A symbol of hope, security and stability. The anchor was born with the original purpose of securing ships to the seabed in the midst of a storm, an anchor keeps a ship grounded. It keeps it in one place and prevents it from drifting with the undercurrents of the sea.
The further we sail along on this adventure, the more I marvel at the 20kg lump of galvanised steel sat proudly on our bow. It means many things to me;-
b) Insurance Policy
c) Risk assessment
d) A metaphor for the friendships I adore
As we set sail from our stay in Craighouse Bay on the shore of Jura, I reflected on our new life and the freedom it offered. Choosing where to live on a daily basis was a great feeling and I really felt as though my desire to be a free spirit was really starting to come together. On reflection, I was starting to understand the depth of what it really meant for me to be a free spirit, enabling me to follow my instincts, nurture, protect, instigate, go it alone or be the leader in the pack. What a wonderful feeling and all done in tune with my desires, my lover and mother nature - WOW!
Now enough of my mumbo jumbo, on with the passage to our anchorage in Puilladobhrain which was to be our home for the next few nights. The formidable Dorus Mor was the first of the charted challenges we were to navigate on this passage, getting the tides right was key when riding the over-falls of Dorus and heading into the Sound of Luing. The Sound of Luing waters sparkled in the autumn sunshine, the whirlpools and over-falls swirled around, a magnificent sight, yet I am sure should the day have been grey and windy the mood in my heart would have been a whole different ball game! Corryvreckan faintly roared in the background and I peered through my binoculars to see the standing waves at the far end of the channel. Blimey, I could see the waves standing tall, imagine them on a windy and choppy day, now that is treacherous waters!!! Thankfully this was not our destination and we simply sailed passed the mouth of the channel and headed north past Pladda lighthouse, with the islands of Seil and Easdale on our beam.
Puilldobhrain anchorage was in deed not our original planned destination for that day, as it was originally Oban. However, when sailing up the Sound of Luing I took a call from our friends who suggested Puilladobhrain would be a pleasant little anchorage to stop off for a few days. I asked my friend to spell it and I promptly looked it up in the pilot guide and then located the position on the chart. It seemed perfect, I bid my friend goodbye before gleefully popping my head out of the companion way to tell Gary of the change of plan. To my horror, Gary was not amused as he had not foreseen this change nor had he studied the anchorage prior to leaving Jura. Therefore Gary did not have it highlighted on the c-map chart plotter nor did he know the hazards. Thinking I was been helpful and armed with the pilot book and Admiralty chart I proceeded to describe the position and hazards but Gary was more focused on sailing the boat and locating the anchorage on c-maps. Of course, he found it but the atmosphere was frosty and I came to realise that changing plans on a whim was not a good strategy. This highlights how we humans process information differently as I believed I was describing the approach to Puilldobhrain perfectly well in my auditory style, where as Gary needed a visual guide. My flapping in his face the sketch from the pilot guide book was in deed not cutting the mustard nor helping the situation one little bit!
With the new destination route fully established, I was on the look out for Eilean Duin, which our friends had told us resembled a ruined castle but it took me years to see the lion and the lamb rock formation in the Lake Districts where I was brought up so I didn't hold out much hope in me seeing this castle, first time. I surprised myself as I located it, more by chart navigation than castle interpretation though. We turned in towards the north end of the island which lead to the delightful anchorage of Puilldobhrain (The Pool of Otters). We successfully navigated the submerged Dun Horses and aligned the two cairns mid channel before dropping the hook. The anchorage was a place of beauty and tranquility, a place that will always have piece of my heart.
By late afternoon we were joined by our friends MC and Dave and we promptly blew up the dinghy and rowed across to their boat, La Contenta, for G&T and a BBQ. Oh the joy, of seeing friends again, especially these guys, we just get on so well and the next couple of days was absolutely delightful, as was the weather. We swam, walked to Clachan Bridge (The bridge over the Atlantic), visited gardens and had picnics whilst also marveling at the stunning sunsets.
We discussed many sailing stories, shared the changing plans on a whim situation and shared many resources. Dave is a very experienced sailor and he told us of a set of charts that MC and himself use frequently in Scotland and on that recommendation we purchased the Antares Charts for the princely sum of £20. Antares Charts are produced by local people using their own soundings and local knowledge, well worth the money for this part of the UK.
As an early riser or sometimes a very late night/early morning party person, I often get to experience the beauty of sunrise with only the odd seagull for company. The early morning moments before the places really awaken are some of my favourite times. However, here in Puilladobhrain things were different, as my dear friend MC is an early bird too. As I peered through the hatch opening to get a glimpse of the morning sky, I would see MC already on the deck taking sunrise photos and dancing the morning away with yoga poses. We would wave and mimic each others poses before retreating back to the saloon for a cup of coffee and a homemade croissant. Writing this now makes me smile at the memory. In a world which is all too often dictated by deadlines and stress, why not escape from the hustle and bustle and let your mind wander, relax and soak up the surroundings?
I have a handful of very special friends in my life and each of them bring something solid, dependable and satisfying. They all offer friendship that has no judgement, they all care in different ways enabling me to gain very different perspectives on the very same thing. Together we navigate the joys and lows in life, either on the phone, via Whats App or Zoom. We take life's journey together, holding hands via humour, lending an ear or sharing good advice but above all my friends keep me grounded, just like an anchor. We offer each other a strong bond, we endure what life throws at us and together we become invincible!
Love, Laugh, Dig Deep and Explore More, that sums us up!
Oh my, I am off again, although it did say something deep about my thoughts of an anchor. Now back to boat anchors, I felt really secure in this anchorage as its protection was great in all weathers and the black thick mud gave us a good holding. Prior to us embarking on our full-time life at sea, Gary spent a great deal of time researching what would be the right anchor for us. We decided upon a 20 KG Spade anchor, due to its weighted tip and ability to reset in tide and wind shifts. A lot of our faith in this anchor came from a seasoned and trusted sailor, John Harries of Morgans Cloud, Attainable Adventure. As so many advise, we did size up from the recommended weight and we also fit a windless - thank goodness as this thing is heavy! The anchor is our insurance policy to stay put and not drift to undesirable places and to that end we decided to not skimp but to get the best we could afford and secure it with new chain and rode.
On a day that was gusting up to 45 knots we decided to pull up the anchor in Puilldobhrain and sail with La Contenta to Oban, approximately an hour and half away. Exciting sailing and we were there in an hour, of course, MC never misses a photo opportunity so Sandpiper was captured by the lens. Sadly as we came close to the entrance of Oban we did not see the sea planes land abeam of us as they had on our last visit but the approach to the pontoon was just as memorable with dire gusts and chop pushing us off the pontoon. The Transit Marina, which is right in the heart of the town ,was expensive but worth the over night stay for the fresh fish market, a well over due hair cut, the purchase of a Buchanan rug (Family Clan) and a fish and chip supper.
It did feel a bit like the last supper, as this would be our last night in a while with MC and Dave as they were heading south for the winter and we were heading back to the Crinan Canal to traverse the waters to the other side. The night did not pass with tears but with laughter and music. In fact, Dave played his saxophone for me, so sexy, although to keep the noise down he played it in the heads, not quite the music ambience I had in mind LOL! Tears followed the next morning as I hugged MC on the dock before slipping the lines. Hugs will return in 2021, I just hate goodbyes no matter how temporary.
On to the Crinan adventure coming very soon.
Take care and if you have comments or questions, don't be shy, fire away. xx
Tanya Moxon, a lady with a deep-seated fear of the sea but here she is pushing back on conventional life and enjoying a full-time life upon the open seas. Tanya is the founder of Fearless Feat Ltd, a leadership coaching company who supports others to perform at their best.