Leaving Inverie and the Knoydart Peninsular
Today we broke our usual rule about not sailing in more than a force 4. The winds were from the south and we were going north so a force 4 gusting 5 would not be too bad. We put in a single reef to be on the safe side and made good progress up the Sound of Sleat passing through Kyle Rhea when the tidal flows were in our favour. During a spring tide the current through Kyle Rhea could reach 8 knots so in a yacht that has a maximum speed of 5 knots – it is important to get this right.
Being overtaken in the Sound of Sleat
As a consequence we got to Kyleakin well before we had expected and berthed in the only gap we found, as all the spaces on the pontoon were taken over by fishing boats.
Rafted on the pontoon in Kyleakin with fishing boats predominating. Milo on the left, Isolde on the right.
Fortunately we were hailed from the pier by a fisherman who warned us that Atlantis, a glass bottomed boat, would be arriving any minute to offload passengers where we were now nicely tied up. Ooops .. a quick engine start and removal of the mooring wharfs and we just managed to leave as the Atlantis arrived, but where to go? Another Ian came to the rescue – he was moored on the other side of the pontoon and agreed that we could raft against his boat, which was rafted in turn against a fishing boat. Although from Perth, he kept his boat in Kyleakin and was not planning to sail the next day.We were just starting to prepare our evening meal when another boat came alongside and asked if they could raft against us. They were a Dutch couple in a beautiful old “Contessa” like boat with a wooden mast and a non-furling jib. However, a local fishman thought they might go aground where they were and advised them to move further in and raft against another old boat. Ian and I helped them do this and we arranged to meet up later on Milo for a drink. Ian, keeping his boat moored in Kyleakin, was a great source of local information. He said the pontoon had originally been constructed for visiting yachts, but starting with a fisherman who had a health problem requesting a temporary berthing there, a slow take over by local fisherman began. Now you’d be lucky to get two single spaces for yachts. Also, there used to be visitors’ moorings, but now these had disappeared or been taken over for other uses. Ian advised us against going up the East coast of Skye and mooring in Portree as we had planned. He recommending instead the Crowlin Islands and Poll Domhain which were more remote (more in next blog). We learned about Calum’s Road – two and a half miles of road between Brochel Castle and Arnish on the Isle of Raasay built by Calum MacLeod singlehandedly using hand-tools to benefit the community and make it easier for his daughter Julia to return home from Skye where she had been sent away to school (listen to Calum’s Road by Colin MacDonald. BBC Radio 4 – Saturday Drama -Broadcast on Saturday, 5th October 2013). The Dutch couple, Bert & Lea, arrived with a huge bottle of Dutch gin, which you either drink on its own or with coka cola. I tried it on its own and to me it was a bit like a grappa. Like us they had sailed to Scotland from The Netherlands last year and wintered their boat just north of Oban. They had come across in 24 hours to Lowestoft, sailed up the East coast and crossed to the Western Isles via the Caledonian Canal. Bert’s father had bought their boat, Isolde, new in 1967 and it had been in the family since. I remember thinking – gosh that’s 2 years older than our Morris Minor and I was imagining an equivalent scenarios of us driving the Morris to Scotland instead of the Audi with journeys of 10 hours rather than 6.
We heard stories about Moil castle and Saucy Mary. Moil castle, also known as Dunakin castle was the ancient seat of the Mackinnon clan. It was a fortress overseeing the strait of Kyle Akin between Skye and the mainland, through which all ships had to pass to avoid the stormy passage of The Minch. Findanus, the 4th MacKinnon chief, brought Dunakin into the clan around the year 900 by marrying a Norse princess nicknamed ‘Saucy Mary’. Findanus and his bride ran a heavy chain across the sound and levied a toll on all shipping vessels.
Moil or Dunakin castle viewed from Kylekin harbour
The local pub is named after Saucy Mary and its facilities are used by the harbour authority for fishing and yachting people.
It was the evening of Wenesday 22nd June. There was a beautiful sunset over the bridge to Skye and with the EU referendum the next day – I hoped this would not symbolise the ending of our EU era.
Sunset from Kyleakin, Skye on the eve of the EU referendum