Matt Donald and Paige Grogan find Scotland is the ideal place to start their round-the-world odyssey
Sailing around the world, starting with Scotland
Sailing Scotland in early spring was wonderful; an ideal way to start our global adventure. There are plenty of articles and videos about sailing in the tropics, with white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, but not half as many about sailing in beautiful Scotland. Constantly surrounded by green mountains, we often felt like we were sailing through the pages of a fantasy novel. Whether it was seals, deer, dolphins or the occasional whale, there was no shortage of wildlife. Scotland is rich with history, so you can often find yourself anchored beside castle ruins with no one else but the odd cuckoo around.
We bought our Contest 41 Nova at a small marina north of Oban in Loch Creran, a stunning part of the world surrounded by mountains and forest. After getting her ready for our trip with help from Ewan, the owner of the marina, we were ready to set sail at the start of May 2017. We decided to do a shakedown cruise with family, and planned to leave our mooring at Creran and sail up the Sound of Mull to Tobermory. We would then spend two nights there and fit the final parts of our Hydrovane, so that we could start making our way back towards Creran via Loch Aline and Oban.
A PLACE AWASH WITH COLOUR
We finally slipped our mooring on 27 April with family aboard for our first sail on our very own yacht. After spending the previous night planning, we knew we had to be underway no later than 0800 to catch the tide leaving the loch. Creran’s entrance is a dogleg, which makes it a very sheltered loch but quite interesting to sail. The loch is well buoyed and we managed to get out without any problems. We set course towards the Sound of Mull with a south-east Force 4 and before long, we’d shaken out the canvas and Nova began making good
speed. Once we’d made it to Lismore Light, we headed north-west up the sound towards Tobermory. We arrived just after 1430 following a good sail of 33 miles and picked up a swinging mooring.
Tobermory is a colourful place to visit. The story goes that one day, the owner of the Mishnish decided he wanted to repaint the front of his pub. Unfortunately, the only colour he had was bright yellow. Hoping no one minded, he painted the entire pub and went off to bed, expecting to be told he must repaint in the morning. The next day, to his surprise, he found all of the neighbouring buildings were being painted bright colours: the entire town loved the newly painted pub and decided to follow suit. We couldn’t resist paying a visit, treating ourselves to a few pints and some pub grub in front of the fire. The next day, feeling a little worse for wear, we left the swinging mooring early and moored on to one of Tobermory Marina’s pontoons. This allowed us to spend the day fitting the last parts to our Hydrovane, which we nicknamed Heidi.
peace and quiet
With our third crew member Heidi the Hydrovane installed, the following day we left Tobermory to head back towards Creran. Our first stop was just a few hours down the sound at the gorgeous Loch Aline, where we decided to anchor for the night. We were the only yacht there at the far end of the loch.
It was so peaceful that we could have spent days there. Unfortunately, our guests needed to get home, so the next day we upped anchor and carried on with our journey.
The next port of call was Oban again, only half a day’s sail from Loch Aline, and we arrived in time for lunch. The wind had picked up considerably and after heading to the nearby island of Kerrera, we had an interesting challenge in picking up a swinging mooring.
Once we’d successfully secured Nova to the swinging mooring, we headed to shore. We decided to spend two nights at Oban before we headed north back to Loch Creran to say goodbye to our guests and start our adventure.
A week sailing this part of Scotland proved what we had already expected of the place: the views are amazing and the sailing super. After our family left, we spent another two months sailing the west coast, going round Skye and all the way out to the Hebrides.
We can definitely say it has been one of our favourite places to sail so far and would encourage everyone to go and visit to experience the views for themselves. Even with the rain and mist, it is still a lovely place to visit, and any dampness is worth it for the days when the sun shines and the dolphins play in your bow waves. It’s safe to say we can’t wait to visit again on our return to the UK.
Matt and Paige did a number of shakedown sails on their Contest 41 Nova before leaving the UK
The pair eventually spent two months cruising Scotland, including Armadale on the Isle of Skye
Wildlife encounters are common while sailing Scotland
Matt Donald set off with his partner Paige Grogan to sail around the world in May 2017. Follow their adventure at www.livingwiththetide.co.uk
Loch Creran will always be special as it was where the pair first sailed Nova
Scotland’s exquisite mountains often left them feeling as though they were sailing through the pages of a fantasy story
paige and Matt plan to return to Scotland
tobermory provides a colourful backdrop and some friendly hostelries
Sailing in Scotland is often through crystal-clear waters