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End May 2017 - Loch Melfort Lauch

We arrived at Kilmelfort Yacht Haven in some trepidation, unsure what state Innisfree would be in after a winter outside, but we worried for nothing, she was bone dry inside and pretty clean outside. We had arranged for a week in a cottage nearby so we had plenty of time to dodge the rain and midges to complete all the outside jobs ready for launch six days after arrival. The launch process involves lining up the cradle on runners at the top of the slope slowly releasing the cable brake to allowing her to roll down the slope over 3-4 minutes (see video right). It was a very simple and stress free operation, much less fraught than being driven into the water by a tractor.

In typical Scottish fashion, there was then a blistering hot windy day followed by a cold rainy windless day, but with sun cream and T-shirts on the first day, and midge nets and cagoules on the second, we managed to complete all the final jobs and bend on the sails ready for the off on the eigth day after leaving home.

Kilmelfort Yacht Haven

An early start to catch the best of the south going tide had us racing down the Sound of Jura with over 6knots through the water and at times 11knots over the ground. This day was a combination of the previous two, cold and windy but no rain. After 4½ hours of excellent sailing (albeit with woolly hats and gloves) we were off Craighouse on Jura and as it was nearly the turn of the tide, a perfect excuse to stop for the day. It was very busy ashore with the aftermath of a fell run up the Paps and the field in front of the Jura Hotel was packed full of little tents which were rapidly being taken down as the competitors made their way to the little passenger ferry which took them back across the sound to the mainland. We were impressed that the Jura Hotel had a good selection of bottled beers from the breweries on the neighbouring islands of Colonsay and Islay, though not on draft unfortunately. By then the sun was shining as we relaxed in the bar looking out over the camp site and harbour.

The following morning the rain arrived. Tim heroically endured at the helm with some help from the autohelm when it got really heavy. Judith stayed in the dry doing the navigation - or that was her excuse. But we were both thoroughly wet by the time we had finished tying up to the pontoons in Port Ellen at the south end of Islay. The Flying Dutchman was also in the harbour, but this one is clearly allowed to make port, and we hope not a portent of doom!

With bad weather forcast, and the Islay Malt and Music featival well underway, it may be several days before we move on!