We are sailing

Twelve pupils set sail on a D of E adventure around the west coast of Scotland during the summer. Here S5 pupil Kate Lochrie describes the experience.

This year’s Silver D of E group had great fun both on the practice weekend and on our assessed expedition.

Learn

For our practice weekend, we sailed from Oban on the Saturday morning, heading north around the isle of Lismore. There was lots to learn as none of us had much sailing experience.

Before we left, the twelve of us were split into two groups or watches as we called them. We were given a tour of the boat in our separate groups and our watch leaders explained the workings of the boat, telling us the names of all the different parts and what they did. It was certainly a lot to remember!

We sailed up and around Lismore, anchoring off Shuna Island next to Castle Stalker, near Port Appin. After a hard day’s tacking (the term for sailing in zig zags against the wind) we went ashore in the dinghy for a walk on the Mainland to the Old Inn opposite Castle Stalker which was beautiful as we were there just in time for sunset.

Escape

This would have been appreciated more had it not been for the midges. Luckily we could escape back onto the yacht for some more free time before bed.

That night however was not to be the most restful as we each had to get up for anchor watch. To keep us awake we each had to continue a story from the people on watch before you. The result was a rather incoherent but no less hilarious story which we all enjoyed hearing the next morning.

On the Sunday we continued down the east coast of Lismore and back to Kerrera Marina at Oban. After this successful practice we were all quite looking forward to the assessed expedition but luckily, when it came to it, we were not thrown in the deep end and expected to sail the boat ourselves without a little reminder at the start of the week.

We spent the first day sailing north through the Sound of Mull and up past the small islands of Muck and Eigg before finally dropping anchor in Loch Scresort at Rum. There were fantastic views of the Cuillins - a rocky mountain range on the Island of Skye.

The first day was a great success but was slightly marred by the fact that most of us were sea sick. Even the crew who did this for a living were feeling slightly queasy. We all felt much better once the boat had stopped moving.

On the second day, we headed out of Loch Scresort and south past Eigg, Muck and Ardnamurchan Point, the most westerly point on the Scottish mainland.

Sleep

That night we berthed in Tobermory and got to see the small town well known by little children all over Britain. The good thing about being in port is that we did not need to get up for anchor watch as we had the night before so we all got a good night’s sleep for the next day when we would be expected to sail the boat all the way back to Oban with as little help as possible.

So off we went, tacking down the Sound of Mull and tying up at Kerrera, all exhausted, (especially after doing a beach clean on the island which had a significantly positive impact on the environment), but rather proud of ourselves.

The whole experience was really amazing and we all learned so much (not least of which was learning how to pronounce the Gaelic place names of the West coast of Scotland).

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