nd May Lowestoft to Grimsby

We left Lowestoft at about 16:30 in company with Milady Clarik and crew to sail the 103 miles overnight to Grimsby.

We saw a dolphin and hundreds of seals basking on the sands by the large wind farm about 5 miles offshore from Great Yarmouth.

Apart from a couple of 30knt squalls as we set off, we had a cracking night sail, clear, dark and starry starry night as we made our way up the coast and across the Wash. We arrived at Grimsby at about 10:00am. Gordon arrived at about 12:00.

Grimsby marina is situated in area renown for the ladies of the night. The whole area around Grimsby marina consists of a giant maze of old derelict (apparently listed) buildings that now serve as monuments to the bygone fishing industry.

We highly commend Steel's corner house in Cleethorpes where you get brilliant fish and chips, bread and butter and tea, served by a very friendly waitress for whom nothing was a problem.

 

  wind farm

Wednesday 3rd May Grimsby to Whitby

We got up early to catch the tide for the 80 mile sail up to Whitby. We had a cracking sail out of the Humber round Spurn point and  up the coast, flying the chute as a spinnaker for most of the way, in a southerly F2/3 with bright sunshine.

As we made our way north the sea has become bluer and there are now many sea birds round the boat including guillemots, gannets, and puffins. The bird migration is well under way and we had a visit from a rather tiny exhausted wood warbler on passage from Africa. It appeared to be relaxed in our company staying for about 30 minutes and hopping around the deck and cockpit before completing it’s  5 mile flight to the coast.

We arrived in Whitby at sundown just as Dracula’s brother, and several other tattooed local worthies, went venturing out. So we followed them to the pub where Brian bought us 3 pints of Sam Smiths for £3.99!

Whitby is a very quaint and pretty place and it would have been good to have stayed a bit longer but, with favorable south east winds, we decided to press on northwards while we can.

Milady Clarik and crew sailed to Bridlington and in line with their plan and so they are now about 30 miles behind us.

  woodwarbler

 

Thursday 4th May Whitby to Tynemouth

We left Whitby at about 09:30am to make the 50 mile sail up to the Tyne. We had SE F4/5 winds and made a fast passage in a fairly roly poly sea, sunny but cold.

The James Clark 60ft ketch (a sail training vessel) left at the same time and we were heartened to keep pace with him, averaging 6 knots all the way. We are now in Royal Quays marina in the Tyne.

We had a rest day today (Friday) and cleaned and restocked the boat. An evening meal in the highly commended Magnesia Bank pub (live blues and brilliant beer) finished off a good day.

All goes well on board and we are still talking to each other. We’ve drowned any problems in Adnams, Sam Smiths or whatever. The Mytilly good beer guide so far is as follows:

Adnams ( Lowestoft RN&SYC) *****

Sam Smiths (Jolly Sailor Whitby) ****

Tetley's (Dracula's Brother's Pub Whitby) **

Mordu Workie Ticket (Magnesia Bank N Shields) *****

Mordu Magus (Magnesia Bank N Shields) ***

Mordu IPA (Magnesia Bank N Shields) *****

 

  morning tea in Tynemouth

Saturday 6th May Tynemouth to Amble

A 6am start from Royal Quays marina in the Tyne was needed to ensure we arrived at high water, and could get over the sand bar, at the entrance to the Amble River. We had a windless motor sail in a sea with 2 metre swells from the East giving another roly poly ride. Coquet Island, just off the coast at Amble, added interest to a fairly boring 4 hour passage. It has lots of sea birds, some rare terns, and seals. Breaking swells on the sandbanks, and around the entrance to the harbour, made our arrival at Amble interesting but tricky.

The weather so far has been good but it is going to blow fairly hard (F5/6) from the East for the next couple of days. Getting out of Amble and entering Eyemouth (our next port of call) is untenable in strong onshore winds so we plan to stay here for two more days.  The weather looks better from Tuesday for several days and that should make our passage up to Arbroath, and later Peterhead, a little bit more comfortable.

The Mytilly good beer guide continues:

Deuchars IPA (Mason Arms, Warkworth) ***

Theakstons bitter (Mason Arms, Warkworth) ****

 

  coquet

Tuesday 9th May Amble to Eyemouth

We left on the tide on a beautiful sunny day with NNE2/3 winds. Our route took us through the Farne Islands and past Lindisfarne. As we crossed the border, abeam of Berwick, Brian went native and we canna mack hied na tails of what the laddie says anymore.

We arrived at Eyemouth in the early evening at low water and had an interesting passage through the narrow canyon into the harbour, running aground in soft mud just in front of pontoon. Alec the harbour master came down to welcome us in to the very picturesque fishing harbour.

Eyemouth is famous for a terrible fishing disaster in 1881. The whole village fishing fleet was caught out by a sudden massive storm and 189 men lost their lives in sight of the harbour entrance while trying to row back to safety in terrible breaking seas. There is a museum dedicated to the tradegy.

We met an intrepid lady attempting to sail a 40ft yacht Midnight Light, partly on her own, to the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland. She clearly was able to turn her hand to anything and was having a 3 month sabbatical from a head of science department job in Maylandsea. Unfortunately she was having national diesel day with a clogged up fuel system. We gave her what help we could. Hope she makes it ok.

Alan Robertson (Brian's mate) came to visit and gave us some valuable tips about sailing on the west coast where he keep his Halberg Rassey yacht, Dragonfly.

  lindisfarne

 

Thursday 11th May Eyemouth to Arbroath

A 04:30 start to catch the tide past St Abbs head brought out the very best in the scurvy crew who are now on a high in every sense of the word. We had an interesting sail across the Firth of Forth through HMRN offshore gunnery range and submarine exercise areas. HMCG advised a 10 mile detour to avoid the area but we pressed on after they revealed that the navy had taken their toys elsewhere.

We arrived at Arboath to find the lock gates closed, with a massive crane and divers down, trying to repair the seal on the lock. Not a place to be if the lock is faulty since the place practically dries out at low water. They fixed it (without our help) and we got in safely.

Brian treated us to Arbroath smokies for lunch, and we went to dinner with Brian's mates Kate, Audrey, Jan and Brian. Had a really good night with a singalong back on the boat.

A new addition to the Mytilly good beer guide:

Orkney dark island (old brewhouse Arbroath) *****

  st abbs head

 

Friday 12th May Arbroath to Stonehaven

The lock gate didn't open till 11:00 so we missed the favourable tide on the 30 mile passage up to Stonehaven. One to forget with F5 northerly winds on the nose, freezing cold, breaking waves, ugg ugg ugg. Roger's helming ability was sorely tested by the conditions as he spent most of his watch heading for Norway instead of Stonehaven. Nevertheless Brian's navigation was spot on and we arrived on time as the cold front passed over and the sun came out giving a beautiful end to a miserable day.

Stonehaven is a very small traditional village which seems to be infamous for the invention of deep fried mars bars. We had to tie up alongside the outer jetty since the inner harbour is very shallow. Nevertheless a peaceful night was had by all.

  stonehaven

 

Saturday 13th May Stonehaven to Peterhead

Another 06:00am start to make the best of the tide up to Peterhead with bright sunshine but F3 winds on the nose and freezing cold for most of the way. We saw our first dolphins. Peterhead marina has good facilities but the office was shut when we arrived because it still seems to be winter up here. We borrowed a key from a local boat so we could use the facilities and get out to buy some food. The shops are miles away and there's a rather large drilling rig being renovated next to the marina to help us to sleep.

Knock, knock, who's there? Why its our near neighbours, Alan and Alex, from our home port of Shotley in their gleaming new Hands Christian 41 footer Mary P! They are on their maiden voyage up the east coast through the Caledonian canal and down the Irish sea. A pleasant surprise to see them.

 

 
peterhead

Sunday 14th May Peterhead to Whitehills

06:00am and off we go again with the tide up to Rattray head and into the Moray Firth. No wind, so we donkeyed into a 3 metre swell from the NE. Around Rattray the tides are very strong (4knts) and cause the swell to heap up and create breaking water that made for bit of a fairground ride as we rounded the head.

We had a fast run on the 35 mile passage and we spotted our first minkie whales as we made our way up the Firth.

Whitehills is a very small traditional fishing harbour with a very narrow entrance that would be tricky in onshore strong winds. Nevertheless the place is well worth a visit; the facilities here are brilliant (they even have a crew room where you can make coffee, read the papers and use the microwave) and the people are really friendly.

David Findlay the harbourmaster was waiting to take our lines. He is one of the most pleasant and helpful people we have met on the entire passage up the east coast and takes great pride in keeping his harbour and the facilities in excellent order.

Sunday lunch at Maitlands pub has been followed up by several enjoyable evenings talking to the local trawler skippers who use the pub as a haven. They have all made us most welcome with wonderful tales about deep sea trawling and the pitfalls of landing catches in "the broch" (Fraserburgh). Their local knowledge about the passage up through the infamously difficult Pentland Firth to the Orkneys, where the tides run at over 9 knots (the strongest in UK waters!), with many tide races and overfalls, is invaluable and we are modifying our passage plans accordingly.

The weather has taken a turn for the worse with strong NE winds and a forecast that is grim for the next week. Several major depressions (980mb) are expected to track through the western approaches with storm force winds (F9/10) forecast in many sea areas.

 

 
rattray

 

15 to 27th May Whitehills

We need fairly settled conditions (winds of F4 or less) to make our passage up to the Orkneys since strong wind over tide, or a large swell in the Pentland Firth produces dangerous breaking seas.

So we have decided to stay in Whitehills and leave the boat here till 27th May while Roger and Greg return home for a week as planned. Brian will stay on board and plans to enter the book of records for the highest number of golf courses you can play in a week. He managed to play 8 rounds in 5 days at Huntly, Cullen, Spey Bay and Duff House Royal. Particular thanks are due to Walter Henderson and Gordon for their company. Evenings were spent in Maitlands Bar with many new friends including Jimmy, Ross and Anne, Davy, Albert, Col, Colin, George and Moira.

We hired a car to look around this rather beautiful part of Scotland. The southern coast of the Moray Firth, from Nairn to Fraserburgh, is a wonderful place with many small villages and tiny harbours on the coast and castles and distilleries to visit inland. Our most special event by far was watching Osprey diving and taking a fish in the river Spey estuary.

Milady Clarik with Gordon and crew are now in Eyemouth. Earlier rather serious problems with the alternator have been resolved but they are now being held up by adverse weather conditions for their next leg up to Arbroath. The weather is unfortunately not forecast to improve for them before Wednesday 24th May.

 

  penan

27th May to 30th May Whitehills

Greg, Roger, Pam and Val returned to the boat on 27th May, raring to get going, only to find that old devil north wind blowing old boots again. Unknown to us, Jimmy had specially arranged a northerly F6/7, with temperatures that defy global warming, to boost the Maitland pub takings for a few days more.

There are far worse places to be stranded than Whitehills for a few days. It is a very intimate and friendly place and everyone there made us most welcome. Especially scrummy was sunday lunch at Maitlands, and the sea food we bought from Downies including cullen skink, hot smoked salmon, and scallops. According to Brian even the McEwans export grows on you provided you drink enough of it . Special thanks to Stephen Ingles from Devonshire Motors for the excellent car hire.

And so we spent a few days more in Whitehills with our hire car visiting amongst other places Port Soy, Findlater Castle, Sand End bay and Loch of Strathbeg RSPB reserve. The sea was spectacular all along the coast, but the marina was a safe haven, albeit with wind shrieking in the rigging, and waves breaking over the harbour wall.

 

  sandend

31st May Whitehills to Wick

Despite a favourable forecast, the day dawned with a continuing F4 NW wind, 2 metre swells, and white horses coming from the very direction we needed to go in for the next 50 miles; so much for luverly jubbly! By about midday things did calm down a bit, and so off we went after special farewells to David Findlay for making our stay so enjoyable.

The sea was not nice and Huey and Ralph came to call for a while. Our course took us east of the Beatrice oil field and under the flight path of the RAF Lossiemouth Nimrod practice area where we were treated to several low level fly pasts.

The sea continued to calm down and by the end of the afternoon we motor-sailed directly to Wick where we arrived at about 21:00.

Dinner, and then straight to bed in order to be up very early to make the tide window in the Pentland Firth.

  beatrice

 

1st June Wick to Stromness, Orkney

01:30 in the morning and off we go in rain, mist, and semi-dark, with a southerly F2, up the coast, against the tide, to Duncansby Head and the Orkneys. Up here in the frozen north it gets light at about 03:00am and so we occasionally glimpsed the coast and the lighthouses through the mist and gloom from about 2 miles off the coast.

We arrived at Pentland Firth as planned at slack tide (04:00am) and had an easy crossing of this infamous and treacherous seaway, passing between the islands of Swona and Ronaldsay into Scapa Flow and the Orkneys. As we made our way up Switha sound the wind picked up quickly and strongly from the west and on the last 5 miles into Stromness we had over 35 knots on the nose with wind over tide. Bucketsfuls of cold water in the face, combined with visibility of less that 200m at times in the rain, made our arrival a bit challenging but we got in safely an hour ahead of schedule at about 08:00am..

 

  duncansby4am

2nd June Stomness Orkneys

It's blowing a F7 hooley again from the northwest, freezing cold, heavy rain and hill fog. Even the locals think the weather is bad! The cattle and sheep out in the open fields are like wind vanes; there are no trees or hedges for them to shelter behind so they all point their backsides into the wind to try and stay warm. What a life!

So we hired a car to do the tourist sites visiting Yesnaby cliffs, the world heritage Skara Brae site (neolithic 5000 year old settlement), Skaill House, Kirwall Cathedral and museum, the Churchill barriers and the Italian POW chapel (built out of nissen huts in the 2nd world war). The cliffs are awesome and are designated as an SSI site. The bird life is also spectacular with curlews, oyster catchers, lapwings, arctic and great skua, guillemots, eider ducks. Considering the weather, we had a a good day but this place must be just fabulous when the sun shines.

One more for the Mytilly good beer guide in the Ferry Boat Inn where we were serenaded over dinner by the Stromness pipe band dressed in full regalia:

Scapa ****

Pam and Val are returning home tomorrow (Saturday 3rd) and we plan to set off early on Sunday if the weather is true to forecast and the sea calms down, heading west to Kyle of Tongue and then round Cape Wrath.

 
Yesnaby

 

4th June Stromness to Cape Wrath and Kinlochbervie

A quote from our pilot book to give you the willies and scare off the faint hearted :“Rounding Cape Wrath. Great care must be taken in planning a passage round this major headland. It is totally exposed to the north and west and frequently subject to very strong winds which build up huge and dangerous seas in a very short time. Even in calm weather a large ocean swell is often present”.

Since we already have willies (so to speak), and the ship's cat to bring us luck, we set off at 05:30am to catch the favourable tide out of the Hoy Sound where the tide runs at  over 7 knots at springs. The day started with low cloud and mist, capping the stunning 1000ft high cliffs on the west side of Hoy. We were lucky to see the Old Man as we bounced our way out of the overfalls in the sound.

As we motor sailed along the top of the UK there was little wind, a 2m NW swell, and poor visibility at first. We saw two minkie whales and seals but not much else until we got nearer the coast about 10 miles from Cape Wrath. Then the sun came out and summer arrived for us too!

“So what’s that behind us?” says Roger the cabin boy who is no longer is hiding inside his oilies.  “It doesn’t look like a ship, it’s coming up fast and heading straight at us!  We’ll shiver me timbers, it’s a ****** submarine conning tower!” Technically we had right of way but we judged that arguing with an unidentified nuclear submarine was probably unwise. The admiralty will probably give you a medal if you can recognise the nationality, name of the boat and the captain of the sub. Luckily for us this rather sinister object altered course to pass us about quarter of a mile away.

The coastline was spectacular as we approached the Cape now in brilliant sunshine and with calm seas. Our route now turned south down the coast inside Am Balg island and to warmer climates! We arrived at our beautiful destination of Kinlochbervie on schedule at 17:30pm.

 
old man of hoy

 

5th June Kinlochbervie to Stornaway

Kinlockbervie, set in a stunningly beautiful natural harbour, is yet another monument to a bygone fishing industry. The solitary local fishing boat hardly does justice to the large harbour and fish market which now stand empty and forlorn. Sadly the Minch is now fished out and most of the boats sold off. Nevertheless, Kinlochbervie is a good place to go with a yacht despite the pilot book commentary.

We left about 08:00am to make the 50 mile passage across the Minch in relatively calm seas with hardly any wind. We saw dolphins just as we left the port but then we went into thick fog with visibility of less than 200m. We had an interesting time avoiding the passing ships using Mytilly’s radar, until the fog lifted and we were able to complete the last 10 miles of our passage on a fine reach.

  kinlochbervie

 

6th & 7th June Stornaway

The rugged outer Hebrides are well worth a visit since there are many historic and spectacular places to see. We hired a car to tour the island of Lewis visiting the Butt of Lewis, the Black House village at Gaerin, the iron age broch at Carloway, the standing stones at Callanish, and the mile long white strand at Traigh na Cnip in Uig. We had a close-up view of a cuckoo (quite rare) and a Golden Eagle on our travels through the mountainous peat bog landscapes.

In the evening we met up with Brian’s old school friend Kenny McKenzie who treated us to superb meal in the Royal Hotel; one of the three that he owns in Stornaway. We had a great evening with Kenny and later on the boat shared many stories including the intrepid exploits of his aging father. Kenny also runs a fly drive business to the Hebrides which must be excellent if the standards of his Royal Hotel are anything to go by. You can find out more at hebredianhopscotchholidays.com.

 
lewis

 

8th June Stornaway to Acarseid Mhor, Rona

We left at 10:30am for the 40 mile passage to the south end of Rona after refuelling and picking up detailed charts covering some of the more remote places we expect to visit. The SW4/5 forecast turned into a SSW 5  and once more we had wind and a short breaking sea on the nose making for a wet and bouncy ride.

As we passed out of the Minch into the Rassay Sound the sea became calmer, the sun came out and visibility improved giving us panoramic views of Skye, the mainland, and the island as we made our way through the rocky approach to the anchorage at Acarseid Mhor.

Acarseid Mhor is a beautiful place and only accessible by boat. Rona is owned by a Danish princess and only has two inhabitants who administer this wildlife reserve for her. Their two very friendly dogs come to  down to greet us as we went ashore and there are showers and washing facilities available in the cottage. It is a magical swallows and amazons place. Look at our pictures!

 
Acarseid Mhor

 

9th June Rona to Plockton 

 
After a trip ashore to have an all too brief walk on the island we set off in brilliant sunshine and cloudless blue skies on the 20 mile passage to Plockton, just north of the Kyle of Lockalsh. The scenery all around is spectacular. We saw Monarchs of the Glen in the far distance perched on top of the high mountain ridges of Applecross and porpoises and seals in the sea.


Plockton is pretty but quite touristy. We have come here mainly as a stopover point to wait for favourable tides through Kyle of Lochalsh and Kyle Rhea which are notoriously strong and run at over 7 knots at springs with dangerous overfalls in bad conditions.

 
plockton

 

10th June Plockton to Mallaig

An 05:30am start was called for to catch the favourable tide through the Kyle of Lochalsh and Kyle Rhea and to make the 25 mile passage to Mallaig. The weather forecast was for F3/4 SE winds increasing through the day to F5/6, turning south and increasing to F7 later. So we decided to make straight for Mallaig, rather than stop at Isle Oronsay as planned, so as to avoid a beat into a F7 the following day!

The morning dawned bright and clear and we had superb views of the mountain ranges on Skye and on the mainland as we made our passage under the Skye Bridge and down the narrow passage between Skye and the mainland. As we exited Kyle Rhea we had a school of around 30 dolphins come racing up to the boat, leaping out of the water and playing in Mytilly’s bow wave. A fantastic experience to lift your heart at 7 o clock in the morning!

We arrived in Mallaig at about 11 o clock. It is a small and busy commercial fishing harbour but quite pretty. We have been allocated a mooring buoy in a quiet corner away from the fishing boats and ferries thanks to the helpful harbourmaster. We are dropping Roger off on Monday to catch the train so he can return home for his wife Barbara’s 60th birthday. Brian and I will then continue on to Eig, Tobermorey and Oban where we will pick up Roger, Stafford and Brian II on Saturday.

 
dolphins

 

11-13th June Mallaig, Knoydart and Inverie

After a windy night with the dinghy flying up above the gunnels in the fierce gusts off the hills, and with F6/7 southerly winds forecast, Brian and I decided to take the small ferry to Loch Nevis to visit the Knoydart peninsula and the Old Forge, the remotest pub in the UK, at Inverie.

Inverie is a rather special place, only accessible by boat and a haven for hikers. We chatted to Wendy on the ferry who is a supply teacher for the small schools at Inverie and the small Isles of Muck, Eigg and Rum. Nice job Wendy!

While in Mallaig Brian popped in to say hello to Jean Kennedy at the primary school who was a schoolmate of his sister.

The ferry timetable gave us only a brief time to see this remote and very beautiful place, where there are otters on the shoreline and spectacular scenery. The Old Forge is a renown great pub with real ale and live music, and moorings provided for visiting yachts although these looked pretty bouncy in the strong southerly wind conditions. Over lunch and with a borrowed guitar we had jam session with Ian from the Black Isle on his squeeze box, who's yacht was moored out in the bay.

The return trip took us up the Loch to Tarbert and beyond. The wind gusts off the hills turned to mini whirlwinds as they hit the sea producing smoking white mist from the water; not a nice place to be in a yacht.

On our return to Mallaig, we found the dinghy blown upside down with Betsy the outboard under the water. After a long row back to the boat in the rather tricky conditions, and a fruitless 2 hours trying to coax it back to life, we administered last rights to Betsy and set about trying to purchase a new one which proved a bit tricky. Ultimately Graham from Arisaig Marine came up trumps, arranging for one to be delivered in 24 hours for us from Inverness, brilliant service!

 

 
inverie
   

 

14 June Mallaig to Muck

With gentle winds from the SW, we made our 15 mile passage to the anchorage in Port Mor on the Isle of Muck in good time. Muck is a small island with only around 13 inhabitants and has been owned by the MacEwen family since 1896. Although served by ferry, the island can be cut off from the mainland for many days when the weather is rough.

After a walk across the island we we dined on fresh lobster caught that evening by Sandy Mathers and cooked to perfection by Jenny MacEwen and Sandra. We had a brilliant evening dining with the MacEwen family in the Craft shop restaurant. There are holiday cottages on the island if your looking for a really beautiful and peaceful get away from it all break. More details can be found at www.road-to-the-isles.org.uk/muck.html.

 
muck

 

15th June Muck to Tobermory

We wanted to stay in Muck for longer but the wind blew up from the south overnight, straight into the anchorage, and the resulting waves and swell made it uncomfortable and bouncy. And so we left for the 22 mile sail round Ardnamurchan Point, down the sound of Mull and into Tobermory where we arrived at midday.

Tobermory is a pretty but quite a touristy place. Tenacious, the Jubilee Sailing trust square rigger came into port just after we arrived by unfortunately Derek was not aboard on this trip.

We watched the England vs Trinidad and Tobago match in the pub and showered in the local youth hostel who cater for visiting yachties.

 

 
tobermoray

 

16th June Tobermory to Oban

An early start in thick cloud and rain was called for to catch the favourable tide in the sound of Mull. We saw a couple of schools of dolphins and Duart Castle on route, arriving at Adantrive Marina on Kerrara island just after midday. The marina is very friendly and efficient and is run by Oban yacht services who provide a regular ferry service across the sound to the main town of Oban.

We spent the afternoon doing maintenance, servicing the engine and cleaning the boat in preparation for the arrival Roger, Stafford and Brian on Saturday.

 
sound of mull

 

19th June Oban to Ardfern

After picking up our new crew, and a pleasant evening ashore with Alan Roberston, we set off on the 25 mile passage to Ardfern. Brian's nephew Craig also joined us for the trip this being his first experience at keel boat sailing.

The weather was pretty foul and rainy and the little wind we had was inevitably on the nose. Our journey took us down the sound of Luing, with the tide running at over 4 knots, past the notorious Correyvechan tide race and through the Dorus Mor tide race into the Loch Craignish. The visibility was pretty poor with heavy cloud and mist blocking out much of the spectacular scenery. We broad reached up the loch in light winds at about 3 knots enabling Craig to do some helming and fishing on the way.

Ardfern is a good place to go with a yacht and has excellent facilities. In the next berth we met the Lady Denise Evans and were awe inspired by tales of sailing her yacht, Dulin of Wessex, a Tradewind 33, down to Cape Horn with her husband, Charles. He was the deputy expedition leader on the first successful Everest climb in 1953 and apparently would have been one of first to summit if his oxygen set had not failed. This intrepid lady was planning to sail up to Reykjavik after picking up two young crew. We discussed the weather for the next few days which looked pretty grim for her going north. We hope you had a good trip Denise!

 

  corryvechan

 

20th June Ardfern to Tayvallich

With the weather forecast for the next few days predicting F8 winds for much of the west coast of Scotland, we decided to head for the shelter of Tayvallich which is one of the best natural harbours in the sound of Jura.

The 25 mile journey was fairly benign except for the tide races at the entrance to Loch Sween which gave Roger modest excitement while he was navigating. We had a fast reach up the loch in steadily increasing winds and after initially anchoring in the harbour we were kindly loaned a local mooring by Torquil.

The forecast gale turned into a full blown storm with F10 winds in Rockall and F9 winds in our sea area Malin. Although well sheltered in Tayvallich harbour, the 40 knt wind gusts off the hills gave us a disturbed couple of nights swinging and rocking around the mooring. With horizontal driving rain we took to the pub to watch the England vs Sweden world cup match. So much for middsummers day!

  tayvallich

 

23rd June Tayvallich to Islay

A 06:30am start for the 35nm sail down to Islay was called for to arrive in time for the afternoon distillery tours. Despite the grey sky, and the inevitable F2/3 wind on the nose, it was good to be off again after sitting out the stormy conditions.

We saw a few dolphins on the way down the Sound of Jura and the cloud lifted during the morning to reveal the Isle of Gigha and the Paps of Jura on our passage.

Our destination was the remote anchorage next to the Ardbeg whisky distillery which involves a fairly tricky piece of navigation through a rocky channel using the letters"VULIN" from Lagavulin's Distillery to indicate the leading line through the rocks.

The anchorage was a little exposed with a swell coming in from the south so we chose to tie up to one of the three visitors moorings that have now been laid outside the distillery.

We made it in time for the 14:30 tour where, after learning too much about why Ardbeg has such a peaty flavour, we sampled the wares and restocked the boat.

With concerns about our lack of ballast on the port side, Brain and Roger hoofed it down to the Laphroaig distillery to buy even more whisky and were indebted to Willie Currie for the lift back in his truck.

 
Islay

 

24th June Islay to Portrush N Ireland

So farewell to Scotland with a 35nm sail across the infamously rough North Channel between Scotland and Ireland to Portrush. With sunshine at last, but generally flat calm conditions, we had to use the donkey for most of the journey. We saw several dolphins and another submarine on route.

Portrush was our last major port before heading west round the remote NW coast of Eire and was a very lively place on a Saturday night compared to all our previous ports of call. We spent the afternoon restocking the boat, getting showers courtesy of the very helpful folk at Portrush Yacht club, and getting our laundry done at the nearby caravan park. We finished the day with a very pleasant meal in the harbour bar and bistro.

 
portrush

 

25th June Portrush to Downies, Sheephaven Bay, Eire

A favourable forecast of N/NE F3/4 gave us free winds to for our passage west and then south over the next couple of days. So we took the opportunity to catch up on our plan by missing out Loch Swilly and sailing straight for Sheephaven; a distance of 55nm. The north coast of Eire past Malin head is rugged and beautiful and we had a fast sail in bright sunshine using the cruising chute for the first time in 6 weeks.

The observant captain saw a whale spout blow while the rest of the crew were still searching for their white sticks.

Our destination, Downies is a beautiful sandy bay in Sheephaven where the scenery and the cliffs at the entrance were magnificent. We arrived at about 1900 picked up a mooring buoy, but unfortunately did not have time to get ashore after Brian and Stafford had cooked the dinner.

 

 

 
downies

 

26th June Downies to Killibegs

The day dawned bright for our passage round the NW corner of Eire, past Tory Island, Arran Island and down the coast to Killibegs in Donegal. As we sailed out of the bay past the high cliffs there were large flocks of seabirds feeding in the sea and a basking shark in the water.

The wind gradually built up during the morning to a N F3/4 and, after some minor repairs, we flew the chute for most of the way down the coast making 7knts on average. To make the navigation interesting, there were many very long salmon drift nets laid out along the coast which are almost impossible to see until you are very close to them. We had an interesting time trying to dodge them along the way.

As we rounded into Donegal Bay we sailed past the infamous Slieve League cliffs which at 1972ft are supposed to be the highest in Europe and are certainly very impressive.

We completed our 75nm passage in just under 12 hours arriving in Killibegs at about 19:00. We found a vacant mooring and went ashore for an excellent meal at No22.

 

 
slieve league

 

27-29th June Killibegs and Derry

We decided to hire a car to take Brian and Stafford to catch their flight home from Derry Airport and we spent a leisurely day in Donegal and Derry on route. The walk round Derry's city walls takes you past a lot of the infamous places from "the troubles" of the 1970s and there are still impressive murals depicting those events painted on the gable ends of the houses in the Bogside.

After farewells to Stafford and Brian we toured around some of spectacular countryside and mountainous areas of Donegal, climbing Slieve League, and visiting Teelin, Malin Beg, Port, and Ardara.

Despite the write up in the pilot book we found KIllibegs to be a very welcoming place for a yacht and well worth a visit. Nail in the Harbour office and Gerrard in the Tourist information office were both very helpful. Although It is the fishing capital of Eire, most of the boats are currently laid off till September because they appear to have exceeded their quotas and so the habour activity is modest during the summer. There are plans for a new marina later this year.

 
derry

 

30th June Killibegs to Broadhaven

With a SSW F5 forecast and dubious weather for the next couple of days, we left KIllibegs for the 55mile passage to the remote anchorage in Broadhaven on the SW corner of Donegal Bay. Needless to say the wind was almost on the nose but the seas were something else. We sailed into a 5 metre westerly swell (waves as big as your house) with shorter stopping waves making for a pretty uncomfortable ride. Huey and Ralph joined the captain for an enjoyable lunch before we eventually arrived and picked up one of the 2 visitors mooring buoys next to the lifeboat.

Overnight the F8 gale arrived as forecast giving a bouncy ride on the mooring and making it untenable to launch the dinghy and get ashore to look around. So we had a lazy day and just chilled out.

 

 
broadhaven

 

2nd July Broadhaven to Inishboffin

With the gale blown out and the wind now in the NE we made best use of the favourable winds to get south heading for the Island of InishBoffin just off the coast of Conemara by Clifden. The sea had calmed down a bit making for a pleasant sail in F3/4 winds and bright sunshine. We spotted dolphins, sharks and a sunfish on route against the majestic backdrop of the 12 Bens of Conemara, making our way through the rocky passage between the Islands to the anchorage in Boffin Harbour.

The entrance to the habour has a rather spectacular castle which once was the base for Grace O'Malley the infamous red headed pirate of west Eire.

 

 

 
inishboffin

 

3rd July Inishboffin to Cashla

With the wind still in the north we continued our journey south round Slyne Head and into Galway bay heading for the sheltered natural harbour of Cashla. The port of Rossaveal at Cashla is the main ferry terminal for the ferries to the Arran Islands but we found no facilities there for yachts. So we headed for the delights of Carraroe bay, the home of the Galway hookers.

Carraroe had visitors moorings but not much else as we found to our cost as Brian tried to deposit our rubbish in a local's refuse bin and was charged 5 euros for the privilege! We walked about a mile to the village to get supplies and had a pretty mediocre meal in the local chinese.

 

 
cashla

 

4th July Cashlan to Kilronan, Arran

To supplement our supplies we decided to go fishing on the short trip across to the Arran Islands and Kilronan. We were surprisingly successfully too catching 4 substantial pollock for our dinner and a few smaller fish which we threw back as our contribution to the regeneration of Irish fish stock.

After Brian drove a hard bargain with the bicycle hire shop in Kilronan we cycled round the Island to see the ancient stone fortress of Dun Aengus precariously perched on the edge of Inishmor's sea cliffs. It is one of the best archeological sites on the west coast.

 
DunAengus

 

5th July Kilronan to Kilrush

Up at 04:00am to catch the tide down through Gregory Sound, past the cliffs of Moher, south to Loop head and up the river Shannon to the marina at Kilrush. We had an enjoyable sail in a generally N F3/4 wind, moderate seas, bright sunshine with dolphins playing in the bow wave as we approached the mouth of the Shannon.

 

 

 
loop head

6-9th July Kilrush

Kilrush is a fairly typical irish country town with limited facilities for yachties but we were made very welcome at the Marina by Gaston and John. It didn't take us long to find Crotty's, which seems to be where all the action takes place at night. Mrs Crotty was a famous concertina player in the early 1900s and the pub is still kept in the old style with lots of memorabilia, and has a high reputation for traditional Irish music. We had a couple of impromptu sessions with some of the local musicians until 2am in the morning each taking it in turns to lead the craic. Some of the locals were brilliant musicians and singers, especially Alfie on the accordian playing irish jigs. It was a privilege to play with him.

Reg joined the boat on Saturday to sail with us for just over a week. We had an enjoyable visit from eight of the O'Connell tribe; good auld friends who came down to see us from Galway for the day and wanted to experience being on the boat. Unfortunately the weather was too bad to take them for a sail but I think they enjoyed themselves and we certainly enjoyed their company and some of the mammy's home made cakes and biscuits.

The weather turned pretty foul on Saturday night with a full gale blowing into the marina which made for a bumpy and noisy night on the pontoons. With strong winds on Sunday as well, we stayed an extra day and watched the world cup final in the pub.

 
crotty's

 

10th July Kilrush to Smerwick Bay

We left Kilrush at about 09:00am to catch the best of the spring tide out of the Shannon. With a F5 wind on the nose, and blowing against a tide running at 4 knots, the mouth of the Shannon produced some challenging sailing with large confused seas and pretty rough conditions. Reg's polite description of the conditions included scary, exhilarating, nauseating, definitely not nice but well looked after. Our less polite description was ****** horrible with green water washing all over the decks and the motion such that you needed a lot of willpower to go below for a pee.

Despite the conditions we had some magnificent views of the many large bottlenose dolphins that frequent the mouth of the Shannon and which lifted our spirits somewhat.

After a 10 hour 45 mile flog to windward we eventually pulled in to the sanctuary of Smerwick Bay on the north western tip of the Dingle peninsula and anchored for the night in relatively calm conditions.

 
smerwick

 

11th July Smerwick to Valentia

We waited until 15:00pm for the large swell to moderate and to get a favourable tide through the narrow Blasket Sound between Dingle peninsula and the Blasket Islands. The scenery on route was spectacular and we had a good sail in sunshine and a F2/3 SW wind with moderate seas.

We picked up a mooring bouy in Valentia Harbour after what Reg described as a sunny, pleasant and nice sail.

 

 
dingle

12th July Valentia to Crookhaven

Unfortunately we had to miss out some of our planned stops in Dingle and Kilmakilogue in order to get to Kinsale by the weekend and so we set sail for the 55 mile journey to Crookhaven. The weather by now had taken a turn for the better and we had a superb sail in free winds down around the southwest corner of Ireland. Our route took us past the Skellig Islands and the spectacular rock formations of the Bull and Cow rocks with their enormous colony of Gannets.

We rounded Mizzen head and arrived in Crookhaven after a 11hour sail. Crookhaven used to be a sleepy old place where all the square riggers headed after crossing the Atlantic. Now it is full of visiting yachts and tourists and we found it difficult to get a good mooring. The pubs ashore have been renovated for the tourism and no longer appear to be very traditional but they still have good live music.

 
cowisland

 

13th July Crookhaven to Kinsale

Again due to the timing and strength of the tides round the headlands along the south coast, we made straight for Kinsale; a 55 mile journey in a SE3 one sided beat in flat seas and bright sunshine. The route took us past the infamous Fastnet rock and along the coast round Galley head and the old Head of Kinsale and we arrived on schedule after a 12 hour sail.

Paul the harbourmaster at Kinsale yacht club has allocated us a very comfortable berth for the week while Roger and Greg return home or a weeks leave. Reg is returning home on Monday.

 
fastnet

 

23 & 24th July Kinsale to New Grimsby Sound, Tresco, Scilly Islands

With Pam and Cherrel now making up our crew of 5, we set sail at 07:00am for the 130 mile passage from Kinsale to the Isles of Scilly. This is the notorious stretch of water where many boats foundered in the August 1979 Fastnet Storm but luckily we had a much better weather forecast with SW F4 winds and bright sunshine, but a lumpy sea.

On a beam reach in 15 to 20 knots of wind Mytilly made good progress averaging over 6 knots for most of the journey but with a fairly rolly poly motion due to a 2 metre SW swell. After a brave start, Cherrel called loudly for Huey and Ralph's company but they departed when the sea calmed down a little towards the evening.

The dark, moonless, starry starry night made for enjoyable night watches and we approached the Scillies towards daybreak after weaving our way past several fishing boats whom seemed oblivious to our presence.

We arrived in New Grimsby Sound, between the islands of Tresco and Bryher, after 23 hours and were lucky to find a recently vacated visitor's mooring buoy in this rather crowded anchorage.

E
scillies

 

25-27th July Scilly Isles

There were many visitors yachts in the Scillies, especially French boats, although the islands remained pleasantly unspoilt with limited commercialism. We walked round Tresco, visited the bird hides where we saw amongst other things a spoonbill and a Marsh harrier, and then the famous Abbey gardens. The weather was fantastic with cloudless blue skies, blue seas and white unspoilt sandy beaches. We found two new good beers for the Mytilly good beer guide in the New Inn in Tresco:

Tresco Tipple ****

Tribute ****

A visit to Bryher in the dinghy proved equally rewarding with spectacular views of the rocky coastline to the southwest, the white sandy beaches and the Bishops Rock.

On 28th July we moved on to Gugh sound anchorage on the island of St Agnes as our departure point for our passage to Falmouth.

 
scillies

 

28th July Gugh, St Agnes to Falmouth

A 05:00am start was need to ensure we made the most of the favourable tide past Lands End, towards the Lizard and to Falmouth; a passage of about 60 miles. With a favourable forecast of SW F2/3 winds, and only slight seas, Pam took on the navigation and we flew the cruising chute for part of the way although the wind later died and we ended up using the donkey. We made good time arriving at Falmouth Yacht haven after a 10 hour passage and surprisingly we found a vacant inside berth alongside the pontoons which were crowded with many visitors.

 
st agnes

 

30th July Falmouth to Fowey

We spent a couple of days in Falmouth where we had a bit of a reunion with the captain's family including most of the Andrews clan, plus John, Mike,Jack, Mick the postman and Molly dog. Doom bar, the local brew, was added to the Mytilly good beer guide and we gave it four stars.

We waved goodbye to a rather hungover Jane at midday to make the 25 mile passage to Fowey in bright sunshine, gentle seas and free winds;very pleasant!

Fowey is a rather special place both for us and Mytilly and was a must do on our passage plan. It's a very picturesque place and it's where we bought Mytilly from Gerald Tonkin for our trip to the Canaries, Madeira and the Azores in 2000. We tried to look up Gerald again but with no success so we hope both he and his wife are still doing well.

 
cherrel

 

2nd August Fowey to Newton Ferrers

It was good to find that many of the Fowey locals still recognised Mytilly from the past. One chap told us an amazing story he had heard from someone who we think was the first owner of Mytilly. Halfway across the Atlantic, on her first crossing, he awoke to find a full size dolphin stranded on the foredeck after a large wave had washed it aboard. His first attempts to rescue the animal were not successful and he spent an hour talking to it trying to calm it down before removing the stanchions and guard rails and rolling it back into the sea, apparently no worse for the encounter!

We had two days in Fowey before saying goodbye to Cherrel and setting off on the 25 mile passage to Newton Ferrers, another very picturesque river estuary harbour just to the east of Plymouth sound. It has a very shallow sandbar at the entrance requiring careful timing with the tide. We moored up on the visitor's pontoon about midday and went for a lazy dinghy trip up the river before enjoying a pint or two in the Ship Inn. The two new visitors showers at Netwon Ferrers are pure luxury if you can bear the wait in the long queue that develops first thing in the morning!

 
fowey

3rd August Newton Ferrers to Dartmouth

Another day of bright sunshine and W F2/3 winds enabled us to use the cruising chute for a leisurely 30 mile reach round Start Point and into Dartmouth. We were lucky to get one of the last visitor's mooring available at Darthaven Marina and made use of its excellent laundry and shower facilities. We rounded off a good day with a meal in the Ship Inn which is a Camara award winning pub that sells Adnams ales; perfick!

 
dartmouth

4th August Dartmouth to Guernsey

Up at 06:00am for the 70 mile passage to St Peters Port in Guernsey with Pam and Roger navigating. Weather conditions were pretty calm, with bright sunshine and flat seas, and so we motor sailed for most of the way.

Meanwhile, in the bowels of the ship, a rather nasty high pressure system was building up in the the outlet pipe from the heads. The 5 metre large green Anaconda pipe decided to completely block up halfway across the channel despite the enormous pressure coming from the toilet pump! A first attempt by the captain rectify this dire situation out at sea was unsuccessful and so we moored up outside Victoria Dock in St Peters Port after a 12 hour passage with the heads all in pieces and our legs all crossed. After many attempts to clear the blocked pipe with various rods and hammers, one of the crew decided to give the Anaconda a secret blow job from up on deck whereupon it regurgitated its awful contents all over the captain's feet. He was not as amused as the rest of the crew! Much to everyone's relief we eventually fixed the heads but replaced the offensive alien snake the following day after donating it Guernsey refuse collectors!

In the evening we met up with Joycie, Roy and Sarah who were on passage in the boat Adara back to Poole from a 2 week trip to Brittany. We were also joined by some of Joycie's other boaty friends who were in St Peters Port and had a bit of a party on board singing and chatting into the small hours.

Evelyn, Dave, William, Tim and Luke were also on holiday in Gurnesey came to visit the next day. We had a good time playing with the boys and trying to teach them to row the dinghy. We took the circular bus tour round the island to see the west coast and rounded off the day with a good meal ashore in a piano bar.

 

 
guernsey

 

7th August Guensey to Sark then Cherbourg

To get over the sill and out of the Victoria Dock marina before the tide went out, we had to be up and away by 05:30am. So with the morning to spare we decided to visit the island of Sark. After a short sail over we picked up a visitor's mooring in the picturesque but very roly poly Guillot sound underneath the high cliffs on the west coast of the island. We climbed the steep stairway up the cliffs and walked to the small village where we unfortunately had the worst coffee ever, by far!

A horse and cart ride round the North of this peaceful, car free island followed by a walk to the main harbour, and a pint of the local brew, filled our morning. And so we returned to Mytilly to catch the north going tide for our passage through the Aldeney Race up to Cherbourg. With the spring tide helping us we reached speeds of over 12knots arriving at Cherbourg at about 20:30.

 
sark

 

8th August Cherbourg to Ouistreham

We decided to make our way up the French side of the Channel rather than the English side as originally planned since the harbours and places in France are more interesting. So once more we made a very early start to catch the east going tide for the 65 mile passage to Ouistreham.

Bright sunshine with a NE F4 wind, initially against the strong tide, made the conditions a little bouncy to begin with but we made good time completing the passage in about 11 hours overall. We had to wait until evening to get through the lock into the marina but the peaceful conditions and good facilities once inside made the wait well worthwhile.

On the following day we took the bus into Caen and spent the afternoon visiting the stunning War Memorial just to the east of the town. This museum gives an extremely well presented account of the events leading up to and including the 2nd world war, and beyond into the cold war. It is a brilliant portrayal using films and exhibits of the realities and horrors of military and civilian events. It left a deep impression of the futility of such conflicts. The place was packed with visitors, both adults and children, and we liked to think that museum's message will be not be wasted on all those passing through.

Our day was richly rounded off by a splendid seafood meal in Ouistreham followed by an orchestrated and impressive free firework display right next to the marina!

A
ouistreham

 

10th August Ouistreham to Fecamp

Leaving Oustreham the following day turned into a bit of a circus with many boats all trying to push past to be first in and out of the lock. As the seaward lockgates opened however the short steep seas coming right into the entrance soon slowed down all the flash Harrys. We hoisted sail, just romped off and were a mile in front of everyone after only one hours sailing!

The 30 mile passage up to Fecamp across the mouth of the Sienne was a little rough at times, compounded by having to divert around several large ships entering and leaving the port of L'Harvre. Nevertheless we continued to make good time which was just as well since we needed get through the narrow and shallow entrance at Fecamp before half tide.

Luckily we made it with about an half hour to spare but the Wolverstone boat that tied up alongside us in Ouistreham lock unfortunately did not. Their engine would not start as they approached the entrance and, in view of the now strong onshore winds and seas, the Fecamp lifeboat was launched to help him. The lifeboat towed them out to sea for a few hours until it was safe to enter the harbour for which they were charged over 500 euro!

Fecamp is an attractive place but the large marina now seems to have even fewer berths for visiting yachts and we had a bouncy uncomfortable night rafted up 4 deep!

 
birthday

 

14th August Fecamp to Dieppe

With the weather set to deteriorate further, the marina advised all yachts to move into the inner Berigny Bassin which is more protected from the large swell that was now entering the harbour and making it even more uncomfortable. So we spent a further 2 days in Fecamp celebrating Brian's birthday, enjoying the cafe bars and visiting the fishing museum to get out of the driving rain.

After 4 days of NW F5/7 winds the frontal system finally cleared through and we were able to set off for to Dieppe. Several other Dutch and Belgian boats returning home after their holidays were following our route up the coast and the 30 mile passage began to develop into a bit of a race. With the wind still in the NW we were able to fly our chute and Mytilly did us proud keeping pace and even passing some similar sized modern racing machines. We were one of the first boats to arrive!

Dieppe is a pretty place to visit and has a most efficient and well organised marina. We were met by the harbourmaster, directed to an inside berth, and staff were on the pontoon to take our lines; brilliant service!

 
fecamp

 

15th August Dieppe to Bologne

We had little time to do proper justice to Dieppe; just a quick walk round the town, a meal in a mediocre restaurant, and then up early for the 55 mile passage north up to Bologne.

By now we counted more than 25 large Dutch and Belgian yachts all going in the our direction, all heading for Bologne with its relatively small visitors marina! With a N F5 wind we could set only plain sails so, despite fine reaching at over 7 knts, most of the other large yachts were now going faster. We were one of the last boats to get in to the very crowded marina. We ended up on the outside of a raft of six 40ft yachts tied up to a pontoon which probably was designed to take only one 30ft yacht! Luckily the conditions inside the harbour were calm and we came to no harm.

 
pam navigating

 

16th August Bologne to Ramsgate

To catch the tide past Cap Griz Nez and up the Dover straight we had to leave Bologne in the dark at about 04:00am. Conditions were generally calm with little wind and we motor-sailed most of the way, crossing the shipping lanes and dodging the many large ships, and completing the 40 mile passage in about five and a half hours.

 
lost at sea

 

 

17th August Ramsgate to Home

We set off at 05:00am to catch the north going tide and complete the final 42 mile leg of our journey across the Thames estuary to Harwich and Shotley Marina, our home port. The forecast thunderstorms did not materialize and we had a pleasant sail arriving back home at midday in bright sunshine.

And so finally we cracked open the champagne to celebrate our return after completing 109 days and 2200 miles at sea since we set off from Shotley on 1st May.

 
celebration
     
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