DAY 49 – Tuesday 7 June 2022 – Kinlochbervie to Acairseid Mhór (Rona)

Miles logged: 65
Total miles logged: 1,370
Days since leaving Fleetwood: 49
Days at sea: 30

The forecast looks bleak for the end of the week so we need to be somewhere comfortable – ideally a marina – by Thursday, in good time for the high winds which are expected on Friday. So our decision was to make for Mallaig, where there is a marina which specifically advertises that it has plenty of visitors’ berths, breaking the journey from Kinlochbervie somewhere in order to avoid a leg of over a hundred miles. 

The original plan was to anchor in a bay in Loch Ewe this evening and then at Acairseid Mhór on the island of Rona tomorrow, before making for Mallaig on Thursday. Preferring to build some slack into our plans and wishing to make the best of the good weather while it lasts we decided instead to sail to Acairseid Mhór in one go today then to move on to Mallaig tomorrow. I thought that we might steal a march on everyone else who is seeking a safe haven in advance of Friday if we were to arrive at Mallaig on Wednesday.

The leg started wonderfully well in sunshine, even at 0600, and between ten and twelve knots of wind. The wind was on the beam so the conditions were close to ideal for cruising yachts such as ours. Once out at sea we both set full sail and enjoyed four hours sailing, maintaining an adequate speed for passage-making. From the start and, indeed, for the entire day we enjoyed stunning views of the mountainous northern Scottish skyline and, visible in the distance, good views of the island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. We passed the Summer Isles and, in the distance, the Shiant Isles.

Views such as this all day

Having seen no large marine mammals since our entry to and exit from the harbour at Aberdeen it was good to have several sightings today. A group of dolphins was very active near Pagets Lady, clearly feeding on a shoal of fish, and other dolphins were soon attracted over, several passing close by Bubble. One jumped entirely out of the water. Then, close to the fishing port of Ullapool, for the first time on our circumnavigation we saw two or three orcas (killer whales) with their unmistakable tall dorsal fins. There is currently much talk in the yachting community about these aggressive creatures troubling yachts and snapping pieces out of yachts’ rudders. They kept well away from us but I couldn’t help wondering how many thousands of pounds new rudder for Bubble might cost.

I am attracted to remote anchorages especially if they are uncommonly attractive, so when planning our route to Mallaig made sure that we called at the small island of Rona, which has, well hidden behind its rocky coastline, one of the finest of all British anchorages. Rona has a population of three, one of which is the Warden; I telephoned him for advice on entering the anchorage and to reserve two of his well-maintained mooring buoys. It was a good decision to visit Rona; the anchorage which, as is almost universal in these parts, has a Gaelic name, is called  Acairseid Mhór and it is well known as a very special place. A couple we met at Kinlochbervie had come up from there, via the Summer Isles. Entering the narrow and rocky channel from the sea a profound sense of peace and calm awaits in this most beautiful of places. We found our moorings easily and once our engines were silent could immerse ourselves in the tranquility and quietness. We have seen few woods in this part of Scotland but some of the area around the anchorage is wooded and the trees are full of land-birds, not sea-birds. So instead of the now-familiar calls of sea-birds, different but comfortingly familiar birdsong filled the air. In particular some very vocal cuckoos made the most of their ability to make a lot of noise. In the evening a profound silence descended, the like of which is not often experienced in normal life. Nothing relaxes one more than total peace and quiet; I expect to sleep well tonight. 

Entering the anchorage at Rona. The entrance was very rocky
Pagets Lady moored for the night at Rona

En route to Rona I called the harbourmaster at Mallaig to book two berths for several days, enough to ride out the bad weather. To my great surprise, although he did his best to be helpful he had to tell me that he could not accommodate us for such a long period. So when we arrived at Rona Mike rowed over and we discussed our options. We could try Mallaig again in the morning in case there are cancellations but with weather coming in there is little chance that there will be any. I think it is courteous to telephone ahead of a marina visit but I wonder on this occasion if we might have been better just arriving. In my experience yachts are barely ever sent away once they have arrived. It is indeed, I suspect, sometimes better not to ask. In the end we decided that we would tomorrow make for an anchorage in the Sound of Sleat, south of Kyle of Lochalsh, then on Thursday sail to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, there to shelter from the bad weather on the comfort of the new yacht pontoons. 

There is a short video of this anchorage taken from Bubble here.

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