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Date: 06 May 2010 18:59:00
Title: Loch Tarbert, Jura

55:57.66N 005:55.96W

What a day! We are now anchored in a tiny bit of sea in the middle of the Scottish hills. 288 miles after leaving Milford Haven yesterday.

Loch Tarbert reaches from the West coast of Jura, almost to the East coast. We're tucked maybe half way in. To get in here, you have to hold a course on two leading marks (painted rocks, really) past a series of other rocks, some drying, some just beneath the surface. We used the forward-looking sonar just to be sure but the route is fairly straightforward. The last time I was here, with John Ash, some years back, we went further into the lock and ran aground so we're not trying to go that far today.

There are rocks all around us, about 100 meters away on all sides. To the south, there is a raised beach where the pebbles laid there by the sea in the last Ice Age are still lying as they did when the tide went out for the last time. It must have dropped about 20 meters quickly as the next beach is that far below. It seems as though not much has happened in the intervening few thousand years.

The sun is shining, the wind is light and the hills look beautiful. We've already seen a couple of small dolphins and a half dozen lazy fat seals since arriving in Scotland. It's such a contrast to the south coast but sailing here makes it seem very close. That said, I'm completely knackered so it's not that close.

Passing up the Irish sea was uneventful but long. Finally reaching Mull of Kintyre was really special. It's a dramatic looking headland with a proper little lighthouse. I didn't realise how near it is to Ireland but you can clearly see across. We followed the coast of Kintyre for a while before crossing over to pass between Islay and Jura. It's amazing to have reached Scotland so quickly. All you have to do is keep going - and turn right at Lands End. I know it well up here, from walking, kayaking and a bit of sailing over the years. It feels like a home from home after all the unknown stuff in between. We are aiming to arrive in Oban tomorrow which will give us a chance to unwind a bit. We're planning on spending a week or so just pottering around the islands on the West Coast which should be lovely, especially if this weather holds.

Richard is planning on leaving us tomorrow night in Oban. It's been great having him along as a mentor and teacher. He's given us the confidence to push ourselves a bit and the passages to come now seem achievable. It will be funny just to be the three of us once he's left but I think we're looking forward to that part of the trip. It will be a real challenge for us all with lots to learn but then, that's the point!

Harvey

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