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United Kingdom
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Posted - 13 Sep 2009 :  09:03:46  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Several people have commented to me that I should make public the log of a trip I did in my Stratos Keel, No 522, Eskimo earlier this year. So here it is in the hope some readers may gain the inspiration to do something similar.

Scotland Cruise in Eskimo
Chris Best & Andrew Varney
12th to 20th June 2009

Friday 12th June
Drove through fabulous scenery to arrive at Dunstaffnage Mairina in early afternoon.
Rigged Eskimo in the sunshine and motored to her berth beside a replica Viking warship.

Saturday 13th June
Cloudy with occasional rain, sunny evening
Force 2-3 max, E then SE.
Motored out of Dunstaffnage Marina at 9am and soon picked up a light Easterly in the Lynn of Lorn that carried us gently to Lady’s Rock and past the historic Castle Duart. From there we went up the Sound of Mull on a broad reach accompanied by the occasional Seal and a pair of dolphins. Having left our sandwiches in the room at the Wide Mouthed Frog we were grateful for the emergency food rations of Smoked Mackerel pate on Ryvita for lunch! Also on passage in the Sound of Mull were about another 8 yachts and motor yachts. The wind fell away beside Calve Island so we motored round it’s Northern point into Tobermory harbour and found a pontoon mooring for the night.
29 miles, 5hr 34mins, Max Speed 9.3mph (under motor)

Sunday 14th June
Sunny, with an evening shower
Force 0-2 Variable
Departed from Tobermory 9am under motor until a light Easterly prompted us to continue under sail. With the wind falling very light in the entrance to the Sound we were nevertheless entertained by pods of Dolphins all around us. Numerous dolphins swam passed us and it was so quiet we could hear the rush of air from their breathing.
The next puff of wind came from the North West so we decided after much debate to head round Ardnamurcham Point to Sanna Bay. Sailed through flocks of Guillemots round the point and into the gorgeous Sanna Bay with it’s dunes and white sandy beaches. After lunch lack of wind forced us to abandon our plan to visit the Isle of Muck which was 6 miles further in a NW direction. A light Westerly just about filled the gennaker allowing us to sail slowly back into the Sound where we planned to look out for more wild life. This was conspicuous by it’s absence but we were nevertheless entertained by the contrasting sky with glorious sunshine to the West and oppressive storm clouds to the East where we were headed. Just before entering Tobermory spotted an Otter swimming across our path to the shore and then climbing up amongst the rocks.
31 miles, 8hr 17mins, Max Speed 9.8mph (under motor)

Monday 15th June
Sunny, with 2 afternoon showers
Force 0-3 variable
With more wind today we set off on a run down the sound ahead of a light Easterly. Once out of the Sound we turned South and sailed down the coast of Mull. Rounding Caliach point we passed some tourist boats. The wind failed as we left Caliach Point so we decided to motor towards the Treshnish Isles in the hope that the wind would fill in again. It didn’t, and it started raining, so we decided to turn back to Tobermory cruising along the coastline. We were pleased the sun came out again fairly quickly. The largest inlet along the Coast was Loch a Chumhainn. This was a challenging inlet with numerous small rocks below the surface and Eskimo had a slight argument with one of them. The landscape was one of great contrasts with sandy beaches, stretches of grassland, high hills covered with thick woods. The luscious greenery of the hills sat between the sparkling blue water and the dark foreboding sky beyond. We noted the strength of the ebb in the inlet so turned and beat our way back out of the narrowing passage. Passing the rock we had argued with on the way in we noticed it was no longer 2 feet under water but about one foot above in just half an hour! After a few more miles seeing lots of guillimots and one dolphin the rain came again and we motored the last 8 miles back returning to our mooring somewhat surprisingly in glorious sunshine.
38 miles, 8hrs 49mins, Max Speed 9.8mph (under motor)

Tuesday 16th June
Sunny all day
Force 3-5
The promise of favourable winds enabled us to set off at 9.30am destined for Coll, 22 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean. With Andrew helming in a force 3-4 we were able to usE the trapeze for the first time this trip. The sailing was perfect on a beam reach in lovely sunny conditions. We reached the narrow straight between Coll and it’s Northern islands and dropped sail in order to motor carefully through. It was an anxious time as the area is not precisely charted and there were many rocks marked within the passage. Through the passage we were then in the open Atlantic and we sailed down the Coll coast passing several dangerous reefs which were fully exposed upon our return journey. We stopped at a delightful beach for lunch. We both agreed we had never seen such a picture perfect beach with white sands, crystal clear waters and Scotland’s usual mix of rocky grassland inshore. Returning we took the safer route North round the Cairns of Coll and beat across the Passage of Tiree into a force 4-5 as far as the Sound of Mull. We decided to go for 10 minutes of thrill so we bore away and raised the gennaker which gave us a new top speed for the week of 14.2mph. Returned to Tobermory via Otter Alley (our naming!).
42 miles, 8hrs 8mins, Max Speed 14.2mph.

Wednesday 17th June
Rain am, Sunshine & Heavy Showers pm
Force 4-5 W
We made a late start after lunch today due to morning rain. Set off from Tobermory on a beam reach across the Sound of Mull where Andrew wasted no time at all in establishing the day’s top speed of 11.1mph. Headed up Loch Sunart for 3 miles to enter Loch Teacuis. This presented challenging navigation between rocks and small Islands with a mostly light but gusty following wind. The Sat Nav proved it’s worth in helping us to avoid rocks hidden just below the surface. Reaching the head of the loch we changed helm for the return beat back. The initial beat was into a force 5 coupled with a torrential rain and hail storm. Very hard sailing into a narrowing passage. In another 10 minutes we were back in sunshine and virtually becalmed! Emerging from Loch Teacuis we had a strong Westerly force 5 to beat against. We hove to in order to reef opposite Glen Beg Castle. The sail back to Tobermory was very lively and served to build our appetite for an excellent evening curry!
29 miles, 5hrs 21mins, Max Speed 11.1mph.

Thursday 18th June
Sun & Heavy Squally Showers
Force 6-8 W
At about 10am we set off in plenty of weather South down the Sound of Mull into a strengthening gusty wind. We quickly changed the 1st reef for the 2nd second reef which made Eskimo manageable in the force 7 and 8 squalls. The morning concluded with an endurance testing beat into a force 8 with torrential rain to pick up a mooring at the sheltered bay of Salen. The sun came out and the seals were very active sliding about and jumping out of the water. We very much enjoyed our lunch in this picturesque and sheltered spot. We had a fast reach back hitting a max speed for the day and week of 14.7 mph under 2nd reef, jib and gennaker. With the gennaker down we were still cruising at around 12-13 mph but noticed much more flexing of the mast. On nearing Tobermory we dropped the sails and motored up and down the area where we had seen the Otter earlier in the week but did not see him this time.
22miles, 4hrs 8min, Max Speed 14.7mph

Friday 19th June
Mostly Cloudy with Heavy Showers
Force 5-7 WNW
This day includes the most dreadful hell on Earth 8 miles either of us have ever done in Eskimo. We set off about 8.40am and enjoyed an excellent broad reach with full rig and gennaker across the Sound of Mull and into Loch Sunart. Our destination was Strontian, at the end of the 20 mile long Loch. We were mostly on a run and with a force 6 to blow us along we arrived after just 3hrs, 20 mins from leaving Tobermory. The weather so far had been dull but at least dry. We picked up a hotel mooring buoy and looked longingly at the hotel but with no means of getting ashore! Much to our annoyance it started raining and blowing just as we started our sandwiches, so we sat eating whilst spray flew past us all around. Having refuelled our frozen bodies we slipped the buoy and motored back up the Loch into driving torrential rain and a force 7. We were drenched in never ending torrents of water from both the spray off the waves and the intensity of the rain. Eskimo bashed off every wave making it hard to sit still at times, and we both remained very cold with various numbed extremities! After about 8 miles we found a mooring buoy in a sheltered bay and thankfully the rain stopped and we were able to rest and dry out somewhat. A local fisherman motored over to talk to us having seen us racing up the Loch under gennaker earlier. He seemed surprised we had gone all the way and even more surprised when we said we were now on a return sail to Tobermory. A most satisfying conversation! Despite the weather the mountain scenery was very impressive. Even with no sun the colours were vivid, there is a wide variety of fauna, rocky promontories, beaches and tree lined hillsides. From here we sailed the remaining 15 miles back to Tobermory with one reef in. Some heroic trapeze artistry from Andrew was required to help us power over the waves, some of which were breaking over the bow. Returned to Tobermory, weary but satisfied, at 4.50pm.
47 miles, 8hrs 11mins, Max Speed 14.1mph.

Saturday 20th June 2009
Sunny Intervals
Force 4 NW
Whilst preparing Eskimo to set sail from the pontoon, we were pleased by a passing Yachtsman who commented “now that’s real sailing”. For our return trip to the mainland we were fortunate to have a following wind that carried us down the Sound at a steady 5 mph against the tide. We noted a variety of yachts mostly beating up towards Tobermory and that region. There were some areas of rocks and islands within the Sound that caused various tidal rips and navigational challenges. We had an entertaining sail through the tidal rips at the Eastern entrance of the Sound. Here we also enjoyed watching Gannets fishing by means of their dive bombing method. Although travelling at around 9mph through the water our speed made good was only 4 mph at this point. We arrived at Dunstaffnage Marina 6 hours after our departure from Tobermory after a trouble free passage.
30 miles, 6hrs 29mins, Max Speed 10.0mph

The total trip covered 268 miles.


147 Posts

Posted - 13 Sep 2009 :  17:34:21  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sounds like excellent fun (and challenging) and probably shows the keel at its best, not sure my centreboard version would be quite as 'robust' in some of that weather ! Out of interest how/where did you stow kit etc...we tend to use large dry bags lashed into the cockpit or alongside the genneker sock.We also tend to leave the anchor occupying the grey storage bag but have never really been happy with that..any thoughts welcome


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United Kingdom
5 Posts

Posted - 14 Sep 2009 :  18:10:52  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Drybags are the only way that I've found to carry gear. I clip one to the handle of the stowage bag and the larger one or two to elastic cord which runs between two hooks on the floor at the rear of the boat. The elastic cord also serves to be stretched over the tiller so that the boat sort of maintains a straight course. So long as the wind is not too strong I find I can go forward to sort things etc and steer using my weight. Also useful when dropping the genny when single handed. Anchor is secured on the port side forward decking by elastic to hooks.

It is worth mentioning that I wouldn't dream of doing the sea trips I've done in Eskimo if I didn't have the safety of the keel. I've been capsized 3 miles off Felixstowe in a force 5, and a mile off the West Coast of Scotland in a force 6, and thanks to the keel it is not a problem. In the keel boat you can take the opportunity for a nice rest sitting on the side while the keel brings her slowly back up. With a centreboard a capsize is a very different matter with you fighting to avoid inversion, probably getting soaked, and having to work hard to get her up.

Picture shows the anchor attachments.

Kind regards,


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147 Posts

Posted - 14 Sep 2009 :  21:30:52  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Thanks for this and also like your arrangement for stowing paddles !....absolutely agree re centreboard version ...we have to be far more careful when choosing when and where to on a cruise although I must say it still performs well in heavy weather...

Out of interest re capsizing off Felixstowe ....I sail at Felixstowe ferry and know that part of the coast has its own challenges !

Happy cruising !

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