So that first little 'test sail' south - as a briefly said in the last post we had made it down to Oban where we left Hestur for a week. After that Charlotte and I returned to sail north again back to Ullapool. Of course we were hit by 5 days of north east winds (absolutely our direction of travel) This would really show us how Junks go to windward - they do. Heading north we decided to go inside Mull then outside Skye taking in the Outer Hebridies (Barra) . This proved to be a good plan as the Minch provides a great seaway for tacking against northerly winds! Heading west across the Minch towards Barra we experienced our first largish sea and strongish wind aboard Heatur - F6 with 10foot crashers. She performed perfectly with nothing unexpected (sometimes big bangs when breaking seas slap big flat topsides) and we were broad reaching at 6knots + with two pannels up on foresail and 3 in main. Very easy sailing with no deck work - all reefing done from cockpit (sometimes we need to go and tie last batten down at forward end when reefing the foresail??!! main reefs fine).
From Barra back across to Canna in the Small isles and up the west coast of Syke. We had a very big whale breach (jump clear of the water) about 10 foot away from the boat, never seen that before. not sure what type it was. no photo!. we then battled the north-easters for another 48 hours back to Ullapool. When sailing on the wind she will sail herself if you balance the sails - we often leave the helm quite literally for hours and hours not even lashed. This surprises me as she is a fin keeler - think it must be the substantial skeg arrangement.
In all is was a great test sail and we have learnt a lot about the boat and she has showed us a few problems that we fixed on route (most engine related! - I will write about this another time just for the engine boffs out there. lets just say valve springs oops)
A total of 10 days 360 miles (quite a few days were windless and enginless! - not all sailing). Humm i cant think of any bad points on the boat. good. One point is she has high topsides so its a long climb from the dinghy. She is very comfy for two people cruising and 4 is no problem either - Nick and Maddy joined us for the initial sail south.
Over the past month or so I have been slowly ticking off the remaining job list (still quite long) including a nice oak saloon table and Self steering gear - very exciting. - home brew trim tab and wind vane..........