SW Scotland

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From Peel we had an easy run to Portpatrick, where we spent a couple of days and met up with an old family friend, Helen Scott.

It is a beautiful wee town, but we omitted to take any photographs.

We had a longish but easy day's run up to Port Ellen on Islay, past the Mull of Kintyre.  Although the weather was sunny, low mist on the sea hid everything, so we were glad of our radar.

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The Isle or Islay has seven distilleries, producing the distinctive peaty malt whisky of the Western Isles.
Distillery tours are interesting, and include the opportunity sample the product.  Neil toured the Laphroig distillery, but skipped the other six on the island.
First the barley is moistened and spread on the malting floor.  It begins to germinate, but has to be kept cool y turning every few hours.  It doubles in volume, as the substances inside the grain are converted to sugars, then the reaction is terminated by drying it with hot air.
The dried, malted barley is ground into small particles, and the sugars extracted with hot water.  This potion is then fermented to make a beer like liquid, which is distilled in the copper stills in the photo.

The product of the stills is rough whisky, which is then aged for at least 3 years (usually more)  in old bourbon barrels before bottling for sale.

The Laphroaig distillery is proud of its Royal Warrant.  Our guide related that when coming to present the warrant about ten years ago, Prince Charles, a licensed pilot, ran the royal plane off the runway, wrecking it, but still came to the distillery and did his princely duty.
From Port Ellen we had a good sail up to Tayvallich, a village with a very sheltered harbour at the head of Loch Sween.
Ian and Jan Robertson joined us there for a while, including a sail to Jura.

It takes a lot of coal, and smoke, to get a puffer moving with her single cylinder steam engine.

Just as well there are not too many puffers surviving.
A century ago, a hundred or more puffers provided much of the cargo service up and down the coast and to the islands, when the few roads were very rough and trucks problematic at best. 

A couple of puffers survive today, with the cargo hold converted to passenger cabins.

This one is raising his anchor, with a leaky steam winch.
Puilladobhrain is one of our favourite anchorages.  It is tucked in behind some small islets, on the West coast of Seil Island.

The Isle of Mull is visible in the background across the Firth of Lorne.
Ten minutes over the hill on Seil brought us to the first bridge built over the Atlantic ocean.  It is about 200 years old. 

When built, the locals were sceptical about this new fangled idea, so tested it by sending a horse, without driver, pulling the largest pile of hay they could load.  Today, heavy truck still use the narrow, hump-backed bridge.
From Puilladobhrain we went on up to Oban to reprovision, and then on up Loch Linnhe to Fort William.

We are somewhere in the crowd of boats at Oban marina here, with the Isle of Mull in the far background.

In Fort William we went pretty much the same places as last year, but have some new pictures in Loch Linnhe.
Then we sailed back South to Oban to pick up Michael Tyler and family for a couple of weeks.
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