DAY 46 – Saturday 4 June 2022 – Sandside Bay to Rispond Bay (Loch Eriboll)

Miles logged: 28
Total miles logged: 1,279
Days since leaving Fleetwood: 46
Days at sea: 28

This leg was a short hop along the north coast of Scotland to Loch Eriboll, from where we will try to round Cape Wrath in the morning. Astonishingly, for almost all of the 28 miles along the rugged and lonely coast, with no towns or settlements save for one small and scattered group of cottages, I had a strong 4G signal. I was able to upload yesterday’s blog post and a 2GB YouTube video. The signal remained strong, in fact, until we entered our little cove, Rispond Bay, to anchor for the night. Hoping to speak with my wife I found once anchored that the signal had dropped to nothing, and so it remained.

Fine conditions for sailing … for a while

We had calculated that we should leave after lunch in order to benefit from the west-going tide but, once again, we were probably too close to the shore to fall within the charted tidal stream. Our course took us to Strathy Point, which we passed very close to, allowing a good look at its lighthouse. After Strathy Point we were afforded our first view of really spectacular Scottish coastal scenery – mountains, colossal cliffs and an impressive coastline stretching into the distance. 

Strathy Point
The birds were disturbed as I sailed past

There are no ports or marinas on this bleak northern coastline once Scrabster has been passed. The only safe haven for yachts making a passage westwards is Loch Eriboll, within which several anchorages are marked on the chart. Loch Eriboll is an impressive sea-loch stretching several miles inland. We chose the anchorage closest to the sea, Rispond Bay, because we will be here just for the night and want to get on our way towards Cape Wrath in the morning.

Entering Loch Eriboll we were confronted with a sight like none other on the trip so far. Loch Eriboll is bounded by cliffs, mountains, stone stacks and caves all on the grandest scale, and in the golden late-afternoon sunlight the spectacle was truly stunning. We were totally alone; we saw no vessels of any kind on our way here and none, as far as we can see, is anchored in the loch. Indeed there is no sign of human habitation in any direction. 

Entering Loch Eriboll

Rispond Bay, at the north-west of the loch a mile or so in from the entrance is really little more than a rocky cove. There is not much space within. We both had some difficulty setting our anchors; I was further in than Mike and whilst my anchor did set, I found that Bubble was lying rather too close to two plastic buoys whose purpose was unclear; perhaps they belong to local fishermen, although there is no sign of fishing boats. Eventually Bubble was settled in and supper was had in almost total calm. In a nod to the surroundings I dined on haggis, neeps and tatties, washed down with whisky. It was a splendid feast.

The yachts safely anchored at Rispond Bay

Tomorrow the weather is forecast to be calm in the morning but with more wind in the afternoon. We have taken the decision to leave early in order to pass around Cape Wrath when the wind is least, rather than when the tidal stream is least. We thought long and hard about this; if the pilot book is to be followed to the letter we would depart after lunch and arrive at our next destination at dusk, by which time a stiff breeze is forecast to be up. On the basis of our experience of difficult headlands in benign weather conditions thus far, we made our decision and will set off from here at 0930.

Our next destination will be our first on the west cost and the leg will involve us passing our fourth, and final, ‘corner’ – Cape Wrath. We are aiming to reach Kinlochbervie which is a small but totally protected harbour a dozen or so miles south of Cape Wrath. We will have a well-earned rest-day there after four consecutive days at sea. We will then proceed southwards, through some of the finest cruising grounds in Europe. 

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