Puiladobhrain – Loch Tarbet, Jura

Puiladobhrain – Loch Tarbet, Jura

N – NW and very variable!  Force 3 the nothing, then blowing hard! Slight to moderate seas!

37 NM (934 cumulative NM) 

 What a truly shaky start to the day!  Pete woke with a start at 06:00 when the boat moored next to us bumped us – their anchor had dragged…  Pete said that there was no damage, but it was a bit of a rude awakening.  I hadn’t noticed until I heard him get up.  The yacht in question (actually the one I have silhouetted in the sunset photo from the previous day) raised their anchor and went elsewhere to relay it.  All good.

When we came to leave, we had our own drama.  The boats were all lying in a different direction, and our neighbour, we reckoned, was probably on top of our anchor… Eek!  I was on the windlass, so very carefully and slowly ground the anchor up, and yes, we were getting closer and closer to the yacht.  There was no sign of life, so I decided that I needed to “squeak” a little and make sure that they would come and inspect the noise.  I did see someone stirring… just as we were about 2 metres from them… and then I could see the anchor!  No problems… Well.  Not exactly.

The anchor was completely set with mud, and so it needed to be cleaned, but Pete wanted the anchor up before we did so.  The anchor had come up backwards, and I haven’t got the knack to turn it around, so we swapped.  I thought we had to ‘hovver’ in the same area, and did a terrible job of keeping Whinchat in one place, drifting back on the guy that had moved a couple of hours ago.  Panic!  Pete came back, having secured the muddy anchor, and I was completely frazzled.  “I thought you’d drive out,” he said… “You didn’t tell me to do that,” I replied.

Next job was to clean the anchor, using our super-powered deck wash.  A bit of pfaff to get it out, but once deployed, I could barely shift the mud.  It was so thick, embedded with different shellfish!  I had to retrieve the boathook, and prod the mud off, only to discover that a large rock was also lodged in the roll bar.. Anyway, all good after a while (whilst we are underway), with much gymnastics on my part hanging over the bow.  I couldn’t coil the hose, so asked Pete to do it.  I had turned off the deck wash switch.  He emerged completely soaked… apparently you’re supposed to release the pressure in the hose – well, I did not know that.  He wasn’t much impressed.  What a stressy departure!

We hauled the mainsail as soon as we’d cleared the anchorage, and I was on the helm.  I said to Pete “1800 or 2000?”  He looked blankly at me.  The revs for the engine.  “I was hoping to sail”, he replied.  “Not in this wind,” says I.  Much sighing.  The bad start was continuing.

Wind or no, it didn’t detract from the raw beauty of the landscape, all a bit too far away to make a decent photograph, but I was happily looking at the world going by, spotting the wildlife!  Not that there was a great deal – a few gulls and the sea birds that we’ve totally failed to identify..  They sit in the water, and occasionally have to flap off when we get too close.  I will look them up.  Pete saw one, possibly two, dolphins, but they didn’t come and play…  No chance to rectify my photographic blunder!

Pete was sighing a bit, and kept saying “this isn’t what was forecast”.  I know he was wanting more wind, and I’m not sure I was helpful when I suggested taking up something which wasn’t “weather dependent”!  Pete was cold, so about 12:15 I went and made cup-a-soups… and guess what?  This brought the wind!  I thought that it was getting a bit roly down below!

This wasn’t a gradual increase in the wind, but a dramatic ‘whooosh’, from barely a breath, to about 18 knots.  Remarkable.  From the NW, so we were on a very pleasant broad reach (with the wind behind the beam, about 5 o’clock if it were a clock-face).

Of course, this all occurred about 5 miles away from the anchorage, so it was soon time to drop the sails.  The sea was quite lumpy, so we decided that we’d do it inside the bay, past the first navigational hazards.  Indeed this paid off; much calmer, and one stressy moment less in the day.

Our plan was to travel to the inner loch, tackling some tricky navigation – but with the aids of markers making leading lines.  Easy in principle, but it was hard to spot them.  Pete was just about to give up when I spotted the first markers!  Bingo.  My fish eagle eyes hadn’t failed me!  We edged along, and couldn’t believe it when the wind was blowing stronger and stronger behind us.  We were being chased by a wind of about 20-25 knots… On we carried, picking off the other markers (thankfully) until we were in the more open water of the more sheltered inner loch!  Some joke!  Winds now in excess of 25 knots, around 27 knots.  Not exactly what you want to anchor in, when the bottom is shallowing and the choppy sea means you can’t easily see all the hazards.

We ended up coming back out through the narrows, and tucking up behind a bay in the outer loch – so much for the theory that this is more exposed!  Our anchor dug in well, and after about two hours since we took the sails down, we were finally all set for the night.

The wind – well, it had died down, but we have had some seriously powerful squalls… a check on the long/lat coordinates and it would seem we’d moved.  Have we dragged?  Do we need to relay the anchor?  Pete’s anxiety levels were rising, again!  In fact, we checked after 21:00 and all was good, ish.  The wind died off, which takes one of the elements of risk away. It is such a remote place – no chance for a mobile signal and a poor reception for the VHF.  We have no weather updates, so we just have to hope that the settled forecast holds good…. But indications with the sun setting in the west would suggest that all would be fairly benign…

Setting sun captures the clouds shrouding Jura’s “Paps”