Lochinver or Bust...

You can't call it a storm, or indeed a gale, but the cruise to Lochinver was certainly punishing. From Jason's Ellen Gale Neil told me he could at times see most of Paul's bottom, an alarming sight.

Seven boats headed from Isle Martin after a gin-sodden evening on the pontoon before setting off into what the Vice-commodore suggested would be a "flat calm". Those of us with access to Windyty.com or the Commodore's preferred itsalwaysshiteonthewestcoast.com feared otherwise although the actual strength of the wind, and size of the waves, as we rounded Isle Ristol and headed north was a surprise; certainly to the Commodore who poked his nose out and poked it back in again, before heading for Kumari, anchored non too securely in a bight off the entrance to Ristol, for a comfort break. Fortified, and reefed, Sally's head was turned once again to the north, and once again she was thwarted by the waves, which had been building after a week of northerlies.

So back she came, in company with Captain John Sensible and First Mate Donald aboard Mairi Bhan. neither of whom needed their characters building, being quite bad enough already. Word came through later that they arrived back at Isle Martin just in time for a slap-up curry and cake, courtesy of the Ladies Who Scribble, alone and un-chaperoned on the island to garner inspiration for their next blockbusters. The sight of a bedraggled Buchanan, and his piratical skipper put them in mind not so much of Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom, more of Long John Silver and his trusty parrot. Who knows what literary gems will have been inspired by their ragged appearance on those placid shores.

What transpired after curry and cake is not disclosed, and perhaps is best kept secret until the publication next year of what will undoubtedly be a host of  books featuring a cast of swarthy mariners and marooned maidens bearing plates of cake and bowls of curry.

Meanwhile, aboard Sally, by now heading gently downwind, the Commodore was pondering his decision to turn back. Had not Andy Reeve told l him aboard Kumari that "No one will think any the worse of you," if he bailed out. That clinched it.

And with those words ringing in his head, mindful of his role, the heavy responsibility of office, reputation, example, but mostly of of the ignominy awaiting at the Winter Party, knocking back a tumbler of 100% proof Captain Morgan's. crossing himself three times, and with a prayer to the Almighty, resolutely once more he turned Sally's head  to face the onslaught, this time with working jib and a few more rolls in the main.

Actually, it wasn't too bad. And how she did go under reduced sail. I'd almost forgotten what a powerful little boat she is. And when at last we rounded Coigach, and cracked sheets for Lochinver, the sun shone, the breeze softened and for an hour or so it was just bliss to tack slowly up towards where the rest of the fleet, Lunga, Twister, Kumari and Mollymawk, were berthed, to a warm welcome on the pontoon.

Alas, Ellen Gael had found the last tack up from Rieff too daunting, and had also turned back, possibly the horror of seeing Paul's bottom had been too traumatic. That left five yachts and crew to share their experiences. In truth the wind had been no more than force 4/5, with a touch more in the squalls that accompanied the rain clouds. But it was the swell, combined with the waves on that five-mile upwind leg that had been so brutal at times.

What happened next? Have a guess. It involved red tins and a walk to the Caberfedh for an excellent supper. After which we all went to bed happy and tired.

The return passage was flat calm, as the Vice had predicted, albeit a day later...

2nd annual Tender Race

Glassy Seas

Battling at Start

Away go the big boats...

Mid Race Sally not showing her 80 years...

Mollymawk being kind to the birthday boat

Test Loading Thembi's mooring


This is what we (tried) to do last year. Can I suggest we run a tender race again this year and also, once the kids have finished playing with Fevas and Picos, we have an Over 40s dinghy race.

Here's the programme, as copied from 2016.

Provisional weather permitting. Times subject to change.

(Programme subject to change too...). But here goes!

Friday 25th, 6pm for 6.30pm
FF Race (the first of two races to count towards a FF Regatta Prize)
If you haven't been sailing as much as you'd like to this season, then this is your chance.
It would great to see all the boats afloat, and all fully crewed please or the result won’t count.

Saturday 26th 9.30-12.00pm
Picos, Fevas, FFs, Toppers with the club RIB in attendance.
Over 40 race in rigged Toppers and Fevas.

FF Trophy Race (and the second of the two FF Regatta Prize races)
1.30 pm BBQ, ashore. BYO.

Cruiser Race

Home to recuperate or drinks and canapes under the awning for those with stamina left.

Sunday 27th
Tender Race then Cruise to Loggie, perhaps, or whatever we all decide on the day.
If the weather suits, then FFs and Fevas too.

Campbell's Cup (with a little help from Donald...)

Well, there we go. The second Campbell's Cup and Robin would have been delighted to see the fleet bashing into a stiff north wester en route to Isle Martin.

And as Lisa said, Roy Osborne would have been delighted also  to see two of his boats still active, Mairi Bhan and Seonaid, first and second to finish.

Alastair's  new boat was there too, as was David Dawson's palatial Lunga. I asked him if he was taking any champagne aboard to which he replied "It's already on board..." The old LBSC is clearly going up in the world.

Twister was there as well, although she had an interesting interpretation of the sailing rule which said leave Winkie to starboard. No matter. And of course the Copestake's Mollymawk, with new reefing jib, and the Meighan/Leon Invicta cracking along to finish third (but not necessarily overall as we await our Handicapper's deliberations).

And once it was all over? Well, a BBQ at the pontoon.And within minutes, Donald's bar was open.

PS Did you know he once worked at Edinburgh's prestigious jewellers, Hamilton and Inches where he was known as Donald Fordyce Smyth? But best keep that quiet...