Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Homeward Bound!

I deduce you will have guessed by now that I'm dragging my feet writing these final words. I'm trying to make the experience last for as long as I can. However all good things come to an end so they say. Apart from that I am being pressured by some loyal fans to 'get on with it'.

I spent a day in Rothesay tidying Ruach up. It is surprising what you gather on a boat during a three month cruise. But as this voyage draws to an end it's time to clear out. Harbour guides from here and there, tourist maps, the odd magazine with that 'must read' article I saved for later. You know the type of stuff. I also put another coat of varnish on the for'ard half of the starboard gunwale. The finish looked really nice....
 .....well it did until the heavy short sharp shower pitted it's surface and gave it an unsightly bloom. Ho hum! More work to do.

While on Bute I showered in the splendidly restored Victorian toilets (well, not actually showered in the toilets of course!). This is a bizarre tourist attraction, can you imagine 'Roll up roll up', 'Come see our toilets now!', 'only 20p admission', 'All the fun of the fair'. Both gents and ladies are welcomed on the tour!
While I was showering the attendant came and locked the door to the showers for me to maintain my modesty as there a were bunch of people taking the tour while I showered. Take a look here to see some more views

The paddle steamer Waverley came into Rothesay on it's way through the Kyles to Kames before returning back to the Clyde via Rothesay again.
Well, you know what I've been like for getting aboard other boats during this trip, today was no different. I was given a tour of the engine room of the Waverley and spent a little time at the helm. This boat is such a graceful old lady. What a fantastic opportunity.
Waverley's Engine Room

Steady as she goes!

At this point I'd like to mention the fantastic result we have with the charity giving. To date, including donations, gift aid and matched giving we have raised over £3000 for the Alzheimer's charities.
Following discussion with Alan Midwinter of Alzheimer Scotland it has been decided to channel the Scottish portion of the funds to a project in West Lothian that helps a group of people with 'Early Onset Alzheimers'. This does not necessarily mean people who have been recently diagnosed with dementia, but is a group who have been diagnosed with dementia at an early age. It is very moving to hear of the vibrant people whose lives had been so badly affected by this disease; it is also a surprise to hear that there is no funding for such groups other than charitable donations. Your donations really are making a difference.
Hopefully you will not think I've nagged you too much over these months for a donation. But if you are considering making a donation, stop considering! Click one of the links right now.
www.justgiving.com/David-Hippey for the Alzheimer's Society
In addition you can now give direct from your mobile: just txt to 70070,  SAIL51 20 to donate £20 to Alzheimer Scotland. Insert the amount you want to donate in place of the 20. These txts are FREE and all of your donation goes to the charity.

The following day, Saturday 27th August, was the day I had announced to the world that I would be returning to my berth in Largs marina. So at 10.30am I raised sail on Ruach for the last time on this voyage.
The winds were very light and there was rain in the air. I ghosted across the relatively short distance between Rothesay and Largs to arrive bang on time at 13:00.

Homeward bound - The final trip


The wanderer returns. Ruach arrives back at Largs marina

A great 'Welcome home!' From Penny

Some more of the reception party.

This video of my return was posted on YouTube by my friend Pat. 

Well, that's about the end of my little journey. I hope you have enjoyed following the progress of Ruach around the coast of Scotland.
There may well yet be another couple of posts to this blog, as people have asked about the technology used to put this all together, plus I may have some confessions or 'out-takes' to post; then finally as I'm currently anchored to my desk back in my day job there is the 'what next' to contemplate. All I can say is 'Watch this space' 


If you are having trouble donating at the justgiving sites (behind company firewalls, don't trust the internet with my card details or just don't want to give that way, etc) you can mail me a cheque direct. To do this just send me an email and I'll send you the details. Alternatively you can donate by txt'ing SAIL51 £20 to 70070 (replace the £20 with the amount you want to donate). TXTs are free and all your donation goes to the charity.

Don't forget to drop me a note at onpassage@dhippey.co.uk to sign up to be informed when blog updates appear.

Please share this site with your friends and family
( Especially the rich ones :-)  )

If you came to this blog from the main website www.eventoftheyear.co.uk you will hopefully have had a look around the site and be aware of what I'm up to, both the adventure itself and the fact that I'm aiming to raise awareness of dementia in our society and to raise money for the Alzheimer's charities.
I'm doing this trip for fun and funding the trip myself, but while I'm on this venture you can do your bit to by supporting the Alzheimer's charities through either www.justgiving.com/david-hippey or www.justgiving.com/david-hippey-scotland

Catch you next time.

Regards,
David H.

Monday, 19 September 2011

"Pieces of eight!"

Avast behind! This update is being posted on September 19th, which is of course 'international talk like a pirate day' mi'hearties. It also happens to be the day of my birth some 50'odd years ago. So grab yoursel' a tot of rum and raise a toast to seafarers the world over. Arrrrrh!

I mentioned last post that I had anchored in Asgog bay, this is located at the Southern end of Loch Fyne. The bay faces South'ish looking towards the Northern tip of Arran. It is a gorgeous anchorage, but only suitable  for use in settled weather as the holding here is not the best.
On this occasion the weather was kind to me allowing me to stay here for the night. The ships batteries were running a little low just now as 'Otto' had been steering for most of the day and because I have had no access to shore power to keep them topped for a couple of days. The laptop used for blogging and video creation is pretty hungry for power and drains the ships batteries quite quickly, so with no chance of blogging the night away I decided to turn in for an early night. This was about 22.30, (as anyone who knows me will testify this is early for me as I tend to bit of a night owl).
At this point I must tell you that during the whole of my trip I have been a little disappointed with the views of the night sky. I was quite prepared for a lack of stars during the early part of the trip because it was just too light for most of the time. The sun only dropped to a twilight glow rather than the full inky blackness of night this far North. But I did expect to see some spectacular night skies as I progressed down the Western shores. Unfortunately I had not had the opportunity to see one single spectacularly clear night the whole trip, the best I had seen was a few stars peeping out from behind broken cloud.
Around 00.45 I was awoken by the boat having a very agitated motion. I guessed something big was making its way up or down Loch Fyne kicking up a sizable wake in it's track. It was not only the motion that had robbed me of my slumber but it was also accompanied by the sound of the leathered gaff jaws creaking and squeaking against the mast as it swung to and fro. There was no way I was going to get back to sleep until I'd re-tied the boom off to silenced it, so reluctantly I threw off the duvet and slid back the hatch to be greeted by a most fantastic sight. The sky was like a diamond studded velvet cloak with the clear swath of the milky way down the center reaching from horizon to horizon. As my eyes became accustomed to the light I thought I saw stars reflected in the water. I then realised that this was not a reflection, these specks of light had the peculiar green tinge of phosphorescence and actually emanated from the water. I dropped a weighted line over the side of the boat and swished it around to display an explosion of bio-luminescence. It's a shame that my camera is not sensitive enough to capture a record of these sights.
It was almost as if Ruach had woken me up on purpose to see this sight. "Come on David, get up, now, get up, you just gotta get up and see this!"..... and I'm so glad I did.

If you click this chart to zoom in at the white arrows you will see there are two Rubha Dubh's.......
.......but try as I may I couldn't find three men in a tub!

The next morning I made my way the short distance from Asgog to Kames in the West Kyle of Bute, but to extend my sail I went almost all the way across to the Kintyre shore before heading back across and up the Kyle. I spent a night here on one of the moorings provided for patrons of the Kames Hotel before heading just a few more miles further along the West Kyle to Caladh harbour; located where the West and East Kyles meet.
A windless view from Kames looking East along the West Kyle

The Northern entrance to the tiny Caladh harbour

While I was preparing my evening meal I heard the unique slap slap slap sound that emanates from the Paddle Steamer Waverley - The last of a long line of sea-going paddle steamers. I stopped my preparations while I watched her glide majestically past my anchorage as she made her way through the Kyles. (See the video).


Next day I was off down the East Kyle to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. Again, not very far and the little wind there was was on the nose, but as time was my own I tacked my way down the Kyle passed Port Bannatyne and on into the inner harbour at Rothesay.

Rothesay - Looking more Torquay than a Scottish island


If anyone out there is having trouble donating at the justgiving sites (behind company firewalls, don't trust the internet with my card details or just don't want to give that way, etc) you can mail me a cheque direct. To do this just send me an email and I'll send you the details.

Don't forget to drop me a note at onpassage@dhippey.co.uk to sign up to be informed when blog updates appear.

Please share this site with your friends and family
( Especially the rich ones :-)  )

If you came to this blog from the main website www.eventoftheyear.co.uk you will hopefully have had a look around the site and be aware of what I'm up to, both the adventure itself and the fact that I'm aiming to raise awareness of dementia in our society and to raise money for the Alzheimer's charities.
I'm doing this trip for fun and funding the trip myself, but while I'm on this venture you can do your bit to by supporting the Alzheimer's charities through either www.justgiving.com/david-hippey or www.justgiving.com/david-hippey-scotland

Catch you next time.

Regards,
David H.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

....but it's not yet over


If you have ever seen the Where's Wally books and pictures (or Where's Waldo if you are in the States) you may appreciate this photo. Take a look carefully; can you see both Ruach and me hidden in this photo? It is a shot of the pontoon at Campbeltown taken from a webcam, For a clue - I'm waving at the cam.

While I was on the pontoon at Campbeltown I met two brothers, both in their late 70's who were sailing their Folkboat from Ardrishaig, Loch Fyne to Ireland for a holiday. I hope when I'm in my 70's I'll still have the dream, desire and vitality to carry out such trips. I shared a brew and a 'blether' aboard their boat before they set off for the South. Does this count as another boat visited on this trip?
I also met a nice couple and their three lively boys who had sailed up from the Isle of Man in their Westerly Centaur.
These 'exotic' places now seem all the nearer since I have begun this journey.

Although I'm now back in the Clyde the trip isn't quite over. I'm about 40 miles South of the line level with where where I started this trip from and I'm dragging these last few miles out as long as I can :-)

A good while ago I'd promised one of my friends at Otter Ferry in Loch Fyne that some day I would pay him an aquatic visit. It's just over a year since we based Ruach in the marina at Largs and in this time I have not managed to fulfil this promise so, as I had a few days to spare before needed to get back to my employment, I thought I would take the opportunity. I had a further reason for heading up Loch Fyne, this was an invite from the owners of a Cornish Shrimper to come and have sail in company. So it was settled, I would head North.

Campbeltown to Tarbert with views of the Isle of Arran

I left it to the weather to decide which route I would take to get there. If the wind outside Campbeltown Loch was direct from the North I would head East round the bottom of Arran and up the Clyde, or if the wind was from any other direction I'd head North up the Kilbrannan Sound. As it turns out the wind was almost non-existent so I headed North towards Loch Ranza. During the early part of this passage the winds came from just about any direction they could think of, but finally decided to settle on being mainly from the North West. So after a faltering start I made good progress up the Sound, so much so that I decided to extend my passage beyond Loch Ranza and instead headed for Tarbert.

Tarbert Marina

Tarbert North Shore

Tarbert South Shore

Restored, rebuild traditional boats at Tarbert

 When I left Tarbert I had to manoeuvre around an in-bound inflatable boat. When I looked back I saw I was being chased by the same boat. Oops, what had I done now?
It turns out nothing! The occupants of the boat had seen the graphics emblazoned on Ruach's hull and one of the occupants of the inflatable turned out to be one of the regional managers of Alzscot, one of the two charities I'm raising funds for on this trip.

The wind was quite strong, gusting force five, but coming directly from the stern again, so I was able to carry full mainsail and jib for this down hill thrash towards Otter Ferry. The wind being so strong I decided it was safer to tack through around 340 degrees rather than gybe the mainsail.

As I approached Otter Ferry I was careful to keep to the buoyed channel rather than taking the risky short-cut across the tip of Otter spit.

As I turned towards the moorings I spied Cornish Shrimper 377 ELSKA heading my way. After pirouetting around each other for a short while I was invited by Jim & Ann to share a meal later that evening at the Oystercatcher.....
        ....and very nice it was too. 

The Oystercatcher at Otter Ferry

The following morning I sauntered up the hill to meet my mate & fellow engineer Bob in the old School house before setting off back down Loch Fyne to another of my favorite anchorages in Asgog Bay. But more of that next time.



If anyone out there is having trouble donating at the justgiving sites (behind company firewalls, don't trust the internet with my card details or just don't want to give that way, etc) you can mail me a cheque direct. To do this just send me an email and I'll send you the details.

Don't forget to drop me a note at onpassage@dhippey.co.uk to sign up to be informed when blog updates appear.

Please share this site with your friends and family
( Especially the rich ones :-)  )

If you came to this blog from the main website www.eventoftheyear.co.uk you will hopefully have had a look around the site and be aware of what I'm up to, both the adventure itself and the fact that I'm aiming to raise awareness of dementia in our society and to raise money for the Alzheimer's charities.
I'm doing this trip for fun and funding the trip myself, but while I'm on this venture you can do your bit to by supporting the Alzheimer's charities through either www.justgiving.com/david-hippey or www.justgiving.com/david-hippey-scotland

Catch you next time.

Regards,
David H.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea.....


I had a troubled sleep last night, the boat was tossing and turning as the wind fought the tide and Ruach did a merry dance round the mooring buoy. I’d arrived last evening at around 23:00 and needed to be up at 06:00 to catch the tide for rounding the Mull of Kintyre, not much time to eat, sleep and be fresh for the long journey today. I really could have done with some decent sleep. Oh well.

The wind was again fine on the bow which meant again a day spent looking over my right shoulder as I kept a good forward lookout, but today I'd spent more time looking around and stretching my neck the other way to avoid a permanant kink in my neck.

At first I could make a course direct to Erradale Point, just beyond Machrinanish, but as the day progressed the wind wandered more and more from the South pointing me more and more North of my goal. Progress was also painfully slow because the sizable waves were slapping into Ruach’s bow each one sapping momentum. I had to give up pure sailing and again turn to my little iron topsail. I could see at my rate of progress the possibility that the tidal gate that is the Mull of Kintyre could close in my face and there are few alternative options once committed. However as always I did had a plan ‘B’ just in case, but didn’t relish the thought of the extra miles this would entail as the plan ‘B’ had ‘Ireland’ stamped right across it.

The conditions once I passed Erradale Point were rough to say the least. My chart didn’t indicate any warning of this here, but I suppose it was wind against tide. What was the Mull itself going to be like I thought? I was already running late for a West to East passage, but as soon as I got to the lighthouse the seas went completely flat as if oil had been spread on the surface to calm the troubled seas. I saw seals playing around me, their inquisitive faces and big brown eyes looking at me look at them. I had done it, I had rounded the last great headland of my journey. I headed on in these flat calm seas towards Sanda Island. As I did the wind that I had been fighting all morning evaporated to nothing.
Just rounded the Mull of Kintyre

On passing Sanda Isle and heading into the Clyde (Even though technically I was in Kilbrannan Sound) it dawned on me that I had done it! I had done what I set out to do. I had taken my little vessel ‘Over The Top’ from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde! I laughed out loud and at the same time a tear welled up inside. Mixed emotions grabbed me from nowhere. I felt very elated. I called my Dad to give him the news. He has been following my exploits from his chair using just a road atlas. My brother has been keeping him updated with my whereabouts and letting him read the updates on the internet. (Thanks Geoff).

During the last two days I had used my engine a fair amount and there are no motorway service stations in the sea-lanes. As I puttered up the sound the last of my fuel coughed through the carburettor, what to do now? Well the tide seemed to be pushing at a near 1 knot in my favour, but still no wind. I did had a little petrol left in the container I use for the outboard motor that powers my inflatable dinghy. This was my reserve reserve! Only about a litre and a half. So I ghosted along until I reached Island Davaar (Yes that is written the right way round) at the head of Campbeltown Loch. I was about to start the motor when a cats paw of wind rippled the surface of the water. The sails filled and I glided into the loch on a gentle broad reach.
Island Davaar Light stands at the entrance to Campbeltown Loch

When I arrived at the pontoon in Campbeltown it was already fairly full, with some boats moored two abreast, but I motored in to take a look to see if there was any space for me, I spied a gap just under 1.5 times the length of Ruach, which I passed, turned around 180 degrees next to the lifeboat and glided in. Still having only ahead on the engine you may recall. I stepped ashore and made the boat fast. A local boater and an Scandinavian who were standing chatting opposite commented on a job well done, an excellent manoeuvre. (Little did they know of my swan like manor again).

My first task was to take a stroll into Campbeltown to find the one and only petrol station to fill my two ten litre containers. I noted there was a supermarket across the street for me to stock up on supplies, but not on this journey, my arms were going to be long enough by the time I returned to the boat after this trip and I had the prospect of doing it all again tomorrow to ensure I had a full tank and full reserves for my departure.

While in Campbeltown I visited the Aqualibrium. Strange name, it sounds like the Romans got here first and built this place to sit and read in a communal bathhouse. In actual fact it is a recently built public library and has a 25 metre swimming pool. But I don't think they would take too kind to you taking your library books in for a swim with you. It also has fitness facilities, a crèche and the 'Mussel Ebb' bistro.
But in a way the Romans were here earlier. I read in the library that the Italians 'Invaded' Campbeltown one hundred years ago. In true Python style I hear you ask 'and what did the Romans Italians do for us' Well, they brought us the cafe culture.

The pontoon at Campbeltown is quite a cosmopolitan hub. It has boats coming and going from all parts. Placed where it is it is a convenient place to rest and replenish. Located at the Southern end of the Clyde cruising ground, it is close to Ireland, one hop away from the Isle of Man and near enough the Mull for boats coming to or from the Hebrides to call into if passing. On its own it doesn't have a lot to captivate you with, but as the property people will tell you it is all about location, location, location.


I'm grateful to Kevin McCann for sending me a few shots of Ruach from earlier in the trip, so I thought I'd share this one with you here.




 If anyone out there is having trouble donating at the justgiving sites (behind company firewalls, don't trust the internet with my card details or just don't want to give that way, etc) you can mail me a cheque direct. To do this just send me an email and I'll send you the details.

Don't forget to drop me a note at onpassage@dhippey.co.uk to sign up to be informed when blog updates appear.

Please share this site with your friends and family
( Especially the rich ones :-)  )

If you came to this blog from the main website www.eventoftheyear.co.uk you will hopefully have had a look around the site and be aware of what I'm up to, both the adventure itself and the fact that I'm aiming to raise awareness of dementia in our society and to raise money for the Alzheimer's charities.
I'm doing this trip for fun and funding the trip myself, but while I'm on this venture you can do your bit to by supporting the Alzheimer's charities through either www.justgiving.com/david-hippey or www.justgiving.com/david-hippey-scotland

Catch you next time.

Regards,
David H.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Crowhurst or Knox-Johnston?

Farewell to Oban. It's time for me to head further South. I departed via Kerrera Sound and skirted across the end of the Firth of Lorn towards the Sound of Luing.
Farewell Oban

Kerrera Sound

I was heading for Croabh Haven and had to decide whether to go via for the Sound of Luing or through Cuan Sound. Both these routes are tidal 'gates' that would either enhance my progress or firmly shut the door. I had a favourable tide for either of these passages so decided on the former as this would give me a broad reach between Luing and Lunga/Scarba rather than a run through Cuan Sound. Besides I had not been through the Sound of Luing for a while.
Fladda Light at the top of the Sound of Luing

As it happens the boat in front of me took Cuan Sound and I again saw them again half way down Shuna Sound as I passed the end of Shuna Island. So it looks like I had travelled further, but at a faster pace. Again Ruach had achieved a far greater speed going through the Sound of Luing than her hull alone would allow.
I spent the next few days holed up in Croabh Haven while waiting for the weather to improve.
Ruach in Craobh Haven

On my departure from Craobh I was met by the crew of Iolair who I last saw in Kinlochbervie. Because according to my blog I was still somewhere North of Ardnamurchan and here I was sailing past them in Craobh they questioned whether I was actually completing the trip or if I was being a Donald Crowhurst and reporting my position elsewhere to my factual location. Well I can see their point as at any one time there are three indicators to where I am. The first being what you read here, this is the most out-of-date information as I post to this blog 'as and when', the second is the red line on the map posted on the home page of www.eventoftheyear.co.uk again this is only updated on an infrequent basis. To know where I really am at any one time the factual trace is provided on the 'Where am I' page within the main www.eventoftheyear.co.uk website.
This question did remind me of my own thoughts when I set off on this journey. Was I a Donald Crowhurst or a winner like Robin Knox-Johnston? Donald, I'm sure, set out with every intention of completing the course, but circumstance and consequence of failure probably drove him to a tragic end. I don't remotely think his outcome could have been my outcome, but I could have chickened out and failed to complete this journey. However spurred on by your best wishes and phenomenal generosity I have become my own personal Knox-Johnston as I sit here in Ruachs small cabin and write this.

                 But enough of this navel gazing, there is fluff in it anyway...
                             ...On with the blog!



I set off from Craobh with a destination of Gigah just under 40 nautical miles away to the South. A journey that should be reasonably easy with the wind from the North or North West. However nobody told the wind to blow from either of those quarters and so I was close hauled the whole day. By the time I reached Gigha I had an aching left arm from the exertion of steering one tack all day and a stiff neck from the continuous looking forward over my right shoulder.
The day had been almost without incident, but that almost had been a big one. The track took me South East down the Sound of Jura past the Gulf of Corryvrekan. Now Corryvrekan is the site of the worlds third largest whirlpool. It's the kind of place that was marked on the ancient mariners chart with 'Here be Dragons'. I know to respect this place. At the right state of tide and with the correct wind this place is quite benign, in fact I have been through Corryvrekan on occasion over to Colonsay. But I wasn't intending going anywhere near there today. We were almost at spring tides, when the tides run with greatest force as they sluice their biggest range.in and out.
Running at right angles to the main NE tidal flow there is another strong tidal force called Doris Day the Dorus Mor, or the 'Great Door'. This runs between Craignish Point on the mainland and the island of Garbh Reisa. Where the main tidal flow and this 90 degree cross flow meet there are strong overfalls where the sea gets very confused, generally in a fairly narrow band as the opposing flows converge.
Well I could see the line in front of me, I was sailing along at 6.5 knots and I grabbed a quick shot with the camera as I passed through. I glanced down at my chart plotter display to see I had suddenly leaped a considerable distance to my right and my forward speed was now only about 0.25 of a knot, yet I was still speeding through the water as if nothing had changed. What had changed was the power of Dorus Mor had punched me sideways into the clutches of Corryvrekan, I was now being sucked into the gap between Jura and Scarba. I immediately started my little engine and with it racing away headed for a little bay just South of the gap. Now this was a mistake! Usually small bays or even just closing the coast gets you out of the main tidal flow. For example if you needed to make a passage against the tide you can run along a shore in tides of less strength that out in the main flow. However what I failed to observe was the long tidal arrow through this bay marked on my chart. I was running my engine at about full revs and the sails were still pulling well, but I was still only managing about 0.5 knots in the right direction. "Little engine, don't fail me now" I prayed. I'd discovered that this bay was not the safe haven I had hoped for so headed across towards the Crinan shore, as I ferry-glided across the tidal flow my speed across the ground slowly began to increase and once I was at 3 knots I was able to throttle back the engine. I had gotten away with it! (this time).
I have to say, I have sailed around these waters many times and never experienced anything like this before, but from now on I will treat this area with a higher level of respect.
Rainbow off the end of Point of Knap

The rest of the journey was without incident, in fact quite pleasurable. I watched the sun go down, then the moon come up as I glided down the Sound of Gigha to pick up a mooring off Ardminish in the dark. Thankful of the lights provided by the Northern Lighting Board that guided my way.


If anyone out there is having trouble donating at the justgiving sites (behind company firewalls, don't trust the internet with my card details or just don't want to give that way, etc) you can mail me a cheque direct. To do this just send me an email and I'll send you the details.

Don't forget to drop me a note at onpassage@dhippey.co.uk to sign up to be informed when blog updates appear.

Please share this site with your friends and family
( Especially the rich ones :-)  )

If you came to this blog from the main website www.eventoftheyear.co.uk you will hopefully have had a look around the site and be aware of what I'm up to, both the adventure itself and the fact that I'm aiming to raise awareness of dementia in our society and to raise money for the Alzheimer's charities.
I'm doing this trip for fun and funding the trip myself, but while I'm on this venture you can do your bit to by supporting the Alzheimer's charities through either www.justgiving.com/david-hippey or www.justgiving.com/david-hippey-scotland

Catch you next time.

Regards,
David H.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Surprise! Surprise!

One thing I forgot to mention last post was my visit to the doctors in Kyle of Lochalsh, (one tries to forget these things). Due to the gammy leg still not being back to health and my supply of horse strength pills running out I had to visit the doctors again. While in the waiting room I was perusing the usual reading matter and spotted a copy of  Yachting Life. I picked this up, as usual an old copy, but on scaning the pages I came across an article about yours truly and this trip 'David Goes Over The Top'. Fame at last!  (Well something like that). Apparently most of the doctors in the practice are also sailors, so I did become a minor celebrity to the staff.

Now, where were we? Oh yes, dripping in Mallaig. Well, to meet the tide going South round Ardnamurchan Point some 23 miles away to the South West we needed to make a very early start. I left Penny in bed while I got under way. 
Departing Mallaig

Rum to the right and Eigg to the left in the early morning light behind the Sgeir Dhearg, (Red Rock) at the entrance to Mallaig Harbour

Subsequently mugs of tea, breakfast cereal and the like started to appear from the cabin, this is much better than sailing single handed I thought.

The islands that had been stolen from view last evening had been returned, now bathed in the low early morning sunlight. It was all very pretty excepting the fact that we were totally becalmed again. 
We motored on in the sunshine between the mainland shores of Arisaig and Moidart and the Small Isles of Rum, Muck and Eigg out towards the point of Ardnamurchan.
Here I must tell you that neither Penny or I had been looking forward to rounding this point because for both of us it had been on previous trips the scene where the combination of wind, tide and the Atlantic swell had produced a horrible mal-de-mer inducing sea. (I may add that Penny is not usually susceptible to this malady either). But on this occasion it was so calm that as we passed the point we were almost able to reach out and touch the sturdy rock beneath lighthouse. I never expect to be able to perform this feat again as this weather and tide combination is a very rare event.
Close in to Ardnamurchan Point


Farewell to the Western Isles, I'm now in familiar sailing territory

Today's Factoid
Ardnamurchan Point is the most Westerly point on the British mainland, jutting out into the Atlantic almost a full 20 miles further West than Lands End in Cornwall.


We spent the night in a tiny anchorage in Loch Sunart wedged between the islands of Oronsay and Carna. This is one of my favourite anchorages. Previously here we have seen seals and watched otters play. We had just settled the anchor in when another modern gaff rigged boat came out of Loch Teacuis and came over towards us. The occupants saw the graphics on Ruach’s hull and mentioned that they had read about the trip somewhere. It’s a strange feeling to be anchored in the middle of nowhere then all of a sudden to be ‘recognised!’
Sunset in Loch Sunart

Next morning we again had an early start and so glad we did as it was the best part of the day. We ghosted out of the anchorage in an eerie silence. Hardly a breath of wind, but what there was was going our way. However by the time we reached the outer end of Loch Sunart the rains came and oh how they came!. The clouds descended almost to water level, reducing visibility to a few hundred metres. I usually enjoy a trip up or down the Sound of Mull as it is fairly free of obstructions and you can sail along quite close to the shore observing the flora and fauna undisturbed; but not today, for it was a miserable trip. Damp permeating into our very being. It was grim. If I had been alone I would have found a place to anchor and sit this one out, but I had to get Penny to Oban as this was the end of her week with me.....
          ......Well I thought I was dropping her off to catch a train home, so I had started to make my plans for my ‘what next’, but Penny realising what I was up to had to ‘fess up’. She wasn’t actually catching a train home that Saturday, but was going to get a lift home with some ‘visitors’ who were coming to see me on my little trip! Who could it be? I tried to guess but drew a blank. But more of this later.

At the southern end of the Sound of Mull the cloud had lifted just a little and we were able to make out Duart Castle in the mist, then appeared Lady's Rock and the Lismore light. We were almost at the end of our days journey. Just five more miles would see us in Oban bay and into the marina on Kerrera.
Duart Castle in the mist.

Factiod  No2
Lady's Rock is a skerry to the south west of Lismore which is submerged at high tide.
In 1527, Lachlan Maclean of Duart decided to murder his wife, Lady Catherine Campbell, a sister of Archibald Campbell, 4th Earl of Argyll. He rowed out to the rock one night at low tide and left his wife stranded on the rock to die. Looking out the next day from Duart Castle he observed the rock was now empty.
He then sent a message of condolence to the earl at Inveraray Castle, indicating that he intended to bring his wife's body there for burial.
Maclean duly arrived at Inveraray with a entourage of men and the coffin. He was immediately taken to the dining hall of the castle for refreshment only to discover Lady Catherine waiting for him at the head of the table. She had been rescued during the night by a passing boat
No word was said of the incident by Argyll or his sister during the meal and Maclean was allowed to make his escape.

That evening, once we had dried out, we caught the complimentary ferry over to Oban itself to await the arrival of the mystery guests. Penny had arranged where to meet and had placed me with my back to the door, but I saw the light in Penny's eyes as 'someone' appeared in the doorway a distance behind me.
My mystery guests were not any of the locals I had tried to guess, but folk who had travelled all the way up from Derby just for the weekend, just to see me on my trip. Totally insane, but a fantastic surprise too. It was our good friends Phil and Clare.
Phil is the muso who I can blame for me bringing the Ukulele on the trip, as it was a brief discussion at their house last Christmastime that prompted me in the direction of getting a Uke to accompany me on this trip. I have to confess that two minutes of Phil playing around with my Uke the following day really did show me how bad I am playing it! Oh well.  
Left to right, Phil, Clare, Me, Penny

So, instead of putting Penny on a train home we all went for a short cruise over to Achnacroish on Lismore Island. The forecast was 'iffy' but we managed a gentle sail over in light but warm winds, but on the return trip the rain did put in an appearance, so we all went below and left Clare lashed to the helm. 
(This is not strictly true, I was actually on deck attending to the sails at this point while Penny and Phil hid below out of the weather. You just can't get the crew these days it seems!)
First Mate Clare - 'Lashed to the helm'

Kerrera Marina wins the prize for the most exotic marine growth of the whole trip. This photo shows what had attached itself to the pontoons adjacent to where I was berthed. I shudder to think what is now attached to the hull of Ruach!!!

All too soon it was time for my guests to depart. Ruach seems so empty now. 

While in Kerrera I saw the the 1930's yawl Bloodhound. This yacht was owned by the British Royal family from 1962 to 1969. It is now owned by the Britannia Trust who also own and maintain the Royal Yacht Britannia based in Leith. I couldn't get a sail aboard this beauty as she was undergoing a heart transplant following an engine failure. But I was invited aboard by James 'Tiny' Little and the rest of the crew for a mug of tea and a look around. Tiny has his own fantastic story to tell as he has completed a charity single handed row across the Atlantic. For more info see Tiny's website here
Royal Yacht - 'Bloodhound'


If anyone out there is having trouble donating at the justgiving sites (behind company firewalls, don't trust the internet with my card details or just don't want to give that way, etc) you can mail me a cheque direct. To do this just send me an email and I'll send you the details.

Don't forget to drop me a note at onpassage@dhippey.co.uk to sign up to be informed when blog updates appear.

Please share this site with your friends and family
( Especially the rich ones :-)  )

If you came to this blog from the main website www.eventoftheyear.co.uk you will hopefully have had a look around the site and be aware of what I'm up to, both the adventure itself and the fact that I'm aiming to raise awareness of dementia in our society and to raise money for the Alzheimer's charities.
I'm doing this trip for fun and funding the trip myself, but while I'm on this venture you can do your bit to by supporting the Alzheimer's charities through either www.justgiving.com/david-hippey or www.justgiving.com/david-hippey-scotland

Catch you next time.

Regards,
David H.



Thursday, 18 August 2011

Can We Fix It? Yes We Can!

Our splendid mooring on the pontoon at Kyle of Lochalsh

On return from our unsuccessful but delightful sojourn to Portree to obtain parts for our dead engine we arrived back at Kyle of Lochalsh about 4.30pm, with the promise of having to do it all again tomorrow to collect the parts ordered.

The main character of this post - Ruach's Engine

The engine installed in Ruach is not the usual diesel engine fitted by Cornish Crabbers, but an RCA Dolphin, a novel two cylinder petrol engine that has no gearbox. To go astern, you have to stop the engine, pause, then physically start the engine in reverse. This is accomplished by having two complete ignition circuits, one for each cylinder plus a set of changeover solenoids. Each circuit is made up of a coil, a condenser and a set of points. In Ruach the points are totally inaccessible without removing the engine from the boat, so I really hoped that my diagnosis of coil or condenser was correct! The parts are similar to what used to be installed many old cars such as a Mini, Morris Minor, MG etc. So on the off chance I went to the local filling station to see if they could throw any light on finding a replacement part to prove my theory today rather than wait for tomorrows delivery to Portree and trip to recover said parts. On the way to the filling station, in total disbelief, I spied a car hire and parts shop so enquired within. 
Again accompanied by a whistling through the teeth I was told that there is no call for these parts anymore. However being a helpful guy he did tell me that up the road towards Plockton there was another garage whose proprietor used to run about in old cars like a Mk1 Jaguar a few years back. So off I now trotted (Time was getting late) to this further recommendation. When I arrived, panting from my uphill exertion, I was told by the receptionist that the guy I needed was unavailable at the moment but would be back soon. While I waited another employee saw me and asked what I wanted, I regaled the full storey to the accompaniment of more whistling through the teeth. “We had a store room full of those until last year” I was told. “We cleared them out and dumped the lot”, “No call for them anymore”. Things were looking grim. Then he said ”Let’s take a look out back”, which was actually out front, across the road in a small’ish walled enclosure where it looked like someone was carrying out some small time scrapping/salvage work.
Amongst the old washing machines that were being stripped down was a few old cars. He looked under the bonnet of all the four cars, most had no engine, but in the third the engine was in place, but no coil. However there was a condenser. The guy needed to go back to the workshop to get a cross head screwdriver to remove it and while he was gone I took a look around and low and behold I spied a coil laying on the passenger seat of an ancient Austin 1300. Was it a good one or a faulty one that had been discarded?
As mine is a charity venture he let me have the recycled parts for free in the hope that they did some good.

Back at the boat I installed just the coil and……..
                                ……..success! 
We now had two cylinders purring away once again under the cockpit floor!

I still had to obtain the parts ordered from Portree and was not really looking forward to wasting yet another day doing the round trip. The irony was that the van with the parts would pass within 200 metres of where I was moored, but the driver could only deliver to the shop some thirty’odd miles away. But this is where things finally went in my favour. The following morning Julian from Skye Auto Spares rang at 9.30 when the the parts should have arrived to be told there had been a mix up and the parts were not in his early morning delivery. However the new courier COULD drop the parts off on his way through if I could flag him down at an agreed meeting place. This was done and just before noon I had the replacement parts and by mid-afternoon we were off with the tide sluicing us through Kyle Rea into the Sound of Sleat. Once again Ruach was travelling faster than her maximum speed at 10knots with a huge kick in the pants from the tide.

As a side note, as I walked back down the jetty at Kyle of Lochalsh clutching my batch of automotive spare parts I heard someone call “Dave!” which I thought at the time, that’s my name, but no one round here knows me. Only to realise that the skipper of one of the charter boats was no other than professional Yachtmaster Instructor Alison “Archie” Gemmel who I knew from her previous life in a financial institution. It was great to catch up with her again.

But back to the sailing, Penny, Ruach and Me sailed down the Sound of Sleat in winds changing from light to medium to non-existant and from broad reaching to close hauled as we cruised on towards Mallaig. We spied several porpoise in the sound, but all proved too elusive to the camera. We only had chance to spy into Loch Hourn and Loch Nevis as time was now short, but these looked spectacular with the mountainous peaks rising out of the sides of the Lochs. These delights will have to wait for another trip.
As we passed Ardvasar on the Sleat peninsular the skies ahead got blacker and blacker, but we managed to avoid the majority of the rain until a couple of miles from Mallaig. The vista all around went misty, then land disappeared. On with the waterproofs as an almost tropical storm discharged its load on us. We were looking forward to berthing at the newly installed pontoons in Mallaig harbour and a quick run ashore for a fish supper, but alas it was not to be. The pontoons were still not in commission. (They were supposed to be available from May this year) so we headed for a visitors mooring buoy, and managed to snaffle the last one available before disappearing below to the hot feast Penny had prepared.
A disappearing view across to the entrance of Loch Nevis just as we were about to enter Mallaig

Today's Factoid
Julian from Skye Auto Spares father-in-law played the classic Bass Trombone part for the soundtrack of the James Bond film Goldfinger. He also played for films such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Fiddler on the Roof & 633 Squadron and well as playing on live shows such as Opportunity Knocks.

Again the poor t'internet connection here has robbed you of more pictures of the engine, faulty coil and replacement parts, plus lots of pictures of 'no horizon' in the pouring rain. I bet you are sooooo disappointed! 
I can't wait to get back to real connectivity!!

If anyone out there is having trouble donating at the justgiving sites (behind company firewalls, don't trust the internet with my card details or just don't want to give that way, etc) you can mail me a cheque direct. To do this just send me an email and I'll send you the details.

Don't forget to drop me a note at onpassage@dhippey.co.uk to sign up to be informed when blog updates appear.

Please share this site with your friends and family
( Especially the rich ones :-)  )

If you came to this blog from the main website www.eventoftheyear.co.uk you will hopefully have had a look around the site and be aware of what I'm up to, both the adventure itself and the fact that I'm aiming to raise awareness of dementia in our society and to raise money for the Alzheimer's charities.
I'm doing this trip for fun and funding the trip myself, but while I'm on this venture you can do your bit to by supporting the Alzheimer's charities through either www.justgiving.com/david-hippey or www.justgiving.com/david-hippey-scotland

Catch you next time.

Regards,
David H.




Saturday, 13 August 2011

All aboard! Ruach has guests

For those of you that have been following this blog for a while you will remember that I have been accepting rides on other boats wherever possible. It's not that I like other boats better than my own, but I like to share the sailing experience. Well today I get to return that favour and take someone else out in Ruach.
In my last update I mentioned that I wanted to get somewhere accessible so that I could meet up with someone, well this is why.
There are two people in particular I hold responsible for me making this trip. The first being my mother-in-law, because it was she who gave me a book called Blazing Paddles following it's serialisation on Radio 4's book at bedtime. It is a thoroughly good read and I recommend it, but don't blame me for the consequences :-)
The second person has to be the author of that book. A chap called Brian Wilson (No, this one doesn't sing). The book recounts his adventure of paddling a sea kayak from the English/Scottish boarder on the West coast, over the top of our island to the similar demarcation in the East.
In a chance encounter on the internet while doing some research for my trip I found an email address for Brian, so pinged him off an email with the tongue-in-cheek title of 'It's all your fault', outlining what I was intending to do. Brian read the mail and responded with "Anti-clockwise! - Brave man!!" "Give me a call when you get round to the NW - maybe I could hitch aboard for a day and take the blame for setting you off on such a madcap venture!"
Sheildaig

So this is my reason for being here in Sheildaig, Loch Torridon. Meeting Brian had been my main reason for heading initially to Ullapool, but due to other commitments we were unable to meet up there, so the next spot was here in Loch Torridon before I headed off out of range.
Brian Wilson - Author of Blazing Paddles

The weather forecasters had deemed this to be a 'no wind' day, so instead of going for a sail it looked like we were going for a motor around the Loch. Oh well, that gave us time to chat. Brian is an interesting guy with many stories to tell, we motored out of Loch Shieldaig into Loch Torridon then, still in Loch Torridon, round into Loch Diabaig.
Loch Torridon

More Loch Torridon

I asked him what made him inclined to come out for a sail with this guy he had never met, his response was "I get people occasionally contacting me about my books, some telling me how bad they are, others commenting on how inspiring they are, that they would like to do something similar, but then give all the reasons why because of the dog, the wife, the kids or whatever they could not take their own journey", "Where as I had been inspired and was out there making it happen". I took that a quite a complement. 
While out there the wind began to blow, so finally off with the engine and up with the sails. We ran back into Sheildaig while I prepared lunch (alas the bacon was off). We then went into Upper Loch Torridon where Brian was able to show me the first hill that his father had taken him hill walking up at the reluctant age of 11. 
Brian's 'first hill'

Upper Loch Torridon

The wind continued to fill and before long I had to take down the topsail as we tacked out through the narrows back into Loch Sheildaig. So much for the 'No wind forecast'.
Brian confessed to not really sailing before our trip, but he was excellent on the helm.
Loch Torridon and especially Upper Loch Torridon is a spectacular place to sail.

Alas all to quickly 5pm came round so it was time for Brian to head off. This for me had been one of those special memorable days that will stick with me for a long time.
A final wave before heading off

So what next. Do I moor up for the night or head a bit further South as I was planned to meet another very special person at four o'clock the following day in Kyle of Lochalsh. The forecast for tomorrow was again a no wind day and it is about 28 miles to Kyle of Lochalsh. I didn't fancy having to motor all the way tomorrow when I had a bunch of wind here with me just now, so I headed out of Loch Sheildaig into Loch Torridon for a final time tacking into the Westerly breeze, then headed South with the tide down the Inner Sound.
The wind finally blew itself out after around ten miles. The following day the breeze was only forecast to be a light Easterly. So I dropped my hook in the dark at Applecross. This is not a recommended overnight stopping place, but in the conditions, with my anchor light aglow, proved more than adequate.

I am pleased that I had gone this far as when I woke the next day the water was an absolute glass calm, I started the motor and headed on South. Only about 11 miles to go. Blisteringly hot in the sunshine, two and a half easy hours of puttering, plenty of time to get a shower, do some shopping and still have time to meet Penny, my wife off the train from Inverness. Even if the wind failed to materialise.....
                .....or so I thought.
After only 4.5 miles of puttering, the puttering putted less and less. I suspected I was running out of fuel, but a quick dip of the tank confirmed still a quarter tank. I checked for blockages, nothing found. Then I tried testing the sparkie side of the engine. All was well on the front cylinder, but a very poor spark was found on the rear one. So I drifted a bit, sailed a bit, coasted a bit and sailed a bit more all while being roasted under the noonday sun. At one point I lay under my light coloured cotton bed sheet in the cockpit to escape the heat. Time ticked on.... and on. I eventually received a txt that Penny could see yachts in the distance as the railway line follows the coast and that she could even see one with tan sails like ours. Erm, 'that will be me then' I informed her.
Through catching the odd zephyr of a breeze and the odd nudge of the tide in the right direction I was able to sneak under the bridge at Kyle before dowsing most of my sail and ghosting into a fairly full pontoon under just jib alone, furling that at the last possible moment before stepping ashore with my lines. It all looked very professional. But I was doing a great impression of a swan, cool calm and collected above the water, but paddling like mad below. You could almost smell the adrenalin. I'd managed about 6.5 miles in 4 hours, with a lot of open water and a fairly small bridge as a target. Finally mooring my boat down-tide on a short pontoon with my ram rod of a bowsprit getting ever closer to the bows of the boat moored in front.

After much testing and head scratching I diagnosed that either a coil or condenser had failed for the rear cylinder, but where to get a new one fast? The engine manufacturer is still in existence, but as luck would have it they were on holiday this week. After asking around I was told there was an excellent spares shop in Portree on Skye that covered cars, tractors and just about anything mechanical. So the following day Penny and me took a bus excursion to Portree. However on showing Julian the parts I needed there was much sucking of teeth. 'Not stocked those for years mate' however I can get you one for tomorrow.
       .....But more of that next post.

All over my charts I keep seeing the word Bogha which I am told is Gaelic for a sunken rock or a rock that is just awash. As Gaelic is a spoken language rather than a written one I wonder if this was the expletive used when someone found a new one? Oh Bogha! :-)
(Before any Gaelic speakers phone-in I'd just like to point out that I am aware of the a correct pronunciation for this. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story)


If anyone out there is having trouble donating at the justgiving sites (behind company firewalls, don't trust the internet with my card details or just don't want to give that way, etc) you can mail me a cheque direct. To do this just send me an email and I'll send you the details.

Don't forget to drop me a note at onpassage@dhippey.co.uk to sign up to be informed when blog updates appear.

Please share this site with your friends and family
( Especially the rich ones :-)  )

If you came to this blog from the main website www.eventoftheyear.co.uk you will hopefully have had a look around the site and be aware of what I'm up to, both the adventure itself and the fact that I'm aiming to raise awareness of dementia in our society and to raise money for the Alzheimer's charities.
I'm doing this trip for fun and funding the trip myself, but while I'm on this venture you can do your bit to by supporting the Alzheimer's charities through either www.justgiving.com/david-hippey or www.justgiving.com/david-hippey-scotland

Catch you next time.

Regards,
David H.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Loch Ewe to Torridon

I awoke in the bay at Aultbea, Loch Ewe, to a strange muffled silence. I looked out to see, ...well, not a lot really. It was foggy. The first I had encountered on this trip. There were just a few grey outlines around the edge of the bay. So in true seaman fashion I turned over and had another snooze.
Come mid morning the sun had burned off the mist and replaced it with a fine drizzle. But as I had some distance to cover I donned waterproof jacket made a start. I had made plans to meet someone the following day, so wanted to get to a location that would be reasonably easy for him to get to. This was strange for me on this trip, having deadlines to meet! the beauty of this trip so far as been no deadlines. Sail when I see fit, when the wind and the weather allow, rather than having to go whatever.

I made my way tacking out of the loch passing the island mentioned previously, the gloriously named Isle of Ewe. (Did you say it out loud to someone? Go on, I dare you). There was a large coastguard vessel moored in the loch. It can be difficult to ascertain if these guys are actually at anchor or not because they tend to anchor by the stern (back) rather than the bows (pointy bit) and they keep their huge engines running 24x7. However he was stationary so I was able to tack quite close under his bows.
Coastguard at anchor in Loch Ewe

To keep to time I needed to use my engine to assist the sailing as the winds were light and I needed to make the headland at Rubha Reidh before the tide turned.

Rubha Reidh Light

With it's usual form as soon as I had rounded the point the wind died away completely and I was left to motor for quite a while before the wind returned as I passed Loch Gairloch. On rounding Rubha Reidh I got my first sight of Skye, grey in the distance.
A first glimpse of Skye

I was tempted to call it a night by the time I reached Gairloch, but with the returned wind I pressed on to my intended destination in Loch Torridon, well actually in Loch Shieldaig which is inside Loch Torridon. Strangely Upper Loch Torridon lies off of Loch Shieldaig.
Somewhere between Loch Gairloch and Loch Torridon the sun set. This was going to be a late finish for me! I finally wound up anchoring close to the village of Sheildaig, tucked away behind it and an island covered densely with Scots pines. It was so quiet here the silence almost hurt your ears. But the downside of this windless peace was my first encounter with the Scottish midge. Just a minor skermish, but maybe a warning of battles to come!

Todays Factoid

Rubha Reidh means Smooth Headland in Gaelic. It is a prominent point jutting out into The Minch about halfway between Stoer Head and the Isle of Skye.
The building of a lighthouse was first proposed by David Stevenson, a cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson in 1853 but, with familiar emphasis on economy, the Board of Trade refused to approve the proposed expenditure of £5,000.
Finally, in May 1908, the Board of Trade sanctioned the expenditure of £14,900 It opened in 1912, but until the road was built in 1962 the only access to the lighthouse was by sea.


If anyone out there is having trouble donating at the justgiving sites (behind company firewalls, don't trust the internet with my card details or just don't want to give that way, etc) you can mail me a cheque direct. To do this just send me an email and I'll send you the details.


Don't forget to drop me a note at onpassage@dhippey.co.uk to sign up to be informed when blog updates appear.

Please share this site with your friends and family
( Especially the rich ones :-)  )

If you came to this blog from the main website www.eventoftheyear.co.uk you will hopefully have had a look around the site and be aware of what I'm up to, both the adventure itself and the fact that I'm aiming to raise awareness of dementia in our society and to raise money for the Alzheimer's charities.
I'm doing this trip for fun and funding the trip myself, but while I'm on this venture you can do your bit to by supporting the Alzheimer's charities through either www.justgiving.com/david-hippey or www.justgiving.com/david-hippey-scotland

Catch you next time.

Regards,
David H.