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





Diving the Politician

Our first stop after sailing across the Sea of the Hebrides we arrived at Castle Bay in the South of the island cluster and soon overheard a couple talking about a wreck called the Politician. First here is what wiki says:


SS Politician was an 8000-ton cargo ship owned by T & J Harrison of Liverpool. It left Liverpool on 3 February 1941, bound for Kingston, Jamaica and New Orleans with a cargo including 28,000 cases of malt whisky. The ship sank off the north coast of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland, and much of the wreck’s cargo was salvaged by the island’s inhabitants. The story of the wreck and looting was the basis for the book and film Whisky Galore! (Wikipedia)

It turned out that this couple used to use their boat for diving charters so they knew their stuff! This was perfect since we’re not hugely experienced cold water divers. A few days later we set sail north as a group of four boats and dropped anchor surrounding the wreck. Sadly the wreck was barely distinguishable after being pounded by winter storms for over 50 years. That said, there was a lot of kelp growing from the remains of the ship, providing shelter to lots of fish and other marine life.

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!