Firth of Clyde 2003

Break up camp on Loch Lomond

Since sailing hours have not come easily in the last few years, I suggested to my girlfriend that instead of the usual torture we call holiday (see other pages on this site) we do a relaxing week of sailing. We usually do very cheap holidays, so this was going to be an expensive one in comparison with a hiking holiday. Jane had no heavy weather gear, mine was falling appart, a boat is not cheap to rent. To reduce the cost a little and to make the experince a bit more interesting we chose to charter from Rhu in SW Scotland. It was excessively hot in London -- all sorts of records had been broken -- and we took off with a full car, via Wolverhampton, Colin's parents and two campings, to Rhu.

View fron Rhu Marina with seals

We had had some rain in the tent, but on the day we picked up "Kate", the sun was shining, winds were light and we slowly unpacked and got our ship ready for its first trip with us. This was easy, "Kate" came well equiped, the charter company was very helpfull and Dufours are generally simple functional ships.

We had planned our trip to "Holy Loch" late in the afternoon, to arrive well before dark, and probably pick up a mooring outside the new marina. The weather report mentioned the possibility of some strong winds, but this seemed unlikely.

Rhu to Holy Loch by motor in 7 Bft

Everything stowed away inside, seacocks that matter closed, Jane starts the engine and we are off into Gareloch. Just on the small genua to start with; we'll put up the main when we need to sail up the Clyde to Holy Loch. Winds quickly increase to 6-7 Bft and I was not prepared enough to get 2nd reef in quickly. In any case, it's late and we want to sleep, so we switch on the engine and steam into the wind for 2 hours to Holy Loch. Continuous rain, but very little traffic.

Holy Loch on a mooring

My first night on a mooring. The ship swings a lot. Maybe I should have taken the mooring line closer. Every minute the view out of the window is different. Handy to see if we haven't broken off the mooring yet.

Is that a moving lighthouse?

The next day proved quite eventful. Even though the trip was close hauled tacking against a SSW wind down the Clyde with lots of waves and rain, we saw dolphins and a massive submarine. The fotos are a bit grey because there was continuous rain that day. Shortly before the tack for the final leg into Rothesay sound Jane is a bit sick :(

A submarine

Out of Rothesay it's a quick run into the East Kyle (Kyle is scottish for "straight") and Burnt Isles. Lots of lazy seals here. Still haven't seen any in the water. Lunch anchored past the Isles and then we motor the first part of the West Kyle because we need to make it into Tarbert before dark. The second part of the W Kyle is sailed, but the wind dies down for a while and we slowly get our first view of Arran. Inchmarnock water is confused, but light winds take us to Tarbert in 2 hours. Tarbert is brilliant, but the weather forecast is doubtful and persistent rains are predicted. The waterproofness of my coat is also doubtful. Not too bad for 20 year old Musto gear, I guess.

So a day of lazing, going for coke & haggis (freshly caught!), visiting the remains of a castle and lying in bed and listening to the rain is very welcome.

Nice and warm

Today is the day that we will attempt to go round Arran. Wind predictions are not so good, so we will probably have to motor a bit tonight. It's nice and warm and we anchor for lunch in Torrisdale bay.

From then on Alsa Craig is visible and will remain so all day. In the end we have to motor all the way from Pladda to Lamlash harbour and still arrive in the dark.

Alsa Craig is better than a compass

We row ashore to get nice breakfast goodies and the lady in the shop asks "Are the midges out yet?". We quickly row back and leave this dangerous place. Very light winds, we barely touch 2 knots a few times but the weather is nice and sunny. Lots of dolphins are playing around and I spot a small whale.

And then, on the way to Rothesay from Arran, in the middle of the Firth of Clyde, a seal! It was very confused why we turned back to have a look at him.