Wizard Pool on South Uist

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Fri 21 May 2010 14:39
57:19.247N 007:14.473W

A great day of practicing for our trip to the North.

Got completely stuck in bed this morning. Don't know why - I just couldn't get up. Andrea made me a cup of tea in bed (a reversal of our normal procedure) but it was still difficult. She was saying that the boat was rocking but I'm so used to it now that I couldn't tell and thought it was completely stable. Once I'd actually managed to crowbar my sorry carcass out of bed, it was really foggy. Banks of mist were rolling through the anchorage so you could see the hills one minute and then nothing.

After some breakfast, the fog lifted a bit and we raised the anchor and set off to head north towards our rendezvous with Greg. As we got further from the land, the fog got worse and we were soon just travelling along with only the radar and chart plotter to show where we were. Luckily, there's hardly any other traffic up here but we had to keep a good look-out for pot buoys. I experimented with the VHF which has a speaker on the mast. It has a handy PA facility for giving navigational advice to other vessels and a built-in fog horn which I neglected to inform the crew about. Once I'd worked out how to operate that, Kali leapt up in a panic that there was another ship just in the fog. I had to tell her three times that it was us before she'd believe me. Whether she forgave me is another issue and she's far too polite to say.

So that was us for most of the day. Alternately sailing and motoring with the appropriate fog signal blaring out every 90 seconds. I think we were the only vessel in the Minch - if not the whole of Scotland - actually emitting the appropriate sound signal but I've paid for it so I may as well use it!

Just as we reached the entrance to Loch Skipport, the fog cleared and I saw the hills and a lighthouse on the Port side. It was a shock to see it all so close suddenly. I'd forgotten that there was actually a world out there. We motored up and down while I phoned home about the work on our house as it was the first time I'd had a mobile signal for days then we set off to find our anchorage in Wizard Pool.

The pool is a tight loch enclosed on all sides with a narrow entrance. Once inside, Wizard Island sits about 120 meters off the shore and we are anchored between them using all our hard-core gear. To get in here, we had to launch the tender while motoring around in tiny circles, then despatch Kali to scout out some appropriate rocks to tie ourselves to. She discovered that some previous users had actually set steel rings into the rocks so we decided to use them. Then, I motored very slowly into the bay and Andrea released the anchor with only about 1 meter of water under the keel. We then reversed, laying out the anchor chain while Kali jumped back into the tender and ran our floating Polypropylene lines out to the rings on the shore.

So, here we sit. We're in the middle of a kind of Y shape with the anchor out in front and the two shore lines diagonally out astern. We can't swing around the anchor - which is just as well as there isn't room. It's very snug and secure. Andrea is outside now trying to catch a fish and I'm just watching the mist rolling down the mountainsides. The only sounds are the wind and the water bubbling down a tiny stream just ahead of us.

It's been great today trying out the gear we'll need further north. We're expecting to encounter plenty of fog so having a go in that was useful. I was pretty intimidated about tying ourselves to the rocks and couldn't really see how we could do it with just the three of us but it worked out really well and is much less of a panic than I thought. All the gear worked perfectly, as did the crew. A particular favourite with Andrea and I was Kali's chosen hand-signal for "rope secure, haul away" which was raised crossed arms. Exactly like in the Adam and the Ants video of "Prince Charming". She looked a little surprised when we gave her a rendition of it later.


Below is Andrea's contribution from Wednesday night

We are on Vatersay and the light is very unusual. Its 10pm but still very light with pink and blue mackerel skies high above and then a very low thick white fog rolling and clinging to the shore and hills around us. We arrived last night at the same time as some windy and wet weather and spent the night rocking around in 20 knots of wind. I was the only one worried enough about the anchor holding to venture out of my warm bed at mid-night but all was fine and the anchor held well (just as Kali and Harvey said it would!)

Well we are coming up for three weeks into our big adventure. In some ways it feels like ages since we left and on the other hand it feels like we haven't begun properly yet. It is taking a lot of energy to just process the fact that our lives are going to be very different for the next year! Scotland has been amazing so far. We have been very lucky with the weather and have had some lovely sunny days. Already we have been talking about coming back and spending more time sailing around here - its just so remote and wild and when the weather is good it takes some beating.


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