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A cruise from Arisaig to the Outer Hebrides on 'Callisto of Parkstone'.                      

Whales and Wobbly Engines.

(Awarded the McKendrick Runner-up Cup)
Our Boat Callisto is an Elizabethan 30 Based in Arisaig North West Scotland, It is crewed by Dave, Myself (Shelby) and our seadog Jack, Who loves swimming. This years holiday on Callisto, our Elizabethan 30 started in June as we arrived at Arisaig. We launched and loaded her up for what we hoped would be a great summer cruise. Accompanied by Jack our border collie we left Arisaig at 13.30hrs and sailed out of the pass towards Canna. We were suddenly surrounded by fog and had to start the motor as the wind dropped. It was really eerie not seeing anything but mist. As we approached Canna we kept our eyes peeled and suddenly she appeared about 20 metres ahead. We motored into the harbour and dropped anchor. The water pump had started to leak so we emptied the bilges before settling down for the night. Monday 5th June. Dave changed the seals in the water pump and checked the oil. It was full of water. He drained the engine and changed the oil, but it was still milky, A chap on the next boat Oriana gave us some extra oil and we changed it again. The oil pressure was still down so Dave took the excess pressure valve off and cleaned and reassembled it, and that seemed to cure the problem. As the water pump was worn we decided to order a replacement before we ventured further from our base. We had a meal onboard to celebrate Daves birthday and then sat in the cockpit with sundowners to watch the sunset. Suddenly other people in the anchorage were looking down into the water and we headed to the bows in time to see a basking shark swim slowly around the boat, he stayed in the anchorage for about half an hour lazily circling the boats before heading back out to sea. Dave took Jack, for a swim to shore, and then we settled down for the night. Friday 9th June. We set sail at 09.30 hrs for Arisaig but the wind dropped and we had to motor sail all the way. the mooring at 18.45hrs. We ordered a new water pump from Bukh and Dave fitted it. Finally on 23rd June we sailed out of Arisaig and to Loch Scresort on Rhum . It was a pleasant sail and we covered the 18 miles in 4 hours and dropped anchor in 6 metres. Dave took Jack ashore and we had a quiet night. We weighed anchor at 14.00hrs and sailed north west to Soay harbour. There is a bar across the entrance and we had to arrive near high water to clear it. We motored into the harbour, keeping the two transits in line at 19.00hrs. We were one hour before high tide and had 3 metres on the echo sounder. It was a lovely and tranquil evening and we watched two herons feeding their chicks on the cliff edge. It was a great anchorage and we were the only boat there. There was no wind forecast for Sunday so we spent the day sitting in the sun bird watching and taking Jack for forays ashore. We motored out of the pass at high water 07.00hrs and as there was no wind we decided to motor to loch Scavaig on Skye, to see the Cullin mountains. It was lovely and there were 6 boats on anchor amid this spectacular scenery. We motor sailed back into Soay sound and as we cleared the West of the island a nice N.E. breeze sprang up and we sailed at 3 - 4 knots to Canna. The anchorage was empty as we dropped anchor at low tide in 3 metres. We went ashore with Jack and had a nice walk in the sunshine. It was a lovely day and the sun was very warm. Eight more boats arrived during the day and we all had a peaceful night in this lovely anchorage. Tuesday 27th June. The forecast was for variable 3 to 4 becoming SE 4 to 5 so we set sail for Loch Boisedale on South Uist in the outer Hebrides. The sea was like glass and the wind never arrived so we had to motor sail most of the way. There were no boats to be seen and we saw lots of puffins and guillemots . We arrived at 20.00hrs at the harbour and found all the free moorings empty. There were gales for a week. We did manage to take Jack ashore once with the outboard motor but it stopped working so we had to row, this was made much harder by the dinghy inflatable seat having a puncture so we had to blow it up each time we went to and fro. The gales finally finished and we set sail on Monday 3rd of July at noon with a fresh NE and headed South to Eriskay. By 14.30hrs we arrived at the entrance but had trouble identifying the transits to get into this rock-strewn harbour, as we slowly crept forward we brought them into line and headed in tying up at 14.45hrs on the last free mooring. It was a very pretty harbour and very protected, we sat out in the lovely surroundings enjoying a sundowner as the afternoon turned to evening. We left Eriskay at 11.00hrs and motored South in the glassy sea towards the Island of Barra. A large yacht motored well off our port side and were surrounded by lots of sea life which we thought were dolphins but later , in the anchorage they told us that they were 5 or 6 basking sharks. As we entered the Channel into Castle Bay a Humpbacked whale surfaced and blew just in front of our bows, almost close enough to touch. We stopped the engine and watched for 15 minutes as he circled us and kept blowing. It kept rising and rolling over, showing the full length of its body. It was truly awe inspiring. He was bigger than Callisto and seemed curious about us. As he swam off we motored into the bay and picked up a mooring. There are twelve free moorings and we got the last one. We were detained again by gales but on Sunday 9th July it was a bit calmer. The whole harbour was decorated and they had a ceremony for the blessing of the boats. Fishing boats came in from all around the island decorated with flags. All the yachts on the moorings dressed themselves with their own flags and we really enjoyed the day. After the blessing the local and fishing boats had a race around the harbour rocking all of us poor yachties as the passed us at full speed. As the gales finished we headed back to Loch Boisdale where we only spent one night. The forecast was S.or SE 4 or 5 so we headed North for Loch Skiport and Wizard Pool. It was a great sail and we anchored next to Wizard Island in lovely sunshine. We climbed to a great vantage point above the anchorage to take a photo and absorb the beautiful scenery. It was a fine night but another gale was forecast, so we decided to stay put in this lovely place until it passes. The gale hit us at dawn and we decided to re-anchor as the wind turned West and we were dangerously close to Wizard Island. It took ages to get the anchor up and it was really hard to motor into the wind with our ancient Bukh 10 . Finally we found a good spot and anchored letting out most of our 40 metres of chain. We had a sleepless night with all the noise but by morning it was a lot calmer, although very rough out to sea. Next day dawned sunny and bright with a light SE so we weighed anchor and sailed North, It was very misty at first but it cleared and we could see Skye on our port side. As we closed Loch Maddy we started the engine and noticed that the oil pressure was dropping, so we decided to take a mooring in the Armaddy bay just inside the entrance to Loch Maddy. A small fishing boat came by and gave us some mackerel and we told him that we were having engine problems. Dave inspected the engine and suspected that the oil seal on the main shaft had gone. Dave took Jack ashore to explore the bay and then we had a quiet night on the mooring. On inspection of the engine the next day Dave found a leak in the casing around the oil seal. The chap with the small fishing boat came back today and offered to tow us to a mooring much nearer the village in Wee Harbour. We accepted gratefully and it is a lovely place. He told us we could go to his house and help ourselves to tools, then went off fishing again. We later found out that he was the retired doctor from the village and now spends all his spare time fishing for fun and giving most of his catch to visiting yachts. Dave could not get the large outside flywheel off to inspect the engine further and as the weather was so glorious we decided to relax for the day, the only thing we could do was to try to slow down the leak and sail back to the mainland. We were invited for drinks on the boat on the other mooring called 'J.Feaver'. with captain Tim and Frances and a good night was had by all. They also have a dog onboard, this year we have seen about 10 boats with dogs, which really surprised us as last year we only saw one. Next morning the wind was forecast West so we slowly motored out into the channel and headed towards the mainland but the wind went round to SE so about 4 miles out we turned around and went back to Armaddy bay. The wind continued SE for 10 days and without an engine we decided to wait for it to change. From the mooring we could see sea hawks circling above us and one an evening we saw an enormous stag with his herd grazing on shore. We were surrounded by seals and often dolphins would pop into the bay to explore. As the sun set one evening we saw a very large dog otter fishing nearby and watched him as he took some of his catch ashore to eat. It was a really relaxing time, but finally the forecast was NE 4 or 5. and we left the mooring at 09.00hrs heading SE for Arisaig. The wind increased and we made great time although at one point we had to put 3 reefs in the Mainsail. But we covered the 65 miles to the entrance in 12 hours and arrived at our mooring at 21.30 hrs tired but happy to have got back under sail. We decided to have the boat hauled out and as we were taking down the burgee a fellow HYC member on Aphrodite came by to say hello. When Dave took the flywheel off the engine he found that the seal around the shaft had gone and we decided that it was probably time for a new engine as the Bukh had let us down twice this year and ruined our chances of exploring further afield . Also the 10 hp was not really powerful enough for our boat in strong head winds or currents and we could only motor in a calm sea at 4 knots so the engineer at the marina took out the old engine and is fitting us a brand new 20hp Beta for next season. I advertised the Bukh on the internet site 'Boats and Outboards' and we sold it before we left, which should help with the cost of fitting the new engine. Callisto is now sat waiting for her new engine to be fitted and we are looking forward to perhaps being able to sail further afield next season, knowing we have a reliable engine.   Total distance run 287km. Dave, Shelby and Jack (the dog).

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