11th July 2007
Bowling to Colintriave
Having left Bowling we set off to motor down the Clyde (something I have longed to do for a long time) heading for Colintraive. I cannot explain why I felt so elated at this straightforward part of the journey but sometimes that’s just the way life is !
We were motoring along in sunshine, and shortly after leaving Bowling we were passing Dumbarton Rock which has a whole shed load of history attached.
When approaching Gourock we saw The Waverley crossing Holy Loch entrance – a magnificent old boat and recognised as the World’s only remaining Ocean going paddle steamer. Once round the corner I relinquished the helm and Eilidh almost took my hands off – she had been waiting a while !! We headed for Toward Point and then across the bay to the East Kyle and from there straight up to Colintaive. Nothing much happened on the way down – the sun shone – the sea was calm and the Porpoise were in hiding. Arrived in Colintraive, picked up a mooring at around 17.00 – everyone was a bit jaded so we decided not to go to the Colintraive Hotel for a meal, but to dine onboard and enjoy and savour the fact that Sun Dog had made it from Ipswich up the east coast – through the Forth & Clyde canal and was now in the West of Scotland.
12th July 2007
Colintraive – Tarbert Loch Fyne
Beautiful morning when we awoke, had a lazy breakfast and then went over to Caladh Harbour went around this small yet delightful spot………..this ” island circumnavigation” took all of five minutes, but it is seriously pretty with a lovely (small) protected anchorage.
In this photograph you can see the markers at both ends of the island.
From there we worked our way down the western side of the West Kyles to check out the mooring off the old Royal Hotel in Tighnabruich which has now changed it’s name to An Lochan, and it has a small landing pontoon for dingies – quite cool. A general meander in sunshine around Ardlamont Point with the sea like a millpond (we have seen it somewhat differently off Ardlamont before !!) and we had the odd glimpse of Porpoise and a Seal popped it’s head up to see who/what was disturbing the peace and quite!
Noticed on the way down the Loch that the wind instrument was reading diagonally opposite – realised we hadn’t moved this back (we had turned it around to go through the canal) before putting the mast back up – bosun’s chair job sometime soon – and slapped wrist for me!
Into Tarbert harbour and with us arriving early in the day we managed to get alongside the visitors pontoon. As the day progressed more and more yachts arrived and all ended up rafting. However, they either didn’t fancy our low freeboard or perhaps it was the black rubber moulding all round the hull, because we ended up with a raft of three astern and a raft of three forward.
We had to reprovision the boat so off we went to the Co-Op – back to the boat – showers etc – then out for a walk up to Tarbert castle which sit’s just above the harbour.
On the way down from the Castle the girls noticed an advert for massage therapy etc in the local Health Centre – quick phone call and they were booked between 19.00 & 21.00. They came back all enthused and it turns out it was only Â£10.00 per person for the therapy…………good value and they had a good old chuckle all evening.
13th July 2007
Tarbert – Portavadie
In the morning I borrowed a Bosuns’ Chair and Eilidh “volunteered” to go up the mast and turn around the wind indicator so that it would read correctly – her rock climbing experiences held her in good stead and she completed the task within a matter of minutes and was back down again energised and ready for breakfast.
After breakfast it was back round to the Gallery where we made a purchase or two, and Eilidh bought me a present of Neil Munro’s book “Para Handy” – really sweetly inscribed. Sara bought a print of Scotland from a different perspective entitled “The Big Picture” and the gallery are arranging this to be delivered to home. We then visitited the local ironmongery shop for some bit’s and pieces and then back onboard. We were thinking about staying another night due to the forecast, but Sara fancied visiting Portavadie just across the Loch – it seemed fair enough and would provide shelter from the forecasted F8. The rain started as we set off, but with the wheelhouse on Sun Dog it’s not an issue – still a strange experience, but one that I am getting more and more accustomed to 😉
We had heard that there was to be a new Marina in Portavadie, and when we went through the breakwater we were met with a “Marie Celeste” type situation – brand new marina/pontoons – all lit up with power…….and nobody on them!! We went down to the bottom end of the marina and went alongisde facing west – the direction of the forecasted gale. I was so taken aback that I never took a photo – bugger !!
Sara and Eilidh went off to check things out – and came back saying there were portacabin offices but these were all locked up and there was no sign of anyone.
Just then the Irish couple who had been moored behind us in Tarbet also arrived and took up a berth in front of us, with Sara and Eilidh taking their lines to avoid them having to get off the boat ( I was still in the wheelhouse, but to be fair I had put the gas heater on for them coming back onboard – thoughtful of me or what ?). We reckoned that they were not officially opened but were confident the pontoons etc were finished and secure, especially as there was electricity and water operational on all of the pontoons.
We were ready for a night with a bit of a blow, but it must have missed us or we slept right through it, but we awoke in the morning to another lovely day. This time I went off for a wander to see if I could find anyone, but returned only having found out that the marina was part of Portavadie Estates. Just after breakfast when we were having another cuppa, two people (one being Elspeth the marina manager) arrived to explain that the official opening was not for a couple of weeks.
They went and got all the drawings, marina prices etc and explained how the area was to be developed……….but my initial thoughts are they are overpriced for where this is, and the travelling time from the mainland will be increased for anyone taking a permanant berth when compared to the marina’s at Inverkip, Largs, Holy Loch, Rhu and perhaps even Troon. As we have nowhere yet booked for Sun Dog I asked that she get back to me with any special deals even if this meant a three/five year deal. It would mean keeping the boat on a building site whilst they build the office block and the flats to rent complex – but it is a well sheltered marina – and if the deal is right?
(Update) Elspeth got back to me a week or so later to inform me there are no “deals” available other than those on their brochure/web site..c’est la vie. Personally I think they are making a mistake as it’s all about occupancy ratio’s, and it would be better for the marina to have say 80% occupancy at a reduced price than say 15% occupancy at their published price. It will be interesting to see how this develops, but I wish them every success given the level of investment and it would also be good to have another successful marina available.
Time to go; and we decided to head over and pick up a mooring at one of Sara and I’s favourite hotels Stonefield Castle Hotel just north of Tarbert on the west coast of the loch. We picked up one of the hotels moorings and went ashore in the dingy to have a coffee or perhaps lunch in the hotel.
You can get a glimpse of the hotel in this photo’
The hotel might not suit everyone but we like it. From there we decided to carry on and head up and take a mooring of the hotel just past Otter Spit on the eastern side of the Upper Loch (Fyne). As we were approaching the Spit we noticed a yacht with a French Ensign heading for the hotel/moorings area and when we went down they had picked up the last available mooring. Fair enough we all thought, as they are visiting and we can come here almost anytime – so we headed a bit further north to Largimore where the almanac had mentioned possible moorings. There was only one that seemed suitable for a yacht and it had a a Moody 37 on it. They were waiting on a couple of the crew coming back from the holiday park – and we hung around until they were ready to leave – and subsequently picked up the mooring.
I couldn’t really settle here so phoned the Creggans Inn further up the Loch, as they were listed in the almanac as having 5 moorings. They owner said they only had two and were both available this evening – so off we went again. I decided to take the narrow channel through the Minard narrows – lot’s of jaggy rocks at low tide! There is also a submerged rock that needs to be avoided when through the other side – when we passed it had a small marker on the surface – but vigilance is required.
The mooring off the Creggans Inn (which is diagonally across the loch from Inverary) are pretty close inshore – so we picked the one nearest the shore (still in 15 mtrs) got into the dingy and across to the Creggans for an excellent evening meal – albeit the bar sounded a bit boisterous after having been on the boat for so long. It’s well worth a stop and they are very friendly helpful people keen on attracting yachties. We also had a bit of fun skimming stones on the beach before returning to Sun Dog, childish I know – but fun non the less.
15th July 2007
To the head of Loch Fyne & Back to Tarbert
We left the mooring at the Creggans Inn, once again in beautiful sunshine and decided to go to the head of the Loch and check out the availability of moorings – there are a reasonable number on the western side of the Loch opposite Cairndow with others belonging to Loch Fyne Oysters on the same side right at the head of the Loch. They are pretty much in a line north of this lovely property situated on the west side of the loch.
Guess this house must be owner by a sculptor or an art lover as there are a number of sculptures visible in the grounds.
From here we went over to Inverary but decided not to stop despite it being bathed in lovely sunshine.
From Inverary we again went close inshore on the western side of the loch with everyone enjoying the sunshine – crew were basking in the sun and they had no intention of taking the helm 🙂
Once again we went through the inner channel of Minard narrows and then down to Otter Spit – into lower Loch Fyne, and back over to Tarbert to get some provisions/showers – and a visit to the local launderette was also required.
Seagull on mooring protection duty !!
Tarbert was particularly busy with boats all rafting together – however there was a spare mooring available in the middle of the harbour so we picked this up – dingy was still inflated so no issue in getting ashore.
16th July 2007
Tarbert to Loch Ranza – Arran
Visit to the shops again for some provisions and picked up the laundry at 11.30. We left Tarbert at 12.30 and hoped to get a nice beam reach down to Loch Ranza – however Murphy’s Law struck again and we had once again to motor sail again. With the main up it does steady the boat quite well – albeit we still haven’t sailed her properly during the entire holiday !!
We entered Loch Ranza, but the wind direction was creating squalls off the hills which made picking up a the mooring (no pick up buoys) a bit of a lottery as I would be lined up going into the wind when sudden squalls made the wind change direction before we could get the line through the mooring. These were pretty powerful squalls and at the third attempt we managed to get a calm enough spell to get the rope through the mooring and settle down for lunch. Well done Sara & Eilidh as this was not easy.
This reminder me of the palaver I had at St Mary’s pool in the Scilly Isles whilst crewing for Marcus on his yacht Csardas !! We never really appreciate pick up buoys when the weather is good – but sure as hell miss them when the wind in strong & flukey! The agility of Marcus saved the day in the Scilly Isles.
It wasn’t just us who had an issue getting a mooring picked up as a “Fisher” came in and it took them about 15 mins and half a dozen attempts before they finally got a mooring picked up and managed to get settled down. I was also very surprised at the amount of “hunting” around their mooring a Bavaria 38 was doing when compared to the other yachts in the Loch – guess it was either a bilge keel or the skipper handn’t locked the wheel/rudder !
When we left Loch Ranza we initially planned to go to Millport, but if the forecast was proved to be right, it would have been an uncomfortable night – so we decided to head back up through the Kyles and get some real sailing in as the wind was perfect for a beam reach!!
Just out of Loch Ranza – all sail up – engine off – lovely. Within 5 mins all change – wind back on the nose and the rain started again…aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Passing Ardlamont point back into the Kyles the sun came back out again and the West Kyle was lovely. As it was low tide we had another look at Caladh Harbour – looks a lot different at low water! Back through the channel at Burnt Isles and back onto a mooring a Colintraive around 20.00.
Yet another lovely day with a dramatic change to the scenery as the sun started to fade.
17th July 2007
Colintaraive to Troon
Set off at 09.20 for Troon with a quick nip into Millport so that Eilidh could have a look at this popular resort on Big Cumbrae. We were once again motorsailing as there was precious little wind – enjoyable none the less.
Going between the Cumbraes I decided to take the inside channel into Millport bay, bobbed around for five mins to have a good look around, and then exited by the conventional route and off towards Portencross then a heading to clear Horse Island, Ardrossan etc. Wind was building to around F4 and as soon as we cleared Ardrossan we would be able to sail……….yippee.
Genny out, full main and we were trotting along nicely settled at between 5.5 & 6.0 kts and holding off another yacht heading in the same direction as us. Great sailing for an hour and a half and then the wind started to get get a bit lighter. The other yacht turned out to be a Legend 36 which eventually passed us with only their Genny out……….we had everything up but couldn’t get enough breeze to move ol’ Sun Dog along properly – c’est la vie. After all Sun Dog is around 8.8 tonnes displacement – a wee bit heavier than the Legend !
During this time both Sara and Eilidh were like me, hoping for a F5/6 to get her creaming along – but it never materialised – real pity as everyone was up for a cracking sail.
Arrived in Troon at 16.00 to take a visitors berth but not before we had a visit ourselves in the outer harbour from Sammy the Seal (well three of them to be accurate) one of them sure is a big ol’ boy.
Anyhow into the visitors berths and the one we had been allocated meant we were going to be blown away from the pontoon – we had a quick crew discussion – and we got in perfectly with Sara and Eilidh getting lines on pronto………really neat job in front of a gathered audience.
Another yacht tried to reverse in and naturally lost his nose to the wind ending up across other boats…….thankfully not ours.
18th July 2007
Troon to Lamlash Arran
Departed Troon at 12.35 – “calm as” all the way over with hardly even a zephyr on the surface. Altered course to check out a white object floating on the surface – no one could make out even with the binoculars. At times it looked like a dingy – other times like an old ships lifeboat. When we finally got close enough it turned out to be a big lump of white polystyrene !!………….but it had to be checked out, and didn’t take us too far off course.
Back on course, and it’s many a year since I crossed to Arran in conditions as flat as this – from the photo below you can see the sea state looking towards Ailsa Craig, famous for top quality curling stones.
However when we looked back to the mainland it was covered in black thunderous looking clouds, but thankfully they stayed well away from Arran. Turns out there were thunderstorms and torrential rain but we only had sunshine!!
We picked up a mooring in the bay watching the kids jumping in off the pier – yes it was that warm, and went for a walk along the front and also to pick up information on the Holy Isle for Eilidh, and do a bit of shopping.
Had a bit of banter with the folks on Bolero IV a Hanse 411 out of Largs as their crew was trying out their rowing skills whilst onboard Bolero they were trying to get the outboard fired up – with a bit of difficulty despite the fact one of them was a mechanic ! On the way back to Sun Dog in our dingy they rammed us with theirs (well a gentle nudge really ) they were only having a bit of fun as they had finally managed to get their outboard running.
We rowed back onto Sun Dog for delicious evening meal prepared by Sara & Eilidh and set off for Troon at 19.30.
The wind gods must have been happy with us, as we had a great beam reach for all of 45 mins again getting 6kts, before it all went light again, we kept trying to sail until the speed dropped – and then sadly it was case of firing up the engine and motorsailing back to Troon arriving at 22.30, but not before enjoying a terrific sunset – couple of photo’s below, but they don’t do it justice.
Onwards into Troon where Sammy (as we have Christened him/her /them) was once again there to welcome us into Troon – or possibly to check if we were a fishing boat with perhaps supper on board !!
That pretty much ended the holiday with the following day spent refuelling/cleaning and organising a permanent berth. I had tried to arrange a trip to Ailsa Craig on the Kintyre Express, but they have had such little demand they are now focussing mainly on golfing runs to Campbeltown – a real pity as it would have been neat to go ashore on Ailsa Craig. I have sailed past it before and been scuba diving at the side of it – but have never landed……oh well sometime later perhaps.
We had a fun competition on how many litres of fuel it would take to refill the tanks – all we had to go on was that we had spent a total of 37 engine hours since the last refill at Bowling and we had kept to around 1200 revs on the engine. My guess was around 140 ltrs which would have been an average of 4 ltrs per hour.
Anyhow, the upshot being that we were all pleasantly surprised as she only took 95 ltrs; which divided by 37 engine hours equates to 2.57 ltrs per hour……………..in my book excellent considering she runs with a 92 hp Perkins.
In summing up the holiday Sara gave it a 9 out of 10 as we could have done with more wind. Eilidh gave it 10 out of 10 and really enjoyed her first boating trip. Me; well as I was happy as a sand bunny and just wished it didn’t have to end. Still all adventures must end to allow others to begin.