An account of the Whisky Run.

#lhl #Sailing #MirrorDinghyRestoration #Pakwâci

This was to be the first extended sail for Pakwâci. How far could I sail in home waters taking into account tide and wind, comfortably or not in one day..? With Westerlies of some direction forecast I would be able to reach both up and down the Sound of Sleat once out of Loch Nevis. As it was the wind in my home loch allowed me to be close hauled right up to the entrance then turn to a beam reach and head North.

Exploring the Green Island and seal colony in Sandaig Bay I was aiming to pass through the small gap of the last island and the mainland. Watching a local fisherman at work from his boat I saw that the swell in and around the gap would be too much to deal with so a quick last minute tack or two had me heading back for a better angle at rounding the island. Once around it was back to a beam reach up past Doune and into Airor Bay where I dropped the anchor and had some lunch. Two hours of sailing from home. I gauged that I could indeed make the Whisky Run across the Sound of Sleat to Eilean Iarmain on the Isle of Skye.

Just over 6km to the NW. Close hauled I set course and committed to the crossing. Keeping an eye out for the regular yacht and commercial traffic. I was surprised at how many yachts were under engine and not sailing..!

On rounding the lighthouse at Isle Ornsay I had to beat up the small bay to land on the beach by the old stone pier next to the Hotel and Distillery. Walking up the beach after dropping sail I put the anchor out. And, heading up to the hotel to see if I could find food. One of the few places nowadays that don't serve food all day. I made do with a hot chocolate and a bag of crisps.

A visit to the distillery shop to have a tasting, talk to the employee who turned out to be the daughter of someone our family knows quite well. A bottle of Poit Dhubh 8 yr old and a bottle of Uisaig Lusach Gin later a left the shop to one of the many coach tours that now frequent the Isle of Skye.

The distillery here at Eilean Iarmain is very rare, in that it is still in private hands and is descended from an original Illicit Still at this place since the 1500's.

With my illicit cargo on board I rowed off the beach and set the sails to run out of the bay. This should have been a warning..! The wind had turned from the West to the South. Once out into the Sound I was able to reach across to the far side, my home side of the water, but than had a LONG way to beat back down the way to get home. I had the wind against me, I also had the last of the flood tide against me. I didn't really make any way for at least an hour and than when the slack water appeared the wind dropped and I made little headway. In with all this was a swell of around 1.5m which made life adventurous.

I slowly made my way South and it was going to be a close call with darkness when I got home. I made a few phone-calls to home to keep folks abreast of progress. The wind picked up a little to around 6kts, but with the swell and confused waves close in it was still slow progress. The day then decided to end on a wet note with some heavy squally rain passing through. With this, the sea state and the time running out I decided to turn and run back north to Doune Bay.

Doune is a small community of 6 or so folks, they are cut off other than by sea. I could beach Pakwâci here in the confidence that it would be safe to leave. So after almost 45km of sailing I then, after making arrangements, walked up the hill to meet with a track I could follow for 6km back to my house. I eventually reached home, a little like a drowned rat with sore feet from walking in rubber boots at 2300.

I opened the whisky, had a shower and crashed.

Here is a link to the map of my sail: