RBC 21. Leg 6. 6th July - 13th July. Oban to the Scottish Isles. HQ ARRC.
Crew: (Nat) Webber - skipper; (Ed) Middleton - mate; (Thomas) Mallinson; (Frank) Heimens (NLD); (Catalin) Cracea (ROU)
2.Day two - Wed 7 Jul 21.1. Day one - Tue 6 Jul 21. Following a virtual HOTO with leg 5 via Zoom, with both skippers and mates present, the leg 6 crew departed Innsworth at 0800 arriving in Dunstaffnage at 1700. St Barbara was left in an excellent state and the crew were soon settled in, dinner on the hob and an invite extended to Tim and Joe Crump (RAYC members) who were moored in the same marina. A very pleasant evening was spent in the cockpit under a spectacular sunset.
a.Dunstaffnage to Oban. Lt Col Webber GBR. The early part of the morning was spent conducting some Comp Crew trg, learning boat parts, safety equipment, a few knots and how to tie the boat up. By 1030 we were on the water and enjoying some fantastic sailing in the Firth of Lorn. All hands got an opportunity to helm, tack and jibe and some basic instruction provided on points of sail using a combination of explanation (using the sail sim app) demonstration (by the bosun) followed by imitation and some brief practice (very RYA) before we were becalmed suddenly. Having tried to fight through we eventually lowered the sails to head for Oban via Kerrera Sound passing the expedition motor yacht Ragnor moored up and waiting her next charter, yours for a cool £1/3M per week. The newly opened Oban Transit Marina had plenty of space and excellent facilities from which to conduct some tourism, including Jacob's Ladder and McCraig's tower. All set for the England Denmark match in the evening watched with some takeaway fish and chips.
b.Skipper's Notes: The new North Pier Pontoon is easily accessible but try to ensure you are on one of the deeper fingers. No answer on the radio, and a quick chat on the phone stated it was effectively a free for all. Great showers, but note they are closed due to covid from 8am to 8pm. Town has Tesco' and everything else you might need.
3.Day three - Thu 8 Jul 21.
a.Oban to Tobermory. Lt Col Heimens NLD. After a great night, England won the semi-final, we started motoring late morning into the Sound of Mull. Amazing scenery past Torosay Castle was the setting for the team, allowing us a bit of wind to start sailing towards Tobermory. We all had our hands on the helm and exercised going about, escorted by the dolphins, seals, and otters. Our minds were challenged by our skipper to go over the parts of our boat as part of our Competent Crew Course. Lunch was served by Ed, his famous square meat sandwiches gave us all the energy to deal with the elements. A great bit of sailing in the afternoon brought us to the lovely setting of Tobermory where the sky opened. Chicken curry and planning for the following day.
b.Skipper's Notes: Although you can enter straight across the harbour, it is worth identifying the mostly uncharted channel. Most of the time, the harbour master will come to the boat and take your details and payment.
4.Day four - Fri 9 Jul 21.
a.Tobermory to Salen via Loch Droma Buidhe (Drumbuie). Lt Col Mallinson GBR. A beautiful sunrise, if a little too calm on the water to excite the average sailor, resulted in the landlubbers amongst us going on a team run ashore. A quick 4 miler out to the lighthouse and back, via the War Memorial and Main Street, while the First Mate got in the necessary provisions for a full-fat fry up brunch. The skipper took his crew through charts, essential sailing directions and anchorages, before we slipped our mooring well before high noon to make the most of the tide. Out in to Outer Loch Sunart, we made our way to Loch Drumbuie, to take in the scenery and practice dropping anchor close to shore. Still not enough wind, we made a leisurely course back out and up the Loch Sunart to Salen, allowing Lt Col Cracea to learn how to drive the boat using the Mk1 eyeball and instruments combined. Only a select few can moor up in Salen on its small pontoon, which was expertly handled by Lt Col Cracea. The evening sunshine allowed the Skipper to demonstrate his paddleboard headstands in the bay. Scoff aboard
b.Skipper's Notes: Salen thoroughly recommend as either a mooring or on the pontoon with numerous gorgeous anchorage opportunities on the way up Loch Sunart. Some great walks and a nice place to play in the water, if you are so inclined. Give Jan (07909 944494) a call the morning of the day before you wish to arrive and she will place you on the waiting list. Once the boats turn up that evening she will call you back to let you know if you can get in the following night. Nice enough shower and a well stocked shop with café.
5.Day five - Sat 10 Jul 21.
a.Salen to Loch Aline. Lt Col Cracea (ROU). The sea looked like a lake in the morning and we started our journey using the engine. As soon as the wind started to blow a little bit, but strong enough, we took the opportunity to raise sail, tacking for numerous times but managing to cover more than half of our distance using sails. The Skipper instructed Lt Col Heimans on his being hoisted aloft, as well as the reasons for hove-to, and the correct use of sun-cream. The itinerary made the helmsman keep his attention at high level as we came across narrow channels and shallow waters and underlying rocks. In the afternoon, after arrival in the Loch Aline, the team conducted a stand up board paddling, something that was well embraced by the team especially by Lt.Col Cracea who got over excited and showed increased confidence by trying to play with his balance on board, an experiment that ended with him landing in the water with much exclamation (fearing the local crocodiles), before abandoning his paddleboard and swimming towards the yacht.
b.Skipper's Notes: Think we have solved the water pump issue (constantly trying to pressurise) by refilling the tanks with taps running and pressure taps undone. Very grateful to finally get some wind after our Dutch crewmember reported from the top of the mast that there was no wind until Iceland. Loch Aline is a beautiful spot and well sheltered should an anchorage be preferred over a pontoon. The Loch Aline store (10 min walk) is surprisingly well stocked and managed to fulfil all of the mate's extensive shopping list requirements. Watch the entrance to the Loch, it is very shallow in places and don't even think of entering if the ferry is on the move (watch your AIS as the ferry lurks around the corner ready to catch unsuspecting yachties). The harbour master may or may not answer your call, if not just help yourself to a berth. My advice leave the hammerheads free and head for an outside berth, it's quite tight inside the 'marina' if you have a novice crew manoeuvring St B. Local social club very welcoming.
6.Day six Sun 11Jul 21.
a.Loch Aline to Oban. Bdr Middleton (GBR). Loch Aline Oban (Its coming home). Slipping Loch Aline under the very welcome sun, we motored out through the very narrow channel. Once out we hardened up onto the wind hoisted sails, in order to make the most of the fickle wind we have had over the past days. Sure enough the wind started to die. We carried on towards Oban with light winds, to be greeted by a splash of Bob flying over the side. Start the MOB practise, Nat had taken us all by surprise, but we recovered the first MOB on the first attempt. We carried on until all the crew had collected a MOB without the Skipper or Mate acting as crew!! We ended up motoring the rest of the way into Oban. I took us alongside so excellently that the light housing on the pontoon exploded with excitement. Lines ashore STBV secured crew meal, which was amazing food, then football and it didn't come home!
b.Skipper's Notes: Some good MoB drills today, along with confirming many of the CC syllabus. But yet again plagued with little or no wind. Ended the day in Oban, where we annoyingly tapped a light fitting with the anchor, cracking a lens. It has been reported and they have my number. Crew went for a final meal at EE-USK which is on the quay. If you are into seafood it's a great choice. Evening finished with the football enough said.
7.Day seven - Mon 12 Jul 21.
a.Oban to Dunstaffnage. Everyone was up and raring to go, although once again there wasn't a breath of wind. The mate went for a long walk to find some rivets for the spinnaker pole, however despite returning with nearly 300 rivets of various sizes none were man enough for the job. A shame, as I had promised a glorious final day of champagne sailing. Instead we motored around to Ganavan Bay and anchored up for lunch, a swim and a number of trips to the top of the mast for photos. A short hop back to Dunstaffnage, an afternoon of cleaning and maint before I final crew supper of pesto pasta and bread and butter pudding ended a glorious week on St B.
Day eight Tue 13 Jul 21. Return to Innsworth.