A Hebridean Meeting

In the 16th century Grace O’Malley may have made regular trips from the West Coast of Ireland to the Hebrides to pick up ( or occaisionally beat up! ) the local mercenaries , but she wouldn’t have been able to get out of Clew Bay on the night we left. It was blowing 25 with regular gusts of 30 and a dead beat. Once round Achill Point life became marginally more comfortable but it was a rough old first night at sea. Thereafter the wind died and the leftover sea made running with a kite just too difficult, but by the second evening life was pleasant again and we arrived in Castlebay, Barra , in just a shade under 48 hours for the 250 mile trip. To our delight, just half an hour later Vela appeared round the headland and there were Mike and Louise waving and grinning madly – which was such immaculate timing that we naturally had to visit the local hostelry for a celebratory dram!

After the seas off the West coast of Ireland it was a real treat to sail in flat water in the lee of the Outer Hebrides. At least it was for a while but Mr Grib has dictated NE 7’s for Wednesday which will be onshore and so after a couple of days of exploring and overnighting in wonderful little anchorages such as “Wizards pool “on S Uist ,the two boats are now laid to 2 anchors in Bagh a Bharain – a tiny landlocked pool in Loch Eport , N Uist with just a seal and the birds for company. Choosing a place to ride out a blow in this hilly terrain is a bit problematical . If you anchor behind a big slope , the gusts may be terrific and even onshore. Here the hill to windward is much more moderate , but the pool is so small that there is no margin for dragging or we will be on the rocks behind us in two shakes of a lambs tail. On the plus side the holding seems good and the only lambs tails that are shaking are up in the hills along with the deer. Today was supposed to be wet , but turned out fine and sunny – and even warm for a while , which the Vela’s tell us is a first for them in over a month! The views from the hills are stunning , and best of all at low water the rocks are covered in big fat mussels which provided a stupendous feast for the combined crews tonight.

The plan is to ride out tomorrows wet and windy weather and then explore inland a bit in the settled spell that is predicted for the end of the week. The natives appear friendly , the scenery is stunning, our tummies are full of mussels and all is well on the good ships Festina and Vela.

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