The dangers of helming a sailboat

Our stay in Tayvallich was really pleasant, with a good cross section of what Scotland has to offer, with a misty morning followed by a quiet sunrise, then glorious sun shine. However, the owner of the mooring ball was returning, so it was time to move on. With no sailing on offer we decided to go check out the Fairy Isles, an anchorage that is just around the corner from Tayvallich, we had been there before but last time we had cut our stay short, because we realised that we had left Beverley's bag miles away, so this time we wanted to see what was so magical about the place. So it was a quick motor, to the anchorage.

While we were setting the anchor, Beverley showed me how she used the ranging rings on the chart plotter, to decide where to drop the anchor.

  • Set the ranging ring to either the scope you want to drop or slightly larger than that
  • Make sure that the 2m contour is outside of your ranging ring
  • Not all locations have a 2m contour, so use a slightly larger ranging ring and make sure that nothing dries within the ring
  • Estimate range on other objects such as buoys. One way to do this is sail close and change direction, then use your own track as the marker to the buoy

Another little tip that I shared was the fact that we put a light on above the anchor relay switch to achieve two things

  • The switch allows us to see what we are doing, because we have a black switch on a black background
  • The light reminds us that the anchor relay is armed so once we have deactivated the anchor relay, we switch of the light

We really liked the Fairy Isles as an anchorage, it was lovely and quiet, and it is a great place to explore when the tide is high as you can explore all of the little islands by dinghy at that time. It is also close enough to Tayvallich that if you wanted to get supplies then you could go by dinghy. However we had gone through all our supplies of coffee, gluten free bread and a few other things that are difficult to get outside of a large supermarket, so it was time to hit the shops and in Scotland in that area that means Oban.

On the day of departure, it decided to rain, but it soon cleared and we were off motoring down Loch Sween. The reason that we were motoring was because, the weather was going to be coming from the North, the next day and seeing as neither of us wanted, wind over tide in an area where the tide can reach 7knots, we decided that we would rather motor than face that prospect.

As we reached the bottom of Loch Sween, I had to navigate through the passage between the Island of Danna and Corr Elean, a passage that looks fairly straight forward but still required some navigating, which meant that I had to be on the helm when it started to rain. So one of the many dangers of helming a sailboat, is that it can rain when you are in that position and that means you will get wet. For Beverley who was on sheets that day, she hid under the canopy. We did get some sail action after the rain, but that to was short lived.

As we reached the mouth of the Gulf of Corryvreckan the tidal stream really affected our speed, which varied between 6.8, 7 all the way down to 6, with one section at 8.8 knots. As the stream was going into The Gulf, at one point Salty Lass was pointing at least 45° away from Scarba, but our track was towards Scarba, which is why I was having to do some serious ferry gliding. Once we were beyond the grasp of The Gulf, we soon entered the tide and overfalls that are the main feature of the Sound of Luing. The patterns on the surface of the water are really beautiful with whirlpools, eddies and overfalls. This particular tidal stream really pushed Salty Lass through, with us clocking 11.4 knots at one point, but when the flow went between the the light houses our speed dropped to 7knots. It is certainly a place that you need to keep your concentration up, because at one point Beverley asked me a question and all of a sudden we were in the grip of a whirlpool because I had lost concentration on what I was doing.

After the Sound of Luing, it was a motor all the way to Oban, where we decided to go to the transit marina. In the transit marina I had a few manoeuvrers to make because the first pontoon I went to had no electric, so Beverley had to loosen the lines and I had to go to a finger pontoon, where there was electric. I have to say I handled myself pretty well, certainly no cock ups, so in settled weather I am great. Just need a few more bad weather situations before I will class myself competent.

Oban is a great marina for food shopping and Laundry services, fuel is at Kerrera, the marina on the other side of Oban Bay and the local chandler is now closed.

Raising money for the RNLI

The RNLI turned 200 years old on 4th March 2024. So as sailors and people who promote the joy of sailing, we thought that we would like to raise just £200. What we hope is that other people take up the shout and raise their own £200. In the last 200 years the RNLI have saved over 144,000 lives and yet they are funded entirely by people like you. They are not government funded.

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