Sailing across the North Sea

July 11-17, 2021

So after almost a year away sailing it was time for us to start our last longer sailing leg. We would sail from Scotland to the south-west coast of Sweden where Petras parents live.

We left Inverness in the afternoon and sailed with the tide out towards the North Sea. The first evening was calm and we motored all night. The following morning we got some wind and could set sails. Usually during our previous crossings we have filled in what we’ve been doing each day in the log book, but for this crossing we unfortunately did not. So this blog posts will be some snapshots of what we remember from the crossing.

In the beginning of the crossing we sailed through areas with a lot of oil rigs. But still they are quite far from each other. When you look at the charts it looks like it will be so crowded but in reality the distances are quite big. In general it was a good, but slow crossing. As we don’t have any day to day logs we will show some pictures instead.

A pretty sunset the second night of our North Sea crossing.
In the beginning of the crossing we had a lot of oil rigs around us.
One morning we even saw an oil rig being towed by two tug boats. Quite cool!
When we got closer to Norway/Denmark the amount of ships increased a lot, and it was a long time ago we had this many boats around us.
When we got into Öresund we had a lot of porpoises (a small whale, similar to dolphins) swimming behind the boat. They are usually a bit “shyer” than dolphins.
Before we reached our first stop in Sweden we hoisted all our courtesy flags 🙂

We sailed to Arild, in southern part of Sweden as our first stop back in Sweden. When we reached the harbour in the morning we had some family and friends welcoming us.

Caledonian Canal with sailboat

July 8-10, 2021

We had decided to go through Scotland, on the Caledonian Canal with our sailboat instead of sailing around Scotland. One of the reasons is the time saved and also cool to sail through Scotland and on the Loch Ness.

We arrived to Corpach quite late, after the locks had closed for the day. There was a small dock we could moor against next to the first lock. It wasn’t the best spot but it was good enough.

We had pre-booked and paid for the canal before we arrived (at the Scottish Canal website). We showed our paperwork to the personnel and proof of payment.

The following morning we went in to the first lock at first time slot. In Corpach there are three locks you first have to go through. Quite soon you arrive to Neptune’s staircase, a  set of 8 locks. We timed the stairs good and could enter the first lock when we arrived. It was quite tiring to go up the 8 locks and once we were up we moored up on the side of the canal and went for lunch.

caledonian canal sailboat
In the first lock of the Neptune’s staircase.
caledonian canal sailboat
Making our way up the Neptune’s staircase in the Caledonian canal together with two other sailboat s.

We continued along the canal and after a couple more locks we reached Loch Lochy (love the name). By the time we reached the end of the lake it was evening and the locks closed. We stopped in the village Laggan and had dinner at a restaurant boat.

Cozy interior.
The food was simple but good.
Thomas found a friend.

The following morning we got up and continued along the canal. After Laggan there is a really pretty part with trees on both side of the canal.

caledonian canal sailboat

We reached next lake – Loch Oich and sailed through it.

At Loch Oich.
Passing though a lock at the end of Loch Oich.

By lunchtime we reached the staircases at Fort Augustus and we started going down (we had been going down one or two single looks before Fort Augustus). At Fort Augustus it was 7 locks we had to go through. Much easier going downstairs than upstairs.

Fort Augustus is located next to Loch Ness. We moored up along the canal after the staircase and ate lunch in town and took a walk around.

Moored up in Fort Augustus.
The staircase in Fort Augustus.

Next up was Loch Ness. The weather was not very nice and it is a long lake. We did not see Nessie but the cool steep mountains next to the lake. We reached the end of Loch Ness in the evening and tied up for the night.

Urquhart castle.

In the morning we sailed the final part of the canal until we reached Inverness. We took a walk though town, ate lunch, did some grocery shopping and fueled up. We left the canal and Inverness in the afternoon and started our sail towards Sweden.

For us it took almost 2,5 days to sail through the Caledonian Canal. We timed the locks really good most of the time and almost never had to wait for a long time. We paid 3’265 SEK for the canal (320€ / $392), for our 35 ft boat.

 

 

Sailing along the Inner Hebrides

July 6-7, 2021

After we had said goodbye to Sanuti we got up really early to start sailing towards the Caledonia Canal, a canal that allows to you to sail through Scotland instead of around.

A calm sunny day with a pretty lighthouse in the sound of Jura.

It was to far a distance to do in one day, and you also have to time certain narrow passages with the tides. We anchored at an anchorage on the northern tip of the island Luing for the night. It was a very pretty anchorage. It was a calm evening, there were cows walking on the shore, a seal swimming in the anchorage.

Pretty and calm anchorage.

The following morning we got up, made sure to time the passage between Seil and Luing, the Cuan sound. See page Our Route to see our route. We made it through this narrow sound without any problem and continued towards Corpach.

Pretty with all the mountains all around.

We arrived to Corpach in the evening, after the locks had closed. So we tied up on a pier outside and took a walk around.

We took a look at the locks we would go up through the following morning.

We ate dinner at the boat and then headed to a bar to watch some European Championship football. We had some beers and then went to sleep.

Whiskey and wine on Islay

July 4-6, 2021

We did an overnight sail from Wales to the island Islay in Scotland. Once again we had a lot of fog in the morning when we got close to Islay. We entered the marina at Port Ellen early in the morning, we ate some breakfast and then took a walk in Port Ellen.

First thing we found in Scotland was… a winery. Islay Wines make fruit wines that was really good and they were superfriendly as well! Make sure to visit if you are visiting Islay!
Beach in Port Ellen.

After lunch we took the whiskey path, a walking path that goes past three distilleries. Islay whiskey is famous for being smoky.

First distillery we passed was Laphroaig. Due to covid it was not open for tours in the distiller but the tourist shops were open.
Next stop was Lagavulin, same here with the tours but here w got to try some different whiskeys.
And third and last was Ardbeg.

After the walk we had a nice dinner out with Sanuti. It was our last night together. We met in Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines half a year earlier and sailed together since then. But now they would sail to the Outer Hebrides and we were on our way to the Caledonia Canal.

Bye bye :'(

The following morning we got up early and started the sail towards the Caledonia Canal entrance.

 

Sailing through the Menai strait

July 3, 2021

The Menai strait is a shallow and narrow strait that separates mainland Wales from Anglesey. The tidal currents in the strait can be really strong. The most dangerous part is the Swellies, located between the two bridges in the strait. There is a lot of shallows in the part of the strait and the tidal currents can create whirlpools here. The tidal current can be up to 8 knots at worst. Don’t want to have that against you…

When sailing through the Swellies you use slack time for Liverpool as a reference. More about when to time sailing through the Menai strait can be found here: Passage Through the Swellies.

We filled up on diesel and then left to sail through the Swellies. The water was really calm when we entered the Swellies and we passed the area without any problems.

About to enter the Swellies.
…and just sailed under the second bridge, safe on the other side of the Swellies.

We continued through the Menai strait and out to sea and started our overnight sail up to Islay, Scotland. It was another calm sail with not much wind and fog!

Ghost ship Anne-Mon in the fog when sailing to Islay, Scotland. Picture taken by Sanuti.