Isle of Skye, Hebrides 5.7. - 9.7.
The distance from Loch Ewe to the harbour of Portree is 35 nautical miles. Between the islands we had the wind on the nose and thus we slowly motored towards the Skye. Soon the tall and rugged cliffs of Skye became visible. No wonder that there have been a lot of stories about the beautiful scenery of the Isle of Skye. Our plan was to use Portree as the base and to make exploration trips to the island. After all there is also the Talisker distillery and Scottish castles in addition to the beautiful nature.
During the passage we passed the island of South Rona that is located between Skye and Mainland Scotland. It looked like there were some inviting anchorages there but we however continued straight towards Portree.
There are a plenty of mooring buoys and an anchorage a little further out on the bay in front of Portree. The weather forecast showed strengthening winds and the anchorage area was clearly more open. So we opted to moor her on a buoy. It looked like the buoys are located very close to each other and it took some time before Andrus announced that "here we’ll fit ok". Soon however the crew of the Norwegian yacht next to us started working on their mooring line preparing to move the boat. They shouted that the buoys are a way too close to each other because they had made a little bump with another boat during the previous night. We offered to move Suwena but their mooring line was already loose and soon we had an empty buoy between the boats.
In theory there is no problem because in the current all the boats point about the same direction. However when there is no wind during the turning of the tide each boat is pointing to an own direction. If the buoys are too close to each other compared to the boat size there is a possibility of a small kiss between the neighbours.
Our selected buoy had already seen its best days, so Andrus used a dinghy for checking the mooring line before going ashore. There was a thick plastic hose protecting the line from chafing. When he pushed the hose a little further up for better examination, he saw to his surprise that the mooring line had only two intact strand left. Suwena was waiting for the strengthening wind while moored with completely worn out line. We immediately added our own mooring line and thus the catastrophe was prevented.
On Sunday we got some water from the harbour pier (5 pounds per filling) and when we returned we selected another buoy with unbroken line. In addition we still put our own line for safety as well. We also notified the harbour staff that the line on one of the buoys is broken. However during our stay there was nothing done to fix or mark it. This was the first sign that the visiting yachts were not appreciated in Portree. Somehow the whole town is geared towards the land tourists.
Finally we had arrived to a place with several real seafood restaurants. We really cannot count fish and chips joints as seafood restaurants. One of the best things in Portree was a delicious seafood dishes.
In Orkney and in Shetland the houses were all grey. The colourful houses of the Portree looked very fashionable.
The Norwegians from the next boat had been in Portree ealier and they recommended a pub on a side of the marketplace. On this Saturday, there was a live Celtic rock show from Emerald. They had adapted many famous songs like U2’s With or Without You into Celtic version. The Saturday evening passed quickly in Celtic rock feelings.
Unfortunately the guided tour around the island was a complete fiasco. During the whole day our guide and driver in the same persona didn’t tell us anything. She only drove behind the other tourist tour busses from one sight to another. Well, we did see a stunningly beautiful waterfall, the highest point of Skye in the Quiraing mountain, Talisker distillery and the castle of MacLeod clan in Dunvegan.
There were paintings of the chiefs of the MacLeod clan in many generations on the walls of the MacLeod castle. After all the Dunvegan castle is one of the oldest permanently inhabited castles in Scotland.
According to the Scottish tradition the families’ name of the sun of the chief is the father’s name with the Mac prefix. (Mac means ‘son of’ in Gaelic). The castle of Dunvegan has been the stronghold of the 30 chiefs of the clan MacLeod for 800 years and it is still the private residence of the current chief Hugh Magnus.
Definitely it is worthwhile to rent a car and see the sights of Skye by driving around the island. You should plan at least two to three days to explore the island thoroughly. The car however has to be booked at least a week ahead. There was no hope in renting a car on the same day or on the same week in the middle of July.
In retrospect we can warmly recommend going around Isle of Skye by own boat on a western side and spending nights in quiet lochs there. At first we also considered this option but due to our timetable we made another choice. There are also mooring buoys in front of both Talisker and Dunvegan.