Island Sailing.

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Nine days on ‘Moonshadow of Lorne‘, a beautiful 68 foot yacht.

Our goal- to reach the Islands of St. Kilda, 40 miles to the west of The Outer Hebrides.

Setting off from Dunstaffnage, just north of Oban our first island stop was Canna with the tidal island of Sanday next to it.

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We were not alone as this is a popular stop-over for yachts heading out to the Outer Hebrides.

We went ashore to visit the Church of Scotland Church, Community honesty shop and walk around the garden of Canna House, where John Lorne Campbell had lived. He owned the island and gave it to the National Trust for Scotland in 1981.

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Onwards to Lochmaddy, North Uist in the rain!P1040664.JPG

The weather forecast was against continuing to St. Kilda so a change of plan was necessary. North to Rodel on Harris was the decision.

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A short trip ashore and a visit to the 16th century church of St. Clement’s.

The weather turned dreary on the sail north to Scalpay. We were happy to stay on board and dry off our damp things.

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A new day, a new island (or two) to visit. The uninhabited Shiants were our first destination. Uninhabited except for numerous seabirds, including a large colony of puffins.

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Here the puffins make their nests in the gaps formed by the tumbled basalt rocks. Many of the puffins had mouthfuls of sand eels – a clear sign they must have pufflings to feed.

Next stop the island of Rona and a trip ashore. Owned by a Danish couple it is managed by a warden and his wife. They live in the Lodge house.

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A place of interest to visit is the Church Cave.

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The sign points the way to the Church Cave. A path across the moor and a tricky rocky descent which thankfully has a rope railing to help you.

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Inside the cave stones are lined up to provide seats for the congregation. There is a wooden box which contains a Bible, a visitors book and some lighters- you need to bring your own candles. In recent years it has been used for weddings including the warden and his wife who were married here 9 years ago. After struggling down the steep rocky path in walking boots and outdoor clothes I can’t imagine attempting it in a wedding dress!

Leaving Rona behind we headed for ‘civilisation’ – Portree on Skye. A cruise ship with 3000 passengers was anchored there- a huge contrast to the 9 of us who were sailing on ‘Moonshadow’.

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A trip ashore enabled us to do a little shopping and catch up with e-mails in the Cafe Arriba. I also wanted to pop into Skye Batiks to check out their photo wall for my picture which had won their photo competition last year.

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The next day took us under the Skye Bridge. Our yacht  had a tall mast which didn’t leave a lot of space so it probably looked quite dodgy for any spectators.

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Safely under we had a quick stop in Kyle of Lochalsh to top up with water then on down to Isle Ornsay for the night before heading down to Tobermory.

Sailing into Tobermory on the Isle of Mull is so delightful with all its colourful painted houses. (It gained fame as the setting for the children’s programme Balamory)

 

The bay was very busy with yachts as there was a 3 day round Mull race and we heard that 50 yachts had registered to take part.

The next morning as we had breakfast they set off.

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For us it was a long sail south back to Dunstaffnage…

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…..and a parting of the ways for 9 people who 9 days ago had only ever sailed with their partner. We might not have made it to St. Kilda but I for one had a truly memorable, enjoyable time and definitely made some great friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not A Highland Games!!!

And there was me thinking I’d be writing about a Highland Games next. How could I have forgotten about The Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival when I come from a seafaring background and heritage!

Portsoy is an old fishing village on the north-east coast of Scotland with a picturesque 17th century harbour. The construction of the harbour walls is unusual as they were constructed with vertical stone rather than horizontal. Since 1994 it has been the venue for  an annual boat festival. In the past I have tended to miss it because I was never home on holiday from Saudi at the right time. Not any more!

Traditional boats in the harbour.

Traditional boats in the harbour.

Of course there a variety of boats to be seen.

Boats of yesteryears -big and small!

Boats old and new – big and small!

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Coracles drying.

Coracles.

Coracles.

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Music of all kinds -nautical, folk and pop.

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A chance to ‘have a go’.

The ‘culture tent’ focussed on the similarities and differences between Norwegian and Scottish fishing folk lifestyles.

A part of the Norwegian display.

A part of the Norwegian display.

The typical Scottish fisherfolk diet.

The typical Scottish fisherfolk diet.

But it was disappointing to see that the British jumper for sale was from Guernsey and not a local Gansey.

What no Ganseys!

What no Ganseys!

Not everything was sea related.

This miniature bus taking children around the village made me smile.

Cute miniature bus.

Cute miniature bus.

Earlier in the year I heard that there was a doubt that the Boat Festival would run this year. I’m so glad that it did as I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.