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0012 - Bernera Bay to Mallaig

After a dinner of sorts was had by all - We all just piled into Phoebes cabin and slept a good sleep and waking up a bit later than usual the next morning seemed a bit strange after so many consecutive early mornings, but today, we all seemed in good or at least better spirits!

Overnight I had left the Chartplotter on to monitor our anchor and other than a little swinging, we hadn't budged.

Forgetting entirely about the events of the last 48hrs and leaving all the madness behind us in our wake - seems like the best option for us - there seems to be no point in letting it bother us any longer, as we have too much to do today, we can't afford to waste any more our lives thinking about the craziness that exists outside our tiny world.

Time to go a bit further down the West Coast of Scotland, and see if things improve.

After enjoying the last cup of coffee with the last of the sugar and milk, I began to work out where we're going to go, and for whatever reason, I can't be too bothered with covering tremendous distances today, and I was very pleased to find a very well-equipped marina a mere 15nm away - We up hook, and we're on our way leaving this little bay by 10 am.

Down to 1ltr of drinking water, I top off crews the crew's water glass and leave the rest for myself as it will be about 4hrs before we get to our next destination, and it's already starting to get quite warm as there is no wind.

We are still in the Sound of Sleat and there are still some strong currents, but we have plenty of depth and plenty of room to maneuver, so I let the autopilot do most of the steering for the morning as we only have about 3nm of the Sound of Sleat left to cover. And once again, the sun starts to cut through the clouds and puts on a show - just for us!

A tiny bit of wind, about 8-10kts came and went, and we unfurled our genoa headsail to make the most of it, but as quickly as it came - it was gone, and the sail was rolled back in - This process was repeated a half dozen times or so - till I just couldn't be bothered to do it anymore, for the additional speed we were getting it was hardly worth it.

We were headed to a Marina called Mallaig. Being conscious of our cash burn rate - I had an idea for how we could stop in the marina and resupply without having to pay full price. Some marinas will let you come in fill your tanks and do some shopping but you must clear out by a certain time and there is usually a short-stay fee - usually, about half the price of an overnight stay - sometimes free.

I managed to get the phone number for the harbor and secured the contact details for the pontoon manager - that's right - they actually answered the phone - things were looking up. I managed to get the chap on the phone and explained that I just needed some supplies but would be clearing out after that - and he gave some brief docking instructions and said he would see me later - there was no mention of a charge...

With a day-berth secured all we had to do was get there, and on this occasion, there was no rush at all - we had plenty of time - and with the auto-pilot doing all the work I was not confined to the helm - plus - not a pot in sight! This was a welcome change from what we have slowly become accustomed to - a real treat after the last few days. The only thing was, that until we left the Sound of Sleat we would have some currents to deal with, but they were weak and seemingly only on the surface - nothing to worry about!

As the morning passed slowly and uneventfully - There was a bit of time to watch the views cruise past - we never tire of this scenery - it's just so peaceful and serene, and as things began to brighten up, it was just nice to not be so tired and stressed about crab pots, and also not to be forced by the rig of the situation to continuously press on... As we slowly moved down the Sound of Sleat - I took some pictures...

The Sound of Sleat runs between the Island of Skye and Mainland Scotland and is quite sheltered, also it is the final leg of the cut-through that saves a tremendous amount of time, going either North or South, and we're happy to have it almost fully behind us.

As we exited the narrowest part, the wind dropped to almost nothing and the water was as calm as could be. Our plan was to get into Mallaig Marina - grab what we need and go into Loch Nevis to anchor out for the night, in there we should be quite safe from any wind and weather that might come our way. We changed course to cross the bay and over to Mallaig - these pictures are of the Mouth of Loch Nevis as it opened up on our port side and would our intended anchorage later on this afternoon.

Mallaig Marina was just 3 miles away now, and from a distance, we could see all the traffic going back and forth - this place looks quite busy!

That's a good thing, you can be more anonymous in a busy marina - the quieter the marina the more you stand out from the background, and we just wanted to be in and out - well, that was the plan...

As Mallaig got closer, I called the Pontoon Manager with a more accurate time of arrival, and we were given more specific docking instructions as our berth that had now been reserved. The thought of shops, a bag of sugar, some milk and a bag of Italian coffee beans was really becoming like a strange fantasy - being on half rations for about a week can do strange things to a persons mind...and although I wasn't as tired as I had been, I do like my coffee - and did miss it - it's the little things that mean the most.

As we closed in on Mallaig, I kinda hoped we weren't going to have an experience like before. Given there was an on-site pontoon manager I was pretty sure once I got the boat tied to the pontoon, and went to the shops - it would still be there when I got back! A lot of people are freaked out by Covid-19, in the Orkney Islands quite a few places had removed their visitor mooring balls in an attempt to prevent visitors, I'm sure I've mentioned before that some of these more isolated communities are comprised of older, at-risk people, I understand the fear, but I don't understand the aggression, it just doesn't seem to be appropriate. You just can ask me to leave, it really is as easy as that...I mean on what planet is that an OK way to behave?

In the distance, I could see the Island of Rum off to my starboard side and the Island of Eigg of the Portside, and a small ship in between them.

Short side story - I, at one time, knew the owner of the Island of Eigg, one Mr. Keith Schellenberg. I took a summer job as a kid polishing all of his classic cars and whatnot, he had a large estate in Argyll and had promised to pay me at the end of the summer.

I paid for all my bus fares back and forth to his estate all summer long - and then he didn't pay me! I later learned he had also made promises of development to the inhabitants of the island, of which he used as his own personal racetrack for his classic performance Rolls Royce - he did not follow through on his promises to them either - they responded by setting fire to his beloved Great Gatsby-style Rolls in its garage that was parked somewhere on the island! Although I was a little upset at not having been paid - I didn't realize setting fire to something was an option! Despite that, I was quite pleased to have met him on many occasions - he had many interesting stories to tell. He was a real character and sadly passed away at the ripe old age of 90 in 2019, he was an interesting fellow you can read a little about him here

Getting into the harbor was easy and the marina was located in the center of town behind the main piers and looked very well maintained - so far so good.

Getting on to the pontoon was easy and as soon as we were docked I made my way to the Marina Office to find the pontoon manager.

Turns out there was going to be a small charge, and I was only permitted four hours to get my stuff and leave. I needed everything - Water, Fuel, Human Food, Cooking Gas... The pontoon manager was a super nice dude, gave me directions to everything I needed, and that should I need any help at all - I should just call him.

Everyone in the Marina, fine, The chandlery, all fine - The fuel station, all good. The problems were everything in between - all encounters with the locals were just awful. I had to que outside the supermarket as they have a limited number of people inside due to COVID and the whole time I had to listen to locals bitching about tourists and folk on boats bringing the virus, and intentionally saying it loud enough for me to hear - they wanted me to just carried on and on and on. The town is a tourist town, always has been - if they hate them so much, why do they live there? I eventually said - look, I'm only here for food and I'm leaving - was promptly told to f-off - And as I was hauling my fuel from the station two people in their cars gave me the fingers and shouted F-off.

I was wearing my sailing salopettes, and I had a radio clipped to my chest - it was quite obvious that I was a yachtsman and not a local, looking back maybe I should have changed into some civilian clothes to blend in a bit more with the local populous, but even then - the locals know who the locals are and it perhaps might not have a made any difference - I was just in such a hurry - I also don't care if they don't like me or not, its not a priority for me to make friends with them. Most of the time I'd prefer just to be ignored. I'm really not used to being on the receiving end of this kind of abuse for no good reason. They keep saying that small towns are struggling and need people to spend money to help support their local economies, and I was doing just that - in fact, that's all I was doing - I wasn't in bars, cafes or lounging around the place - I was working hard, hauling gallons and gallons of fuel, gas canisters, bags of food - I had to make about 4 trips back and forth into town, and each trip was met with bullshit. I asked the pontoon manager what was up with this place - why do they hate me? Now, this particular town had a lot of problems right after lockdown with people coming to their town to self-isolate in camper vans and motor homes, and these people did tremendous damage to some local beaches by dumping engine oil and leaving bags and bags of trash in the woodland surrounding the I kinda understood, but the level of rudeness was pretty shocking - especially older retired men - they were particularly savage.

The real story is this - they can be negative all they want, but they have to stay in that swamp of negativity - I, however, get to leave whenever I want. Despite the abuse, I had a couple of wins - the fuel was super cheap, and a few extra trips were made to take advantage of this situation. Diesel was only £0.50 per liter - for comparison - in Eyemouth, it was £0.92 per liter - almost half the price! I filled the tank and every fuel can I had - it was worth the abuse for the savings - in the chandlery they were joking saying that 'F-off' is just how they hello/bye here in Mallaig - so on my out, I indulged in the local custom as did they, it was really funny - the Chandlery people were cool - I liked them. I also got some cooking gas for less than market value. Business now the taken care of - back to the yacht - The cats need to come out and play!

My girls love having a good look at each new place that we visit, and I'm glad they don't have to experience any of the problems that I seem to be encountering. I like the fact that they're fully insulated from all the negativity and are very relaxed on board.

I took a trip to the office to arrange to check out and to pay a small fee for my short-stay as the plan was to leave within the hour. While I was in the office, I asked if they had shower facilities - Not only did they have showers that were open, but they also had a laundry room that was also open. This changes everything. I don't think I've mentioned this before, but since COVID, almost every shower and laundry room has been closed. It's been a real problem. But here, in Mallaig - Both Showers and Laundry were open and available use - there was a bit of protocol - they had to be booked in advance so as to maintain social distancing - but they were open

Not only were the showers open, but they were also included in the price of the pontoon, most places have a coin-operated situation allowing for a 7-8min shower, this means I could take a long hot shower for as long as I wanted - I also had a bag of laundry that was needing to be done... And after everything that's happened - the lure of a hot shower and clean clothes was just too much - we're going to stay the night. I had to move the boat from our temporary short-stay berth to one of the finger-berths, this took all of 5mins - but then it was shower-time. I got my towel and made my way to the shower facilities. These facilities were, or at least looked, brand new and the showers were of the drench variety - oh my!

In closing, all I can say is that the showers were completely sublime...all of the day's negativity washed off and flowed down the drain - In the morning we'd be off again, hopefully, the next place we visit will be more welcoming. I do want to say that all the people I met in the services that support the marina in Mallaig were very ALL very nice, especially the pontoon manager - who is just a few years away from retirement and just wants nothing more than to be as far away from boats as possible - a log cabin, a dog, and a few beers is all he wants.

The folks in the chandlery are also worth a mention, they were very funny and quite understanding of my situation and apologized on behalf of the town for some of the people who think it's ok to treat people like crap. They were good people.


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