We have just had two delightful days in Tobermory, on day one we thoroughly cleaned the boat, day two it rained all day, and this morning we managed to get off for a really good walk, before setting sail.
On day one, I was just getting onto the pontoon, when I was hailed by Trevor and Chris, who had come over from Bangor, Northern Ireland on their Riviera. We immediately started talking hull and sail numbers, specifications and changes, so as I was on the way out, I invited them to come on board and check our boat out later, we then agreed we would go back to their boat and to see the differences on a later model.
Which is what happened, we both checked out each other’s engines, which were fitted by the same engineer in Bangor. As we had had an engine change last year due to water ingress back through the exhaust we were interested to see if we could spot the differences in the way the engines had been fitted. What we thought about later was the major difference, we are bilge keeled and he is fin keeled. We observed that Trevor’s engine was mounted on 6cm deep blocks to his hull, whereby ours was attached directly to the hull; we also observed that his exhaust tube was positioned differently, it had a ‘kink’ in, meaning the water couldn’t get back to the engine. There were a number of differences in the fitting, what we were pleased to hear was that Trevor’s engine had done over 2,000 miles without any problems, which bodes well for our engine.
Our sail number is 6 and Trevor’s is 70, so as the Westerly boats continued to roll off the production line, the company made some modifications and improvements. One being the saloon steering position and console, the newer model is quite different from ours. Another difference is that we have a cool box and he has a fridge with a freezer section (I’m green with envy!). We also noted a few good ideas that he’d implemented; such as a shelf for a microwave, and cutting down the front of some steps to create cupboards, I sense these will be winter projects for Sean. Boat owners are a funny bunch, but give them the opportunity to go on someone else’s similar boat and they come alive, advice and knowledge exchanged and new friends immediately made.
Chris Collen the previous owner of Kantara, appeared soaked to the skin on Sunday evening, having covered two days passage planning in one to get into Tobermory before the storm was due in the following day. It was so lovely to see Chris, although initially I was a bit worried about his choice of crew as Chris was sporting a nasty bruise to his cheek. Apparently like us he had recently hit a rock, which stopped him dead in the water, propelling him through his hatch and down the companionway; he was actually solo sailing at the time, so there might have been a completely different outcome to that story if he had been knocked out.
Sunday evening saw us in the MacGohan’s pub watching Germany and Argentina in the World Cup finals; the pub is close to the Tobermory distillery and had an impressive array of scotch on display. As I was sat on a bar stool, I couldn’t help but hear an order for three shots of ‘Tobermory 19’, and then the price…£56! I hope they enjoyed it!
Monday morning dawned and with it came the promised storm. As Chris was out on a buoy as soon as we saw an available position on the pontoon we called him up, he came and positioned himself opposite us on the pontoon, which meant for elevenses we didn’t have far to run in the rain. Chris now has a Hunter, which looks very similar to the Riviera, even the lay out inside is similar, right down to bilge keels. I jokingly said to Chris, that we would keep an eye out because by the time he wants to retire from sailing we might be looking to downsize!
Not much went on yesterday, we sat about drinking coffee with another couple Paul and Carol who were interested in becoming Westerly owners, we read a bit and braved the weather to shop for this evenings meal. I’d invited Chris and his crew Jim for dinner, they duly arrived at the appointed hour and an evening of chatting, and eating, drinking and singing ensued.
This morning funnily enough we were all a little more subdued on our boat! Sean and I got our act together and went off on a suggested walking tour to look at some standing stones, remnants of a church and an old corn drying kiln. We enjoyed our walk, especially after a large coffee half way round.
Sean and I came to Tobermory three years ago when we sailed up to Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides; I have to say it’s one of my favourite sailing locations.
To welcome the guests off a cruise liner we had the pleasure of listening to the pipes this morning.
Sean was contacted by his bank today to ask if he had made a number of transactions elsewhere in the world, they had obviously been alerted as we had withdrawn cash the previous day in Tobermory and he couldn’t be in two places at once. £1400 was the sum withdrawn in two fraudulent transactions, so the problem for us is that the card needed to be cancelled and another reissued and we aren’t home for another two months to collect it. So now we will be juggling money about into accounts that we have cards for, as and when we have internet coverage.
So back to today’s passage, I have completed my first hour on watch, and taken Kantara out of Tobermory and into the Sound of Mull, the sails are out, but the engine is on, as we were gliding along at between 0 and 3 knots and we need to cover about 35nm today. Sean finished his watch and Marian is now on duty, whilst Simon and Sean are now lounging around on the sofa. Simon did the passage planning today, so we are all paying attention.
At the end of the Sound of Mull we headed left into a stretch of water called Lynn of Morvern, which then led into Loch Linnhe, these stretches of water surrounded by mountains went on for about fifteen miles. There was no wind, the sea was calm and the sun shone. Marian cooked us a delicious curried lamb chops with chickpeas and spinach curry, except she forgot to add the spinach; it’s such a lovely evening Sean and I ate ours out on deck whilst we were motoring along.
The reason we are heading up towards Fort William is that I said I would like to climb Ben Nevis, so that’s what we are heading off to do, weather permitting in the next day or two. As we motor along Loch Linnhe towards Loch Leven we can see Ben Nevis ahead of us eliminated by the sun. The scenery along this stretch of water is breath taking; we have the Grampian Mountain range on our starboard and Ardgour on our port side.
As we enter Loch Leven we will go under a bridge which has a height of 17m, our height from the water is 14.5m. I think Marian is a little anxious about this as she has mentioned the state of tide several times, until we explained with bridges the water height is taken from the top of the tide, which is obviously different from normal spring tide readings, where depth is taken based on the lowest tide.
We have phoned ahead and booked the one buoy available at Ballachulish which belongs to the hotel. Apparently we can use the hotel swimming pool, sauna and gym, which we are all looking forward to, because tomorrow it’s meant to rain all day.
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