The day began in the somewhat quiet little village of Lochinver on the north west coast of Scotland. Dawn brought sunshine and a southerly breeze. Whilst T and Christine had showers on the boat, Mike walked into the village from the marina to purchase freshmilk supplies at the Spar shop( he had a shower on the boat en route ).
We departed our berth at 8.55am and headed out to sea passing a number of small islands on the way. We watched as two busy little fishing boats buzzed about doing the early rounds of their lobster pots.
The inshore waters forecast was an ‘iffy’ one…. it did not concur with many other often reliable weather stations. Although it had a number 7 in the Met Office forecast, the highest wind speed we observed on our 40 n.mile journey across the Minch was 26 knots… which is a five at best.
What did concern us though was at about 12 noon….. over the VHF radio came Stornoway Coastguard with a gale warning for the shipping forecast area of ‘Hebrides’… which we were in…. although the eastern most part. “Gale 8 later, Hebrides’ crackled the voice. There are lots of ways of interpreting this… ‘later’ is code for ‘more than 12 hours from the time of issue’…. so was the gale coming later that evening? Have to then find out when the gale warning was first issued…. on examination it was issued the previous evening…. so why was it not mentioned in the inshore waters forecast at 6am the next morning… ie Friday?
Lots of equations to mull over…. turn back ? continue? outrun the threat, full speed? You can check by simply calling up Stornoway Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16…. but in some ways it was so strange… we just cranked up our speed.
For most of the 40 n’miles we were on the same tack…. we observed windspeeds of up to 15 knots for the first 20 or so n.miles…. then as we closed on the Isle of Lewis… the wind increased to 20 knots so we reefed the jib sail. As stated we saw 26 knots on entry into Stornoway harbour…. and as I type at 9pm Friday…. it is a howling gale outside. Screaming banshees. So arriving here in the Hebrides at 2.30pm …. five hours from Lochinver…. was excellent. We will sit out the Hebridean gale safely in Stornoway harbour.
Besides the gale, we saw wildlife enroute… a pod of dolphins first spotted by Christine… and what appeared to be a seal but could have been something much bigger way out in the middle of the Minch…. and many varieties of seabirds for the whole route across.
Poli Poli in Stornoway marina… two big high powered lifeboats next door… tells you something about the nature of the Hebrides re bad weather and number of “shouts”. RNLB folk do a magnificent job.
Stornoway is very different from Lochinver and many of the small ports we had visited on the Scottish mainland. Busy, bustling, mixture of tradiional and new, pleasant and just a nice place to visit…. lots and lots of people…. and everything appears to be ‘thriving’.
Distance sailed from Lochinver to Stornoway: 40 n.miles.
Duration: 5 hours 15 minutes.
Distance travelled from Eastbourne: 1,754.7 n.miles.
ps…Am not shouting this too loud..but we have not seen or heard ( at night ) any rain since we departed Kyle of Lochalsh ( the double rainbow over the Skye Bridge ) on Wednesday morning …the 29th of August. So three whole days without rain…yippeee from the crows nest …except Poli Poli has not got a crows nest! Spoke too soon…9.10pm Christine yells out …”rain” …damn and blast!