A Canine in Caledonia
Dave rebuilt the engine on Callisto our Elizabethan 30 over the winter and
we planned to sail her north to the west coast of Scotland this summer and
leave her there for a few years. Our border collie Jack has been sailing on
the Humber with us but never done a night passage so we decided to take him
with us for the summer. We moved down to Hull Marina in July so that we
could leave whenever the weather was okay. Jack had never been in the dinghy
so we inflated it at the marina and we thought that the rubber floor might
worry him, but as soon as it was in the water he jumped in it and refused to
get out until he had been rowed around the marina. The next thing we had to
think about was getting hold of an artificial grass mat for Jack use at sea.
A trip to the local fruit shop secured one free of charge. So we were fully
equipped to sail with a dog.
Sunday 17th July
A lovely day with a good forecast so we set sail for Whitby at 1430hrs We
had a great sail down river and as we reached Spurn light vessel we turned
north and the wind was on our quarter. It rose and fell all night and as we
reached Runswick Bay it dropped altogether so we started the motor, to make
sure we reached Whitby in time. High tide was at 14hrs and we entered the
harbour at 15.25hrs and called the bridge to find that we were just in time
for the last opening at 15.40hrs. We motored into the marina and rafted to a
boat from the Amble. Jack had been on the boat 24 hours without going to the
toilet at all so Dave took him ashore for a walk and a swim. The night
passage with him had been great, we expected him to want to be on watch with
Whoever was awake but he just slept on the saloon floor next to the one of
us who was asleep.
Distance run 91.5nm
Dave and Sue, who we met last year in Peterhead live in Whitby and took us
to their home for dinner. It was great; their plans to sail off have been
put on hold until they sell their house.
The forecast is for strong North West winds so we decided to stay for a few
days to see the tall ships that were due to visit at the weekend. They
berthed opposite us at Endeavour Wharf and we strolled around to view them.
We had a visit from Derek another Elizabethan Association member who had
called into Whitby on his way back to the east coast rivers. He is the first
Elizabethan owner that we have met and it was great to have a look at his
The wind remained strong North West until Tuesday 26th July.
We set sail at 10.00hrs heading north for Hartlepool, it was a fast sail and
we arrived outside the harbour at 14.30hrs, and called the lock keeper who
informed us that there was only .5 metre in the channel, so we dropped our
anchor for 2 hours, it was very rolly but good holding, we were glad to tie
up inside the Marina at 17.00hrs.
The North winds increased and we were waiting for 6 days at Hartlepool. Jack
loved it as there was a great beach nearby. We listened on the radio and
heard that 4 of the tall ships had turned back to Newcastle, because of the
strong winds. One of them had a broken mast.
Distance run 25 nm
Monday 1st August
We got a forecast of NW 0-2 so we decided to leave for Blyth. Fortunately
the wind turned SE and we had a great sail arriving at 19.00hrs. We took
Jack ashore for a walk then had showers and a drink in the club house. It is
a good forecast for the next two days so we decided to leave tomorrow for
Distance run 27nm
Tuesday 2nd August
We left Blyth at 07.15am after taking Jack for a walk. The wind was light SW
and we had to motor for 2 hours. Finally we got a nice 3to4 and started
sailing at a healthy 5 knots. During the night Forth coastguard gave a
forecast of West 4-5 occasionally 6. At 23.00hrs the wind increased and Dave
went out to put a reef in the main, as he was doing it we were hit by a
squall so he put three reefs in. We settled down nicely doing 6-7 knots. As
the wind increased the sea picked up and became heavier but the boat did not
take on any water and it was an exhilarating sail, Jack took the heavy
weather in his stride curling up on the saloon floor and sleeping through
it. We had a fast passage and arrived at the Skerries just south or
Peterhead at 13.00hrs. On Wednesday 3rd August. We were hit by another
squall and the heavens opened drenching us visibility was bad so we waited
for it to blow over before we called the harbour for permission to enter,
finally tying up in the marina at 14.00hrs. Dave took Jack for a walk; he
had been at sea for 31 hours and really needed to go to the loo, as he would
not use the artificial grass.
Distance run 151nm
Thursday 4th August
We checked the oil and did a few little jobs. The wind is Strong NW and we
will have to wait until it dies down or changes direction before we round
Tuesday 9th August.
The forecast was for light north winds so we decided to motor sail to the
Moray Firth. We left the marina at 06.00hrs and headed north. There were
very big rollers but the sea was not too rough, the marina master had
advised us to give Rattery Head at least 4 miles offing and we had to tack
all the way and then beat down the Moray Firth to Whitehills Harbour. The
entrance looked horrific with big breakers and surrounding reefs so we
called the harbour master to ask if it was safe to enter. He came to the
harbour mouth and talked us in. It is a very narrow entrance with a sharp
left turn into the harbour. He put us in the inner harbour as it is more
protected. There are excellent facilities here with washing machines and a
small sitting room with a micro wave which is for our use.
Distance run 45nm
Thursday 11th August
We left Whitehills harbour at noon with a light westerly wind on the nose
and motor sailed to Lossiemouth. There were still quite big rollers but they
died down as the wind disappeared and the sea became glassy. We arrived at
Lossiemouth at 18.00hrs and called the harbour master but he did not answer.
He came around and told us to see him tomorrow.
Distance run 24nm
Friday 12th August
The glorious twelfth and our 37th wedding anniversary. We decided to stay
tonight as the wind is still west but forecast SE tomorrow.
Saturday 13th August.
We left Lossiemouth at 06.00hrs with a light SE breeze. It was lovely and
calm and we enjoyed the spectacular scenery along the Moray coast. We
reached the Chanory narrows at 13.30hrs, just as the SW flow started and
sailed straight down the middle and arrived at the cale3donian canal buoy at
15.00hrs. As we sailed under the Kessock Bridge we called the canal and
arranged to lock in at 15.30hrs. It was becoming very overcast and as we
entered the loch it rained very heavily, drenching us. We paid £138 for an 8
day transit and locked into Seaport Marina for the night. We walked Jack to
the local co-op and bought supplies for the evening.
Distance run 38.3nm
Sunday 14th August
We had showers then set off down the canal. We went through a swing bridge
and four locks at Muirtown then another swing bridge and arrived at
Dochgarroch pontoons for the night. There is another boat called Callisto
with a dark blue hull which is berthed here permanently and we are confusing
the lock keepers when we call up. The boat next to us is a charter boat and
they have given us all their spare stores as they are going home tomorrow.
Jack loves it on the canal as he can swim to his hearts content once the
locks have stopped operating for the night.
Distance run 4nm
Monday 15th August.
We passed through the lock at 14.00hrs and motored towards Loch Ness. The
wind was from the SW. and on the nose, as we entered the loch we hoisted the
sail and tacked back and forth across the loch. We dialed close to Urquart
Castle and into Drumnadrochit bay and picked up a visitors mooring for the
Distance run 10nm.
The next day was lovely and we decided to stay as the scenery was
spectacular. Dave took Jack ashore for a swim. We left the next day at noon
and had to tack into a strong SW. The rain started as we arrived at Fort
Augustus. The lock was very busy so we had to raft up for the night.
Distance run 20nm
Thursday 18th August.
The lock keeper decided to do a double locking as there are so many boats.
The yachts went first and then the motor cruisers. We had to walk the boat
between the 5 locks. We tied to the jetty at the other end and went
shopping. Finally at 16.00hrs we set off to Loch Oich where we tied to a
jetty near a picnic area for the night. It is still raining. Distance run
Friday 19th August.
We motored into the wind down Loch Lochy and arrived at Gairloch at
17.00hrs; we went through the lock and stayed on the jetty at the other side
for the night as it is nice and quiet.
Distance run 10.3 nm
Saturday 20th August .
We motored to Banavie and had showers at the excellent facility block we had
a wonderful view of Ben Nevis as we locked into the first of the eight locks
which make up Neptunes Staircase the boat had to be walked between locks
again and the transit took us one and a half hours. It was a beautiful day
and we motored to Corpach basin for the night.
Distance run 10nm
Sunday 21st August.
We locked out of the basin at 08.15hrs and sailed past Fort William to the
Corran narrows. As we reached them we were doing 7.5 knots and went through
several whirlpools. The wind increased and we sailed SW towards Oban on the
east side of Lismore Island. 5 miles from Oban the wind increased and Dave
had to put a reef in the main. It rained very heavily and we were soaked by
the time we tied up at Oban Yacht services on Kerrera Island.
Distance run 27.9nm
Monday 22nd August
We caught the taxi boat to Oban and went to Tesco to replenish our stores.
Force 9 gales are forecast for Wednesday so we decided to stay at Kerrera
until they pass over. The gales blew all week peaking at a force 10 and we
kept our eye on the barometer, which fell really quickly. On Monday 29th of
August the forecast was for SW 5 or 6 so we decided to leave and head up the
sound of Mull. It was very rough in the Firth and the wind went North West
so we decided to beat into Craignure Bay for the night.
Distance run 12.4nm
Tuesday 30th August
It was a lovely morning and Dave took Jack ashore for a run before we set
sail at 09.00hrs. The wind was SE. 4 or 5 and we goose winged all the way to
Tobermory, covering the 15.9nm in 3 hours. We picked up a mooring which cost
£12 a night and went ashore. It was a lovely balmy evening and we had
sundowners in the cockpit as the sunset.
Distance run 15.9nm
Wednesday 31st August.
It is pouring down but the forecast is S-SE 4-5 so we have decided to sail
around Ardmurchan Point, the most westerly point on the British Mainland, to
Arisaig. The wind was very light at first so we motor sailed. We saw a lot
of porpoises and Jack was fascinated by them. There were not many boats
sailing in this area. We arrived off Arisaig at 16.00hrs and wound our way
down the channel taking a mooring for the night. We went ashore to arrange
to leave the boat here for the winter. It is going to be hauled out and
stored ashore ready for some serious cruising next summer.
Distance run 26 nm
We tied the traditional bunch of heather to the bows before we were lifted
out to celebrate having
rounded Ardmurchan Point for the first time. The boat is now ashore and
prepared for the winter.
We have been very pleased with Jack on the cruise, we found out a lot about
cruising with him.
Firstly that he has the sense to stay below in bad weather and secondly that
he manages to go a
long time without going to the loo. He is a great sailing companion and lots
of tourists took photos
of him as we went through the Caledonian Canal. We are looking forward to
sailing with him again
Total distance run 552.8nm
Dave and Shelby Milner and Jack the dog.
Callisto of Parkstone E30