Saturday 5th May.
Eloise left Dunstaffnage Marina at 16:40 bound for Loch Maddy, North Uist, Outer Hebrides. At 6:53 Neil Macfarlane reported just passing up the sound of Mull having eaten on board in anticipation of a night passage. Photo - passing light house on south of Lismore Island.
Wednesday 9th May.
Second report from Neil updated Thursday 10th May while away from home.
Having left Dunstaffnage at 1640 on Saturday we passed Lismore Is to the south and then up the Sound of Mull as night fell. We were mostly sailing in a F2/3 which later increased to F5/6. At 2000 we passed Rubna Nan Gall light near Tobermory in increasing wind, rain and seas. At midnight Eloise sailed NW between the lighthouse Oigh Sgeir and the Humla Rock Mark (green) SW of Canna. The wind and seas subsided somewhat through the night and at 0700 on Sunday morning we turned into Loch Maddy, North Uist and anchored in South Bay. With a dodgy log our charted distance was estimated at 100 nautical miles. The rest of Sunday was for sleeping, eating with no shore leave!
Hoisted anchor and left Loch Maddy at 0600 Monday. Sails set and under engine Eloise made her way out to sea. E/NE wind F4/5 meant a long port tack east to seek advantage from the wind. Even so progress was slow on the starboard tack so Eloise motor sailed most of the way to East Loch Tarbert Harris. At 1345 we moored to the pontoon in the North Harbour in Scalpay and watered up later moving to shallow water on the fishing boat pier to refuel on the fast ebbing tide. At 1430 we cast off, headed around the north side of Scalpay, under the bridge with about 5m clearance (though it looked much less) and out to sea. Sails up we ran before a good breeze into the entrance to Loch Seaforth, then NW up the loch for a couple of miles, past salmon farms, to turn into Loch Maaruig to anchor for the night. Ca 35NM.
Tuesday - anchor up 0915 and tacked down Loch Seaforth out into the Minch. Then sailed NW between Lewis and the Shiant Is to the east. As we turned north to run up the coast the rain stopped the mist cleared and the sun came out. Dropping the main sail Eloise ran at SOG 7kt under genoa alone. Entered Stornoway harbour, keeping out of the way of the ferry leaving, and, after a bit of manoeuvring in a strong wind, moored up to the pontoon. Ca 30NM.
Wednesday- “storm bound” in Stornaway so took a bus trip to the Callanish standing stones then a bus trip around the island.
Thursday 10th May.
Eloise left Stornoway at 0600 in S/SW winds F5/6 occ F7 later. Mainsail up with two reefs in harbour then motor sailed broadly south in bright sunshine to the spectacular Shiant Islands east of Lewis. We motored back and forth on the north side of the islands, had lunch and admired the bird life. Then we set a main course of 170 down to the east side of Skye with Rona and Raasay to port. Moored temporarily to a pontoon in Portree harbour at 1550, then checked out a possible anchorage, but after dragging decided to pick up a buoy in the main harbour. Glorious evening, with blue sky and sea and snowy Cuillins to the south. Dinner on board. Distance 58NM.
Friday 11th May.
We got into Mallaig in foul weather which later cleared to nice evening. Our main sheet block which had earlier failed was replaced by the charterer. On Saturday we had a splendid trip from Mallaig to Canna in bright sun and good breezes to go ashore and overnight on a mooring in Canna Hbr.
Sunday 13th May.
We sailed south and rounded the magnificent Barra Head (S most tip of the Outer Hebs) then headed northish for St Kilda. Anchored St Kilda bay 0400 Sunday. 90NM passage. Heavy swell, drizzle and overcast and decided too risky to go ashore in the dinghy. We anchored for lunch in Vatersay Bay (beautiful white sand strand) on Sunday after a splendid passage in bright sunshine from Canna Hbr where we had spent Saturday night.
Monday 14th May.
Up anchor O715 and passed St K cliffs but mist v low. Headed for Boreray I and stacks but again obscured by mist so set course for Sound of Harris. Two reefs and small genoa in moderate sea in F5 and above meant a tough passage. Engine overheated just before Sound of Harris through no coolant. So sailed north under Genoa looking for anchorage while engine checked. Impeller replaced with some difficulty but Neville saved the day and after an hours plus delay we passed through the Sound and down to Loch Maddy at 19:15. 76NM. Now in pub all quite tired.
Tues 15th May
Slipped mooring on L Maddy pontoon 1045. Out into Minch, mainsail up, genoa set in N/NW F4/5. Headed south bound for Rum. Wind rather died later so motor sailed intermittently. Mainsail down 1500 in fair sunshine but chilly. Anchored in Loch Scresort on east of Rum at 1925. Dined on board. 51NM
Wed 16th May
0915 anchor up. N/NW F2/3 fair, bright sun, blue skies and light winds. Sailed south with Eigg to port, then Muck. West of Arnamurchan at midday with Coll on starboard bow and Mull to port. Passed fine white strand of Calgary Bay, then odd shaped basalt formations of the Treshnish Isles to Staffa. Rounded Staffa, admired caves and sailed ENE to Ulva to the quiet, sheltered anchorage of Cragaig Bay on south side of Ulva by 1600. 42NM.
Thurs 17th May
0935 Left the bay, set sails and passed between Ulva and Little Colonsay in NW F 3/4 but variable in fine weather. Largely piloted around the west coast of Mull and later motor sailed until entered Sound of Mull. Just past Ardmore a white tailed eagle, fish in its talons, passed to starboard, flying low towards the shore. Just time for a quick photo! Entered Tobermory Hbr at 1400 and Andy moored us stern to the pontoon. 27NM. Leisurely afternoon in village with showers and shopping. Good meal in pub close to marina that evening.
Fri 18th May
With Andy on the nav table we made the straightforward passage down the Sound of Mull. Initially under sail tacking against ahead wind F3/4 blowing up the Sound, but the tide was with us. Going about we had a practice man overboard drill and successfully recovered "the man". Progress against the wind was slow so the genoa was furled and engine on. Passed Lismore I into Dunstaffnage Bay we moored to the pontoon at 1415. 27NM.
And finally from the crew of Eloise and Trent Offshore Group many thanks to skipper Alan Mortimore for his forethought, meticulous planning and enthusiasm in organising an ambitious Sailex and ensuring its successful outcome.
Total distance: 547 nautical miles.