Western Isles

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I have just come down from a long weekend on Skye and it has shown me what an underutilised boating resource the whole West of Scotland is.

Regrettably, most of the marina type facilities are based on the holiday cruising range of yachts coming through the Crinan canal so there is not much North of Oban. Motor boats can cover much greater distances in a typical holiday cruise but if you venture to the Western Isles, in the main you will need to lie at anchor or pick up a visitor's mooring (which are pretty numerous). Fuel has to be had from the same places as the fishing boats and is generally geared for them and not nice clean motor cruisers.

It has to be worth it. The scenery is just the most spectacular certainly in the UK and must be in the world rankings. In terms of weather, when I was there the sun shone and some of the sights just had us breathless. Even in a good blow, mostly you are cruising sheltered inland waters with a large island between you and the Atlantic - you will never be stuck for a bolt hole. There are so many inlets, unspoilt bays, etc, etc, to explore you will be lost for choice. Plus the place is littered with excellent restuarants - have a good food guide handy.

I wonder if there is an opportunity for a few small marinas in strategic locations? Maybe even a hire fleet for those who can demonstrate appropriate qualifications?

Nick
 

hlb

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Before I begin. Why's this bloody thing sudenly asking for pass words again and all sorts of crap!!

Now then sorry about that Nick.

Thanks for something discussable for a change, the site had reverted to its usual Gardeners Question Time again.

Your right about the Western Isles. They are reputed to be the best cruising grounds in Europe.

(Well apart from Cornwall)

I cruised up to the Western Isles a few years ago from Wales.
Unfortunatly only got to Tobormory before time ran out.

Catch 22. with the marinas and posh diesel stations.

I liked Ireland and the Western Isles and prefer to muck in with the fishermen than all the poncy marina lot

However a marina is usefull every now and then.
One in Oban would have saved the trouble of climbing down the sea wall and over a few fishing boats before reaching mine. Oh!! thats not the problem, its carrying a 39 stone wife pissed out of her head ( Or was it me, cant remember much.)

The interesting problem after Crinan was trying to navigate
hundreds of Islands. No chart plotters then only piece of paper and Lat and Long. Every time I looked up from the chart it was. Now then is that this Island or the one we've just passed or maybe the other one over there.

Trouble with building a load of marinas in the Western Isles is. How do you get there?? I mean its easy by boat but try driving there presuming that the purpose of the marina is to leave yer boat there. It's all miles from anywhere by road with loads of ferries to catch on the way.
Cant see it paying for just visitors and anyway most boat owners are to mamby pamby to go cruising cept round the Solent or maybe round Windermere.
Met a bloke last week in Weymouth, he'd had his boat eight years and he asked what Cornwall was like!!

We're setting off next week on our yearly World Cruise (Well Nearly) and I'm running out of routes trouble with Britainy is its ok going down there nice and sunny cos you dont go if its not. But the bloody weather always changes on the way back.

Keep toying with the Idea of moving up to Scotland for a change but thats another story.

By the way I thought there were a few hire fleets up there,
Admited around Lock Ness but I'm sure they let some of them out to sea.

Haydn
 

Scubadoo

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I totally agree with you Nick, the scenery is breath taking. Last year I was in Oban in April and again in October to do mainly wreck diving. I used Puffin dive services for the boat trips. Many times sitting on the Rib I wished I had my boat with me - (which is based in the Solent). I even discuss with my mate about moving it up there but decided it was to much hassle at the moment.

Anyway I do plan at some point to take my boat there, but in the mean time I am planning more diving trips and also looking into chartering a Rib so I have the freedom to explore.

The only thing when I was there is the weather, some excellent sunny days and some pretty awful days - diving in very low temps in rain & wind can put you off until the next day.

RM.
 

hlb

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AH But!!

Acording to Nick. It's always hot and sunny up in Scotland.
Must be just you and me that were unlucky.
Mind you with all the Whiskey I suppose everywhere is
hot and sunny!!

Haydn
 
G

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There are some hire fleets but not necessarily in the right places. There's Loch Goil cruisers on Loch Goil on the Clyde chartering fairly old single engine 8knt Brooms. If you have never seen the Clyde, this might be a way to do it and it is also spectacular compared to the Solent but just not on the grand scale of the West Highlands.

There's Caley cruisers on Loch Ness but thats inland and only a little bit removed from hiring a cruiser on the Norfolk Broads, although ten times more scenic.

With regard to marinas at Oban you could have berth at pontoons at Kererra, the island just across Oban bay. They run a free water taxi to and from Oban and would have arrange cranage for you and your wife. Also just around the corner, alittle further North is Dunstaffenage with a proper marina. The only thing is it is about 5 miles from Oban but there is a shuttle bus.

Further North, I am not aware of full marina facilities on Skye but there are odd pontoon berths around e.g. at Portree harbour + loads of HIDB (Highlands and Islands Development Board) visitor buoys around. Between Skye and the mainland there are two sounds, the inner and outer between Skye/Rasaay and Rasaay/Mainland - hugely attractive and would take months to explore properly.

Then across the Minches in benign weather and you have the Hebrides - Harris, Lewis, Rhum, Eigg, etc. All fantastically scenic.

Choosing weather, pick June as this is statistically your best chance of good weather in Scotland.

Oh! and you will pretty well get the water to yourself apart from the odd Calmac ferry and fishing boats - comparing the Solent is like comparing the M25 with a the main road on Sark!
 
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You just have to live with the weather and be prepared for it. On a cruise you are never more than a mile or two from shelter and the restuarants and food are just as good when its raining. As far as diving goes, it seems a bit funny descending through the water to some wreck, immersed in water, then complaining if it rains a bit when you come up - I mean you're wet anyway!

A nice flybridge cruiser 35ft+ is the way to do it. Flying bridge when appropriate, lower helm when it rains.

Many English people make the mistake of coming to Scotland in July and August. This is the rainy season and the best weather is always in May and June, usually enhanced because its simultaneously peeing down on England.

Finally, for Haydn, if you are coming North bring the boat on a lorry as the gearboxes will never stand the journey otherwise!
I used to live (for seven years) in Altrincham and a Friday night trip to KIP took about 3hrs30min from the office in Central Manchester including getting out of Manchester on Friday night. From Black Pudding country it should therefore be under three hours - may I venture, quicker than the West Country!

Nick
 

Scubadoo

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Your right I should not be complaining about the rain when diving - however after diving in cold water sitting in the rib I would prefer to be drying off. Have you ever been in Puffin twin diesel rib at 35knots with no windowscreen - with the rain and cold wind bouncing off your face!

Anyway diving when sunny makes the dive more exciting.

PS. Don't fancy using your Birchwood as a diving boat for a couple of days? Now that would be comfort diving.

RM.
 

hlb

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Nick.
You havent got a new job with the Scotish Tourist Board
have you??
Anyway it only 4 and half hours to Plymouth so not that much in it.

Oh!! and with the new big hydraulic boxes it will go anywhere.
Trouble is I cant aford the diesel with that and. Oh yes £700
quid for the heater repairs and then theres the turbo!!

Then theres the shortage of black puddings and tripe up there.
Cant stand the hagis. Oh and the meat pies don in the chip fat
are a bit off putting. But then I suppose youve got to get used to them in posh Scotish restruarants.

Haydn
 

kimhollamby

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Wish you'd stop this...reminding me I was on the MBM Round Britain two years ago and had left Scotland earlier in the month (arrived in Hull today, in 99).

Agree with everything said, cannot wait to go back some day. Incidentally, although very different to the West Coast (and even more subject to the weather) that includes the very unexplored East Coast of Scotland, esp. Firth of Forth.

One slight problem with visitor moorings on the West Coast at the time was the number of very long term visitors (ie residents) using them. The 'blue buoy' scheme was a little bit abused but there were moves afoot to sort it out, at least in harbours where the local authorities were happy to a) carry on funding them and b) sort them out. If nothing else, it brushed up my anchoring skills!
 
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You can come on my Birchwood if you promise to retrieve my specs from the bottom of Kip marina!

Nick
 
G

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OY...Your MBM round the UK thing has cost me a bleedin fortune.

I picked up my first copy of your mag the month you set out from the Solent, finding it interesting reading I HAD to buy subsequent copies of aforementioned mag.

Then I wanted to "have a go myself " to a smaller scale of course as some of us have "proper jobs ".

That meant I had to buy a boat, after a year poodling around the Solent it was obvious I needed a bigger boat.

So last year we bought a bigger boat, now were running on diesel and not petrol we have started travelling even further ...and you know what that means !!...we are going to want a bigger boat again next year so we can get out to the med !

When I read you were leaving MBM, well quite frankly I was relieved.

As I simply cannot keep up with the demand ..So please dont write anymore interesting stuff about cruising stick to the 8 pages of binocular revues.

Thanks

Ian

P.S Scotland sounds lovely e mail me some charts
 

Scubadoo

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Many years ago a mate decided to throw away my anchor and 50metres of chain and rope. Even with it marked on the GPS we could not find it, so your specs have no chance :eek:(

RM.
 

kimhollamby

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Okay, so you don't want me to tell you that I'm being dusted off for a brief comeback, leading the Dutch and Normandy MBM cruises from where, when I'm not upside down in someone's bilges, no doubt I'll be posting some stories back to the MBM and ybw sites.

Sorry for driving you near to destitution but hope you've had some fun along the way...!
 
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