Speedwell of Rhu Ship's Log

7 th to 9 th of June 2011 - The Small Isles

Crew : Helen and Andy
Destinations : Canna Harbour.
Distance : 40 miles

We woke around 06.30 and had weighed anchor and were making our way down Loch Aline by 07.00. It was a bit grey but no rain. We motored up The Sound of Mull with the tide behind us. By the time we had reached Ardnamurchan Point the wind was in our favour so we got all 3 sails up and switched of the engine.

Ardnamurchan Point with Eigg behind

We sailed on a beam and close reach across to Canna at around 7 knots boat speed. We still seem to be calculating our passage plans on the basis of an average of 5 knots. However, in a Force 4 we easily make 7 on a beam reach.

As we passed down the west coast of Rum we were close hauled and couldn't quite make it into Canna Harbour without tacking as the wind was on our nose. We turned on the engine and after passing a reef with seals basking, we found a good place to anchor on the south side of the harbour. It continued to rain cats and dogs, so we didn't venture out. Again no reception on the radio or phones, so we made do with our books. During the evening the wind picked up, but we remained safe on our anchor for the night.

Rum from Canna Harbour

The next morning we awoke to sunshine. We had breakfast in the cockpit and Andy got the tender ready to go ashore. One thing that I haven't mentioned previously, is that the charger for our outboard has broken so we are having to row everywhere. This was after Andy fixed the outboard and got it working perfectly! Oh well the exercise is good for us.

We remembered our binoculars and walking boots and once ashore walked along the path on the south side of Canna. Once at Tarbert Bay the hills were calling so, as is the way in Scotland, we headed up the hills and bogs to get some fantastic views across to Skye and The Outer Hebrides. To our surprise we saw some Golden Eagles in the distance, initially they disappeared. However, as we got up to the high point of Canna, they came much closer. There were 3 in total. We were near the cliffs on the north side and we saw them land on what was clearly their nest. Andy just about managed to take a photo, but they were too quick for him to get a really good one. They were ENORMOUS!

We made our way back down to the bay. Despite having no map we didn't get too lost, although we did found a few routes which ended in cliffs. We had a lunch of venison burgers in the cafe. They had actually run out, however, they did have venison mince. When I said we had come all the way especially as we had enjoyed them so much last year the chef made us some especially. The sun continued to shine on us and after our leisurely lunch we got back to the boat to do chores. Whilst in the cockpit we became aware of gulls mobbing a poor raptor of some sort. Initially we thought it was a golden eagle. However, it clearly had a white tail, so it was a sea eagle, having flown across from Rum. I don't know why it bothered, as the gulls gave it a really hard time. A little while later, some hooded crows were mobbing a poor buzzard, which looked very small.

Before supper, we watched other boats anchor, making constructive criticisms. (Between ourselves of course). The weather stayed pretty settled although there was forecast some strong winds. By midnight, the wind had kicked off. Andy got up and I followed. We watched as a few boats had dragged their anchors. A boat, anchored nearby, was swinging quite close to us so we stayed up to keep a watch. A couple of the other boats headed out of the harbour and one drove round and round for while. They eventually anchored far out and left at day break. A couple of fishing boats had also come in to shelter from the weather, so it must have been bad. We did eventually get to sleep, however. The following day we spent on the boat. We serviced one of the big winches and managed to get it back together again, heaving a sigh of relief when we eventually got it to work. Only 4 boats were left in the harbour out of about 15 the previous night.

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