We had planned to go from Arisaig or perhaps Canna round the West of Mull to Iona, past Staff and Fingal’s Cave, but the weather was doubtful for the exposed anchorages on that side of the island so we decided to head back down the Sound of Mull again and maybe make a dash for Iona from the other direction the following day. However, half way down Tony had a call to go home to deal with a family emergency, so we diverted to Oban, first stopping at one of the best known anchorages on the Argyll coast, the tiny, tucked away Puilladobhrain.
This is the point to mention the excellent large scale charts produced of West of Scotland anchorages by Bill Bradfield using his own new surveys. Judging by a talk he gave to the Cruising Association in London in February, amateur surveying has become a passion with him, and he must now be very close to being a full professional judging by the quality of what he produces. His charts come with lots of health warnings, but we found them very accurate the dozen or so times we used them. They are available from Antares Charts.
We stayed at Oban Marina, where five years before we wintered Pepper, and Tony caught the train south early the next morning. Oban Marina, which is attractive and has a free ferry service to the town, seems to be rather more expensive than last time we were there in 2007-8, though it was still full this summer.
All the yards near Oban (including Ardoran, which is very close – a £10 taxi ride or 15 minutes by car down a winding lane – have the advantage of the railway. Though it is nearly three hours to Glasgow, the time passes rapidly, because it is one of the great scenic railway journeys Oban is the.home of the best seafood stall anywhere, on the quay, facing the ferry terminal, where mussels, scallops, crabs, lobsters, prawns and other shellfish are served ready to eat at benches outside. (Following the example of a group of Japanese tourists, I persuaded myself to have a bowl of mussels for breakfast – excellent idea.)
Passage notes: 41 miles, 8 hours including lunch stop at Puilladobhrain, max NW 5 min NW 3, drizzle then sun. Antares charts extremely accurate, as they were in the half dozen other places we tried them.