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Oban and an unexpected music festival

picture of boats at sunset in Tobermory

We arrived in Oban on a beautiful warm and sunny day with high expectations for what the town would offer. Reportedly it is one of the main holiday towns in Scotland and you quickly get that feeling.

When we arrived at the transit harbour we noticed that another Hallberg Rassy 40 was already moored there and the joy between the owners was enormous – details on interior layout and extra adjustments were eagerly shared as enthusiastically as if talking about their kids (maybe even a little more).

picture of two Hallberg Rassy 40s in Oban marina

Provisioning in Oban

Our reason for going to Oban was mainly for stocking up on food as it has several large supermarkets including Lidl and M&S. We also needed to replace one of our propane bottles for the boat and a couple of CO2s for the soda stream (Sparkling water tastes so much nicer than tank water).

Walking into town we got a bit of a seaside Disneyland feeling. It has a nice big promenade, an old distillery, lots of tourist shops and everything looked very nice. But our first choice of restaurant for lunch was a big mistake: the food quality was poor and the service was the worst we had had in ages. It just felt like the good view over the harbour and masses of people resulted in not bothering to create a good meal for its customers.

Steve was looking for a 6KG Flowgas cylinder and called the local supplier Oilfast who were about 5 miles away. We could have anchored nearer their depot but they were extremely obliging and offered to bring the replacement to the harbour the following day.

We found the supermarkets and Sarah tried her best to make a serious and organised list for things we needed. We were not stocking up for fresh goods but tins and dry stuff for when we go north as we don’t know how the shopping options will be along the way. Our first trip went a little off plan when we found some excellent wine in M&S on their clearance shelf at £4 per bottle – we had to buy all they had (after Steve opened it and had a taste out of the lid).

Oban is a great place to provision and the view from the harbour is absolutely fantastic, but we agreed it was a little too touristy for our taste (and the harbour fees are quite expensive).

But we did find an itallian restaurant called Porcini that we had to try. It was located at the luxury hotel, No17 The Promenade and the atmosphere, food and service were amazing. It’s a small cozy restaurant with big windows overlooking the beautiful coastline. Booking is essential as it only has a few tables.

Motoring to Tobermory

The next day we had planned to move towards the must see harbour of Tobermory on the Island of Mull, which is famous for the row of cute colourful buildings surrounding the harbour.

As we motored along the sound of mull with either a headwind of 20 knots or no wind at all we got a nice email from Alan we had helped with mooring lines in Oban. He was also in the cruising association (joint Secretary Celtic Section) (and just wanted to say thank you and hear where we were heading for. He told us that Tobermory was having its yearly music festival (and as it was Friday it was perfect timing for us).

We arrived and decided a pontoon mooring may be better than having to use the dinghy after a few beers. We were in luck and got a nice mooring before the other vacant berths filled up with boats ready to have a good time. The boat next to us were a group of friendly divers from Yorkshire who had been coming to the festival for more than 20 years!

Tobermory was buzzing with people and we ended up having a great weekend with lots of different music – from cover bands to modern traditional Scottish music.

It was also a great opportunity for Sarah to head up the mast and replace the Raymarine wind transducer with the one that Steve rebuilt after it got attacked by a UFO on the way to Svalbard.

A very special evening was at the delightfull Western Isles hotel. It has a big glass conservatory restaurant where we were served a beautiful dinner while listening to some scottish groups playing fantastic music. Also the sound technician was so passionate, constantly moving around to check the sound in the room making the sound pleasant and well balanced.

There are also some very nice walks in the area – one out to the light house and one to a waterfall.

The small isles – Canna Island

After meeting some great people and listening to good music it was time to head off to the Small Isles. This group of islands are really fantastic and Steve had chosen Canna Island for anchoring.

When we got there we were greeted by the Alan, the friendly chap we had met in Oban, who had seen us arrive and came over in his dinghy. It is always great to meet and chat with people when you arrive after a day sailing and being a member of the Cruising Association makes it easy to network.

We went to shore and had a short walk around. We really wanted to eat at the small Canna cafe but we were a bit late for that. The town has a small village shop that is open 24/7 because it is honesty based and you just pay for what you take. The island also has a lot of Viking history and the ruins of a house that was built to lock in an unfaithful wife.

The most amazing however is the sunset colouring the cliff at the other island a fantastic red colour, which is just breathtaking.

It is a really charming place where we would have loved to spend another day if it hadn’t been for rainy weather and good wind forecast for sailing.

We departed the next morning headed for the Outer Hebrides

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