All posts by Kara

Celebrating our first 1,000 miles!

As we ended our circuit around Skye, Tim calculated our approximate mileage since we set off from Bristol in late May. Much to our surprise, we hit about 1,026 nautical miles! (1 nm = 1.852 km = 6,076.1 ft = 1.1508 statute miles… Source: Wikipedia)

We know we have not yet crossed oceans and wider seas, but we feel that we have sailed in places which were both extremely challenging and beautiful. The challenges were mainly brought about by the relatively rapid changes in weather and sea states, following strong wind gusts, contrasting the rare, still moments. The beauty – well, our previous blog posts say it all.

Pop that Champagne!

We had a bottle of Bollinger given to us back in 2012 by our friend Dan, as part of a ‘box of treats’ – a token of friendship and gratitude. His gesture has huge significance to us, because almost 4 years ago to the day of publishing this blog post, Dan went missing for almost 4 days in the Alps while speedflying down the Jungfraujoch with Tim, Liam, and another Dan. When it became apparent that he did not land in the agreed location after a few hours, it was time to set up a search.

Dan shared his experience publicly for the first time during an Explorers Connect talk he conducted with Tim in Bristol last spring.

Now we know that he had miraculously escaped the rushing glacial water by cutting himself loose from his wing and swimming to a small undercut in a deep gorge. Here, he waited – for approximately 75 to 80 hours. He had no idea that his friends had started their own search party after the local mountain search and rescue teams were letting up on Day 2.

We were overwhelmed by people’s generosity in terms of their donations (which consequently helped pay for helicopter launches and hospital bills), and most especially for their time. Volunteers came from further afield to help in the search. No one knew whether we would find him, but we were all hopeful. On Day 4 of the search, Dan was spotted by his friend Nadeem, crouched down below in the gorge, and barely visible from above.

Dan & Tim on Shadowfax
Sailing Shadowfax in the Bristol Channel 2015 with Dan & Tim

The best miracle was the selfless combined effort of several people (many who were previously strangers to each other) in finding him – and knowing that he is now working on his dream sailing his very own yacht: seeking adventure, seeing and experiencing the world.

A great day to celebrate with the bottle of Bollinger…Cheers to you Dan, cheers to Friends, cheers to Life! We love you!

Left to Right: Tim, Ginny, Kara, Julie, John - raising a glass to love, life, friendship, and sailing!
Left to Right: Tim, Ginny, Kara, Julie, John – raising a glass to love, life, friendship, and sailing!

We’re also raising our glasses to pay tribute to another speed flyer, Harrison Fast, who went missing earlier this year in the same area. May you rest in peace, knowing your family and friends understood that love is adventure, and adventure is love…and that wherever you are now, it is pure bliss.

A Fly through the Isle of Skye

We purposely saved sailing around Skye and waited for Tim’s dad, step mum, and our friend Ginny to join us for a week-long circumnavigation of the isle. Unfortunately, a week is not long enough to take in the entirety of the vast land and seascape, so we opted for a mixture of culture (i.e. a visit to a whisky distillery), sport (walking + Island Workout Jane-Fonda Style), and cuisine (cooking and eating all the provisions) while sailing to beautiful anchorages.

Much to John and Julie’s dismay (mostly due to the fact that they had driven 9 hours to get to us), we had a set of ‘On Board Rules’ to follow…which ended up becoming a week-long joke, with Julie calling Tim the Rule-Master!

Skye is known for higher rainfall compared to other areas of Scotland, and apparently to live full-time on the isle, you have to be extremely hardy. We started our week from Kyle of Lochalsh, sailed through Kyle Rhea in calm conditions and were surprised at the 2.5 knot* tides swishing us about despite having the motor on to help us out. We would be doing 5 knots through the water* but actually just moving 2.5 knots over ground*! Once we cleared the tides, we raised the sails and set course for the Sleat Peninsula, where we were going to anchor for the first night. The day was hot and the wind blew a steady breeze.

Paddleboarding Skye
Paddleboarding Skye – daring to get out on the board fully clothed!

Our second day was a bit colder, but the sun somewhat stayed out. Everyday seemed to be a guess as to whether the sun will make an appearance! Our day was relatively smooth-sailing, and we managed to pick up a mooring at Carbost. After dinner and a few drinks, Tim and Ginny blasted the tunes and out came the USB-disco ball, probably much to the detriment of our fellow sailing neighbours.

We decided that the rainy Monday should be spent wandering Carbost, where the Talisker Distillery is located. The tour was interesting, although we were not allowed to take any photos of the process. The whisky is still generally made the traditional way, except for a few changes to machinery in 1962, after a large fire struck down much of the original distillery. Talisker whisky started its life in 1830, as the ‘only distillery on the Isle of Skye’ and continues to run through to today. Read more about it here.

copyright Chasing Contours
Whisky Sunset

A Flood in the Aft Cabin

After two nights in Carbost, we sailed towards Duntulm, where we expected to be anchored in a sheltered bay. We were sailing along fine in the morning until Julie came up to deck saying, “Our cabin is flooding!” Tim jumped down the steps to inspect, and sure enough, some of the bilges were filled with not salt – but fresh water! This was somewhat a relief, because it would mean that we were not on the verge of sinking or calling a mayday.

He then checked our water tank, and it was very low at about 25 litres. Julie had left the tap on accidentally! We now had a bit of distance to cover before we could get to a port that offered water. Thankfully, Uig was somewhat on the way and although we were not sure if the pier would have water, we took the chance. Thankfully, the ferry pier staff were happy to lend us a hand and we filled the tank with no dramas!

Duntulm Shore Lines

Our next anchorage was between the mainland and this little island off Duntulm, in between Duntulm Bay and Tulm Bay. We set shore lines because of the high winds we expected overnight. It was probably the worst night’s sleep we have had for a while, because the boat was rocking about with the wind funnelling through the bays. The shorelines held fast. We explored the little island in the morning, peering over some fluffy Cormorant chicks on the cliff.

Ginny and John mini hike on Island off Duntulm
Walking the uninhabited island, which happened to be full of wild parsley and Cormorant poop!
copyright Chasing Contours
Shore lines to the island kept us safe, but it did not stop the rocking…

The holiday with family and friends flew by too quickly, just as quick as we had circumnavigated Skye; we would have liked to see more, but perhaps we will be back – one day! One thing for sure, it was a nice break from the helm and galley for both of us!

Cheers! Here’s to jolly good nights…



knot – (/nɒt/) is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile (1.852 km) per hour, approximately 1.151 mph (source: Wikipedia). It originated from sailors trailing a line of rope with regular knots tied on, such that as they sailed forward, they would count the knots on the rope as they moved along relative to time.

speed over ground – the boat’s given speed as it is travelling forward. This can differ from the ‘through the water’ reading.

speed through the water – more often than not, tidal streams will have an effect on the boat’s forward speed. It can add to it (yipeee!) or it can work against it (boo).

More explained clearly here.

Oooh Lala, Ullapool!

After hunkering down for a weekend at Stornoway following the crazy storm that hit Scotland and the North Sea in early August, we headed towards Ullapool to meet up with Dan, Charlotte, baby Ella, Hugh, Robyn, and Scott – who we met randomly at the Outer Hebrides. They were all sailing too, and we spent about a day together having a barbecue on Scott and Robyn’s Goldseeker, and diving ‘The Politician‘.

Dolphins of The Minch
Dolphins of The Minch

Dan and Charlotte kindly offered us a ‘real’ bed (with an electric blanket!!!) in one of their guest rooms, and we had the pleasure of meeting their friend, Denise Evans – yet another sailing legend, it seems! Denise is in her mid-80s. She comes from a mainly mountaineering family, and yet started sailing on her own (we don’t know when she started sailing but she’s owned her own same boat for over 30 years). She’s sailed right up in the Arctic, and all the way down south around Patagonia. They only avoided Cape Horn because of a storm. We gathered around the charts of Iceland and Faroe Islands, and Denise was happily recalling some of her favourite passages.

Dinner with Dan. Charlotte, Denise, and Ella
Dinner with Dan. Charlotte, Denise, and Ella

Dan and Charlotte learned quite a lot of their love for the higher latitudes from Denise, and when the time came for their own adventure, they built their own 34ft Benford Dory junk sailboat, Hestur and sailed around the Atlantic coasts for 18 months. Check out their inspiring blogs: Dan’s and Charlotte’s. They are now busy raising their daughter, Ella, who is very little (about 10 months!) is training her sea legs with the little sailing adventures around Scotland.

Hestur built by Dan and Charlotte

After a break at the Summer Isles, we headed back into Ullapool and had a lovely evening meal at Robyn and Scott’s – two home cooked meals in a weekend! There are some home comforts we tend to take for granted, which we appreciate a lot more after living on a sail boat for a few months.

Dinner at Robyn & Scott's
Dinner at Robyn & Scott’s





Boat Galley’s Gallery!

Welcome to Shadowfax’s Galley, where Kara cooks up some scrumptious treats using the limited cooking tools available. You may want to check out the Shadowfax Provision List, which may be slightly unusual compared to regular provision lists.

Click on each photo to get the recipes! Most of these are not really measured, so we will do our best to give you the authentic stuff.

More to come…

From Oban to the Outer Hebrides: Part 2 of 2

Bob had suggested that Tobermory was worth checking out, so that’s what we did. Tobermory is located at the north end of the Sound of Mull, and quite a popular destination for sailors, especially those with families. The harbour is run by the local community, and everything is injected back into the local economy. The harbour-side high street is composed of a colourful array of buildings that house very quirky local shops (and a Co-op). They even had a well-stocked chandlery, which Tim could not resist visiting.

Tobermory by Chasing Contours

We treated ourselves to a black pudding and cheddar toastie for lunch, and later on for a late dinner, we walked over to the Fish Café, which had a lot of good reviews. We were not disappointed!

We have met a lot of friendly, helpful people in the sailing community. In Tobermory, our neighbours had their boat moored at Ringhaddy, Strangford Lough and knew the people we had met while we were moored there.

The next morning, we headed for Rum, dropped anchor and went for a lovely mini-hike up a well-trodden path next to a mountain stream. The stream opened up to small pools, where I would imagine, on a hot day, would be great for a dip (this was not a particularly hot day though!). Rum was home to some interesting wildlife and a small community, where one could find craft shops and a village hall with tea, coffee, cake, and WIFI – all paid for via an honesty box. We walked past homes with their doors wide open, and fancied a life where there was zero crime and everyone trusted each other. We even saw a wild Red Stag munching on some undergrowth next to the hostel building…it did not seem too alarmed at us staring at him, he just raised his head, stared a bit, and then proceeded eating.

Red Stag at Isle of Rhum, by Chasing Contours
Red Stag at Isle of Rhum, by Chasing Contours

We met another pair of sailors, Tim and Owen. We found out that Tim’s boat was moored in Helensbrugh! What a coincidence, meeting people from the places we actually had been to. That said, it is becoming clear that the sailing up here is far more exciting than down south because of the variety of islands and lochs there are to explore – so it’s highly likely that sailors up north will explore the northern isles over weekends or short holidays.

The wind blew strong overnight, blowing the clouds away and a bright morning greeted us the next day, when we got up at 6am to make an early start. We were the first boat to leave Rum (there were 9 others anchored off by the end of the day), and sailed the 40 nautical miles across the Sea of the Hebrides with the spinnaker and main sails. I was feeling a bit queasy and Tim managed on his own until I rose from Queasy Kingdom!