Sailing To Scotland:

Date:- 27.12.10
Name: Morgen
Crew: RD (Richard Dempster)
From: Port Solent
To: N/A
The idea of this Blog is in part, to copy the log from my good ship Morgen. Morgen is a Hanse 312 which I purchased in Oct 2010 in order to enjoy some easy family cruising in the solent area of the UK. But as these things do my imagination ran riot. Others may call it ‘midlife crisis’. I decided that I wanted to sail from the south coast of Britain, Port Solent, to the Kyle of bute in the firth of clyde in Scotland. I decided at the same time I would do this for charity and the charity we chose was AICR (Association of International Cancer Research) I thought this was particularly appropriate as we have been donating a small sum of money every month via direct debit for the last sixteen years since both of my parents ‘John and Mary’ passed away with small cell lung cancer and liver cancer and a very close friend passed away with Mesothelimia last year. Unlike many other events this is not about how fast I can achieve my goals, but about whether I can achieve my goals. I am a relatively novice sailor only having completed passages in the Solent. At about twenty miles at a time. And this is by far the biggest challenge I have ever set myself, Not only in the logistics of the thing but in the physical challenge, mental challenge of navigation and seamanship and of course the planning which inevitably goes in to something of this nature. I have run mini marathons for charities before and entered other charitable events however I feel this is by far the biggest challenge I have ever undertaken and there is real difficulty and unknown problems which I will have to overcome. From mechanical breakdowns to the fear of the sea and being isolated. Unlike other events I have entered I really don’t know if I can achieve / complete this challenge but my goal will be to do so.

I intend to Sail from port to port taking my time and only venturing out in good weather. I do not care how long this takes me as I have taken a couple of years off from full time work. A few friends have jumped at the opportunity to sail a few legs and do there bit for charity. I have a family as you can see from the photo and will be returning to them every so often. After a short break I will then proceed with the venture and return to Morgen. Hopefully the best of both worlds. I will also be accompanied by the family pet a fifteen month old German Shepherd by the name of 'Freddie' Suffice to say he will only accompany me on the more appropriate legs.

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Kinlochbervie to Stromness via Cape Wrath to the Orkneys

The weather closed in and we (Freya too and myself) had to sit it out in Kinlochbervie for four days. There is a food store, Hotel and a garage on the edge of the village and that's it. Its just a question of reading, sorting out little jobs on the boat and watching the weather forecast. This year is very different to last year as the weather just doesn't seem like getting hotter or more like summer. Finally there appears to be a one day weather window! not perfect by any means but its take it now or leave it for possibly another week. The thought of sitting in Kinlochbervie as nice as it is for another week twiddling my thumbs and looking for things to do is not an option. So if it is not too bad in the morning I will be leaving to do Cape Wrath and over to Stromness on the Orkney Islands.
The Forecast wind is West 15Knts veering Southwest 10Knts. So its all go. Departed Kinlochbervie at 08:30hrs.

Extract from my Log book!!!!
Suffice to say the weather forecast was on this occasion grossly understated. By the time I was leaving the loch at Kinlochbervie I already had, not the forecast 15Knts but 27Knts across the bow and the sea was big and rough. I was in VHF radio contact with 'Freya Too' and as I was the faster of the two boats so I explained to them that the wind and sea conditions were a lot more difficult than previously thought and we discussed turning back rather than have another 15 hours of being beaten by the wind and the waves. However I said I would give it another half an hour and see what it was like knowing I could turn and be back in the safety of Kinlochbervie in a third of the time its taken to get this far. Once out in the open sea the wind and sea state although the same didn't seem to be so much of a problem and I had calmed down and found a rhythm that was working. Once again made radio contact with 'Freya Too' explaining the situation and they followed me out.
In the Pilot guides and Almanac etc it explains that if the sea before 'Alm Bag' a small island is reasonably calm it should be OK to round the cape. We, 'Freya Too' and I had a cracking sail up to Alm Bag and everything was going well. Infact I was exactly on schedule and exactly where I had charted myself to be. For once! So all was well.
Once past Alm Bag though the sea steadily became much larger and the wind although constant was blowing very strong most of the time being in the top twenties to early thirties. Gulp. I arrived at my waypoint at Cape Wrath at 12:00 exactly on time for the tides but was met with a very confused sea with waves being a very conservative seven metres at least. I had taken a further out to sea route than 'Freya Too' who was going to hug the coastline and go to Scrabster on the mainland where I was going to the Orkneys in one hit, hence the deep water route I had chosen missing Cape Wrath by at least five miles. At this point we lost radio contact.I had at this point 2 reefs in the main and 2 reefs in the genoa. but the wind was still building so I decided to drop the main completely and run with just the genoa and two reefs. I was still making a GPS speed of up to and including 11.6 KNTs wow what a ride. Again Morgen acquitted herself admirably the weak link once again is the human. I was going so well that I was going to arrive at the Sound of Hoy which is the entrance to Stromeness on the Orkneys a good two hours early. This was not as good as it sounds. Although enjoying and being frightened at the same time as speeding down the waves by arriving two hours early at Hoy Sound I was going to meet ferocious overfalls the such that I have never seen before.

There are no photos of this as I was far to busy staying in one piece and trying to control all the various elements to take photos.
With only 10 miles to go the wind suddenly died to absolutely nothing although the swell continued. I suppose it must take a couple of days for the swell to die down as there is nothing but sea for about 3000 miles. I had to use the engine and very gently motored in to the Sound of Hoy I could see the overfalls to my Port side (left) and they were big! but by keeping a very close eye on the depth I was able to run alongside them without actually getting in to the overfalls until the end of the sound where I would have to turn and run with them through the centre of the channel. Once in the middle of the overfalls the boat was being lifted like a floating match and we were vertical on the way up and vertical on the way down, well that's what it felt like anyway. I was just hanging on to anything and everything. Suddenly we were through the overfalls and the narrowest part of the channel and in to very flat sea. One moment vertical and the next back to being horizontal what a surreal experience. one that I will deffinately never forget.
Arrived Stromness Marina at 22:10hrs.
A kind fellow sailor grabbed a line for me and thankfully helped me to tie up alongside a finger. Arrived at last. Cape Wrath lived up to its name and some. The helper explained that I would be lucky to get anything to eat at this time of night and ushered me on to his boat for something to eat. There is a camaraderie this far north more so than elsewhere. But what I didn't expect was for him to wake his poor wife up in order to fry me two bacon egg and mushroom buns. All I could do was apologise in between great mouthfuls washed down with a bottle of beer. A really big thanks to you!

The Orkneys are there somewhere!
The next morning I awoke to voices coming from the bow of the boat. I quickly pulled some clothes on and went to find out what was going on. There seemed to be some discussion going on with five men standing on the pontoon at the bow of my boat. I thought perhaps that I had taken someone else's mooring and was about to say sorry when they set upon me with a deluge of questions about my trip round Cape wrath yesterday. It was as if I had become a minor celebrity for a moment. They couldn't believe we had sailed round Cape Wrath in 'that' weather and single handed some of them had been storm bound in Stromeness for a week or two and had tried to leave only to turn back again. Again quite a surreal moment but a good feeling of camaraderie.
BUT what a feeling of achievement after reading and hearing so much about Cape Wrath it had built up to a very big step to take. It was and still is the biggest and most terrifying leg that I was to undertake and now having done it in a weather window of a day felt fantastic. and now time for a rest and time to explore some of what the Orkneys has to offer. The boats in the marina where to stay storm bound for another week!!

Loch Inver To Kinlochbervie 27.06.13

Loch Inver to Kinlochbervie.
The weather is closing in getting worse! Departed at 09:10 and sat sail. the sea is slight to moderate but not to uncomfortable. The thing about sailing this far north is the solitude and sense of isolation which is great in one way but makes you very wary in an other way as you know you are completely alone up here and if anything goes wrong its down to yourself to sort it out......if you can.
As it happens I had a very nice sail up the west coast passing the 'Old Man of Stoer' at about 10:00hrs I sailed as close as I dared but far away enough to to get dashed on any undersea rocks. The weather was closing in although the wind was dying, Visibility was low and it was a grey drizzly day.

After the 'Old Man of Stoer' the wind dropped completely leaving me no option but to motor the rest of the way to Kinlochberie. 'Is this the calm before the storm' I ask myself?. Arrived at Kinlochbervie at 13:50hrs and it is once again a fantastic entrance but you have to make sure you follow the charts very carefully as you have to keep quite close to the cliffs and you musnt pass the entrance to the harbour as there are underwater cables.
In Kinlochbervie I once again meet up with a couple of old boaters that I met further down the coast. The only other circumnavigators that I came across. There boat has the name of 'Freya too' we would stay in contact for quite a while.

Ullapool to Loch Inver

Departed Ullapool at 08:50 good wind about 16Knts so really good sailing. However the wind was decreasing and I was to arrive at loch inver with no wind and under engine once more. However I cant complain as compared to other passages that I have read I have managed to sail most of the time. and besides its keeping the ailing batteries topped up.
The entrance to Loch Inver is amazing. It actually reminds me of Hawaii majestic and beautiful a fantastic place to sail in to. Infact I was so engrossed in the scenery I forgot to put the fenders out for mooring up to the pontoons. and then a sudden panick ensued with about fifty feet to go with what wind there was pushing me ever closer to scratching the hull. But luckily I had just enough time to get three fenders out on the port side and rested gently on to the pontoon finger.

After visiting the harbour masters office and paying not only for staying at Loch Inver but also paying for the penultimate mooring at Kinlochbervie the last stop over before the infamous Cape Wrath! I went for a walk. Whilst sightseeing I came across a sign for the local cinema which as it turns out was showing the latest Startrek movie. No big deal, however the cinema turns out to be in the back of a lorry all kitted out inside as a cinema. Teared seating, surround sound and proper cinema seates and a ticket office. It was a very special evening and one I shall not forget in a hurry, the film was good, it was comfortable and as it was just parked up outside a local pub what more could you ask for.

Badachro to Ullapool 25.06.13

Departed at 07:00hrs the forecast was for force 3 to 4 decreasing as the day goes on. This is exactly as it was. I had previously decided to go to Ullapool because quite a few years ago on a family holiday in a motorhome we ended up in Ullapool which is a great destination very nice indeed. Good pubs friendly people and good food and shops. Whilst on holiday with the family we ended up in a pub overlooking the harbour and I can remember saying ' one day I would like to sail here' From the pub we walked along the shoreline and you can see right out to sea in one direction and up the valley to the mountains in the other direction. Stunning. However I didn't realize even after working it out on the charts just how long the inlet to Ullapool is. about twenty miles and as the wind had eased a lot of this had to be done whilst motor sailing and of course it would be the same thing the following day on my way out.
Same view, but this time my boat is out there.
Anyway once moored up on a floating mooring I at least new where to go for groceries etc. I also had to fill up with fuel which you have to buy in twenty five litre containers. Luckily my funnel that I use has a strainer in it as the end of the container was full of grit etc so I stopped filling up rather quickly and left a good litre at least in the bottom of the drum.
I the evening I found the pub that we had previously visited and although it was now more of a restaurant than a pub I was able to find the seat we had previously obtained and too a picture through the window looking across the harbour as before. There was quite a strong feeling of having completed something I had started sitting there drinking my pint and looking out the window. even though at the time however many years before I didn't really know that I would ever sail here, never mind single handed from the south of England. A good feeling none the less for having done it. Although in the hidden recesses of my mind I wished for Fran and the girls to be here sharing it with me.


Portree to Badachro Gairloch 24.06.13

Departed Portree at 6:00am- Calm and no wind so had to do a lot of motoring. A lovely entrance to Badachro very interesting and pretty. It was only a short hope and picked up a floating mooring at 11:30am right next to Kvector111 who I had met in a pub in Plockton and who had told me about this lovely little anchorage. The wind thankfully had filled in and I was able to sail in to the entrance in about a force 3 to 4 and managed an average of 6.5Knts.

A quick tidy up and something to eat and I took the dinghy ashore. Probably one of the more interesting dinghy journeys to be made! as you have to manoeuvre between sand banks and then make your way up a very fast flowing river. My 4.5 horse mercury outboard had to work hard against the flowing tide. Once in a its a balance of throttle to hold yourself still against the flood and to reach for a mooring ring on a very slippery wall. I left enough painter for a fall in tide and a turn and two half hitches to secure the dinghy. After that it was a trip to the local pub and a nice pint on the terrace overlooking a beautiful bay. Its hard but somebody has to do it!