Sunday, August 18, 2013

Aleria's Jaunt to Scotland: 13 July 2013 Craobh, Scotland

Sailing at the speed of knots

Flying Fish burgee of the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC)

As we had finished our chores in Ardfern, there was no need to stay on, so we decided to catch the afternoon tide and make our way north to Craobh (pronounced Croove).  That was where we were meeting up with the OCC Scotland Rally  and the opening dinner was the following night.  It would be nice to get there a day in advance. The wind was just picking up as we lifted our anchor off the muddy buttom.  Alex was grateful for the salt water wash down system he had installed several years back.
Craobh Haven Marina

We had a nice 15 knot breeze coming down the loch close hauled, no need to tack until we got to the Point. We thought one tack would take us right around.  Brilliant.  Tacking Aleria is a lot of work so we try to tack as little as possible. Just as we approached Dorus Mor at Criagnish Point, the wind suddenly picked up to 25 knots and clocked so it was right on the nose when we altered course - not enough for the tack to starboard. I turned on the engine and kicked her around the rocks. The hellish current was pushing us through the gap between the mainland and an island, but setting us toward the island and I was having a hard time holding her rudder steady against the current using all my strength on the wheel, so Alex took over until we cleared the point.

Aleria in her slip; Alex preparing bicycles
When we were able to turn up into Jura Sound, we were doing 11.5-12 knots speed over ground (not through the water, where are our speed was barely over 6 knots) between the wind and the current propelling us northward.  Now, 12 knots or almost 14 miles per hour doesn’t sound very fast, but when you are used to 6-7 knots as a top speed, it feels like you’re flying!  I was howling, “Oh my god! Oh my God!”  Alex laughed, “To you 70 mph is slow on the highway but 11 knots is fast on the water!” It was true. And because we hadn’t been sailing for days, it felt great! Hootin' and hollerin' all the way.

We came into the bay in front of Simon and Sally Currin’s house under full sail.  Simon hailed us on the VHF, “Aleria, Aleria, Aleria this is Shimshal.” When I answered, Simon said “Aleria is looking mighty impressive sailing in here. Welcome to Craobh.” That was fun. To come into unknown waters and be made to feel welcome! We contemplated whether to anchor our for the evening or go in to the marina to take on fuel and water first. We opted to head in. 

We dropped our sails and set our docklines and fenders.  We had been motoring a lot and we needed to top up the tanks before heading further north where fuel would be harder to get. We also needed water. We had been underway for two weeks, with hot showers every other day onboard. We had tried to book into a slip in the marina but they told us they were full. When we pulled in, there were loads of open slips, so we asked again. Sure enough we were able to get a slip on the dock which would make everything so much easier.
The marina village

The fuel came to £279 (ouch) and the slip was another £100 for two nights.  This was our most expensive day in Scotland!  We pulled into slip E26 with a bit of help from two sailors. Nice guys.  We checked out the office/chandlery, showers, and laundry. This was much simpler and smaller a facility than Ardfern. We were pleased to have taken advantage of the services there.

A bunch of OCC boats were already in. Pleasure, a motor yacht with Warren and Judy from Rhode Island, was next to us. Gus and Helen on Wings, another American flagged boat was here. Former Commodore Bill McLaren and his wife Jane were aboard Vagrant. Ian Simms and his wife were on Dragonfly. Liz McNally and Frances Rennie were on Little Else, and Vicki and Paul on Nokomis, the new members I had sponsored from the Great Lakes were here too. We finally caught up with them, having tried all the way up the coast of Ireland.  A couple of other vessels were anchored outside.
Blues wailing into the night

Bill and Jane came to visit. Then I met Ian and Vicki and Paul at the marina office. Then Warren and Judy told us about the charity pig roast at the restaurant but we were too late.  So we ate at the restaurant which was packed. They were fully booked but the nice owner managed to fit us in.  Afterwards, we heard Gary Moore music coming from the tent, so we wandered in and stayed for a couple of sets by this awesome blues band. I wish I could remember what they were called. 

We went to bed feeling like we had packed a full week into a single day. I think we actually had. 

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