Every year at the start of the sailing season there is a tradition in the Lochbroom Sailing Club known as the ‘shakedown cruise.’ It marks the start of a new seasons sailing but is also journey to test the winter service and discover the small repairs left unseen ashore. As per custom the boats were packed with crips, olives, whisky & Red Tins (McEwans beer) all supplemented with enough meal rations to feed an armada.
This was the 4th shakedown I had been lucky enough to enjoy and the first time I had ever been lucky enough to sail straight from the mooring in Ullapool. Setting out as two identical Albin Vega sailing boats Mollymawk and Twister we headed to the Summer Isles. Aboard Mollymawk was my father Paul as skipper and friend Seumas as first mate. I as normal being the least experienced took the roll of cabin boy.
Less than three hours later we settled onto a sheltered mooring on Tanera Mor, cooked up some burgers and watched the storms pass from a cockpit slowly filling with empty red cans. Rafted next to Twister we hatched a plan for the morning.
A short detour ashore allowed a quick stretch of the legs and some fine views back to Coigach and Annat Bay.
An early start gave us a promising sail to the north. The sun was shining off our bow and the wind gentle to our sails. Rolling on a low swell we headed slowly along the coast of Reiff and Coigach peninsula with aim to reach Lochinver for tea.
Stopping for lunch in the sheltered Loch an Eisg Brachaidh where I and Seumas decided to abandon Paul to sail alone. We would kayak the short distance north to meet in the harbour. Watching Twister stop to fish we bobbed and splashed our way around the coastline before a quick stop to play in the rapids of the river Inver.
At the pontoons we were free to explore Lochinver and tinker with boats. A social evening debating whether to head south or head north slowly faded into night. We settled on heading to Stoer head then sailing south to Tanera Mor once again.
Kayaking north from Lochinver to Achmelvich bay I and Xander met with the boats for a lunch in the turquoise waters. Chased by dolphins to the point we met with Dougie in his new boat Mardling. As three we motor sailed in a diminishing wind back to Tanera we clung back to our mooring. With storms brewing we would return to Ullapool early in the morning to beat heavy gales forecast.
Arriving in a cold drizzle we quickly unloaded the boats and headed home.