Chapter 6: Aug 9/10 - Tanera Mor to Loch Ewe

We anchored in the Cabbage Patch, a secluded little lagoon in which there is room for one vessel to swing comfortably to a stationary anchor. Two would be a crowd, though until Ullapool resumed its importance as a Fishery, this little bay was a favourite resort of drifters, who being sociable to a fault lay cheek by jowl with their sides festooned with motor tyres. I said a stationary anchor. Very soon - it was now blowing a gale - we began to take little voyages across the pond and narrowly avoided the beach so from 22.45 until 23 hours the engines were working hard until a satisfactory hole was found for the second anchor. The wind now set in steadily and obviously from the south west and reached force 8 during the night. I say obviously for with very slight exception our courses for the next six or seven days would all point in that direction. If you look at the map of Scotland you will see that the west coast sheers steadily north east from Ardnamurchan to Cape Wrath. I slept well. There are few more soothing sounds than water lapping against the sides, cable thunder, sometimes called rattle chain and the wind tearing across the deck, when you are securely moored and snug below. Add to these the soft peep peep of the oyster catcher and the late night call of the curlew and old Somnus himself could not provide a better specific.

We stayed put the next day and I spent most of the time in the Captain's cabin admiring the scenery. At the risk of censure I must tell you what I saw. The Frail herself was so struck by it that she painted a picture of outstanding merit portraying these colourful hills of Ross. White gulls perched on the heather covered little islet in the entrance. Between rocky reefs I had vista of the Sound where drifters and trawlers were forging their way through the surf to the fishing grounds in the Minch. Beyond the Sound, some two miles away the township of Achiltibuie (field of the golden haired boy) extended for nearly a mile on the sloping moorland. It contains perhaps a dozen houses with long parallelograms of land reaching down to the shore. The moor rises to a long inclined ridge and over the ridge in splendid isolation are the Coigach hills and the more distant mountains of Sutherland. It was a bright interval between the squalls and the play of sunlight and cloud produced astonishing effects. At one moment Stac polly, like a gigantic axe head with a broken jagged edge and two thousand feet high was the colour of blue steel against the sunlit pink background of Cul Mor, which is nearly eight hundred feet higher; then it turned black against grey and a few seconds later appeared like a snow covered alp against the now dark screen of the higher Cul. I agree cordially with those who protest against making oral remarks about the scenery; but I think, when the subject is the West Coast of Scotland it is permissible to let oneself go on paper.

I forgot to mention the rainbow. I do so now.

It blew hard all night and the short passage to Ullapool next morning was full of movement especially when we caught the sea on our beam. Various moveables moved.

The "Lady Killarney" came into Loch Broom. Contrary to custom there was very little traffic between her and the beach. Could it be that the tourists felt ill and ill inclined for shore parties. Our beach party on the contrary seemed loth to leave Ullapool. Eventually when lunch was overdue they came aboard, bringing with them a new hand. This was a scion of an old Scottish clan whose slogan was 'Craigellachie'. He was called Lordie for short and in the event we taught him several new reels. He added very greatly to the cheerful element of the ship.

Under the conditions that prevailed most small craft like "Helen" would have stayed under the lee of Ullapool; but the Skipper wanted to get south. He had an early date in Portree. At 13.45 we went out in smooth water and enjoyed some lee from the gale in Annat Bay, but when we were off Little Loch Broom the seas came fairly abeam and we rolled heavily, but still had the line of the Summer Isles as a distant breakwater and anyhow Gruinard Bay was not exposed to the full force of the wind being sheltered from the south by the land that runs in from Greenstone Point. Whatever the elements, and no matter how much we were pitched about, we, or at least I, enjoyed a superb panorama of that surpassingly beautiful coast. I found keen interest and diversion in identifying almost every peak and island within view. As we came along we had an occasional bright interval; but there was a special tariff for these - three squalls- one B.I.

There is an idea which is prevalent that winter seas are worse than summer ones; colder they may be, but whether they are stormier is a very debateable point. The worst hurricanes occur in the West Indies and the China Seas where they seldom have any winter at all. The action of the sun seems to produce most of the wind we get and no one will dispute that even in the British isles we are liable to see the sun fractionally more often in summer than in winter. I am not arguing about the Antarctic or the Arctic - we must leave the poles out of this.

When we got round Greenstone Point, it was definitely bad for small boats; so we made for shelter in Loch Ewe. There is a lee under the northern tip of Ewe Island which provides a leaky screen from west to south west. I say leaky because the wind tears down the broad ravine above the anchorage with the full force of whats behind it. At 17.10 we cast out the starboard anchor and sheered off to port where we dropped its larboard mate. Then the starboard fellow signalled that he wanted to come home: we went back and hauled him in and dropped him somewhere else. At that Larboard intimated that he too was suffering from nostalgia so another hole was found for him, but even then they weren't satisfied as a brief entry in the log makes clear:-

17.10 Dropped anchor  
17.36 Still dropping anchors. Force 8 S.W.
17.50 Stopped do do Rainbow"

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