Lochinver to Loch Gairloch

 

After another day waiting for some winds not gusting up to gale force we finally leave Lochinver after lunch on Wednesday, with the promise of lightening winds as the day wears on. The forecast is for F5 or F6 from the south or south-west and  it promises to be a slog into a headwind all the way. Not normally something we look forward to, but our wives are on their way to Kyle…

As it turns out the wind rarely goes below 6 and is often up to near gale. We register some gusts across the deck of 34kts …that’s definitely a gale. The seas are short and steep as we suspected after a few days of SW winds and the headlands prove to be a little unpleasant. Heydays handles the confusion brilliantly with only a few waves bringing us almost to a standstill. We are hunkered down inside the sprayhood and keep warm and toasty while watching for the inevitable pot-buoys.

The only other boat we see is a Cal Mac Ferry out of Ullapool, heading we presume for the so far invisible outer Hebrides.

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Before we round Rubha Reidh headland we get some respite from the waves and make some soup and sandwiches for lunch. Even out here we mange some olive-oil drizzling!! With food comes a bit of sun and our first sighting of Skye in the distant gloom. As we turn due south the wind has eased and Heydays begins eating into the miles.

All of a sudden there is a splash beside us and soon a school of dolphins is accompanying Heydays south. They are playing in and out of our bow wave, sometimes diving beneath the boat and at others just leaping as if for the pure pleasure of a fast ride. So much has been written by sailors about dolphins and so many clichés pressed into action, but everyone of them is true. They truly are magnificent and lift our spirits for the rest of the day.

In a while they tire of playing with us and head off, presumably in search of either faster boats or more fish or both. With the seas and wind easing steadily we take the inner route to Loch Gairloch past Longa Island and on to Badachro in the last of the evening light.

We pick up a mooring buoy, still buzzing from our encounter with the dolphins, but decide on an early start and so sadly don’t go ashore this time, but as the sun sets and the long northern twilight takes over, we can’t help but be spell bound by the beauty of the Loch and the long dark shadows creeping over from the craggy mountains. We have a smidgeon of phone signal and a brief chat with Yee Tak and Chris who are getting slowly pickled in the bar of the Euston to Inverness sleeper as they speed North to Kyle…

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