Today was a great day. We woke up to beautiful sunshine in the anchorage at Port Ellen. Asha did her lawyer work and I busied myself with video editing and backing up of film and photos. Never before have I troubled computer storage so much. Today was the first backup for just over a month and I backed up 200GB of footage! Of that I organised just under three hours which will be made into the next ‘Adventure Now’ episode. Don’t worry, that footage will be cut down to somewhere around 15 minutes but from this you can see that a lot of camera work goes in to one episode!
Asha finished work at 4pm and I had Altor ready to go! The engine was started, the anchor pulled up and whilst we were still facing into the wind the main was hoisted. With that done, the engine was switched off and we sailed straight out of Port Ellen.
The pilot books for Port Ellen are quite alarming to read for a muddy / sandy bottom east coast sailor like me. The presence of a jagged coastline and a lighthouse marking rocks along with a sentence in the pilot book that reads ’The entrance is littered with rocks’ is enough to get my senses into a heightened state. Truth be told, it's pretty easy and as long as you do read the scary guide first and identify the well laid out marks, there shouldn't be any problems. We slipped out passed the lighthouse and said our goodbyes to Islay. We have been used to arriving somewhere and staying for a while but this had been short and sweet which is funny because that’s something I often find myself saying to Asha....
I seem to use the ‘don’t get much better than this’ phrase a lot lately but here it comes again. Sailing days don’t get much better than today! We timed our exit to coincide with the tide running in our favour up the Sound of Jura. The favourable tide started at 4pm which was perfect timing as that is the time that Asha ‘downs tools’.
Our chosen anchorage was 20 miles away or 24 if you count going around the rocks which is the sensible thing to do! We left on a run (wind behind), got clear of the rocks immediately outside Port Ellen, turned onto a reach (wind on the side) until we passed the rocks 5 miles further along the coast where we pointed the boat into the wind (a beat) for the remaining 16 miles or so to Lowlandman’s Bay on the Isle of Jura. One tack for the whole journey, just a matter of puling the sails from all the way out, as they are on a run, to all the way in, as they are on a beat. We had one reef in the main and about half of the jib rolled out and I have to say that we nailed it. It was the perfect amount of sail for our beat up the Sound of Jura which I can categorically say was the best sail I have had to date on Altor. It was Scottish sailing at its best! The sun was out for some of the time, it wasn’t freezing and the scenery was breathtaking! There were many big albatrosses diving into what are obviously fish rich waters, the visibility was excellent and we had this enormous playground to ourselves! We didn’t see a single boat along the entire way. Absolutely, completely, bloody, fantastically awesome and only a little bit chilly!
The wind is still pretty strong but we are tucked into this bay very near to the shore so the water is nice and flat and apart from two or three houses that we can see dotted around, we are alone. Asha has literally just poured me a glass of Jura’s finest and I am going to take it outside and raise it to the mountain we are anchored near. Thank you Jura - it’s awesome to be here.
Cheers Jura and thank you for the single malt!