24th-5th June. After our long day rounding Cape Wrath we had planned to have a restful morning at anchor and set off in the afternoon. Our anchorage in Loch Clash was behind a rocky island and near a small pier, used by one red-hulled fishing boat. It was calm and felt very remote. After a late breakfast we settled down to read and relax. During the day the weather got worse – windy and rainy, with poor visibility – and by the afternoon we had decided to stay put. We hauled Jonathan up the mast for an hour or so, to make some adjustments to the rigging, and that was enough ‘outdoor-ness’ for the day.
The following day the weather had improved, although it was still very grey. We set off just after 8am, following the coast southwards. On the mainland, the mountain peaks stretched on and on, shrouded in misty cloud, with the strange conical shape of Suilven towering high. As we rounded Stoer Head, which has its own ‘Old Man’ (rock stack), the sun came out. We turned the corner to head along a coastline of sandy beaches towards the sheltered harbour of Lochinver, enjoying the first sight of wooded hillsides after miles of rocky shores.
Lochinver provided a welcome break for a few hours. We tied up at the pontoon and after lunch we showered (in the local leisure centre), filled up with water and went for a stroll in the village. We knew nothing of the harbour and its economy. It turns out to be an important centre for the fishing industry and has large fish warehouses along its harbour, with a surprising number of ramps behind for large lorries to back up to so that fish can be loaded straight into the container. There was just one refrigerated lorry waiting for boats to come in: “Where are you heading?” we asked the driver. “I’m taking fish to Madrid” he replied in broken English. Most of the boats unloading here are from Spain or France and lorries come from these countries to pick up the catch and drive the hundreds of miles to the south coast, then on across the continent to their destination. It was quiet when we were there – just one small fishing boat was in port, registered in Ayr, Scotland. It turned out this was a Spanish boat too, with a crew of young men who looked Malaysian or Filipino. They were sitting around in the stairwell of the harbour office, using their phones to access their most valued in-work benefit: harbour wifi.
After a stroll round the village we had tea at An Cala, a community facility based in a bunkhouse that used to house the Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen until they withdrew with the decline of the industry. Then we set off for an early evening sail to our anchorage for the night at Tanera Mor, the largest of the Summer Isles. In the evening sunshine and clear light we could see the mountains rising into the distance on the mainland. The sea was blue and sparkling. A couple of porpoises made an appearance and we were accompanied by the terns, fulmars and others we have become accustomed to. We rigged a preventer (for safety, to prevent gybing) and made good speed with a wind behind us, rising to over 25 knots for a time. Three hours later we anchored in the north of the bay, in smooth water, tucked behind the headland. We anchored alongside Shearwater, a yacht we have met on several occasions since Arbroath. After supper her crew dinghied over to join us for a drink. Most of us slept well, looking forward to exploring Tanera Mor in the morning. The anchorage was peaceful apart from the constant ‘chirrup’ of seal-scaring ultrasound from the nearby fish farm. Judging by the presence of a nearby seal and pup, it fails to scare seals but our skipper was going a little crazy.
- Distance: 31nm + 20nm. Sailed 8 hours
- Wind: NE4-5