Travel

Captain's log

'Win a week's sailing in the Classic Malts Millennium Cruise,' writes Philip Froude, 'too good a chance to let pass by I think and, blow me down, I win!'
By Philip Froude
Saturday 15th July
Well, the waiting’s over, today’s the day. Carol, my wife, and I are off to claim our prize. Flying to Glasgow via Gatwick gives me an opportunity to gloat at my colleagues at World of Whiskies as we sail through.We are met at Glasgow and driven to Oban were we meet our fellow prize winners Andy and Jack (from Bristol), Steve Blake the distillery manager and various media types who have managed to wangle their way on to the Cruise.We take a tour of Oban Distillery complete, with tasting, and are taken to our boat to stow our gear before returning for a sumptuous barbecue in the evening. The first night is spent in Oban harbour.Sunday 16th July
Leisurely reveille followed by breakfast on board. We sail around the harbour in company with other UDV chartered classic yachts getting to know our craft. We then set sail to Craobh Haven for the official opening of the cruise which is followed by a barbecue and ceilidh. The night is spent in Craobh Haven.Monday 17th July
An early start is made for Sound of Jura and Islay. We see seals sunning themselves on rocks and porpoises swimming by. We pass by the Jura Distillery before rounding the Point into the Sound of Islay. After tying up at Caol Ila Distillery, a magical setting, we are met and taken overland to Lagavulin where another tour and tasting await us. Lagavulin is in a very picturesque bay with Ireland visible to the south-west. It’s then back to the boat for an evening sail to overnight anchorage at Loch Tarbert, Jura. There’s only a few boats and an abundance of nature for company. Absolutely heavenly!Tuesday 18th July
We sail north past Colonsay to the south-west corner of Mull and round to Iona for a run ashore. There’s no time to waste and it’s on to Staffa and Fingals Cave which we view from the sea - from inside and also from above. One cannot fail to be impressed by this tiny Island: the birdlife, natural history and its geology - spectacular.We spend the night at Loch Chumhainn, north-west Mull. Yet again it’s another beautiful anchorage.Wednesday 19th July
After sailing north past the Point of Ardnamurchan (most westerly point on the British mainland) it is on to Muck for a quick run ashore.Then we sail past Eigg and Rhum which look spectacular from the sea, steep sided mountains disappearing into the clouds.Overnight at Loch Scavaig, Skye, tucked in below the Cuillin Hills. It is dark, moody and magnificent!We get ready for a party on our boat tonight - sore heads are definitely expected in the morning.Thursday 20th July
We have to rendezvous with the other boats in our flotilla this morning to provide some film footage for helicopter-borne media. At one point, Carol, desperate for a ‘hair-of-the-dog’, collects a glass of whisky passed from a second boat both under sail. Great photo opportunity, great sailing from the crews concerned and hair-raising (but enjoyable) stuff for Carol. The lengths she will go to for a dram these days!During the afternoon a sunflower is formed, involving all the yachts (about 180) tying up together in a circle. Quite a tricky manoeuvre, which takes all afternoon to complete, but is accomplished bang on deadline to a cacophony of sound.During all this we take in another distillery tour, this time at Talisker. Friday 21st July
Sadly we have to pack our bags and say farewell to our skipper and crew. They have been magnificent and the boat has been very comfortable. There’s just enough time to snatch a bite from another magnificent barbecue before catching our transport back to Glasgow through some of the world’s most magnificent scenery.I buy Yachting Monthly to read on the flight, yes, I am truely hooked. It has been a truly wonderful week. Many thanks to Iain and Fiona (our crew) for treating us so well, and to Sea Eagle of Shian (our boat, a 43 foot Sea Stream) for being so comfortable. Many thanks also to Whisky Magazinefor running the competition, to UDV for the stunning hospitality and to Clyde Cruising Club for their organisation. Will I enter again next year? Does night follow day?