Land ho, Scotland! At least I think I see it.
We awoke at 7 am to a beautiful sunny morning. Soon we were underway but planned to take our time and use this wide open Bay in Donegal with no swell or wind to calibrate the autopilot. Without it we had been taking turns hand steering all day. To calibrate Otto, you have to give the autopilot control and walk it through a series of manoeuvres and turns so it learns your boat, which can be quite unnerving. So we gave the program control and sat back watching. Just as a little speed boat came charging out of the harbour toward us waving hello, our boat veered sharp left. Aaarrgghh!!! We were about to bash into them, when they bore away swearing at the rude sailors thinking we were aggressive nuts! But soon the autopilot informed us that it had learned enough and passed the test. Cool! Disaster averted, and, more important, calibration complete. One more thing expertly installed by Monsieur Alex Extraordinaire.
|Basking shark. Second biggest fish in the sea.|
Just off the coast of Malin Head, Alex yelled, “basking shark to port.” I grabbed the camera and snapped a shot just as he was passing a few hundred feet away on a reciprocal course. Two fins, one large and one small behind it, cutting through the water. First time either one of us had seen one. There are some benefits to a flat sea.
Then it really closed in so we had the foghorn going on the loudhailer, and when we picked up a container ship on both AIS and radar, he turned on his foghorn, too. It’s very unnerving to be unable to see what you know is there.
It looked like we were going to make Islay (pronounced Iyla) before dark and near slack water – just as planned. But would we see it?
The wind picked up just as we were approaching and the fog lifted miraculously so we could see the island, the harbour of Port Ellen, the giant ferry coming in, and all the cardinal marks. It was sunny and 9:30 pm. There were two other boats anchored off the beach and a beautiful dark blue ketch off the town harbour. We anchored off the beach by the lighthouse in 25 feet of water on a shell bottom. Just as we got settled, the wind blew the fog back in over the hills and blanketed the harbour for the night.
|One minute it's blistering hot, |
the next freezing cold as the fog sets in
After a delicious dinner of previously frozen homemade stuffed peppers for just such an occasion when cooking is not going to happen and starvation rules, we all three fell fast asleep in a pile.
|OMG is it coming at us?|
|Land ho! Fog moves to sea and uncovers Islay.|
|Miracle! Fog lifts as we approach Port Ellen.|
|We can see Port Ellen on Islay clear as a whistle.|