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Mallaig to Oban

Pascal, Geoff, Stuart, Laura, Mike & Matt.

An awful lot had been promised about sailing around the west coast of Scotland by our skipper Stuart. I can happily report that there was no exaggeration. We had decent wind, various forms of weather and fantastic anchorage opportunities all week long.

Skippered by Stuart with his motley crew - Matt, Mike, Pascal, Geoff & Laura - we had a fantastic week together on Brighton Belle.

The only requirement was to be in Oban by the end of the week. This gave us time to take in a variety of places, from remote anchorages in simply stunning surroundings, to marinas with all the facilities and restaurants you would expect.

We joined Brighton Belle in Mallaig, a small fishing town on the west coast of mainland Scotland. The train ride there was a vista of scenery and crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct made famous in the Harry Potter movies - Laura thought she was on her way to Hogwarts!

Canna Harbour

​We left Mallaig and had a great voyage to Canna, the furthest west of the small isles.  We sailed between Rum and Eigg, then between Canna and Rum before picking up a mooring buoy in Canna Harbour.

We were treated to a wonderful sunset and the following morning glorious sunshine and blue skies!  We went ashore to pay our mooring fees and see if the cafe was open for breakfast.  Canna isn't very big with a population of less than 100, but the people we met were fantastically welcoming.  There was an honesty shop where we picked up a few supplies and had a short walk around the edge of the natural harbour before returning to set off.

Loch Scresort on the east coast of Rum was our destination for lunch, quite a few other yachts had the same idea and we almost had trouble finding a spot to anchor.   We spent some time planning for our evening anchorage - Loch Scavaig on the southern coast of Skye.  It was a challenging navigational exercise with several rocks just under the water.  The safe channel was only a couple of cables wide and unmarked.

Loch Scavaig

​We were safely guided in by the Clyde Cruising Club's sailing directions.  Once anchored the scenery was spectacular - see waterfall left for one example.

The next morning we went ashore to walk along Loch Coruisk, a freshwater loch that runs, via what must be a contender for Scotland's shortest river, into Loch Scavig.  There was only a couple of meters height difference between the two.

We carefully navigated our way out of Loch Scavaig and set sail for Arisaig, via Muck.  Skipper Stuart had promised afternoon tea at Mort Mor on Muck.  The wind had other ideas and we had to call off the midday stop and go directly to Arisaig.  Geoff was outraged and despite great efforts was unable to summon up sufficient wind to the make the plan workable.

Brighton Belle anchored in Loch Scavaig

​We followed the markers into Arisaig, first making sure we had sufficient tide to clear the rock bank in the approach channel.  There was a question if we would reach the pub in time for last orders.  It is wonderful to see how precise and efficient a crew can be when properly motivated.  Not more than two minutes after securing our mooring buoy were we in the tender making our way to the jetty.  We arrived just in time to get the last food orders in at the pub, and Stuart introduced us to some of his favourite whiskeys - well, in his top 1000 list anyway!

Tobermory
At this time of year, it never really gets dark, so even our return trip to Brighton Belle was in fairly decent light, despite being quite late.

We went ashore again to stock provisions before heading for Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.  Unfortunately it was a windless day and we motored most of the way.  On the positive side we rounded the Point of Ardnamurchan in very agreeable conditions (see top left crew photo with the lighthouse in the background).  The experienced members of the crew informing us it isn't always like this, as it is almost directly exposed to the Atlantic.

We had also provisioned ingredients for cream tea in Arisaig, and enjoyed these in the calm conditions.  There was the great debate of our time, for the record: Cream first.

Tobermory is a picturesque little town with brightly coloured buildings lining the harbour front.  The next day was the Mull Highland Games​ and it all kicked off with a bagpipe marching band playing while walking down the main harbour road - a very apt welcome to the town.
Cruising chute up!
The forecast showed very little wind, we thought we were in for another day motoring from Tobermory to Loch Spelve, however when we got out into the Sound of Mull there was just enough wind to sail. We set about launching the cruising chute and had a successful sail all the way down the Sound of Mull, dodging ferries and other boats on the water.

Loch Spelve was another interesting entrance, simpler than Loch Scavaig or Arisaig with just one submerged, unmarked rock called 'The Mushroom' to avoid. We found a suitable place to anchor and enjoyed​ a very well sheltered and quiet night on board.

Rain came the next morning, we sailed across the Firth of Lorn back towards the mainland, and up the Kerrera Sound to Oban.  We enjoyed an end of cruise meal in an excellent seafood restaurant called Ee-usk.  Well worth booking a table if you're in the area.

Our lasting impression is that we only scratched the surface of the sailing opportunities, anchorages and places to visit on the west coast of Scotland.  We wish we could have stayed longer, but we had a fantastic week on board Brighton Belle.

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Comments

Stuart Ritchie on Sunday, 29 July 2018 09:33
Afternoon Tea on Muck

Yes I promised afternoon T on Muck to Geoff which was not forthcoming, I however did try to compensate by making pancakes.
Very ably assisted by Pascale, who whipped the egg whites to perfect peaks which when folded into the batter made light and delicious pancakes which complimented the Bon Maman strawberry jam.
Furthermore any Stuart cruise (as skipper or crew) necessitates mention of good eating & wine........as Napolean said an army (crew) marches (sails) on it's stomach.
Pascal's scallops washed down with Grand Cru bubbles exemplifying the onboard delights.
My personal thanks to all the crew who contributed in a very supportive manner to my 1st BB cruise as skipper.

1
Yes I promised afternoon T on Muck to Geoff which was not forthcoming, I however did try to compensate by making pancakes. Very ably assisted by Pascale, who whipped the egg whites to perfect peaks which when folded into the batter made light and delicious pancakes which complimented the Bon Maman strawberry jam. Furthermore any Stuart cruise (as skipper or crew) necessitates mention of good eating & wine........as Napolean said an army (crew) marches (sails) on it's stomach. Pascal's scallops washed down with Grand Cru bubbles exemplifying the onboard delights. My personal thanks to all the crew who contributed in a very supportive manner to my 1st BB cruise as skipper.
Bob Williams on Friday, 10 August 2018 14:03
Just a wee bit jealous

This sounds like a fantastic trip. Despite having an equally good time with George and our friends Haakon and Ellen in Norway, I confess to being a wee bit jealous.
Thanks for a great report, Matt.

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This sounds like a fantastic trip. Despite having an equally good time with George and our friends Haakon and Ellen in Norway, I confess to being a wee bit jealous. Thanks for a great report, Matt.
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