Early August 2011, Plockton and return to Oban.
Plockton is a pretty conservation village, owned by the National Trust. It has one main street with a row of chocolate-box cottages facing the shore. There is an active sailing club with the club house on a small peninsular sticking out into the bay (right). By coincidence we arrived during their regatta week, on the afternoon of the yacht race. It was a day of very light winds and most of the participants had given up sailing and were motoring home, only a couple of the larger light weight yachts were still persevering with huge colourful spinnakers that were barely filling. Needless to say with solid Innisfree we had not even bothered to take the sail covers off. We had chosen to visit Plockton to shelter from the forecast strong southerly winds, but either we picked a very sheltered spot, or the winds were significantly less than forecast. Our stay was memorable for the shimmering reflections in the still water, rather than for strong winds. Most evenings there were dinghy races. It must have been a good test of skill as they had to struggle for every breath of wind to make any progress at all (left). But even they gave up at times and had to resort to oars to return home. The moored boats in the harbour seemed to provide them with an entertaining obstacle course or so it appeared to us, and at times they cut it finer than we would have liked, only leaving inches to spare as they sailed passed.
We stayed in Plockton for nearly a week. This was an enforced stay to give Judith's back a rest which had been complaining about too much hard work. We did manage a couple of short walks which included a visit to the tiny station at Duncraig with it's interesting octagonal waiting room (right). There was also a day return on the train to Inverness, and the obligatory visit to Leakies second hand book shop as we had been getting through our collection of interesting reads.
Once Judith's back was sufficiently improved to be reliable when sailing, we set off southwards. Stopping for the night in Isleornsay where we have been many times, but also in Sandaig at the entrance to Loch Nevis. Here we were treated to a huge, but faint rainbow that appeared as the sun was nearly setting (see more pictures). With the forecast predicting seas that would be "moderate increasing to rough later" we decided to get back to shelter before they arrived. We don't normally "do rain", but we stuck it out, and in the end it was only showers. With the wind a pleasant Force 4 on the beam we had a fast sail around Ardnamurchan to Tobermory (below).
There was a tall ship against the pier in Mallaig as we sailed passed the previous day, and that morning it was in Tobermory giving it's sea cadets a short time ashore. The town was heaving with groups of teenagers as we went to the excellent bakery for fresh bread before departing for Oban.
It was a north westerly force 5/6 as we pointed Innisfree south down the Sound of Mull. With just our small head sail (Yankee) we made a good 6 knots with the following wind. There were small white crests to the waves even in the sheltered Sound, so we were very glad we had made the decision to round Ardnamurchan the day before. It all made for an exhilarating passage.
After a couple of miles the tall ship appeared behind us and we were looking forward to taking photographs as it sailed passed. However, for the whole of the length of the Sound it barely gained on us. Finally, as we left the Sound and continued on to Oban, it turned southwards. It seemed unbelievable that our little 28ft yacht with just a single small head sail could keep pace with a tall ship, but perhaps they weren't trying. So the only possible photographs were taken at the extreme of the camera zoom.
It is now very wet, and looks like staying that way for several days. So we are staying put in Oban marina, and taking the opportunity to do the M.O.T. on the car, and to listen to the Edgebaston Test Match while the rain washes the salt from the decks.