Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm sailing away...

Monday afternoon, I went on a little sailing trip from here in Kyleakin up to Broadford. Jeff, a fellow who lives in a boat that he's rebuilding at the pier, had promised to take us out sailing, and the weather and all had never agreed before. So on his final sail of the season, he took Helen, Alysha, and I with him for the sail, along with his crew of Dan, the caretaker of Eilean Ban Island, and Margaret, who works at the Eilean Ban trust centre in the village.

About an hour before we were to set out, Helen, Alysha and I were walking across the Skye Bridge and the wind was quite strong, so the sailing looked promising. However, once we had all assembled in the boat and gotten out onto the narrows, there was absolutely no wind. We drifted along for probably 40 minutes to an hour - under the bridge and past it. Helen, Alysha, and I took turns in steering the way while the others set up the sails. Then once we started to get some wind, we also helped out with setting the sails and changing directions when we had to tack.

Jeff took this one of all of us just after we'd started crusing along in the wind.

Jeff putting up the sail (this obviously happened before the other picture, but I'm having trouble re-ordering them).
We really picked up some speed once we started to get out near the little island of Pabay, and the boat was leaning quite heavily to one side. That intimidated me a bit - where I'd once been sitting on the edge with my feet in the space in the middle, I was now standing with my feet on the other edge, watching the edge of the boat slipping under the water. I wasn't afraid of drowning or anything - I had a life jacket on and all - my primary concern was actually for my camera should I go in. However, Jeff didn't seem concerned about the boat's tilting (and I've seen boats doing that, it just feels a little weird the first time I guess) - he had us all sit on the high side of the boat for a while with our legs dangling over (except Helen who was freezing and taking shelter down below).

Passing the islands; I think that one's Raasay, and then Applecross in the back right.

Looking back toward the bridge.

Because of the delay due to lack of wind, it was starting to get dark as we neared Broadford. We hove to, I believe the term is, while Jeff tried to start up the motor to take us into the pier, where we were to tie up to his friend's boat. He couldn't get it started, so then an alternate plan was formed that involved sailing in and bringing sails down as we went, until we were just using the back sail as we approached the first boat tied up at the pier. Jeff and Dan tossed a rope to tie ourselves to it as we approached, and there happened to be a fisherman still on it so he tied us off and we were yanked to a halt. Then we began working our way down the pier from boat to boat by looping ropes through and yanking (done by Jeff and Dan mostly) while the rest of us helped push the boat away from the other boats and the pier, a mad but fun bit of scrambling around.

It was half-seven before we got back to the hostel (we'd set out at about 4pm); cold and hungry (since I hadn't had lunch). Helen and Alysha made a dinner of something like Shepherd's pie from leftovers that was just what we needed.

I really enjoyed my sailing outing (even despite the intimidating leaning), so I'm going to have to work myself on to other boats in the future.

As always, there's more photos in my web albums; you can go here.

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