For those exploring Loch Tarbet for the first time, "remote" seems an understated way to describe this superbly rugged sea loch that almost cuts the large island of Jura in two. Nearly ten miles long, divided into three smaller lochs and surrounded by wild country reaching up to the high Paps of Jura, it is a stunning environment which at first glance seems unchanged since the glaciers retreated leaving the strange raised beaches along its shoreline. It was here, past the rocky narrows of Cumhann Mor, in the large secure anchorage of the second loch, that the Malts Cruise yachts gathered for the second fleet rendezvous.
The northerly gale of two days earlier had abated, allowing the fleet to gather again with 24 out of 35 yachts making it to the beach-side barbeque. A remote bothy - a rough hut used by hill-walkers - was the 'base-camp' providing shelter for cooking, as around 90 crew gathered on the stony beach for an impromptu whisky tasting. The official Cruise "noser" Donald Collville, a Diageo Brand Ambassador was by this time a familiar face amongst the fleet. His whisky appreciation classes in some delightful anchorages during the Cruise have been the highlight for many of the sailors. In his pre-barbeque beach-side tasting, Donald demonstrated the variation in flavours between the classic Spayside east coast malts and the richer, smokier west coast malts, tasting Cragganmore, Dahlwhinnie, and Talisker, with the Islay malt - Caol Ila to finish. It was the perfect way to enjoy a sunny evening, before the lone piper played to announce the start of the barbeque.
Over a delicious supper of mussels, grilled venison steaks and salad, all prepared on the loch shore, there was lots for the crews to discuss; the weather; the cruising and the afternoon's game of "swap the anchor"! Norwegian skipper Markus on Tintomara helping out the German crew of Island Air, with the loan of a larger anchor when theirs proved to light for the weedy bottom of Loch Tarbet. A second anchor loan took place in the afternoon when Cruise regular Oribi, arrived for the rendezvous without a suitable main anchor. A broken swivel had caused the loss just that morning. American sailors Ralf & Jane from Petillant came to the rescue with a spare anchor. There was also a special welcome for the crew of Fair Lady, arriving for their first Cruise party having been delayed in Oban after the start.
The Cruise has been a great family affair, with the junior sailors on Nicole, Nikita, Rumline and Tintomara making firm friends during the rally. Eager to please, and have some fun post-barbeque, the youngsters formed an unofficial dinghy patrol; pulling boats up with the tide and helping to launch returning crews; water over wellies no deterrent for them!
As if to signal the close of the evening, the sun slipped behind clouds encouraging the remaining crew to head back to their boats. By high tide that evening, the beach was clear with just the remains of a campfire and soft depressions in the heather to record our visit. A perfect end of a perfect evening in an amazing anchorage. One more memory to add to many so far on the Malts Cruise 2011.