Let’s make a post about how we’ve seen Islay.
After a 15-16 hour sail down from Oban, we rounded the green buoy and moored up nicely in Port Ellen.
In the dark, as we were steaming (yes, we started the motor when the wind stopped working in our way) I went down to check my navigation and all of a sudden I felt the smell of smoke. Not cigarette smoke but things are f-ing burning somewhere smoke. Smelling my way all over Trusty cursing and starting to make worst-case scenarios in my head checking everywhere that I could ever imagine that we could be burning. After checking the engine compartment I stuck my head outside to just check around for I don’t know, something out of the ordinary, what we always do every couple minutes when under way. The smoke was worse… a light in my head turned on. We’re downwind from Islay, they’re malting using peat to smoke and dry the malt…
All off a sudden everything was fine and I went back to checking in the flashing lights actually flashed the same way it says in the charts.
Port Ellen is a good place to get a glimpse of what island life must be like here in the Scottish archipelago, go in on google maps and watch on street-view what I mean. It’s a really dull place and we needed to go by bus to the next town, Bowmore, to get our Visa cards to work. I’m not saying it’s a bad place, the scenery is not bad, there is a beach that’s not too shabby and if it weren’t for the water temperature it sure would have had a lot of sunbathers on it. There is one downside, the maltery, they burn peat 24/7 right now and the whole place smell like well, burning peat.
The malt is manly for the seven distilleries here on Islay and that makes it bearable because the product it end up as it quite nice. Martina had her birthday here and we went out in town to celebrate it. We hadn’t booked so we got the restaurant we deserved… but hey, who puts chiliconcarne next to steak pie on a menu (in between burger, curry, mac n cheese and fish n chips)? Now we’re trying on the other restaurant in town.
The marina is one of the cheapest so far and you get every fourth night free, the volunteers that collect the money have about as much change as we did when we arrived so it might take a couple of nights to get things even. (Remember the bus ride to Bowmore)
The best part of Port Ellen’s location is that you can walk to three of the better Scottish (in my view) distilleries, Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Lagavulin. We took a stroll to Laphroaig in the sun (we saw blue sky and sunlight three times in our walk, that is sunny) and did a distillery tour. When in the visitors centre you can taste a couple of different drams and if you join the Friends of Laphroaig you get a free 50ml bottle every year, as long as you collect it there.
Needless to say we stayed there for a bit and tasted some of the different blends they had in store and signed up as friends so now we own a square foot each of Islay soil, at least on the paper. We can proudly say that we own land in the same field as H.R.H Prince Charles.
One thing that you have to figure out when cruising (listen up dummies) is weather forecasting. When I saw the weather patterns a couple of days before leaving Oban it behaved the way I expected it to. The last part of Bertha was giving us the wind needed to have a nice sail down here, knowing that a new deep low was heading down from behind Island I figured we could stay here in Islay for the weekend letting that pass and using the later part of it to get stable wind down to Ireland. Well that didn’t work.. Writing this I should be sitting in quite strong winds looking forward ‘til Sunday and the nice winds. Right now it’s sunny and the newest weather I downloaded tell me the wind is hitting about 03:00 Sunday morning, right about when I’d be sleeping the last hours before waking up ready to sail out of the harbour.
Good thing about forecasting is that when I download the weather tomorrow it might be the same way I predicted it again.
Ps, it was almost but a mix between what I expected and what the new weather said. This weather-file at least mirror the reality..