24/05/2020 0 By Chris Phillips

So I’ve been a little bit quiet over the past week or so, since I left Lord Nelson in Liverpool.  There is no particular reason for this – I just haven’t got round to writing a blog post yet.  That, as you will by now be more than aware, is about to change.

I got back up to Barcaldine on Tuesday evening last week, after spending a night swinging the lamp with our Liverpool pilot and my old friend Chris Gatenby, and much of the following day being entertained by a wide cross-section of the various rail operators across the UK.  On arrival at Connel station, I was picked up by friend and occasional JST relief cook, Ali Sykora, who along with Baz the dog had been touring the highlands cooking for a group of unicyclists, and was fortuitously passing through the area on her way home.  We had a quick gam and a bowl of mussels at the Glue Pot before she dropped me at Barcaldine and went on her way.

The next few days were spent pottering with tasks left over from the winter, and preparations for the trip north.  I spent the best part of two days shopping for stores in Oban, whilst alongside at Oban Marina on Kerrera (very disappointing – the facilities are tired and the service rude and offhand), then moved to Dunstaffnage to get diesel and await the arrival of Stu from his week’s work in the Solent.

Finally all the elements came together, and we departed for Tobermory.  We had a good sail most of the way, with a couple of hours on the engine to keep progress up.  Arriving at 1900 and leaving at 0800 the following morning to catch the tide round Ardnamurchan meant a short night there and no chance to get ashore, then we carried on up to Inverie at Knoydart.  The wind was mostly absent, so Peter the Beta got a good run.  A night on the Old Forge’s moorings and the obligatory meal in said establishment was followed by another prompt departure to get the tide through the Kyles into the Inner Sound and thence to Acarseid Mhor on Rona, where we spent a peaceful night at anchor… at least once neighbouring yacht / research vessel Silurian stopped her generator.

Again a prompt departure from there, with a promising forecast, had us bound for Stornoway, but the wind let us down, and after 3 hours of increasingly slow sailing, on came the engine once more, and we arrived in Stornoway at around 1900 last night.  A day alongside today has allowed us the luxury of a lie-in, then a top-up of stores, and the awkward and unpleasant job of changing the gearbox oil, which is a requirement after the first 30 hours’ running.  Now we are keeping a close eye on the forecasts, and looking for a suitable window for the 200nm passage to the Faroes in the next few days.  More to come!