On Friday morning we set out for Campbeltown with the forecast being; wind east backing north east F4/5 occassional 6. Visibility was pretty poor, but looked like the sun might burn it off eventually.
Passing Lady Isle we noticed a fishing boat that looked a bit peculiar, our came the binoculars aand the reason why she was looking peculiar was that she was up on the rocks !! We had not heard anything on the VHF and assumed that they were waiting on high tide to try and refloat – fingers crossed.
Being on a broad reach we were having a terrific sail with the wind increasing as we cut past the Island of Pladda (off the south of Arran) Sara and Eilidh were taking turns on the helm and I was trimming the sails. To be honest there wasn’t much trimming required and it gave me time to relax in the cockpit and enjoy the sunshine. The only boat we saw, was a motor boat that passed us also on going to Campbeltown – no sails to be seen anywhere – and this a bank holiday weekend!
On we went until we were passing Davaar Lighthouse and into Campbeltown Loch
and down to the single pontoon which was really busy, and we were directed to go in the inside of the pontoon and raft alongside a UFO34 to leave space for older wooden boats. Turns out there was an Old Gaffers Associations meeting, and there were some really stunning boats. Sends a shiver down my spine when I think of the money and how many mandays must be spent ever year on these boats to keep them in this condition. Full credit to each and everyone of them as they are in actual fact maintaining part of our maritime heritage. There was even a full wooden Twister not composite or fibreglass – fully varnished – and from memory she was called Dream Twister, she must have been one of the originals. I should have taken photos’. Note to self – think!!
Next morning the forecast was much the same and we exited Campeltown Loch to headed up Kilbrannan Sound in a wind against tide situation, heading for Loch Ranza on the North West corner of Arran. It’s fair to say that by the time we arrived Sun Dog has an overall coating of salt ! Eilidh was at the helm most of the way as Sara was feeling a wee bit squiffy. Note to self – get some sea sickness tablets onboard.
We picked up a mooring buoy in Lock Ranza and had a late lunch, whereby the decision was made to stay the night on this mooring, so on with another line to the buoy – along with a silent thank you to the local authority for providing these facilities.
Loch Ranza is delightful, however it is well known for the squalls coming down off the mountains and sweeping across the Loch, and indeed I was awakened at 0400 by a really strong squall blowing though, and so pleased I had decided to double up on the lines.
After breakfast we were getting ready to head for Colintaraive to meet up with Roger and Hilary who have just refurbished the interior of Ducier their Nicholson 35, and had been on the phone saying they would be there today. The wind had increased and I was mulling over whether to put a reef in the main or go with full main – most yachts were going out either single or double reefed, but Sun Dog being a motorsailer has a shortish mast and therefore not a very large sail area on the main. Decision made I put in a reef on the mooring before setting off from the mooring buoy.
The seas were a bit lumpy and the wind increasing in strength of the north end of Arran, Sara was at the helm (feeling a lot better) and she did a super job on the helm through this lumpy stuff, while I again trimmed the sails – I was a bit busier today! Unfortunately Eilidh had agravated an old neck shoulder injury and was in a fair amount of pain and discomfort, the rockin’ and rollin’ the day before would not have helped! Note to self – get some painkillers onboard!
The sail across was terrific and we could, in reality have shaken out the reef – but didn’t. On the way across to the West Kyle we could see up Loch Fyne and saw the boats from the Scottish Series sailing down each side of the Loch in a flood of sail and colourful spinnakers.
We continued to sail all the way up the West Kyle in company with quite a number of other boats, and when the wind was stronger we caught up on the single/double reefed modern boats, and when the winds went lighter we lost out……….it really was a fun and enjoyable sail to the top of the Loch where we dropped sails and Sara took us through the narrows at Burnt Islands and we managed to pick up a mooring right behind Roger and Hilary.
I noticed that Roger had his dinghy inflated and he was “volunteered” as Mr Water Taxi (he was to much of a gent to refuse) for us to have a look at the work they have done on Doucier. We were all impressed and she is looking really really pretty, in fact I would have to say that she must be one of the best kept Nicholson 35’s around. Later that night Roger & Hilary joined us aboard Sun Dog for a lovely meal prepared by Sara and Eilidh (don’t know how they managed to conjure this up – well done ladies) and had a lovely time getting up to date with each other…..smashing.
Next morning we set off at 0600 and trundled down the East Kyle in calm conditions – perfect for breakfast and coffee before getting out into Rothesay Bay where there would be enough wind to sail. Indeed we ended up having a terrific sail down to Troon and we were all pleased to see that the fishing boat had managed to get off the rocks at Lady Isle.
All in all I would have to say that this was the best “sailing” weekend we have had with Sun Dog, and whilst she is not a “gung ho macho boat” she does manage to tick a lot of boxes not least of which is comfort and shelter from the biting winds – and we are increasingly of the opinion that she is eminently suitable for our type of “boating”…….Roll on the hols!!
When we got into Troon I decided to fill up the fuel tanks as it’s been some time since this was last done. After refuelling I done the calculation on ltrs/hour and was once again delighted to see that she is still only using 2.5lts per hour – or in old money slightly over half a gallon per hour. Pretty decent figures for a 92hp engine !