Accidently sleeping later than expected, and despite setting a lot of alarms to get up on time - I overslept by 3hrs and meant our schedule was gonna be tight if we're to get to Sanda Island in plenty of time before dark to select a decent anchorage.
Quickly filling water tanks, the drinking water reservoirs, and topping off our fuel tank by pumping an extra 20 liters of fuel from one of the drums of fuel I filled in Mallaig, plus a quick visit to a store to pick up a few things - I was almost ready to go, just waiting for Phoebe to finish her morning walkabout...
I had looked at the tides and currents the day before and the currents around the tip of the Kintyre Penninsula can get quite strong, and some careful timing would save a good bit of time, and in order to make the most of beneficial tides, we needed to leave, now.
I still had a few things to do but just decided to get the yacht out of the harbour and underway - I can put away supplies, do the dishes and make breakfast at sea while we're moving - The engine was started, lines were untied - and just like that we were on our way to Kintyre!
Having slept in meant that we had missed the higher winds of the morning and would have to settle for average winds for the crossing, but we were able to keep it above 4 knots for most of the way. Looking behind us, Port Ellen was long gone!
The crossing itself was actually quite slow, or so it seemed but there was something that we saw off to the West that's interesting - IRELAND.
I've never been there before and have always wanted to check that place out, maybe even just have just one real pint of Guinness. In the picture below, you can see how close we are to Ireland! Less than 15 miles away!
If you don't know - Guinness doesn't travel well - so if you've had it anywhere else other than Ireland, you're missing out - or so I'm told. I, at one time, worked in an 'Irish Bar' in Scotland where they shipped in their Guinness in on springs and rubber mats in an attempt to minimize the effects of travel - but to be honest, I don't think it worked too well, so Ireland is definitely going to feature in a future blog post, in fact - as soon as we are finished with Kintyre that's where we're going - make no mistake.
As we continued the crossing I got things put away, a bit of breakfast and the dishes were washed. The cat box was also needing emptying.
On land, sifting through the litter box to remove what needs to be removed is a tedious daily task - At sea, it's much easier - the whole mess just gets dumped over the side - I never tire of not having to 'sift', it is such a joy.
The winds were getting pretty weak and we almost broke out the BIG sail, we have a pretty impressive sail on board that I have yet to use, but the time is nearing, and we will soon be using our cruising chute, but not on this trip - I only hesitate to use it as I am by myself and the thing is absolutely huge! Just massive, so much pow-ahhhh!
As we close in on Kintyre, I'd almost forgotten how beautiful this Penninsula is. It really is stunning - the pictures just don't do it justice.
Everything seemed to be going fine, but then we had a particularly strong gust of wind. There was a creak, a crack, and then a loud bang. Our hydraulic boom vang decided it wasn't up to the task anymore as the rivets holding it in place fired off and the vang smashed into the skylight, luckily not breaking the acrylic but striking the teak strips on the skylight, just as well - that damn skylight would cost a fortune to replace!
But either way, our speed dropped a knot and a half as our mainsail began to spill its wind as the sail lost its shape, we were already a bit behind, this wasn't going to help one bit.
Crap, this is really annoying....but anyway, not having a rivet gun onboard means that it couldn't be fixed underway. But to hell with it, we'll make a new vang out of some spare parts I have onboard...It was removed and dumped on the cockpit sole for further contemplation - not sure if I will reinstall it, the threat of a broken skylight is a little off-putting...whatever I replace it with will need to be safer.
To build a replacement took all of 10 minutes to do, a couple of pulleys and a few spare shackles and it was done, not perfect, but it'll do.
'New' vang installed, and we were back up to speed again and we're just about to round the tip of Kintyre, plus Sanda Island was now in view.
We rounded the tip of Kintyre just as the tide was turning in our favor, our speed began to pick up as the current increased. We encountered very strong eddies and rip tides, but it was all going our way and didn't pose a threat. I was quite excited to get to Sanda Island, but as I got closer I spied a large yacht drop its sails and began to motor - I got the feeling they were racing to get to Sanda. I called them on the radio, 3 times to see if they were intending to go to Sanda or Campbeltown, eventually, I got a response "uh, hello - was that call for us?" No observation of correct radio usage whatsoever - these people were a liability, I didn't even bother answering that babble - by the nature of their response, I knew what kind of boat that was...where there's one, there's more like it.
They raced ahead, I didn't increase my speed or change my heading I could have easily beat them there if I wished, racing another boat to get a good spot in anchorage seems, to me, rather juvenile, unnecessary, and a waste of Diesel - There's always another anchorage, I suddenly felt like we weren't going to get a spot on Sanda Island - not sure why - just a feeling. As the sun was setting, and we neared Sanda, my suspicions were confirmed by the mini forest of masts crammed into the tiny bay at Sanda - way too crammed - I wouldn't want to be in that mess when the tide changes - Now, I changed my heading away from that overcrowded bay - and pressed onwards...we will just find somewhere else to stay for the night.
Although a little disappointed, I didn't let it phase me - I punched in a course for Campbeltown and was blessed with some really nice views and I watched as Aisla Craig changed colours with the setting sun...
In fact, it wasn't just that island that changed colours, all the scenery started to change - First to a golden color...
Then to a Reddy-pink....it was really nice! At this point I was quite glad to have passed Sanda Island and carried on, the views were impressive.
The wind dropped to almost nothing and I took down the sails and fired up the engine as we approached the final corner before Campbeltown....it had been a long day and the sun was getting low, and it was getting hard to spot the pots, luckily there wasn't too many around... Rounding the corner we could see Davaar Island which marks the entrance to Campbeltown.
By the time we were passing Davaar Island, it was dark, I entered into 'extreme pot watch mode' spending most of my time on the bow, being especially careful around the island, and as we passed the lighthouse we were almost there!
We entered the harbour in complete darkness, there were no more pots and the Loch was like glass.
Campbeltown was very nice at night, it was a pleasure coming into this fine loch in the dark - I strangely enjoyed it
We got to the pontoons and encountered some very unhelpful charter boats, navigating in the close confines of a tight marina, especially at night and single-handed, can be dangerous, and as we entered I could see the cockpit lights going out in the yachts already tied up, and I could see their unhelpful shadows moving around, watching, hoping to see an accident - I tried asking a few of them where I should tie-up, no one responded even though I could see these people moving around with their glasses of wine and their gin and tonics...
I don't understand it sometimes... If I see a boat coming in, especially at night, I always lend a hand just in case they need it - whoever they are - docking in an unfamiliar place at night can be a bit scary, but here it seems to be a different story...or so it seems to me - But I'll still always help someone if they need it, these people won't sour me.
To be honest - I didn't need their lousy unhelpful help anyway - I figured it out, and found a space that was just right for us, I pivoted our home 180 degrees and slowly moved astern and on to the end of a pontoon with no dramas. And that was the end of this day - we will be leaving here at first light as we have a ways to go tomorrow...for tomorrow I would make a wise decision, and catch a lucky break - for a change!