Nessun Dorma and the ‘See E Gull’

We left Tobermory at a leisurely 10:30am. Probably good timing as, overnight, a cruise ship, though small by cruise ships standards, had anchored in the harbour not too far from us and the town centre. As early as 8am the ship’s launches were bringing ashore the cruise tourists onto the quay-side of this picturesque town. The local retailers must have been rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of several hundred tourists arriving this early in the season. Good for them because the winter months must be particularly tough here.

The journey to Muck was short with some under sail and some under motor. The harbour entrance was a tricky little place and took a whole lotta concentration to miss the underwater rocks. The reward, once inside, was a haven. The large seal (Grey, we think) colony took only a minor interest in us before getting back to their routine of lying on the rocks, dozing, tails in the air in a somewhat crescent-shaped pose. Maybe the same as us humans putting our feet up?

The Isle of Muck is privately owned and we met the daughter of the current Laird in her new hotel on the shore of this remote bay. They cater for the seasonal shoot as well as a number of walkers. We had a pleasant beer or two before we met a local called Sandy. He was made famous by an article in Yachting Monthly, written by other cruisers to the Island, who nominated him as the go-to person for any fresh fish. As he happened to be working on the farm next to the hotel (same family), the hotel owner telephoned him for us. We arranged that he would stop by and supply us with a box of Langoustine which he did at a really attractive price. Prawns again for supper. Beaut.

Sandy told us that the was the last remaining commercial fisherman in the Small Isles and was bemoaning the fact that any trawler can come into the area now. Trawlers do particularly nasty damage to the sea bed, ruining sustainability for the locals whose lives and livelihoods depend on that sustainability. There you go, the benefits of European Union membership.

A peaceful overnight rest, gently bobbing in the low swell and then up at 5am to move onto Loch Scavaig. I do admit that the prospect of getting up and out into the rain that was, at that point, hammering (no other word for it) on the roof was not the greatest start to the day. However, by the time I was dressed the rain had almost stopped and, as the morning progressed, the sun began to shine through, the rain ceased and we arrived in our chosen, small anchorage in Loch Scavaig. It is said to be one of the most dramatic anchorages in Scotland/UK and I can testify to that being the case. Go to the Gallery and view for yourself. A treat. A real, real treat. We rowed the dinghy ashore (as our outboard had packed up) and walked the 1/2 mile or so up to the freshwater lock tucked into the mountain. Merv drank some of the water rushing down the stream – which looked so good – but immediately regretted it. As that famous survivalist puts it, be careful as you don’t know that there’s not a dead sheep, higher up the mountain, lying in the stream. After a couple of hours sightseeing we returned to the boat to have lunch and then move on. Another yacht was coming into the bay as we moved out and a local motorboat, with some Dutch tourists on board were also pulling alongside the metal steps.


On the slow and cautious way out of the anchorage, I thought I had spotted my first good wild life photo opportunity on the rocks ahead. At the time I was meant to be keeping an eye out for the rocks below but was so distracted by my ‘apparition’ that I hot-tailed it back to the cockpit to get my camera. Almost squealing “Oh! Oh! Oh!” on the way back, the Skipper thought I had seen a rock that was about to put a hole in the hull. I assured him that there were no rocks ahead but that I had seen a Sea Eagle eating a fish on those rocks above the water. I got my camera and turned it on, lined it up for the shot of the year, focusing on a huge, hunched bird, foot on fish, tearing away at the flesh. As I was about to snap, it looked up, turned toward me and clearly, with a typical squawk and screech, let me know that it was just a common seagull. Doh! And much to the merriment of the team on board who could not (as I would not have) resist the word-play around ‘see’ , ‘sea’,  ‘seagull’,  ‘seeagull’. Ok, so it was not an Eagle but a boost to morale.


We had decided that the previous idea of anchoring on Rum (some spell it Rhum) for the night was changed as the winds had changed. As we needed to be nearer the mainland to make the route around Skye and under the Skye road bridge it was agreed that we would move on to Loch Nevis. Apart from the scenery the other attraction was that the Loch was home to the remotest pub on the UK main land. It can only be reached by boat or by a very, very long walk.

It is The Old Forge that makes this claim. That claim seems to be its main selling point. The building itself was a small, single story cottage with some bolt-on extensions. Not unattractive but not as you would expect, given its fame. But then again, that’s often the case. Apart from the Langoustines (of which I’d had enough by now) it was standard pub fare. Could’ve bought the T-shirt but I have, and only need, the photos. I believe that a couple of fellow crew mates made a real night of it but not for me. Move on.

Our Skipper, Merv, was commended by the locals for being a Pavarotti lookalike. Too much good food on RBE? Cue Nessun Dorma.


May 9-10th May, Day 34-35



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