Practical Boat Owner

Trailer sailing in the sounds

Last summer my wife, Jean, and I decided to trail our boat from Cumbria to Scotland for two weeks sailing off the West Coast. We settled for the beginning of June – the month the wise guys told us is best to visit. Hmm! During this time we were to discover the very best and worst of trailer sailing in our homebuilt 23ft Norwalk Islands Sharpie, Kivu.

The drive went smoothly, and we spent the first night with old sailing friends on Loch Fyne. The following day, as we wound our way through the mountains and passes, I heard an intermittent sound that bothered me. It came and went as we went round corners so I wondered if it was a wheel bearing issue on the trailer.

We arrived at the strait of Kyle Akin in north-west Scotland and found a place to park and launch. As I went astern the outboard engine failed. I tried again. It stuttered, died, and eventually started with more throttle just long enough to reach the pontoon. I played with it in neutral and could get it to start but it ran irregularly. We’d had the engine (a Yamaha 4-stroke 6hp twin cylinder) for 12 years and it had been superbly reliable and was serviced annually. We loved it – but not now!

We were due across the bay at Toscaig to meet some friends, so decided to have a go despite the engine issue. We puttered out, and thankfully managed an easy sail with the wind on the beam under the Skye Bridge and across to an inlet on the south of the Applecross Peninsula, seven miles away.

We picked up a mooring, but on inspection it looked far too frail so we moved to another. I’m glad we was safe and we were safe. We even managed to spot otters, a pine marten, sea eagles and golden eagles from our friends’ house. In between squalls we went walking, enjoying glimpses of the Cuillins and other mountains.

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