One of our most popular trips and a favourite among crew is the St. Kilda Challenge. In 2019 it's a solo expedition for our ocean racing yacht, Taeping. After winning both line honours and first overall in the 2018 race event it was time to head back to the dual world heritage site in cruising mode!
With everyone boarding the yacht by early afternoon at her home base of Kip Marina it was time to soak up some sun on deck while we got to know a bit more about each other and the yacht. With safety briefs, equipment checks and passage plan completed it was crew dinner in the chartroom restaurant before settling in for the night.
Day one saw us head off into glassy waters with little or no wind. Not a problem, we had safety drills, and sail handling practise to complete as we started our journey south out of the Clyde Estuary. After passing the amazing coastlines of Bute and the Cumbraes it wasn't long before we were enjoying lunch passing the coast of the Isle of Arran, the site of many hard fought battles in the annual Scottish Islands Peaks Race.
Reaching the south east point of Arran saw the wind fill in nicely allowing for some training under sail, including tacking, hoisting and dropping. Soon though it was down to the serious business of sailing and with our cutter rig of Yankee One, Staysail and Main hosted and trimmed we were off towards Campbeltown on the famous Mull of Kintyre. With the wind dying, just on cue as we reached the entrance to Campbeltown loch, it was time to get the fenders and ropes out, dinner on and after a debrief with the skipper head ashore for some entertainment!
Day two saw us depart into a nice easterly which, unfortunately, eased to a slight puff just about the point we hoisted the main. With St. Kilda firmly in our sights we wanted to get into a good position for the forecast favourable conditions in the days ahead so it was up with the Iron sail and the motoring cone as we set sights for a well protected anchorage on the south side of the Isle of Mull. For many of our crew it was their first rounding of the "Mull of Kintyre" and whilst the famous Rod Stewart song was in most of our minds the were no bad renditions! With a glassy sea, following tide and a following wind speed equal to that of our boat speed we did wonder what all the fuss is about! Mind you some of the overfalls, even in the calmest of conditions soon reminded us of what this area of sea can deliver in less than favorable conditions!
With the engine getting a rest for a bit we hoisted our largest headsail and executed a practise emergency drop before deciding the Iron Sail had to be brought back to work. Rounding the south side of Islay there were some detailed discussions as to whether or not we should maybe stop into whisky country! No, was the determined (eventual) response, stick to the plan.
Over the coming days we will head for St. Kilda so stay tuned to hear more about Taeping’s latest adventure.
Keep track of our progress by clicking here and following our blogs on this site.