Craobh Haven

Kincsem has now arrived in Craobh (pronounced “Croove”) Haven where she will be for the winter.   Cruising the inner Hebrides has been very enjoyable and comfortable with little wind and waves and a commodity sometimes in short supply in Scotland:  sunshine!

Loch Scavaig, one of the most dramatic anchorages on Mull

On Eigg, one of the small isles, with its characteristic shark fin

I cruised these parts before - in 1976 with my parents when we transited the Caladonia Canal from the East Coast to Fort Williams on the West Coast – via Loch Ness.  

My parents’ Salaminia II on Loch Ness in 1976

I remember anchoring in Tobermory on Mull next to a fishing trawler converted to a motor yacht, which had a large canvas covered object on its deck.  One day, they weighed anchor and went to the dock and the object was revealed as a Fiat 500, which they unloaded with their own loading crane!  Nowadays, anchoring in Tobermory harbor is no longer possible as there is a large “marina” and many moorings.  When we approached the marina dock, our lines were taken by an older-looking gentlemen who mentioned that he had seen our Ocean Cruising Club burgee.  It turns out, we were assisted by OCC royalty:  Ian Nicholson, a founding member of the club who started ocean cruising in 1950 – he is 96 years old and still cruising and racing now!  To become a full member of the OCC, one has to sail non-stop for at least 1,000 miles over ocean waters. Ian’s qualifying voyage in 1952 was 34 days non-stop from Panama to San Francisco in a heavy steel ketch.   The morning after they had anchored in Richardson Bay in front of Sausalito, they were approached by another sailboat who was looking for crew for a race that day.  Ian got recruited and very much enjoyed racing on the Bay!   Those were not the only stories he and his family crew shared over a wee dram! 

One of our key objectives was to tour as many whiskey distilleries as possible. Tobermory has a whiskey distillery and we made reservations to do the tour the next evening.  Unfortunately, the night before at the dock was not so pleasant because of some swell in the bay so when the swell was still there the next afternoon, we ditched our reservation and left the dock to anchor in a protected side arm of the bay.  In Oban, another chance but all the tours were booked – bummer.  But we got to sample 4 different whiskeys in the tasting room of the Oban Distillery.  We will need to come back next year to finish the unfinished business!

Scenic Tobermory

Passing Duart Castle on the way to Oban

Genuine Highland Cow on Kerrera

Hike to Gylen Castle on Kerrera

I am working hard at getting Kincsem ready for the winter.  With the assistance of some helpful men (from Owen Sails), I managed to get the sails off quickly and in the sunshine.  As we are tied up to a 23 m long dock, it is very easy to roll sails, wash halyards and sheets and other items, a luxury we’ve not had in prior seasons.    A long list of jobs remains  - doing a lot of laundry, servicing the engine and generator, uninstalling the water maker control board and sending it for service, replacing gaskets for the hatch for the aft lazarette which is leaking, adjusting the stuffing box for the rudder, taking off the outboard from the dinghy and prepping it for the winter, installing the cover for the dinghy, installing all the winter covers for the masts, furlers and deck hatches, cleaning the interior, ordering necessary repair jobs and setting up the batteries for the winter.  All sounds easy but never is!  The challenge will be to get the list of to do items to get shorter every day as too often more work items get discovered than get knocked off the list! 

On the school bus to Oban to pick up my rental car

Craobh Haven – for the winter, the yard will tie the boat between the two finger docks and also tie a bow line to the mooring seen here – aligning Kincsem perfectly into the prevailing SW-erly winds

The control panel of the water maker is out – 4 hours of work!

Not all is work in Craobh Haven.  The Lord of the Isles, the local pub, is conveniently located …..

It’s been a great season with over 4,000 miles sailed in 70 days.  I had 20 different crew to share the experience of this fabulous Viking Cruise!    I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did!