2018’s Meanderings, Part 2
So I left you having arrived in Stornoway and awaiting the arrival of my crew, Olly Epsom. So who is Olly? Well, after plan A unfortunately fell through, I put a post on a facebook page called Scottish Sailing and Cruising Club Crewfinder, explaining my goal for the summer (which was to get to Faroe and possibly Iceland), and I’d need someone for a reasonable period of time. I only got a couple of responses, but one was from Olly, who is also ex-RN and has his own boat on the Clyde. He was keen to do some longer passages and got in touch. Having had some bad experiences with sourcing crew online, I cautiously arranged to meet him in Glasgow for lunch, and I established that he most likely was not a serial killer. We agreed to meet on the 16th somewhere in the north-west of Scotland, most likely Stornoway.
So here I was meeting him off the ferry a few weeks later. The forecast until now had been looking fairly favourable for getting to Faroe, but as the weeekend progressed, this changed. There was another period of poor weather coming through, so we were going to be stuck in Stornoway for a couple of days. I had been to Stornoway before, but Olly hadn’t,
and I had never really explored the area at all, so we used the three days to have a look around. On the Sunday we had a walk around the grounds of Lews Castle. On the Monday the weather was awful and we had to move off the berth to allow another boat to come in inside us, as it was to be left attended only by the inexperienced wife of the couple for a week. I managed to put Meander back alongside again with a bit of difficulty, and unfortunately stern into the weather.
On the third day we got a bus and headed up to Ness at the very north of Lewis, to see Port of Ness, an interesting old harbour almost carved into the rock. It is little used these days, but a shoal-drafted boat might enjoy coming in to take the beach in settled conditions. From there we walked to Butt of Lewis lighthouse, and there met the lovely French couple we had befriended in Stornoway, Alain and Marie-Christine, who were owners of a nice Ovni 36. They had hired a car and offered to take us back to Stornoway, as the buses were fairly restrictive. We had spent the last couple of evenings in each others’ company as we had reciprocated invitations to drinks on board each others’ boats. Unfortunately we would part company from Stornoway, but I continued to receive updates from Alain by text as they headed south down the island chain.
On the 20th we were finally able to leave, but the wind was still not fair for Faroe, so I opted to head across to Kinlochbervie to keep our options open, and it would also give Olly a day sail to get the hang of the boat as well. We made a prompt start at 0745, with the promise of some decent wind and a good sail. At 0940 we were able to stop the engine after motorsailing for the first part, and made good progress for a while, but conditions were fairly squally so progress was sporadic, and we were unable to set as much sail as I’d have liked. At 1040 we started the engine again as progress was slow, and the rest of the day followed this pattern. This, coupled with the residual seas left over from the poor weather, meant that the boat’s motion was quite uncomfortable, and towards the end of the afternoon Olly unfortunately succumbed and had a couple of conversations with Huey over the side before we finally got to Kinlochbervie at 1745.
KLB, I may have mentioned before, is not the most exciting place in Scotland, but we were destined to remain here for a couple of nights, again to await a gap in the weather. Entertainment was provided on the first evening by the arrival of a large (52ft, it turned out) French yacht. The husband of the couple explained, as he tried to moor alongside the 38ft Ba;