Jane very kindly drove us over to Kyle and we climbed into our dry suits and cast off at 0930. The forecast wasn't brilliant - NE 4 to 5 occasionally 6 but the wind was light from the SE and we hoisted the full main. Once we passed under the Skye bridge there was a horrible tidal lop that saw waves breaking aboard from every angle but we put a tack in and sailed into clear water. The sun shone, the wind blew and the Nancy flew as though sensing that she was close to home! However it was not be too easy and the wind veered and forced us to start beating again as we closed Cat Island lighthouse. George Glasgow on Ceol na mara joined us to welcome us home and as we beat past the lighthouse in NE 4 Calum's seal trip boat Sula Mhor greeted us with all the tourists asked to give a loud cheer as we head for home. Off the wind now the Nancy surged up into Plockton bay with cars on the shore honking their horns and Dave McGhee and Charlie 36 taking snap shots of us as we sailed up harbour to tie up against the pontoons at 1230. Home at last to a great crowd of locals as a welcoming committee! We charged our glasses and gave a toast to "the Nancy" because she was the real star! Her sailing performance, her beautiful lines had been admired by all and staunchly she had stood up to a terrible beating despite her years. It was a truly joyful occasion and the end of a wonderful dream for me. I will take her on other trips though in the future. Perhaps to Stornoway, to the outer hebrides and around Skye. Plockton local boats are designed to cope with such conditions and she had done us proud. I hope that other owners of small boats will be encouraged by my endeavours to tackle longer voyages. Thanks too to all my crew members - to Neil, Angus. Gordon and Malcolm. Each had brought their own individual skills into play and had made the incredible journey possible! Grateful thanks to all my wonderful friends who have supported me in this mad venture and thanks too to all who have donated to Sports Relief - your contribution is greatly appreciated by me and has made the trip worthwhile - much more than a personal indulgence. But be aware - you haven't heard the last of the Nancy yet!


After a poor nights sleep between checking that the Nancy was ok at low tide at 3am and getting the shiping forecast at 0520 we set off at 0730. The wind was light from the North west but petered out after 1/4 a mile. Malcolm resorted to rowing and after a mile a wee breeze filled in from the SE f3. This was surprising as the forecast wind was NW 3/4 occasionally 5. After about half an hour we shook out the deep reef and our progress improved, Visibility was still poor but eventually we picked up Sleat Point and the wind backed to the NW f4. Progress was now superb and the Nancy surged forward at over 6kn shipping a lot of water over the gunwhale but nothing that the bilge pump couldn't cope with. Off Armadale the wind eased away to nothing and Malcolm resorted to rowing once again whereupon the SE 3 breeze filled in. This took us to Isle Ornsay by 1330 but it fell light again and we found ourselves becalmed and facing a foul tide at Kyle Rhea, We found a wee  bolt hole out of the tide and eventually by 1900 it turned in our favour and we beat through and up to Kyle of Lochalsh, rowing the final 500 yards to the pontoons and berthing at 2130.We were pretty cold and tired but Jane and Calum welcomed us with hot coffee and drams! It had been a very long . frustrating and tiring day but we had completed the Fourth leg and only the final 9nm to Plockton remained to be conquered. What a great wee boat! Once again it had been an amazing trip in such a small boat. Every goal is hard fought for but all the sweeter when achieved!


tuesday 4 may 2010
Malcolm and I caught the first ferry to Craignure and arrived in Tobermory at 0900 to find the Nancy dismasted! At first we thought she had capsized but the harbour master confirmed that the mast had fallen down on the monday of its own accord! A bottle screw had unscrewed itself apparently with th motion of the boat against the pontoon! Anyway = we rerigged her and set sail atb 1030 into a N4/5. It wasn't a pleasant sail upwind across the mouth of Loch Sunart and when we tacked we felt the full force of the wind and decided to abort due to the seas which constantly broke aboard and the heavy squalls. We turned tail and headed back to Tobermory. However just South of the lighthouse the wind and sea eased and the wind backed and.we made a unanimous decision to have another shot!  This time we were successful and after 7 hours of beating we were off the lighthouse and freeing sheets for Eigg, We enjoyed a small dram to celebrate and had to row clear of the confused seas off the lighthouse. Visibility was atrocious (barely 1mile) but we made our landfall by steering a compass course of 040 degrees and entered Eigg harbour at 2030 very tired and wet,  As the weather was so bad we decided to camp out in the community hall reception area which had showers and toilet facilities. Without doubt this was the hardest and most dangerous leg of the voyage and we were both greatful to have it behind us.


I am preparing for an early morning start (0500) from Bowling to get to Oban in time to catch the 0750 ferry to Craignure. Crew for this leg is a Plockton man, Malcolm Mackenzie, who is well qualified for this rather dodgy leg around Ardnamurchan. We dont have a great forecast - Tuesday W3 or 4 and Wednesday N 3 or 4 but it looks even worse later in the week with persistant and strong Northerlies so fingers crossed.   I've left my camera cable on the Nancy so cant download any photos. DOH! Instead I'v downloaded a photo of the boat that I wish I were in for this leg - Seol na mara!


Angus recalled that a friend of the family Anne lived in Tobermory and while we were still warming up in the bar Anne and her neighbour Pat arrived. We were most fortunate as Pat ran a b&b and with the incessant rain we were looking for an alternative to camping. We had a great sleep in really comfortable surroundings and fantastic breakfast. If you are ever in Tobermory looking for a b&b check out Cala Dhomhnaill tel 01688 302320. This morning at 0730 over breakfast we checked out the forecast and it wasnt good. S5/6 increasing 7 to gale 8. Not a day for a small open boat be attempting to round Ardnamurchan!  As both Angus and myself had to be back home on friday we abandoned any hopes of getting round Ardnamurchan. There was no sense of disappointment in this decision as we had succesfully completed legs 3 and 4 in four days - a fantastic achievement! The penultimate leg would have to wait for better weather and so we headed South by bus to Craignure, ferry to Oban and bus to Bowling arriving home by 1600 hours. Much scanning of weather sites will reveal when we can next safely move the Nancy towards the completion of her epic voyage. She has served us well!


We caught the 0800 ferry to Oban as we discovered the skipper had brought a gas stove but no gas cartridges! Doh! After a quick breakfast we bought the cartridges and some chandlery to fix the the missing gudgeon and returned to Kerrera on the 0910 ferry. We packed our gear aboard, extruded ourselves into our dry suits and set off at 1000 in light rain. The Inshore forecast was S to SE 3/4 increasing 5/6 later so we should have enough wind - or should we? We drifted out of Oban Bay and Angus had to row for about 15 minutes before the promised Southerly filled in. It took us 90 minutes to get to Lismore Lighthouse and by 1200 were off Duart. The wind was still light and Angus was busy trying to entice some fish onto his hooks - alas in vain. Once we passed Glas Eileanan  the wind picked up to F4 and we really took off, sailing at about 5/6 knots. However when it increased to F5 we had several near broaches and I hove to at Fishnish to put a deep reef in the main. We set off again and had a great sail to Tobermory goosewinged before a F5/6 surfing at up to 8kn! Fantastic. We passed through the Doirlinn passage to the South of Calve Island and tied up alongside the pontoons at  1530. The last 18 miles  were covered in 3 hours! Bucketing rain and so we adjourned to the pub still in our dry suits 25nm nearer Plockton.


Thanks to Henry and Maggie Crow we had free run of their house last night and a good nights sleep. We arranged for a taxi to take us from Ardrisaig to Crinan as the buses only seem to run on tuesdays, thursdays and at weekends. By 10.00 we were out the sealock and picked up a mooring to allow us to hoist the main and were soon underway heading for the Dorus Mor. The light South westerly allowed us to sail a good course and soon we were reaching at about 5.5kn past Scarba. We by-passed Cuan and eventually found our way into Seil Sound with the flood under us. The last (and first time) I had passed under the Bridge over the Atlantic at Seil Sound I was about 12 years old and it was on a 38 foot long gaff rigged Cornish lugger called "Para Handy". It was a hairy trip North to South on the ebb and we managed to run aground on most available rocks twanging the telephone cables on our way past! Fortunately we cleared the bridge and the 3 phase electrical supply to the island of Seil! This time should be a piece of cake in a boat drawing less than a foot. Alas it was not to be so as the channel North of the bridge was full of shingle shoals and although we had entered the 4th hour of the flood tide we soon ground to halt! With our dry suits we leapt in and started to drag the boat through the shoals but gave up after a hundred feet or so and just had lunch to allow the tide to rise further. After about 30 minutes we had another go and by canting the dinghy over we eventually dragged her about 300 yards into deeper water. It wasnt a lot of fun! Unfotunately, while aground the flood tide which was still sluicing past us forced the rudder over so far that it forced the top gudgeon on the rudder fixings off and it was lost overboard. A jury rig was made with some lashings. However the wind held well and we made good speed to Oban Marina on Kerrera where we arrived at 1530 with about 25nm under the keel. Our dry suits came off and we got the ferry over to Oban where we were joined by Bob for a few pints and a curry. We caught the ferry back at 1930, pitched our tent and had an early night.


We were glad that we made good time through the canal yesterday as it is raining quite heavily this morning. Considering that the canal is 9miles long and we passed through it in 5 hours and taking into account the time spent in the locks it suggests that Gordon manage to row the Nancy at about 3.5/4knots - quite amazing! We certainly overtook most walkers. This morning we did a permanent repair to the damaged knee and beefed up a chain plate and one of the rowing pads. The forecast for tomorrow is still good and Angus and I head the Nancy North towards Oban and Mull.


"Ardrishaig tae Crinan's the best trip I've been in, Its the Crinan canal for me!"  So the song goes! Well we made great progress today thanks to Gordon's prowess with the oars and help from Henry with the locks! We left Ardrishaig at 1030 and arrived Crinan at 1600 with a 30 min stop at Cairnbaan for lunch. Weather was great with a light wind from astern but there was a lot of rowing and Gordon came up trumps rowing 9 miles of the canal. Wonderful progress. Some permanent repairs tomorrow and then we head north!.


Starting to get organised for the next leg through the Crinan canal. We expect to start moving her through the canal on Saturday morning around 10am so if anyone wants to help with the locks just turn up at Ardrishaig. The plan is to get to Cairnbaan for the night and then make the final push on the Sunday. Crew for this leg will be my son Gordon with assistance from Henry (the evil one) Crow. Angus Matheson is coming up by bus on the Sunday night and if all is fair on the monday we will set off on Leg 3. The winds next week are favourable Southerly. With fair winds there is a good chance we make Tobermory before the end of the week.