After the events of the journey to Armadale, it was great to get on board the boat and motoring towards the Isle of Ornsay.  We were afloat at last and the weather was great.


I considered myself very fortunate to have been allowed the forward cabin all to myself.  It gave me a bit of space and privacy although I tended to scuff my head every time I went through the door.


We had a great meal (cooked by Richard) and were treated to the skipper’s gin n tonics which were to become a feature of the trip.  I stupidly had a second which guaranteed me hardly being able to remember the dinghy ride ashore never mind coming back.  It was my birthday so never mind.  A morning dip in the sea killed off any lingering hangover before it had a chance to set in.


All the guys seemed really laid back about the trip, although they impressed me with their attention to detail and seemed to spend ages poring over the charts and listening to weather bulletins, checking optimum routes versus weather/current conditions.  There were long deliberations on the route selection and it was tempting to say “come on lads, let’s get going for Christ’s sake”.  Alistair and Colin were navigation experts and you soon realised that there was nothing taken to chance.  Derek was in overall control and Richard and myself were basically there for the ride.


Frank, who we were picking up at Plockton next day was built up to be some kind of hard drinking ex rugby playing monster who was going to physically throw me and my bags out of my cabin because he usually had that one.  It was a great relief when he arrived onboard and Derek advised him of his modest bunk in the general accommodation quarters, his reply was “Yeah, that’s fine”. Phew.


We visited some really nice places, Plockton (the name does not do this place justice), Portree, Badachro amongst others but the highlight for me was the Isle of Canna, a remote island west of Rum.  No pub, just half a dozen houses, a tearoom and lots of very nervous sheep (especially with us in our wellies).  We had an excellent meal on board and drank beer under a stunning starlit sky.  Next morning going ashore (after a swim in the crystal clear, but freezing cold, water) to climb Compass Hill giving fantastic views of Rum, Mull, Coll and Tiree.  Eventually returning to a huge breakfast prepared by none other than the ‘Skip’ himself.


We hit every type of weather imaginable ranging from flat calm sunny and warm to gale-force winds and horizontal rain.  In general I think we were rather fortunate that we only had to spend one day in port due to being stormbound.  Even in the most adverse conditions and having to fight a river in spate, Frank and I still managed to get to the shore for a couple of beers (if only to wait on the batteries charging).


My one downside was at the pub in Inverie when some loudmouth idiot directed a comment for which he was lucky to survive with his head still attached to his shoulders.  Thanks for keeping me calm guys and not stooping to their level.  Spoiled what was an excellent night of food, beer and song.


All in all, it was a great holiday.  My lasting memories will always be of Colin’s endless Limericks and stories, Richard’s never-ending desire to catch a fish, Frank’s relaxed attitude but always willing to help when needed, Derek’s breakfast in Canna plus his ability to withstand excruciating pain and Alastair’s ‘sshh’ when you mistakenly ask him a question and he’s listening to the weather forecast (not only that Alastair you were the star of the show in Inverie).


The other unforgettable memories will be the never-ending fantastic Scottish scenery and the fascinating bird and sea life so close all around us.


The food was second to none and although I am down as cook, it’s only because everyone else actually had a proper title.  I only helped a bit in the galley because I wan’t much good for anything else.  Thanks really have to go to everyone who mucked in.


Thanks again guys it was great.




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