Our main cruise this year on Dream Weaver was to the Orkney Isles via the west coat of Scotland and Cape Wrath and back home via Wick and the Caledonian Canal and covered 841 miles.
Our route took us from Carrick Castle to Campbeltown; the Mull of Kintyre; Isle of Kerrera by Oban; Mallaig; Gairloch, Kinlochbervie; Stromness; Westray; Papa Westray; Holm of Papay; Eday; Rousay; Kirkwall; Wick; Inverness; the Caledonian Canal; Corpach; Dunstaffnage by Oban; Ardminish, Isle of Gigha; the Mull of Kintyre; Broddick, Isle of Arran and Sandbank, Argyll before returning back to Carrick Castle.
Crew: Douglas Locke and Liz Evans
Visitors: Gillan Locke, Graeme Locke, Daniel Locke & Toby Locke
Diary and Log Book extracts for 2011 cruise.
There are many photographs of the cruise,
see the Gallery (2011 -155 photos) : -
29th April 2011
07.40 Departed Carrick Castle
09.50 Collected Gillan from Kip Marina
09.55 Departed Kip Marina
18.30 Arrived Campbeltown pontoon
Good sail with 2 reefs in genoa + mizzen achieving 7 kns in deteriorating conditions.
Day in Campbeltown as weather unsuitable for rounding the Mull of Kintyre so Gillan went home on the bus to Glasgow and we did some shopping.
08.40 Departed Campbeltown pontoon
11.37 Abeam Mull of Kintyre - Good passage before rounding the Mull to go north achieving 12.3 kns.
12.20 Abeam Earadale Point winds gusting NE 7 in moderate seas.
20.05 A peaceful anchorage opposite the Crinan Canal & Hotel.
10.00 Weighed anchor Crinan.
10.28 Passed through Dorus Mhor tidal gate 8.2 kns.
11.55 Passed through Fhadda tidal gate.
14.30 Arrived Oban Marina, Isle of Kerrera.
Met up with Rob White & Claire Fance on yacht Elsa and their friends from Lochgoilhead, Gillian and Mark and had dinner in the seafood restaurant in the marina.
12.32 Departed Kerrera.
17.14 Abeam Ardnamurchan Lighthouse.
20.46 Rafted up to a fishing boat in Mallaig Harbour.
09.00 Departed Mallaig - on leaving, fishermen gave us 15 live scallops.
11.48 Anchored at Sandaig Isles anchorage to await favourable tide for Kyle Rhea passage.
Liz prepared scallops for lunch and cooked half then and the other half we had for dinner - delicious! Beautiful sunny, warm day.
Dream Weaver at anchor at the Sandaig Isles
13.56 Weighed anchor Sandaig Isles.
14.40 Kyle Rhea (Fishing boat came alongside at 7 kns and handed us a bag of Norwegian Lobsters!)
15.30 Under the Skye Bridge.
20.30 Arrived Gairloch pontoon.
09.56 Departed Gairloch after fuelling up.
19.07 Arrived Kinlochbervie pontoon.
04.57 Departed Kinlochbervie.
07.23 Abeam Cape Wrath.
18.00 Waiting off Hoy Sound for favourable tide to enter Stromness, Orkney.
19.00 Arrived Stromness Marina.
Dream Weaver at the end of the pontoon in Stromness Marina
Took bus to the road end where we walked to the Ring of Brodgar Stone Circle via the Stones of Stenness and also visited Maeshowe Neolithic burial chamber - very windy walking about 5 miles - stiff after this fighting walking against the wind - took bus back to Stromness.
First wet day so we visited the Stromness Museum - so much to see there - excellent!
Took the once a week early morning bus to Skara Brae by the Bay of Skaill to see the neolithic village over 5,500 years old - an incredible experience. We also visited Skaill House whilst there. We had a picnic on the beach at the Bay of Skaill and saw the old wartime boom defence rings still there. The bus collected us mid afternoon returning to Stromness again.
The sandy beach by Skara Brae where we had a picnic for lunch
Took the bus to St Margaret's Hope and on the return journey visited the Italian Chapel and viewed the Churchill Barriers. The next bus took us to Kirkwall where we spent the afternoon visiting the Bishop's and Earl's Palaces. the Tankerness House Museum and St Magnus Cathedral founded in 1137. Then we returned back to Stromness on the bus. Douglas' bus pass meant all his travelling was free whilst Liz had to pay for a day's pass on the buses.
09.45 Departed Stromness marina.
15.30 Arrived Pierowall marina, Westray.
Explored the area around Pierowall and visited Noltland Castle where you get the key from the farm opposite.
We visited the Westray Heritage Centre and saw the 'Westray Wife', the oldest stone carved image of a woman yet found in the UK.
16.24 Departed Pierowall Marina - a difficult departure as the yacht was pinned to the pontoon in a F5. Springing off worked well...
17.48 Arrived Papa Westray visitor's mooring.
Took the tender across to Holm of Papay and visited the large burial chamber going inside through a trap door in the roof.
Dream Weaver on a mooring between Papa Westray & Holm of Papay
Visited the Knap of Howar neolithic farmhouse over 5,500 years old on Papa Westray.
16.05 Departed Papa Westray visitor's mooring.
17.35 Arrived Carrick Bay, Calf of Eday Sound visitor's moorings at 10.5 kns.
Walked around the local area visiting the sites on the heritage walk including more burial chambers including Vinquoy chambered cairn and a magnificent standing stone 15 foot high above the ground called the Stone of Setter.
09.30 Departed Eday visitor's moorings.
12.20 Arrived Rousay visitor's mooring.
We had a pre-birthday dinner for Liz in the restaurant with delicious fresh fish.
Liz's 59th Birthday!
We booked a tour round the island of Rousay on a minibus with a gourmet picnic lunch from a hamper supplied by the driver with a single red carnation and visited the neolithic sites including the Midhowe broch and three burial chambers - Midhowe, Blackhammar and Taversoe Tuick cairns - an excellent tour. At the end of the tour we hurried back to the yacht as the forecast was for high winds over the next few days.
17.30 Departed Rousay visitor's mooring.
19.13 Arrived Kirkwall Marina.
Celebrating Liz's 59th birthday in Kirkwall marina
Shopping and laundry day in Kirkwall also visiting the Tankerness House Museum again - the winds arrived - we were tucked up head to the wind alongside the pontoon in the marina.
We booked a tour around the roof and tower of St Magnus Cathedral. The tour can only take 6 people at a time and the space is tight up in those areas. It was an excellent tour over 1 1/2 hours and well worth doing.
Kirkwall with the harbour and marina in the background
We booked a tour on the Hoy Hopper - This cost Douglas £3.60 and Liz £17.00! This was a full day leaving Kirkwall on the bus to the ferry terminal across Scapa Flow to Lyness where we visited the Scapa Flow Museum. We then went to the Longhope Lifeboat Museum and as the bus driver was also a RNLI crew member, we were taken over the old lifeboat. This was followed by a visit to the new RNLI lifeboat with a tour over that one too. Next we visited one of the Martello Tower and back to the Lyness Museum. This was followed by visits to the Longhope Lifeboat Memorial, the War Graves Cemetery and a bus ride to the west end of the island at Moaness before returning to Lyness ferry terminal and the ferry back to the mainland and another bus back to Kirkwall. It was a great day out and so much to see and take in!
We went shopping again in Kirkwall - a windy day. We had another visit to the Tankerness House Museum - there's so much to look at there!
We took a long walk out of Kirkwall to the east towards the Head of Holland to a beach where we had a picnic and returned over the fields to Kirkwall. That evening it was extremely windy with winds reaching Force 8, then 9 and gusting 10.
We had another walk on the mainland - the gale force winds continued - we were pleased to be sheltered in Kirkwall marina - it was difficult to walk on the pontoons and the yachts were healing over severely on the pontoons. Although we had booked a hire car for the next day the garage let us take it the night before so we visited Deerness area in the evening.
Liz struggling against the gale force wind at Broch of Gurness
We hired a car to visit the places you can't get to by bus or walking. The vulcanic dust cloud came over Orkney and the yacht was covered with dust. The car too was also covered and even our glasses had to be continually cleaned from the dust. It was an extremely windy day yet again with gale force winds. We visited the Brough of Birsay - the Viking settlement at Birsay, Earl's Palace Birsay, the Broch of Gurness, the Kirbister Museum, Click Mill, the Corrigall Farm Museum and the Earth House - a very full day taking the car back covered with volcanic dust after 95 miles of touring. The forecast was for the winds to drop the next day - time to escape!
The vulcanic ash cloud from Birsay Viking settlement
11.44 Departed Kirkwall Marina - timed to gain maximum benefit from the tidal streams.
14.43 Abeam Copinsay Islands.
16.33 Abeam Pentland Skerries, six miles to the west...
19.40 Arrived Wick Marina.
Very rough passage for the last 3 hours down to Wick.
Day in Wick visiting the library and the Wick Museum that was excellent!
05.10 Departed Wick marina - timed to be able to gain access to the Inverness tidal gate.
17.16 Arrived Clachnaharry Sea Lock, Caledonian Canal at Inverness.
17.45 Arrived pontoon above the first sea lock for the night.
09.00 Departed pontoon above Clachnaharry sea lock and through railway bridge.
09.30 Arrived Muirtown bridge and locks.
11.30 Bridge opened at Muirtown.
12.15 Arrived Caley Marina to refuel.
12.45 Departed Caley Marina.
13.00 Arrived Tomnahurich bridge.
13.30 Transited the bridge.
14.20 Arrived Dochgarroch lock.
14,45 Arrived Dochgarroch transit berth above the lock for the night.
10.30 Departed Dochgarroch berth to inspect condition on Loch Ness as windy.
11.30 Returned to transit berth in Dochgarroch as Loch Ness was wild with white water and very rough!
Spent the day reading...
10.35 Departed Dochgarroch berth to cross Loch Ness.
15.35 Arrived Fort Augustus east pontoons. Met up with Bob & Angela on Tehari II and had drinks with them on their ketch.
Shopping in Fort Augustus. Graeme, Daniel and Toby arrived late afternoon to stay on the yacht for a night and a day.
Loch Ness from Fort Augustus
09.00 Departed pontoon for the flight of 5 locks upwards at Fort Augustus. As we were at the front of the locks we had a violent time with the water coming into the locks and Douglas had to do a lot of controlling of the yacht with the engine. Liz, Graeme & Daniel helped with the lines ashore and Toby helped on board.
11.45 Exited the top of the Fort Augustus locks.
12.30 Arrive Kytra lock. Graeme walked about 3 miles back to Fort Augustus to collect his car and meet us at Laggan Locks. Daniel and Toby stayed on board. It rained...
15.43 Arrived Laggan locks pontoon west side. A cruise boat hit our bow on berthing in front of us and caused a little damage to the yacht's paintwork. The cruise company were informed and compensated us for the damage repair. Graeme, Daniel and Toby departed.
09.45 Departed Laggan locks.
12.45 Arrived Neptune's Staircase, Banavie top of locks.
13.55 Entered the flight of 8 locks downwards - its easy going down the locks...
16.20 Arrived Corpach Basin after a further two locks.
Day in Corpach Basin. We did Douglas' parents shopping and ours in the morning by bus and taxi as his parents live in Corpach. We then wheeled Douglas' mother, Betty down to the basin in her wheelchair and had a picnic alongside the yacht in glorious sunshine and it was warm before taking her home.
Liz with Douglas' mother having picnic in Corpach Basin
08.25 Departed Corpach Basin via the sea lock.
13.55 Arrived Dunstaffnage Marina near Oban after a really great sail.
We attended the Westerly Owners Association's Scottish Muster and Dinner at the Wide Mouth Frog Restaurant in the marina that evening attended by about 30 members with 15 yachts.
06.30 Departed Dunstaffnage marina.
10.05 Abeam Fladda lighthouse entrance to the tidal gate. We reached 13.1 kns passing Corryvrechan.
14.30 Arrived Ardminish anchorage, Isle of Gigha and anchored in 1.2 metres of water below the keel. As soon as we anchored it started to rain...
08.40 Weighed anchor Ardminish.
12.07 Abeam Mull of Kintyre - departure timed well as no overfalls!
13.15 Abeam Ship lighthouse, Isle of Sanda - took advantage of tide by going south of Sanda and headed for Arran.
18.25 Arrived Broddick visitor's moorings, Isle of Arran - the only yacht there.
08.25 Departed Broddick in pouring rain.
12.53 Arrived Holy Loch Marina, Sandbank, Argyll to refuel.
14.40 Departed Sandbank.
16.25 Arrived Carrick Castle mooring.
Douglas in the pouring rain on the last leg home
Our five and a half week cruise up the west coast of Scotland around Cape Wrath to the Orkney Isles and back down the east coast of Scotland and through the Caledonian Canal and then back down the west coast of Scotland again covered 841 nautical miles. The weather was pretty good with very little rain during the day. We had about three days of rain out of forty days. We only had three days when it was warm, two in the first week and one whilst in Corpach Basin. It was fairly cool most of the time and we were pleased to have had the central heating system on the yacht. As can be seen by the photographs, there was lots of sunshine particularly whilst in the Orkneys. The Orkneys are windy and rarely did the wind go below force 4 or 5. We were lucky to have had our computer on board with Vodafone Connect as we were able to obtain the weather forecasts on an almost daily basis. This allowed us to prepare where we were to be safely at night. The gale and storm force winds hit us whilst safely moored up in Kirkwall marina where it was wild despite the shelter however we were not so badly hit as other parts of Scotland. The strong tides and from various directions in the Orkneys require great planning as some routes cannot be traversed except within specific time slots. The tides have to be worked out very accurately and it is quite taxing at times when there are several tidal gates to consider. We loved visiting all the incredible neolithic sites - there is just so much to see in the Orkney Isles, however as far as the sailing is concerned nowhere we have yet been can beat sailing in the west coast of Scotland. The numbers of anchorages, bolt-holes, marinas and pontoons make it safe and interesting in most weather conditions. We enjoyed transiting the Caledonian Canal. Whilst you can do it in just over a couple of days - there are 29 locks and several bridges to pass through and taking your time with 7 nights and 8 days allowed on the license is preferable to rushing through. As always the Mull of Kintyre has to be respected as you do need good conditions to round it - it is still one of the most tricky places to go round. We had a great time and enjoyed ourselves on this cruise and were generally very lucky with the weather overall!