The last weather forecast from Clyde Coastguard I heard, before falling asleep and still groaning from the jumbo Cod and Chips, made Islay possible, so primed, I woke early with laundry on top of the list of things to get done. An ebb tide being a mandatory element to get there, meant an 11:30am departure was perfect.
A full rather smelly load on a quick wash followed by a 60 minute tumble, gave me time to do a three bag shop at Spa unpack and stow! Happy that the fridge was full and laundry dry, I moved Equinox to the fuel berth and topped up. Heaven knows when I’ll next get a chance; and while waiting, for the marina manager to arrive, filed a Passage Plan with Belfast Coastguard. Once outside the huge stone breakwaters with a brisk NW’ly wind on the port quarter passing to the West of Rathlin Island would be difficult, despite 3 knot favourable tide trying to coax me. Instead with a 14 knot wind to help me on a reach, we sailed East and met head on first a gentle race on the South East corner of the Island, then a roller coaster of a race on the North East corner. Rough! Seagull poo and anything not firmly screwed to the deck were washed off – but, for the first time ever, Equinox registered 12.1 knots SOG on the GPS – Brisk indeed! As we parted company with the island, the wind backed to the West and we flew the final 23 miles to Port Ellen in less than five hours; the sun shining most of the way. A tricky entrance was made easier by watching a ferry depart; his track reversed led me to a perfect little marina – two pontoons and just four visiting boats - so plenty of choice.
Once berthed, I slipped ashore to the White Hart Hotel nearby, ravenous as I’d not eaten a thing all day. A splendid meal of local mussels followed by Hebridean chicken – a chicken breast wrapped around haggis served with a whiskey sauce was delicious and the local Islay ale outrageouly good, though expensive at £3.80 a pint. While eating, I could not help but notice the rain trying to take the paint off the windows! Force 6’s forecasted tomorrow. Hmmmm! There are at least three distilleries nearby, to keep me occupied........? Tempting?