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CALLISTO SAILS TO STORNOWAY                         
After two years waiting for the new Beta 20 to be fitted in Callisto of Parkstone, our Elizabethan 30, we finally arrived for a cruise from Arisaig Marina in North West Scotland in late July. Thursday 23rd July. We provisioned the boat and with a good S.W. forecast set sail at 2pm and sailed N.W. to Loch Scresort on the Isle of Rhum. The sea was calm and the steady wind and bright sunshine boded well for our first sail for 2 years. A minkie whale surfaced just ahead of the boat and we were surrounded by a hail of gannets diving around us. We had a great sail and arrived at Loch Scresort, anchoring in 6 metres between the two piers at 5.30pm. Distance run 15.5 nm Friday 24th July. The weather forecast is for N.W. 4-5 and as we have decided to try to finally get to Stornoway, on Lewis, we had to remain in Rhum until the weather changed direction. As it was such a lovely day we decided to make the most of the sun and take Jack our seadog collie for a walk on shore to Kinloch Castle. Saturday 25th July. The forecast was for S.E. 4 or 5 , becoming 5 or 6 later. So we decided to head to Loch Maddy, on North Uist and weighed anchor at 9am. Once on our way progress was slow in the light winds so we decided to head for Canna harbour and continue tomorrow. As we approached Canna there was a weather warning for S.E. 6-7 perhaps gale 8 later. Canna harbour is not really protected in a S.E. strong wind and as we were now managing 5 knots decided to carry on N.W. to Armaddy Bay in Loch Maddy which is great protection in any thing from the south. The wind was just from the right direction to goose wing and we poled out the headsail and headed north. A basking shark surfaced next to us, and gave us a great view of him before sinking again into the sea. We sped North with an increasing wind with dolphins diving under our bows. Although our speed was great the waves began to build up behind us making us rock from side to side, just like in the Atlantic. We made a fast passage and picked up a mooring in Armaddy Bay at 7pm. Dave took Jack ashore whilst I cooked dinner. We were very tired and went to bed early. During the night the gale arrived. Distance run 50.1 nm. Sunday 26th July. We stayed in Armaddy Bay as the gale got stronger and as the wind direction changed on Monday went down to the pier at Loch Maddy and took a mooring. Over the next few days the wind remained gale force and we made quick forays ashore to buy stores and walk the dog. Some days it was too rough to go ashore and we pulled the tender aboard to prevent it blowing away. None of the other boats on the moorings were moving and we all hoped for better weather. But the wind remained strong and we had to remain there until 1st August. When the wind slowed down a bit and we went to get out final stores , and spent the night waiting for the seas to calm down a little. Sunday 2nd August. A good forecast at last, S.W. 4-5, we decided to sail north to North Harbour on Scalpay Island in East Loch Tarbet. We had a great sail and decided to approach the anchorage, via the sound of Scalpay to the north of the Island, It was very narrow but almost free of any dangers. The road bridge linking Scalpay to Harris looked very low as we sailed under it but with 20 metres clearance we had lots of room. We dropped anchor in 6 metres in lovely north harbour at 4pm. Two other boats came in for the night. One of them was a charter boat, which had dragged its anchor during a gale 7 years ago in Loch Skiport and damaged our Swift 18 Ananahi. That year the charterer put 2 anchors down and they twisted together and dragged during the gale. The skipper this year also put down 2 anchors but didn’t drag although one got caught round his prop and he had to get a diver in to clear it. Later in the evening we took Jack ashore for a walk. Distance run 27 n.m. Monday 3rd August. The wind went North during the night, which thwarted our plans to sail to Stornoway, so we used the day to explore this pleasant harbour and environs, discovering a great 50p shower in the harbour toilet block. In the North side of the harbour is a part sunk concrete hulk, a remnant of World War 1, and it provided a small sheltered part of the harbour which is used by small fishing boats. Tuesday 4th August. A lovely sunny day and weather forecast for E4, so we weighed anchor at 10 am. And sailed back through the Sound of Scalpay and past the entrance Loch Seaforth, and headed north for Stornoway. We took the northerly flood to help us sail between Harris and The Shiant Islands which looked lovely a few miles east of us. We had a great sail to Stornoway and took a berth in the Marina at 3.30pm. Distance run 26.6n.m. Wednesday 5th August. A lovely day and we went ashore to explore the town, which was decorated with bunting and had a market with lots of stalls from Europe selling German sausage and different delicacies from the continent. It gave a very festive atmosphere. Thursday 6th August. We booked a small van tomorrow for three days, there were no cars available until after a tattoo which was being held at Lewes castle which is opposite the marina. We spent the rest of the day relaxing on the boat and watching the preparations for the coming event which starts tomorrow. Friday 7th August. We collected the van and set off for the Callenish Stones, somewhere we had been looking forward to for a long time. It was great to finally see them, as we had been trying to sail to Stornoway for so long and each year had been defeated by adverse weather. We continued our drive along the west coast and visited a broch and some great white beaches. When we returned to Callisto the marina had lots of boats with spectators drinking wine in the cockpit and awaiting the start of the Tattoo. It was a balmy evening and we were entertained by lots of different pipe bands and dancers culminating in a fantastic fireworks display that seemed to last for ages.Saturday 8th August. We drove to Harris today and it was much prettier than Lewis, and had some fantastic white beaches. We drove right to the south of the Island and checked out Rodel on the South west coast which is a small harbour with a bar, that might be an anchorage for us on the sail back south. Sunday 9th August. Today we drove north to the Butt of Lewis. It was quite a forbidding place in the constant rain with a very bleak and boggy landscape. We returned to the boat and the evening forecast gave good weather for tomorrow. So we prepared the boat to sail next morning. Monday 10th August We returned the van and paid our dues before setting sail at 10.30 am. We started with a light north wind and the breeze slowly freshened to give us a lovely sail back to north harbour on Scalpay. We arrived at 4.30 low water, and we saw all the rocks and reefs in the entrance, which had been covered when we first came, it made the entrance look very narrow. Distance run 26.6nm Tuesday 11th August The wind has changed direction to S.W. so we went ashore and had showers and called at the post office to post some cards. Wednesday 12th August, our wedding anniversary, still a S.W. forecast so we can’t sail to Loch Maddy so we celebrated our anniversary with a bottle of wine and hoped that tomorrows forecast for a Northerly will be correct. Thursday 13th August. We got up at 5.30am and it was really still so we decided to leave. By the time we weighed anchor at 7am there was a light breeze and we again left through the Sound of Scalpay and headed S.W. to Armaddy Bay , Loch Maddy. It was a flat sea and the Sound of Harris looked lovely as we sailed past. We were accompanied by a minkie whale and lots of dolphins and had a lovely passage arriving at 11.30 am. And picked up one of the 2 moorings. Dave took Jack ashore for a walk and we tuned into the weather forecast when he returned which foretells more gales due tomorrow. In the late afternoon we heard a Mayday relay, and heard that a yacht had run aground in East Loch Tarbet, where we had just sailed from. The coastguard had taken 2 people off and would be trying to refloat the boat at high tide. Distance run 27.1nm. Friday 14thAugust. Easterly gales were forecast and we decided to stay put. The weather was terrible but we were well sheltered and Dave used the day to check the new engine oils and water and fill the tank with diesel. The weather remained terrible on Saturday and we heard 2 maydays from yachts, both somewhere north of the Kyle of Lochalsh They were at different times and we heard that one was being rescued by the Portree Lifeboat, but we didn’t hear the outcome of the second mayday. For Sunday , Monday and Tuesday the gales continued from the East, but on Wednesday Northerly gales were forecast so we waited for a small break in the weather, then headed down to the moorings at Loch Maddy pier which are more sheltered from the North. The Northerly gales blew through Thursday and Friday and we were really fed up. Saturday 22nd August. Finally the gales slowed down and the forecast is S.W. 4-5, backing S.E. later so we decided to use the break between gales to head for Loch Harport, on the South coast of Skye, which should be very sheltered in the next forecasted Easterly gales. We set sail at 10am and had a great sail in a S.W. 4, as we passed Neist Point on Skye, the wind started to go more ahead and we had to beat into it as the waves started to build, reaching Loch Bracadale at 3pm. sailing Past the spectacular MacLeod’s Maidens Stacks close to the Northern entrance. and headed into the sheltered waters, motoring down the loch, to Loch Harport and picking up a mooring just past the distillery, opposite the pub. Distance run 31.6 nm. Sunday 23rd and Monday 24th August. The predicted Easterly gales arrived and being 100 metres from the pub we decided to take personal shelter, with Jack the dog , in its hospitable bar. Loch Harport is very pretty, and the home of The Talisker Whisky distillery. We shall certainly return to explore this lovely area. The forecast for tomorrow seems a little better, S.W. backing S.E., so we may try to get away to Arisaig, before the S.E. arrives. Perhaps going to Rhum if it changes too soon. Tuesday 25th August. We can’t tell what the weather is like as we are several miles inshore, so we have decided to go out of the loch to see if the forecast is correct. We left the mooring at 9am. And sailed out of Loch Harport and into the Sea of Hebrides. There is a large swell but the wind is S.W. , so we headed S.E. at a brisk 6 knots. We had an exciting sail for the first 3 hours but the wind slowly backed and we put 2 reefs in the mainsail, and continued beating into it. The weather forecast remained the same and as we approached Rhum we decided to carry on as we could just point in the right direction. We arrived at the entrance to Arisaig channel at 3.30 very weary but glad to be back on the mainland . We picked up our mooring and headed back fore shore and the steady feel of land beneath our feet as we spent the night in our camper van. Distance run 39.1 nm Conclusion. We finally made it to our destination of Stornoway. But we think next year we won’t cross the Minch, as the weather has to be stable and we lost a lot of days sheltering from gales, whereas on the mainland coast anchorages are closer , more protected and only a few miles apart. Next year we hope to sail earlier in the year when the weather is usually more settled. Dave and Shelby Milner, and Seadog Jack. Total Distance run 207 miles.



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