Sutherland’s coastline, in the northwest Highlands, provides the more intrepid sailor with a fabulous cruising ground of protective sea lochs and sheltered bays under a skyline of dramatic mountains such as the iconic Suilven in the Inverpolly National Nature Reserve.
Many anchorages are well documented in the cruising pilot books, but access to one or two of them are described as “possible, with great care”! These are the ones that attract us like bees to a honey pot.
Loch Roe, just to the south of Achmelvich, falls into this category. There are two anchorages within this confined loch that are separated by an array of rocks and shallows.
In previous years, we have used the outer anchorage of Pool Bay as, with a draft of 2.9 metres, we were not brave enough to take Moonshadow through the maze of rocks to the inner anchorage at Ob Coramach. However, this season we were sailing with the latest folio of Bob Bradfield’s very large scale Antares Charts (www.antarescharts.co.uk) and we succumbed to the temptation!
Planning our arrival on the last of a rising spring tide (we may be adventurous, but we’re not reckless!) we opened up Bob’s chart of Loch Roe on the laptop and stationed three of our guests on the foredeck, to port, starboard and ahead, with instructions to “eyeball” the rocks and reefs that lay just below the surface of the crystal clear water.
The detail and accuracy of Bob’s hydrographic surveys are a breath of fresh air to the rock-hopping fraternity and, with growing confidence, we edged our way slowly past ominous dark patches of weed and lighter shades of bare rock before the inner basin of the loch opened out, allowing us to drop the Rocna on to a good mud bottom.
As we enjoyed the last of the evening sun, with dram in hand, we mulled over our use of eyeball sonar to confirm the various locations of the rocks and skerries. One of the guests that had been on the foredeck then had an almost visible light bulb moment – “Oh, is that what I was seeing under the water!”
By Colin Taylor
Moonshadow Yacht Charter Ltd