Today we head for Mallaig, via the Kyle of Lochalsh and through Kyle Rhea, (The Narrows) and into the Sound of Sleat. As we must work the tide through The Narrows, we set off later than usual, and after a leisurely breakfast of bacon, beans and sweet tea, we round the corner into Kyle Akin, past the light house into Loch Alsh, and turn south to enter the narrows just as the tide is beginning to run. We fly through, and come out on the other side like a 'cork out of a bottle'.
Immediately, we notice a very strong wind blowing straight down the Sound; force six gusting seven, with a big sea running. All the portents of a rough ride ahead. I take two reefs in the main and start tacking backwards and forwards across the Sound. When we reach the Sandaig Islands at the mouth of Loch Hourn, the wind has reached full gale and the seas are enormous, so I decide to sail in behind Isle Ornsay for shelter. Taking one last big tack, I fly in behind Ornsay, and once in the shelter of the promontory the wind drops immediately to nothing. I drift gently forwards and in three fathoms anchor, where the water is so clear I can see the chain lying on the bottom.
Looking back into the sound I see the maelstrom still blows, and I can hear and see the running seas breaking and tumbling over, as they are driven into the narrowing gap between the Sandaig Islands and the Skye shore. I am reminded of the occasion when a fisherman called, Tex Geddies, at the time involved with Gavin Maxwell's shark fishing enterprise, was nearly drowned under the same conditions, at exactly the same spot that I have just left.
I wait two hours, and in that time the wind blows itself out. I up anchor and head for Mallaig.
What's this coming towards me? Good lord, it's the Marquis of Bute's elegant Edwardian style motor yacht, skipper at the wheel dressed in navy blue and yachting cap, and on the fore deck sitting in a deck chair, his passenger reading a newspaper. Where are they going, this elegant pair? They must have sheltered in Mallaig during the blow and now are making for Broadford or Portree. I give them a wave and a wave is returned. I continue on, arriving in Mallaig in the late evening, after an uneventful trip from Isle Ornsay.
Mallaig is small, but very busy, with fishing boats of all sizes coming and going at all hours of the day and night. I decide to anchor well away from the pier and opposite Hendersons', The Shipbuilders, Slip. I feel so tired after my battle with the elements today that I decide to go below and lie on my bunk.
I must have fallen asleep, I'm awake and it's dark. I look outside and see the fish pier all lit up like Blackpool Illuminations, with fishing boats queuing up to unload their catch. And all this at midnight! There are two large trawlers, owned by the Manson family, just leaving. No doubt they will be heading north for the fishing grounds between the Shetlands and Iceland. What a life!
I return below and make sandwiches and tea, listen to the twelve, thirty three shipping forecast - Malin, Hebrides, winds light, force three, barometer 1027 steady. I climb into my bunk, and fall asleep for the second time today.
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