Mallaig to Pabbay To Lochinver


31st May 2011.

Mallaig to Pabbay to Lochinver.

Photos: Lochalsh, Skye Bridge

Photos: Pabbay and Scalpay

At Mallaig we were tied up alongside a fishing boat that didn’t look like it had been to sea for a good while, but in the middle of the night (4.00am) they suddenly decided they were going fishing and interrupted our night’s sleep.

In the morning Ian left to return to Edinburgh. And we were joined by Ken Price.

We are still trying to make up for the time lost in Burtonport and get to Stromness to meet with Breanndán Begley, who has been waiting there for nearly a week now. This  has caused Applecross to be dropped from the itinerary. We (me included) had been in touch with the Applecross Heritage Society well in advance and they had offered us great help and local information. Their area is dedicated to an Irish Saint – Mael Rubha, and there is a local island called Eilean Na Naomh, which we should have been inspecting.

Because of problems with the battery/ alternator it was considered best to buy a spare battery.

We sailed up the Sound of Sleat, with Skye to the west. At the top we passed under the bridge at Kyle of Loughalsh, and though there is a Pabbay island here, we were unable to go ashore. I took a few photos of Pabbay and Scalpay, another island with possible Papar connections. Pabbay - The Papar Project

After a  while we raised the main sail for the first time on this trip and started sailing proper. Because this is a very long day – about 120 miles we were divided into two watches, Padraig & Danny and Ken & me. Ken is very helpful at explaining the intricacies of boats and sailing and I was put on the helm, while he explained how to make progress while balancing the desired direction with the following ‘lee’ wind and an increasingly heavy swell. If the wind gets too directly behind the boat it can cause the sails to ‘jib’ which is not usually good, unless planned. In fact, just after our watch had ended something of the sort happened, with the head sail getting twisted and part of the main sail breaking loose. ‘All Hands on Deck’ and the problem was resolved without any damage.

When we got to the pier at Lochinver a man came rushing down to greet us. Clearly he had been watching us, with binoculars from the shore and spotted the name of the boat or maybe the flag, although this is a bit the worse for wear after the storms.. He welcomed us in a broad Cork Accent and helped us to tie up, then accepted an invitation to come on board for a glass of wine. Turns out he is a fisherman from Ballycotton, named Don(al) O Driscoll. He has given up fishing in favour of being a ranger on the John Muir Estate, which seems to cover half of Scotland. A very nice fellow who offered us every possible help, including, if the weather was suitable, a walking tour of Suilven – a massive,  phallic looking, ‘mountain’ nearby.

Dinner was a bit frantic in the hope of getting to the pub in time for a pint but  the expedition was a failure. A most grumpy woman in the hotel told us they were CLOSED. So we had to make do with a nightcap on board, with Danny & Ken and in bed by midnight.