A few days in Bonnie Scotland

Bergen to Plymouth is one of the toughest trips of our season, as we expect a proportion of it to be against the prevailing SW winds.  Not for the faint hearted it says in the description on our web site – and how true that proved to be.

Our aim is to get to Plymouth, and with the expectation that we might encounter bad weather we build extra days into the schedule.  If the weather is nicer than expected this gives us time to stop in the Outer Hebrides, but if not we just have to keep on going.

After a very fast sail across the North Sea we were getting ready for a stop in the Outer Hebrides when we heard the forecast for SE 8 and 9 in the next few days.  As we couldn’t afford to get stuck so far North we needed to press on south whilst we could and dive into Oban to shelter from the Force 8 and 9 winds.

We ended up spending 3 nights at the small marina on Kerrera Island, whilst it blew over 40 knots in the shelter of the harbour.  We managed to see a good bit of Oban, including the distillery and sample some of the product.

As well as sampling whiskey we decided to try out some other Scottish favourites.  Dick downloaded some bagpipe music from the internet, and Richard – our Scottish guest, taught us Highland dancing in the cockpit.  We followed this with Haggis for lunch accompanied by a reading of a Rabbie Burns poem, again by Richard in his very Scottish accent.

A Man’s A Man For A’ That

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;
But an honest man’s abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities an’ a’ that;
The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
Are higher rank than a’ that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that

This ode to Scotland, must have worked its magic, because after lunch the weather cleared and instead of 40 knots and rain we had 10 knots and sunshine, time to leave and head south.

We caught the tide south down the Sound of Islay, and headed towards the Mull of Kintyre.  As always the wind goes from the sublime to the ridiculous and by midnight we were motoring in flat calm.  Having used up our share of tide going through the sound of Islay, we arrived at the Mull with the tide against us and for an hour even went backwards – Richard described it as slogging around McCartneys Point and we were treated to a rendition of the song Mull of Kintyre!

Finally, the weather cleared and for our last full night at sea we had a beautiful starry night as we sailed south across the Bristol Channel and on to Lands End.  The night was made by a group of dolphins who frolicked around the boat for an hour just before sunset.

Despite hold ups for the weather we arrived in Plymouth on time, and ready for our September lift out.  Velvet Lady is now out of the water and on the hard, with workmen swarming all over her, preparing for our Autumn and Winter programme

As they are not too far away now we have reduced the price on the Bay of Biscay crossing from Plymouth to Sanxenxo, and our first Blue Water Adventure from Sanxenxo to Rota.  Both are now 10 nights for £895 per person.  For full details follow the links to the Schedule pages of our website.