While we were anchored off Badachro I noticed that my laptop developed a hardware malfunction. As it was still on warranty I reported this to the manufacturer. A customer service person arranged to have a laptop box delivered by a courier to our next port of call, which was Portree on the Isle of Skye. It was going to take a few days so when we left Gairloch we first anchored off the Isle of Rona. It is a pretty, privately owned island with picaresque walks through fairy-tale-like woods. I couldn't help myself but take off my boots and socks and walk on the moss-covered ground. It hasn't been raining for a while so the moss felt like a lush carpet. We planned to stay for a couple of nights but elected to push off the following day rather than prolonging our stay due to unfavourable weather and missing the opportunity to ship the laptop for repairs.
The morning of our departure it rained a lot but we sheltered under the cockpit enclosure and motored the short distance between the islands with the tide. Portree looked really pretty with the houses on the seafront painted in bright colors. Visiting Portree also meant shopping and refueling which sounded great!
We expected the box to be delivered on Wednesday, the 15th of September. We waited anxiously as we wanted to leave the following morning. I checked the status of the delivery in the afternoon and found that the Harbour Master office refused to receive it and it was going to be sent back to the manufacturer. What?! That upset me. I got on the phone with the courier company. After a few phone calls I got talking to the depot and we agreed it would be delivered the next day.
The following day we went ashore and Mark decided to leave the camera behind as we had enough footage from this place. I carry my smartphone with me at all times in case I needed to capture some unexpected or beautiful view, or perhaps because is glued to my hand. We went to talk to the Harbour Master. It was a different person than we originally spoke to and this one denied any knowledge of the delivery. I explained that the courier would be arriving that day and we wandered off to find a coffee shop. Something was going on in the town as there were TV cameras everywhere. I eavesdropped that BBC2 was making a program. People were standing along the streets as if waiting for something or someone. We made it to a fairly deserted coffee shop arranged in an old church building and the barista enlightened us that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were in town! How exciting! We were told that they were in the town square so we made our way there and joined the crowd standing along the streets. Security ushered us off the road so we occupied some closed shop entrance just on the way of the VIPs.
Camilla came by first and we said hello and exchanged pleasantries. Shortly after Prince Charles walked towards us and stopped for a quick chat. Mark told Prince Charles about our sailing adventures and he asked about our sealegs! What a great chance encounter and they were both absolutely charming! When the Prince and Dutches strolled off, so did we, and were going to head back to the Harbour Master office. We found out however that the seafront was closed as the VIPs were going there next to meet up with the lifeboat crew. So we got to see them again and when it was all over headed back to the town to see if we could intercept the courier. As I was walking through town I spotted a guy with a high-vis vest on and a parcel in his hands. I asked this man if he was a courier, and he addressed me by my first name! There he was, my courier! He was very helpful and we got the shipment of the laptop sorted on the spot!
We were free to go, so we returned to Altor and headed for our next destination - Kyle of Lochalsh. We motored against the wind first and had a spectacular sail in a stiff breeze and flat water after turning the corner around the Isle of Raasay. Everything worked out perfectly - the unexpected meeting of the members of the Royal Family, the courier, the weather, and the beautiful sail. We picked up a buoy just the other side of the Skye bridge and when we sat down in the cockpit to have dinner, there it was - the cherry on the cake! We spotted an otter climbing onto the boat moored next to us. I quickly got the camera, unzipped the cockpit enclosure, and started rolling. It was a joy to watch this otter casually walking around the boat with its nose in this and that. There was an air of playful mischief about its behaviour. As we watched, it disembarked the vessel by elegantly slipping into the water only to reappear on a mooring buoy before moving around to the stern of another moored boat and climbing up on that one. It then proceeded to rub its back on ropes and merrily going about whatever business he or she felt it had onboard a yacht. It was quite a sight to behold and marked the end of a pretty remarkable day.
The following day we went ashore in the dinghy (and the pouring rain) to the town of Lochalsh. Once there we learn that the pontoons were taken away so just as well we found a vacant mooring buoy!
Timeline: 13th of September - leaving Badachro and arriving on Rona. Walk around Rona. 14th of September - motoring from Rona to Portree on the Isle of Skye. 16th of September - meeting Price Charles and Camilla in Portree. Sailing from Portree to Skye Bridge.
Fairy-tale-like forest on Rona.
Rona (Scottish Gaelic: Rònaigh), sometimes called South Rona to distinguish it from North Rona, is a small inhabited island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. It lies between the Sound of Raasay and the Inner Sound just north of the neighbouring island of Raasay and east of the Trotternish peninsula of Skye. It has a total area of 930 hectares (3.6 sq mi) and a population of 3.
Rona is an extension northward of the ridge of Raasay. Its geology is Lewisian gneiss and the glaciated landscape is underlain by some of the oldest rocks in western Europe.
Edible mushrooms found on Rona.
[About Isle of Rona] Writing in the early 18th century, Martin Martin recorded that "this little isle is the most unequal rocky piece of ground to be seen anywhere: there is but very few acres fit for digging, the whole is covered with long heath, erica-baccifera, mertillus, and some mixture of grass; it is reckoned very fruitful in pasturage: most of the rocks consist of the hectic stone, and a considerable part of them is of a red colour."
View from Rona.
Rona's name is believed to be of Old Norse origin, from Hraun-eyer meaning "rough islands" and probably reflects a Viking settlement. The Gaelic name Rònaigh has a similar meaning.
On the Isle of Rona
Isle of Rona
On the west side of the island is a secure and picturesque natural anchorage, An Acarsaid Mhòr, protected by the small island of An t-Eilean Garbh. The writer Malcolm Slesser described it as "a delightful little fjord, and superb harbour for small boats. Pink felspar cliffs drop steeply into the water, and small lush woodland lends a touch of luxury."
Isle of Rona
Lighthouse on the Isle of Rona.
Price Charles and Camilla in Portree.