In the winter of 2006, my friend Neil rang up and said he was thinking of sailing a Wayfarer dinghy around Mull and would I like to join him? “Delighted”, I replied, I had just finished reading Frank Dye’s book – Ocean Crossing Wayfarer – and I thought if he can sail to the Faroes and Norway in a Wayfarer, sailing round Mull should be a breeze!
We met up on Iona, where Neil was living at the time, to set up the boat and make sure we had everything. The weather was not great, a fresh southerly had been blowing and created a steep swell running down the sound of Iona. In addition, I was not feeling great, could have been a dodgy prawn sandwich in Oban, definitely, not ideal in a small dinghy!
The next day the wind had eased and we set off in the general direction of Staffa. As you can see from the photo, there was still a fair swell and we decided that sailing on just the jib would give us more than ample speed. We kept a sharp eye out for dolphins but they were somewhere else so we made do with the beautiful puffins swooping around near Staffa.
We gave Staffa a wave and headed past Gometra to arrive in the beautiful
Calgary bay – golden sand, trees, toilets and a pub. It was Neil’s birthday, so after anchoring and wading ashore, that’s where we headed.
1. Iona to Calgary
2. Calgary to Callach return
3. Calgary to Lochdon via Tobermory
4. Lochdon to Scoor
5 Scoor to Iona
Refreshed after an evening in the pub we set out towards Callach Point – the NW tip of Mull, renowned for overfalls, standing waves, boils and swirlies – not to mention the odd sea monster. The wind was a bit stronger and we headed upwind into the waves to give ourselves plenty of room away from the rocky cliffs that flank the point. This caution was fortuitous – as we approaching the corner the steering suddenly went slack, and to my horror I saw the snapped rudder gently bob away from us on the swell.
“Don’t worry” I said to Neil, “I am a RYA instructor and can sail rudderless”. The dinghy then proceeded to perform circles, some small some large. ‘this is not right’ I thought ‘this, should not be happening’
Then I saw the large rip in the mainsail – things were more serious… We tied an oar to the back for steering, took down the main and coaxed the boat back to Calgary on the jib, and headed to the pub.
The Pub was amazing – “borrow our workshop, use the land rover”. It was not long before we had a new rudder and a borrowed mainsail and the next day we set off again.
We got round Callach point in light winds and a refreshing rain shower, the droplets bouncing off the sea. Next stop was Tobermory where we had minor repairs to our borrowed main sail and bought a new set of oars as one broke has we rowed into the beautiful harbour. Replenished with ice cream we careered off down the Sound of Mull, wind and tide together, spinnaker up, we hurtled along at over 7 knots!
That night we camped in Lochdon, and experienced the beauty of otters and the horrors of midge Armageddon. However, it was good to be on the south coast heading back towards Iona.
Wind was light as we sailed west towards Carsaig – we lounged in the Wayfarer enjoying the awe inspiring cliffs south of Lochbuie and the amazing Carsaig Arches. But, by mid afternoon the wind started to pick up and we quickly reefed our sails – not a moment too soon, it was gusting a good force 5 and the boat was heeling alarmingly in the heavy gusts. We headed for the nearest shelter – a small circular bay protected from the wind.
We were glad to be ashore as the wind picked up more and more, a day in the tent and exploring the area seemed preferable than being blown to Ireland if we had any mishaps. It was quite boring though!
Could have been my last! I was looking for somewhere to do my morning ablutions as we waited for the tide to come in and lift the boat off the sand, when I walked around a small rocky bluff. It was a bit muddy and so I stepped onto a grassy tussock and then immediately sunk straight up to my armpits into a treacherous bog, I held the loo paper above my head while kicking around in the water and found an ancient plank to help struggle onto the firm ground. Close shave!
The rest of the day was absolutely beautiful, turquoise seas and pink granite cliffs marked the way along the Mull south coast. Beautiful white sand beaches, seals and eagles it was amazing and light winds led us back to Iona after an epic trip!