Sunday, September 7, 2014

SMALL-SHIP CRUISING IN THE INNER HEBRIDES (Part 2)

Steaming out of Loch Sunart
Today was my first full day on the Glen Tarsen. Weather was mostly cloudy with sunny spells and a cool breeze. One sharp shower. We sailed soon after breakfast, cleared Loch Aline, ran northwest up the Sound of Mull, and then turned to starboard just past Tobermory, Mull. We steamed up the twenty miles of Loch Sunart to its head. Clouds were lifting as we anchored for lunch.

The loch's banks here are covered with trees (deciduous and evergreen) right down to the water’s edge. Behind these are some barren, rocky hillsides of machair (short  native grasses and heather).  In front of an impressive white house was a herd of red deer grazing in the parkland. 

On the banks of Loch Sunart
I spent most the time reading up about the Western Isles and getting to know the other pax better. They are all, but two,  younger than us with impressive professional backgrounds. The couple older than us were Ontarians and the rest from UK. One English couple lives in Toulouse, France. Many good discussions ensued and much humour.
 
The chef, Andie, in
her tiny galley
My first lunch was a vast cold collation with hot baked potatoes and a big slice of coffee-walnut cake.  Everything served is local, fresh produce and our chef bakes bread every day. Most passengers retired for a nap. I did not!

Instead I visited the wheelhouse and learned that this very sea-worthy vessel was originally an Irish trawler, which explains its deep draft and tubby appearance. It was built in 1975 and later sold to the Majestic Line in 2005. Then she was gutted and rebuilt as a 12-pax, 4-crew cruise ship.

The cabins are a good size, but the ensuites are only twice the size of a plane washroom. They do have a shower and lashings of hot water. We have twin beds pushed together but made-up separately. The bulkheads (walls) have many hooks to hang things on, a small closet, and shelves. There is a cubby under the bed where our baggage is stored. Beds are very firm though. Half the cabins are down below, and half are on the middle deck forward of the dining/lounge area. No Internet, very spotty cell reception, and no TV. 

A birthday buffet
We eat long table style and move where we sit so we can talk to new people at every meal. Well-stocked bar — choice of beers, wines, and some very good whiskys.

The Glen Tarsen is heading out of the sea loch as I write this and will spend the night at Tobermory on Mull anchored in the harbour.

The tender took us ashore to wander around the waterfront of this pretty town behind the harbour. Houses are multi-coloured and give hints of Norwegian style. As it was Sunday the shops were all closed, as well as the distillery. Probably just as well as I fell for a pair of earrings that were 114 pounds!

Appies and dinner were again superb, but the Highland steak was cooked too well for my taste. Lemon pot for dessert. Pax have bonded well and the meal was filled with laughter.
Tobermory harbour

IMAGES: Photos by Pharos 2014. All rights reserved