So we set off from our sweet anchorage in Gigha, destination Port Ellen on Islay – home of my most favorite peaty Scotch. I like them all, but Lagavulin is my favorite.
There was no wind today, so we motored. About half way across the 20 or so mile journey, I realized that there was a possibility of actually mooring or anchoring right in front of the Langavulin distillery… had to be done.
The book says it’s a very tricky approach – but that once inside behind the jagged rocks, there are two visitor moorings that can he had.
We approached the hallowed site cautiously. It appeared as though there were two possible entrances. The one that had a red and green pole sticking out seemed the logical choice so we started heading in – very gingerly. As we got closer, I chickened out and turned around for another look-see.
We moved over to the ‘other entrance’ – much wider – so cautiously entered. We saw what looked like a visitor mooring so headed for it. Edging slowly forward at less than 2 knots, Laurie looking for rocks, me watching the depth sounder – which fell to 2.8M – plenty of clearance – NOT. Bang. Grate. Grate.
Hard reverse succeeded in turning the boat only. I was stuck hard. Forward and back did no good – other than to bounce us along the rocks. Then suddenly the rudder wouldn’t turn. It’s on the bottom – not good.
We mounted the engine on the dingy and dropped the main anchor into it – which I towed out to the center of what appeared to be clear water and dropped it. However, engine and anchor still couldn’t budge us.
I set to it again – this time planning to attach a halyard to try to lean the boat over. Was just about the drop the anchor when white knights appeared in the form of Bertie and Neil aboard a nice big rib – from the boatyard just a 100M away!
We attached a line and they managed to tow us out – with much scraping grinding and crunching in the whole process. Quite frightening and very distressing. Unfortunately as we came off the rocks, I realized the rudder was solidly stuck – to starboard – and we were nearly towed back onto the rocks as a result!
Slowly they towed us out through the entrance and into clear water, where we dropped anchor to regroup.
Next thing you know, Bertie’s off to find Colin – who’s diving close by – and they come back and Colin takes a look. The rudder is jammed hard against the hull. Some scrapes and gouges on rudder and keel too.
Plans are made to tow us to Crinan – which has a big and capable yard. Gus, the owner of the nearby yard feels that Toodle-oo! is a bit much for him to handle. He calls Crinan for us but unfortunately it turns out that they would not be able to do anything for at least 4 weeks. Another yard close by Crinan, Ardfern is also heavily booked – it’s launching season…
Gus decides to tow us to Port Ellen as there’s a storm brewing and we’d be too exposed where we are. We set up a bridle, upped anchor and he started the tow. Unfortunately, with Toodle-oo’s rudder over to starboard, Toodle-oo! went right, the tow boat went left and the next thing you know the tow rope is pulling the tow boat back towards us and crash – she comes hard into our stern quarter. Bertie’s boots did a good job of minimizing the damage, but we now have an annoying lump of gel coat missing at the transom.
Plan B – they took us by the hip and we motored slowly away towards Port Ellen – a couple of miles down the coast. Unfortunately, the rudder in Toodle-oo! basically overpowered the tow boat. Even with it’s twin rudders turned to port, it’s port engine in reverse and starboard forward, if he made any more than 1.5 knots, our combined mass turned to starboard! It was a painfully slow ride back to Port Ellen. But we are now in a dock, regrouping.
Gus dived on the boat to have a look for himself – and will be back in the morning for another look. We need to get the rudder free before we can consider being towed up to Crinan some 50+ miles away…
More later as we work out a solution…
All well aboard – but as you might imagine, feeling pretty stupid and very let down.