Instead of making a long sail to Faroe Islands we sailed directly from Shetland to Scotland’s western coast. Our departure was on Monday at 10am and we arrived next day at 5pm. This summer we have made several overnight sails and we have found a good routine for managing the watch and the sleep. This time the 162 nautical mile journey took 31 hours.
It was an easy sailing. Always when there was any wind we raised the sails and when the wind died we motored. The weather forecast had promised strong winds from south-west starting on Wednesday. Our plan was to reach the west coast of Scotland before the heavy weather and to avoid sailing upwind.
The Cape Wrath has a notorious reputation. However it showed to us its gentle face as we got our first looks of the Scottish Highlands. The sun was shining, the sea was smooth like a mirror and the sand beach at the cape looked inviting.
Our journey was quite lonely. Other departing boats from Shetland headed to Fair Isle when we turned south-west for passing the Orkney Islands on the north side. We were alone at sea for the almost complete journey. After approaching the north coast of Scotland we started to see several ships at the same time. It felt strange and seems that we got used to the empty sea rather quickly.
During the passage planning we considered making a direct sail to Portree on Isle of Skye. However this would have meant another night at sea. The weather forecast was showing a gale force winds up to 35 knots from south-west, that is where we were heading to. Also the wind strength should start increasing already on small hours of Wednesday. We definitely wanted to find a good safehaven before this for waiting the wind to blow itself out.
While searching for an anchorage we were spoilt by choice because both the sides of Cape Wrath the Scottish coast are full of lochs. As the weather was still good we made a decission to pass Cape Wrath as then the next leg to Hebrides would be shorter. Andrus selected Loch Laxford for our anchorage and it turned out to be an excellent place.
Immideately after entering the loch it spread out to several smaller lochs. Andrus found from a chart Loch a’ Chadh-fi which is protected on all four sides by hills.
It felt like entering a totally new world. The cliffs on the shores of the loch were wild and rugged while raising steeply towards the sky. We felt very small at their base. The nearest hills were up to 100 metres tall but behind these we could see the mountains raising up to the 900 metres. The height from the sea level got a totally new meaning to us when judging the mountains from the sea level.
On Wednesday and Thursday it was really blowing at sea. The forecast was right and the wind was roaring at 35 knots. We however were in calm water between the mountains in the middle of so beautiful nature. The place was so well protected that the mountains even prevented our mobile telephones from working, so we were really in the middle of natural beauty by ourselves.
After two days the wind had blown most of itself out and we continued couple of lochs southwards.
Our next anchorage was at the Loch Ewe. To me it was amusing to stay almost at my own loch – Eve at Ewe – and the best of all it was my birthday.
Also at loch Ewe there were several smaller branches as well. We dropped the hook in the shadow of the Isle of Ewe and cooked delicious stakes for celebrating my birthday in the middle of amazing Scottish nature.
According to the charts there are a plenty of shallow bays for anchoring in countless lochs. However there are also a legion of marine farms situated at many shallow water bays. Even if according to the chart the bay is suitable for anchoring it might be that the marine industry have already conquered the location and there is a need to find a new spot. This also happened to us. Also you should be prepared to anchor in deep water of 20 to 25 metres so it is better to have enough anchor rode aboard. However after a little wandering around, there are excellent anchorages to be found in all lochs.
These lochs of Scotland are unbelievably idyllic. We could spend much more time there and stay far away from the everyday rat race.