Wednesday was a repeat of our journey here to Dunstaffnage from the Caledonian Canal…. cold, gloomy, grey and lots and lots of rain. Brother John had sent a message …. having read something about the marina at Dunstaffnage … to quote John … “a 5 star berthing facility, enjoy”.
T went for his shower early Wednesday morning…. along with a number of fellow sailors. Very impressive, shiny and modern facilities… showers, toilets, family bathroom etc etc… at first glance… a welcome respite from the Scottish Waterways out dated and sparse provision on the Caledonian Canal.
Undressed, stepped into shower…. tried all the possible tap configurartions…. no hot water! Then dressed and went to wash basins to shave…. no hot water. Checked with the other three sailors in the other showers…. definitely no hot water. Lots of grumpy mutterings about the berthing fee and the failure to provide hot water in the facilities. So definitely not a “five star berthing facility”.
Spent the morning doing the laundry…. basically getting all the wet clothes dry from yesterdays sail down from Banavie. Then into the business with the office as to whether we would have to move the boat.
On arrival Tuesday afternoon, we had noticed that many berths had nameplates attached to the adjacent pontoon…. and in particular ours on the outer breakwater… the name “St. Hilda” was writ large. The lady in reception finally settled the issue for Wednesday by informing us that St. Hilda would not be returning until Thursday. Thus we stayed put on a “blow off berth” at the outer edge of the marina…. so in the full force of the south westerly wind.
At 5pm ….. a weather break…. the rain stopped… so we walked into the
village of Dunbeg…
about half a mileaway along the very busy A828 Oban to Fort William road. Looked around the Premier Stores shop which was open until 10pm… a few folk inside buying lottery tickets. On the walk back we got caught in a heavy down pour…. so just happened to be passing the “Wide Mouth Frog” hotel cum pub cum restaurant… so went in and had a welcome evening meal… and watched the rain continue in swathes as it crossed the bay.
Wednesday night was wild! The wind screamed and the rain hammered down. Fortunately the bows were pointing into the wind so the aft cabin where we were, did not experience the “slapping” as we call it… caused by the small waves coming under the stern and breaking on the rudders and underside of the transom.
There had been a red line and a strong wind warning out for Wednesday. Thursday was no different…. force 7 winds and heavy rain. So Thursday arrived with screaming banshees in the rigging. It was a horrible morning.
At 9am we were told we would have to move Poli Poli as St. Hilda was returning at 12 noon. Fortunately I liaised with one of the young guys who worked in the marina… Jack. He had taken our lines when we first arrived on Tuesday afternoon.
We agreed to wait for a “lull” in the wind speeds… Poli Poli had already recorded speeds of up to 30 knots that morning… Force 6 plus on the Beaufort scale. The weather pattern that morning was…. a heavy rain shower would be preceeded by a sudden gust and an increase in wind speed…. which once the rain had started, the wind would abate somewhat. Then a lull and then the cycle would be repeated.
Poli Poli was prepped as per the routine for going to sea. At about 11.15am the lull occurred during a heavy downpour…. so we moved the boat and moored behind two huge Discovery yachts on the inside of the breakwater…. but unfortunately, stern to wind. Jack was excellent in taking the lines and quickly cleating off midships and stern. Poli Poli was safe. Margaret remained downstairs in the saloon with “eyes closed” ( quote from M’s travel diary ).
Photo ….Poli Poli on her new berth, the inside of the breakwater . Look at the skies.
Whilst putting the cockpit tent up…. in wet oilies…. we watched the arrival of St. Hilda at about 12.15pm…. it turned out to be a small coaster which operates as a tourist wildlife spotting boat for six paying passengers…. and very expensive it is too. We spoke to one of the passengers, a lady from Whitstable in Kent….who told us they had been to Skye, Eigg and Rhum and had viewed many varieties of wild life….. a six day trip.
St. Hilda arriving on her outer breakwater Berth12.15pm.
To celebrate our successful move, we adjourned to the Frog pub for lunch… our main meal of the day. As we walked along the pontoon, the “move the boat” problem having been resolved….almost as a reward for our endeavours….. we got absolutely soaked with a huge deluge. From the boat to any kind of shelter, along and off the pontoons, is over 2,000 steps…. so caught out as we were, M and T arrived at the pub looking like drowned rats. Starting to “loathe” this part of Scotland for this continual rain, wind…. and bearing in mind it is mid- August…. the cold!
On the way back to the boat…. checked on the “five star luxury”…. a notice had been pinned up on all the doors in the facilities… ” we have called in a plumber…. now we have to call in an electrician…. sorry no hot water in showers and basins.”
Not a great night on our new berth… the “slapping” on the stern was worse as a consequence of the boat now pointing the other way…. stern to wind. The wind joined in …. howling and in heavy bursts, the incessant rain hammered down.
Ever since Margaret and Christine got off the train from Glasgow in Oban…. on the 27th July…. three weeks ago today to join Poli Poli on Kerrera Island…. it has rained on most days, temperatures have been below average and on many occasions, there have been strong wind warnings published by the Met Office. Over the 83 days of the circumnavigation to date, we have not experienced such a long sequence of poor weather conditions.
Each day continues in the same vein…. strong winds and rain. We have had a series of deep depressions forming way out in the Atlantic bringing low pressure cells to north west Scotland, whilst much of the remainder of the country enjoys high pressure and much more seasonal weather including the heat wave. So three weeks of quite awful weather… day by day.
The forecasts today continue with strong wind warnings and heavy rain. We are even now being warned that the remnants of a tropical storm may be arriving in north west Scotland sometime over the coming weekend.
Today, Friday…. after a bad night… we find that the hot water problem has been resolved… so the notices were removed…. and what do we discover…. luke warm, tepid water temperatures in the showers and wash basins. Nowhere near the five star luxury that is promised in all the advertising literature.
This afternoon we caught a taxi into Oban…. in the rain of course… the taxi was a Merc “E” class, 220 saloon ( good ) driven by a guy from Poland. The taxi back to the marina was a Merc “E” class 220 estate ( to carry our Tesco shopping ), driven by a guy from Hungary.
Apart from visiting Boots, WH Smith and finally Tescos… we had a nice lunch at our favourite seafood restaurant at North Pier in Oban. We reported on this establishment in a previous blog… when we were “weather bound” first time round in the wet, wet, rainy, rainy Oban. Nothing seems to have changed… still wet, wet. Todays lunch focussedon haddock and fresh crab… thanks to Abi again for telling us to pay Eeusk a visit. A splendid lunch.
First course at Eeusk …nice chips! Different
T’s favourite…a sort of bread and butter pudding…M stole the little pot of ice cream to add to her Pavlova.
Just before bed and a lot of “slapping” on the stern…. Met Office for tomorrow Saturday… “gales developing in the far north”… strong wind warning… force 6 west or south west. No storm yet then.