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Quote from the Easter Cruise - “Never a dull moment”!

Tales have been emerging from the crew of the four yachts that attempted the voyage of discovery to the Islets of Langerhans (OK - those of you with some medical knowledge will appreciate the pun!).

Ab Fab, Voyager of Sleat, Janet Macarthur and Finn set off on Easter Saturday, 15th April - a nice late Easter this year so Isle of Skye Yachts Ltd had plenty of time to fully prepare the yachts for us Penguins . . . .

Imagine the thrill of anticipation as one sets off down the Sound of Sleat, with the distinctive island of Rhum on your starboard bow and, having briefed your crew and gone through the necessary drills, you turn for Arisaig harbour and the prospect of your first hearty meal on board. . . . “On with Iron Topsail” cries Skipper Rose of Janet Macarthur - a turn of the key and - NOTHING! No motor!! To cut a long story short - Commodore Walton in Voyager smartly pulled alongside JanMac and took her in tow - searching for a suitable mooring in the harbour - only to find that Voyager (with twin rudders) was not a great boat in reverse - somehow managed to wrap a pickup buoy line around the prop - a good way to spend the night!

Poor Jonathan - donning a borrowed wet suit the following day - spent some 40 minutes in the freezing Scottish waters chopping away before they were released. JanMac meanwhile had managed to get the engine fired up and returned to Ardvasar for emergency surgery (a new switch) to effect a permanent repair.

To be honest - these “interruptions” only made the cruise more memorable for the outstanding scenery and anchorages experienced as the fleet went South from Skye - they anchored off Castle Tioram in Loch Moidart, rounded Ardnamurchan in clear weather, sailed the west coast of Mull, negotiated the Ulva Sound - rarely traversed by Penguin, re-watered in Tobermory, sailed into Loch Teacuis (stunning) last visited by Penguins in 1971 (then entered by the senior Walton - sailing in under a following gale and with none of these namby-pamby GPS plotters and modern aids to help!)

The return to Sound of Sleat via Muck, Canna and Loch na Cuilce (head of Loch Scavaig) was none the less entertaining, where at anchor in the shallow pool of Loch na Cuilce, the sound of running water from nearby waterfalls left at least one skipper with a sleepless night!

The cruise ended by visiting the Ardvasar Hotel by Armadale, another nearly-first.

Not that the others in the flotilla were immune from “teething problems”! the yacht Finn was faring well, having been instructed to not worry about the holding tank filling as the outlet was permanently open, they used the on-board heads with impunity - UNTIL - some evil-smelling “water” was discovered in the bilges and between the engine beds . . . . Isle of Skye Yachts had not actually managed to leave the holding tank outlet open and said tank was now bulging at the seams!

Indeed - skipper Marriott reported that a seal had broken and, despite opening the offending seacock, they had to suffer repeated flushing and pumping out of the bilges on a regular and frequent basis!!

You do have to have some sympathy for the crew on JanMac - it seems to be jinxed - I shall not mention the spreading of chocolate sponge pudding over most of the saloon after the pudding tin was pierced AFTER being in boiling water for the required 20 minutes or so!

So how did Ab Fab fare? Strangely quiet on biggest boat of the fleet- only rumours of wrongly reeved reefing lines was the report I heard!

Still - the Isle of Skye and the surrounding area is stunning and well worth the effort and the value - the Hebridean Princess (small ship) offers a week’s cruise from Oban from £4,160 PER PERSON! I know who I’m sticking with!!