Mallaig to Oban via Tobermory 22nd June

Since Cape Wrath the BBC coastal and inshore forecasts were from the headland called Point of Ardnamurchan to Cape Wrath. It seemed that I had been looking at these forecasts for very much longer than the eight days since leaving Peterhead. Today we would be passing Ardnamurchan Point on our way to Oban, it would still feature however as it was the northern end of our next forecast area i.e. Mull of Kintyre to Ardnamurchan Point.

We had used just over half a tank ( 300 litres ish ) since filling up at Kinlochbervie, the fuel usage had been more frugal as at last half of the passage making had been at displacement speed or less. The fuelling facilities at Mallaig were still of the Scrabster type (long nasty ladder, boat against horrible harbour wall) where as in Tobermory there was a fuel pontoon, yes a lovely fuel pontoon. My judgement was that there was more than enough in the tank to safely get to Tobermory about a further 40 miles down the track, even at a respectable 18 knot cruising speed, through mostly sheltered water and once rounding Ardnamurchan Point into the Sound of Mull , the very sheltered waters to Tobermory itself. 

Leaving Mallaig
Statue of Mallaig
A sailboat near Tobermory

The excellent shower facilities were made use of , with a mini shop at the nearby Co-op and off we went on what was a lovely cruise. Down past the island of Eigg ( looks like Table Mountain) round Ardnamurchan Point into the Sound of Mull to join a Jeaneau NC9 on the fuel berth awaiting the attendant to grace us with his presence.


Tobermory is a very pretty harbour with much photographed coloured houses lining its harbour. It’s justifiably very popular, on that day a cruise liner was anchored off and there was at least a dozen coaches full of tourists parked nearby the marina. 

Whilst awaiting the attendant we got chatting to the NC9 owner who was an ex sailing enthusiast with a wife who had finally convinced him that arriving was now more important than the journey. It was interesting for me (and him) to make comparisons with our boats. His single engined with the space given over to clever furniture sliding facilities and a proper second cabin but small tankage. Mine with twin engines, only one twin berth, but built for a different type of boating with a much bigger range. He was based in the Clyde but had never been to Port Ellen on Islay either as a sailor or motor boater and was intrigued with what we had already achieved and not a little jealous that we were heading there after Oban and onto Bangor (Northern Ireland) where we would eventually refuel again. Not possible in his boat according to himself. 

Start Me Up in Tobermory

400 litres of fuel later (550 litre tank), at the highest price yet paid since leaving Gosport, we head off from this tourist hotspot for the passage to Oban through the very beautiful Sound of Mull to the cutely named ‘Transit Marina’ on the North Pier of Oban itself. We are instructed to take any vacant berth amongst the largely sailing boat crews from what seems every country north and east of Scotland.

The maximum stay at this excellent facility is three days, and the very helpful Marina Manager points us and our scooters in the direction of the superstores and particularly Aldi where Nigel can stock up on his favourite small bottled beer and re stock his favourite quaffing wines at ridiculously low prices. Nigel ended up being confused and very disappointed, Scotland has alcohol duty based on the strength of alcohol itself and the normally very low Aldi English prices are considerably hiked in Scotland. Nanny McNanny state or just keeping the jocks to the sensible side of alcohol consumption where they are going to be more sober when they eventually shuffle off this mortal coil?  

This was our most exciting scooter ride yet, through a proper busy little city with lots of cars and lorries and more than a sprinkling of pot holes and intrigued lookers on. We were carful not to overload ourselves with the supplies and I am please to report that we survived this 2.5 mile round trip. 

The scooters are amazing.

The Marina Manager recommended his favourite Chinese restaurant (only ever had a take away) which I’m sad to say was probably the worst Chinese ever, and the most expensive meal yet. We were both worried as we walked to our table as our shoes were sticking to the floor. 

Oban Sun set

We enjoyed a fantastic sun set in Oban and the following day all of the signs were looking good for our passage down to Port Ellen on Islay.