No alarms, no rush to get going, just a leisurely breakfast and sunrise over the loch. After a few bits of paperwork brought from home and a bit of postcard writing, we trundle ashore in the dinghy to post stuff.
We avoid putting Miss Naughty stamps on the official bits (although it might suit our solicitor) but hope the grandchildren will appreciate them. The charm of the village in the morning is even more apparent and the gardens are awash with flowers and even some palms scattered around. But one local’s “…more palms than Morocco” is probably not strictly accurate. This is all such a contrast with the starkness of Orkney and Cape Wrath just a few hours sailing north.
Inside the little bay, all is glassy calm with just a mere hint of breeze and by lunchtime we let go of the mooring and nose out into the loch itself. A south westerly is enough to get the sails up and the motor shut down and Heydays heads north once more, but this time just exploring and no pressure for passage making. We’re in no hurry and just as well, as the wind dies down to a zephyr. We’re lounging around in the sun in T- shirts and we drift past the submarine exercise area control base. Two typhoon jets shatter the peace as they roar down the Minch seemingly just above the waves, before banking steeply and rising fast over the mountains. The peace descends once more but now the wind has gone entirely and we reluctantly put the engine on even if only to be able to steer. With Rona on the beam and the entrance to Loch Torridon opening up the wind returns. This time a chilly one from the north, bringing clouds and some rain. We have gone from dead clam and T-shirts to stiff breeze and full wet-weather gear in 10 minutes…but at least we are sailing again. Somehow it seems right to be sailing up such a beautiful loch rather than just burning diesel.
We’re aiming for Sheildag but there is some confusion about whether there are visitor moorings or whether we will need to anchor. We get everything ready as we reluctantly lose the sails and motor once more. Cautiously we peer around for some vacant mooring buoys and hopefully pick up an orange one. The line keeps coming and coming however and we decide that it would be prudent to avoid relying on a lobster pot to hold us securely. We decide that there is enough water for us to get into the other side of the bay without having to go back and round the island and a seal lounging on the rocks seems to be just waiting for us to go aground.
He’s disappointed. There is a large yacht on the end of the visitor pontoon (pick-up only, no overnight stays…more later) but there is a large friendly yellow buoy a little further on. We start to get closer to it to see if it is a visitor buoy, but get shouted at for our pains by people on the big yacht. Its theirs! So, anchoring it is. Our first attempt doesn’t hold and a huge lump of kelp comes up with the anchor. The next attempt is good and we can rest easy for the night.
Grump alert!! We take the dinghy ashore to the pub for some food, but we have forgotten that we are now in tourist land on a Friday night and it is booked. We ask if there is anywhere else to eat and are firmly told that there isn’t. The staff are less than friendly and it is clear that we should have known to book. We are slightly grumpy that the folk from the boat on the end of the pontoon (no overnight mooring) walk in and on to a table. We wander off round the village and ask another couple passing if there is anywhere else. “Try the hotel” they suggest. This is next door to the pub and they have a table (several in fact). The young woman serving is very friendly and then it turns out that the pub and the hotel have the same kitchen…and the same food! A glass of wine and the grumpiness melts away and we make our way back to the dinghy past the boat still on the end of the pontoon (no overnight mooring) and past the still empty mooring buoy. Grumpiness returns in the morning when the boat is still firmly on the pontoon and the buoy is still empty. We think about rafting up noisily next to them to get water but they are gone by the time we get up. Just as well, we are not going let a few people spoil the beauty of this place.