Speedwell of Rhu Ship's Log

29 th to 31 st of July 2010 - The Western Isles: Harris

Crew : Andy and Helen
Destinations : North Harbour Scalpay.
Distance : 52 miles


After an 0700 alarm call we had weighed anchor by 0800 and headed out of Loch Torridon, past the rocks at the entrance.

Sadly the wind was north westerly and light and we were heading north west. The sea was very calm, but the tide was against us all the way. (It always seems to be despite our calculations!)

As we passed to the north of Skye we saw more and more puffins which kept Andy occupied by sticking their bums and wagging their orange feet at him every time he tried to take a photo. We saw the odd porpoise, but very few boats.

Fortunately visibility was very good and we were able to see where we were heading for the whole journey. The Minch has some rocks which seem to come out of nowhere. One minute you are in over 100 metres and then there is a rock sticking up nearby. We saw the entrance to East Loch Tarbet on Harris easily as to the north are the mountains that separate Harris and Lewis. There is also a lighthouse. We decided not to go through the more straightforward entrance under the 20 metre bridge as we had been told our mast is about 20 metres but hadn't actually measured it.

We motored through the main entrance, Braigh Mor and around the island of Scotasay, then past a fish farm into North Bay on Scalpay.


We anchored in 1.8 metres of water, by far the least depth so far. It was amazingly sheltered and one boat was already anchored, but we found a space as far away from him as possible. Not long after, another boat came in and, despite there being lots of room, they chose to anchor exactly midway between us. They popped their anchor over the side turned the engine off and went down below. The first boat decided this cramped his style (which it did a bit) and instead of talking to them he used his engine to drag his anchor and his boat further away from the new boat. Andy and I learned two new ways of setting an anchor in less than an hour.

The following day we found a bus to take us across the mountains in the rain to Stornaway where we had lunch. We also said hello to the boat that had turned up in Scalpay the night before and managed to sail to Stornaway faster than us.

On our second day we walked to the lighthouse, the original keepers house and tower are both still there after 250 years. The path took us across peat bog and up to the highest point on Scalpay where we had great views across to The Shiant Islands, but not Skye, because of the cloud.

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