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Cruise 11 - 18 August 2018

My recipe for a successful Brighton Belle cruise includes: opportunities to develop sailing (and boat handling) skills; practising pilotage / navigation; exploring remote areas – the history, geography, wildlife etc. … all while having fun in a team of like-minded people … and, of course, enjoying fine food!

The Oban–Oban cruise had all these ingredients. Led by Stuart Ritchie (ex officio Marketing Director Scottish Tourist Board) Chris, Mike, Petra, Phil and Stewart enjoyed a great sailing experience exploring the Jura and Islay region to the south of Oban, assisted by mainly south westerly winds F2–5, occasionally gusting 30 kts. OK, it did rain on a few occasions, but the Scottish mist generates an 'atmospheric' perspective, and the scenery was never constant, being enhanced by the ever changing cloud formations reflecting on the surface of the waters and the splashes of sunlight on the often dramatic mountains. It really was like sailing through an art gallery: quite magnificent.

Exposed, as it is, to the Atlantic, this area experiences very strong tides in the gaps (sounds) between the islands calling for accurate navigation: a sailing challenge much assisted by use of the excellent Clyde Cruising Club 'Pilots'. Our exploration was also assisted by Stuart's generous loan of an excellent book describing each Scottish Island in great detail.

Highlights of our week's cruise included:

  • Hurtling with the flood down the Sound of Islay: 20 degree tacking angles, max. SOG 10.7 knots!
  • Squeezing through the narrows into a Loch Tarbet anchorage ... and anchoring overnight in the uninhabited Black Isles.
  • Enjoying a drink in the pub on the community-owned island Gigha.
  • Crossing the Gulf of Corryvreckan in the Sound of Jura as the tide changed, with whirlpools galore!
  • Navigating the Cuan Narrows between Seil and Luing – very narrow indeed!
  • Visiting the Laphroaig Distillery on Islay, a 1.8 mile walk from an overnight hammerhead berth in Port Ellen. A most enjoyable 'educational' experience, and six 'shot ' glasses have been donated to Brighton Belle!
  • Photographing the 'Bridge over the Atlantic' which connects the island of Seil to mainland Scotland, a short walk from another idyllic sheltered anchorage – Puilladobhrain (8 miles south of Oban).​

And I haven't mentioned the scallops, the Caol Ila malt or the birds - a constant air display by gannets, kittiwakes, skuas, terns and guillemots. The whole week was a highlight!

It was with some sadness that we sailed up the Kerrera Sound back to Oban with SUS Petra (Skipper under Supervision) at the helm to berth in the excellent transit marina. Brighton Belle proudly took her place close to the 'Flying Dutchman' and other tall ships. Indeed, she is (in my opinion) always the finest looking yacht in the marina, and she never fails (in my experience) to provide members of all abilities and interests with a great sailing experience.

Thank you team – it was a splendid week; and a special thank you to Stuart for your enthusiastic guidance – it's been a brilliant season.

About the author

Mike Maddox

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