Author Archives: James Hancox

James’s Summer Cruise – Part 4 – South Coast of England

South Coast of England – Sole, Plymouth, Portland, Wight, Dover, Thames

Isles of Scilly to Newlyn

After leaving the Isles of Scilly our aim was to get home to Shotley by the end of August, fortunately the forecast outlook was for westerly winds to continue. It is a relatively short crossing to Cornwall via Lands End, although the first safe haven is further round the coast. The magenta areas on the chart indicate shipping lanes and a ‘Traffic Separation Scheme’ (TSS) but we only saw one ship on the whole crossing.

map20

Lands End from the sea:2014-08-14 10.31.47

Newlyn Harbour

Newlyn Harbour. Photo Credit: Marktee1. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

We headed into Newlyn which is mainly a fishing port with a small provision for visiting yachts. Fans of Ordnance Survey maps and Admiralty charts will recognise the name of Newlyn as the datum point or benchmark to define mean sea level from which all heights and depths are referenced – I would have liked to stand on the exact spot, but it was not obvious to find!

Newlyn to Falmouth

Leaving Newlyn we caught sight of St Michael’s Mount.2014-08-15 09.40.17

The main ‘obstacle’ on the day’s passage was to go around the headland known as ‘The Lizard’, we kept a reasonable distance offshore to avoid overfalls and turbulent water.map21

We made our way into Falmouth and Port Pendennis Marina and rafted up alongside a yacht named Corialis. It turned out to be the end of ‘Falmouth Week’ and the town was full of people dressed in neon colours celebrating; there was a firework display at 10pm for which we had a ringside seat across the harbour.2014-08-15 22.10

Falmouth to Plymouthmap22

Westerly winds helped us sail all the way across the bay. Not much to see until we approached the forts and breakwater protecting Plymouth Sound. Devonport is still an active Naval base. Plymouth Yacht Haven was well sheltered and the marina staff directed us to an excellent pub, The Clovelly Bay Inn where we enjoyed Fish & Chips.

Photo Credit: Dereck Harper. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Plymouth Hoe. Photo Credit: Derek Harper. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Plymouth to Dartmouthmap23

Strong westerly winds made the sea quite choppy around Start Point. The entrance to Dartmouth is narrow but it revealed a charming town along the river. 2014-08-17 15.06.12Alan’s daughter Becky and her husband Ted dropped in to see us and it was lovely to meet them, we sampled the local brew at ‘The Floating Bridge’ pub next to the cable ferry:2014-08-18 19.00.05The next day we stayed in port and explored the town, Alan found a bookshop and we followed the coastal path to the castle guarding the narrow harbour entrance.

2014-08-18 10.59.56

2014-08-18 11.42.01

Dartmouth to Weymouthmap24

An early start and 57 miles across Lime Bay. Our course took us well to the south of the coastal resorts of Brixham, Torquay, Exmouth and Sidmouth before closing in on Portland Bill. We had timed our arrival well and the notorious Portand Race was not in evidence.

Weymouth is a popular port and we rafted out 3 boats deep. The boats inside of us needed to leave at 0630 to head west, so we had an early wake up call, but the compensation was a full english breakfast at a fisherman’s cafe on the quayside.2014-08-20 07.25.45 One of the domestic 12-volt batteries had began to fail over the previous week and we were able to source a replacement from a chandlery conveniently located at the quayside next to the cafe and harbour office.

2014-08-20 08.43.48

2014-08-20 10.29.32

Weymouth to Poole Harbourmap25

This was a shorter passage only taking half a day and we stayed close into the coast. Except for the hazard of lobster pot floats, the inshore passage gave us a good view of the ‘Jurassic Coast’ of Dorset, passing landmarks of Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Swanage and Old Harry Rocks along the way.2014-08-20 12.55.06

2014-08-20 14.30.46

2014-08-20 15.05.26

2014-08-20 15.33.27 There is a well marked channel past Studland Bay into Poole Harbour, but you have to watch out for the chain ferry that runs between Studland and Sandbanks. We found a vacant mooring buoy near Brownsea Island for the night, although it wasn’t as sheltered as I expected.2014-08-21 07.07.49

Poole Harbour to Gosportmap26

We planned to go around the southern side of the Isle of Wight, with the hope of stopping at the harbour of Bembridge, however we arrived several hours too early for there to be sufficient tide so we decided to divert to Haslar Marina in Gosport.2014-08-22 18.16.33 We had visited Haslar a few years ago and knew the facilities were good, there is also a bar on board an old lightship. The weather forecast for the next day was not good so we decided to stay in port and visit the submarine museum – this includes a tour around a real submarine guided by retired submariners.2014-08-22 13.14.18

2014-08-22 14.33.54

If you look carefully, you can spot Tante Helena through the periscope:

2014-08-22 15.10.40

I also had time to make a ‘Turks Head’ around the steering wheel, after learning how to tie it from You-tube! The cord was kindly supplied by XW Rigging at Haslar Marina.2014-08-22 17.33.25

Gosport to Eastbourne

map27

A lively sail of 68 miles, we initially planned to stop at Brighton but we were sailing so well that we decided to continue around Beachy Head to the familiar haven of Sovereign Harbour at Eastbourne. This was where I kept Tante Helena when I owned her, so it felt like home! The sky looked dramatic as we rounded Beachy Head:2014-08-23 19.37

Eastbourne to Ramsgatemap28

Light winds required motoring most of the way, passing the headland of Dungeness then finding a gap between the cross channel ferries at Dover. At Walmer we briefly spotted a Porpoise as we followed the Gull Stream inshore of the Goodwin Sands. I had covered over 1000 miles for the trip by the time we reached Ramsgate.

We had planned a day off in Ramsgate to meet up with Alan’s friends Val & Mike and it coincided with some atrocious weather, so we were glad to be ashore. Val gave us a fine lunch, and an enjoyable afternoon was spent playing games with their family (it turns out that Alan is very good at darts!).2014-08-25 11.53.31

The next day we set off in unsettled conditions and by the time we reached North Foreland we decided it was not sensible to continue out further into the Thames estuary so we turned around and headed back into harbour.  We were disappointed to abandon the final leg of our journey and to return to Ramsgate – it seems to be magnetic! After a rest we visited the Royal Temple Yacht Club for refreshment and perused their war booty from a German U-boat wrecked on the notorious Goodwin Sands:2014-08-26 18.21.33

Ramsgate to Shotleymap29

The next day was much better and a pleasure to be sailing again with an easterly breeze for a change. The Thames Estuary now has a number of wind farms and we passed through the recently completed London Array. Although the turbines are huge there is plenty of space between them and it was easy to navigate along the avenues of turbines.2014-08-27 12.40.17

2014-08-27 12.50.54As we approached Harwich we were called on the VHF radio by yacht ‘Running Free’ who were coming out to meet us and escort us into Shotley and wished to pass a ‘token’ to us. We spotted them near Landguard point and the ‘token’ turned out to be Geraldine – what a fantastic surprise!2014-08-27 17.05.31

Just before Geraldine transferred across to Tante Helena we had one of the few mechanical problems we experienced on the trip – the genoa (front sail) wouldn’t furl away, so I spent a few minutes on the foredeck getting the sail under control – at least it hadn’t happened the previous day off North Foreland! We motored alongside Running Free with a line holding the bows together so Geraldine could transfer between the boats, it was lovely to see her again.

WEB-Alan-and-Geraldine-Sinfield-on-Tante-Helena

Photo credit: Running Free

Photos were taken and then Geraldine took the helm as we motored through Harwich harbour so Alan and I could sort the sail out properly.

We were escorted into the Shotley lock by Running free and were enthusiastically greeted with fog horns and sirens, what a way to end the trip!

Photo credit: Shotley Marina

Photo credit: Shotley Marina

Alan’s total milage around the UK was 1780 miles and I was aboard for 1070 of them from Dunstaffange to Shotley. The next day Alan, Geraldine and myself were joined by Mike and Myra, so the entire crew were reunited for a celebratory lunch at the Shipwreck.

You can read Alan’s tweets and find out why he was fundraising for The Urology Foundation at http://tantehelena.com/

2 Comments

Filed under Sailing

James’s Summer Cruise – Part 3 – Isles of Scilly

Isles of Scilly – Celtic Sea

The next leg of our journey took us south across the Celtic Sea from Ireland to the Isles of Scilly. This was the longest single passage at a straight line distance of 132 NM  and we expected it to take at least 30 hours. We started at 10am and soon realised that it would be necessary to motor most of the way as the wind was mostly from the south.

MAP18

By mid afternoon we were 30NM south of Kilmore Quay and had hardly seen another vessel, but after a couple more hours we approached the fishing fleet trawling the rich seas. Around the same time something very special happened; we were approached by a pod of dolphins who came to play around the boat in the bow wave. The dolphins darted around and underneath the boat and we could hear them squeaking under the water. It was the most amazing experience to see the animals so close, and over the next few hours several different pods visited, each time we would see some breaking waves in the distance and then suddenly we would be surrounded by dolphins, they would then disappear just as quickly.

Night fell and we took watches of three hours each, we did try to sail for a few hours but it was surprisingly difficult to keep a steady course close to the wind in complete darkness, and the tide seemed to be against us longer than was reasonable, so ultimately the engine had to go back on again. The Isles of Scilly began to creep over the horizon around lunchtime and the wind shifted enough that we were able to sail the final part of the journey. The Atlantic swell began to become noticeable as we closed the rugged coastline and the depth reduced from around 100 metres to 60-80 metres. The GPS chartplotter continued to show us the way, but we endeavored to identify land features to guide our approach to New Grimsby Sound which divides the islands of Tresco and Bryher. It was late afternoon when we finally picked up a visitors’ buoy and relaxed to enjoy the view.MAP19

Tresco

The next morning we inflated the dinghy and fitted the outboard motor before making the short trip to New Grimsby Harbour.2014-08-09 11.33.25

We soon located the island shop which seemed well stocked and followed the signs to the world famous Tresco Abbey Gardens, there was a plaque saying that the gardens didn’t open until the afternoon so we decided to explore the southern end of the island first. The unspoilt beaches are made of coarse white sand that is beautiful to look at but not so easy to walk on, we could see across clear blue sea to St Martins to the east and St Marys to the south, it looked almost tropical. There is a very nice cafe in Old Grimsby where we ate lunch as we watched dinghy sailors enjoying themselves in sheltered waters.2014-08-09 13.18.46

After lunch we returned to the gardens – it turned out that they had been open all the time – the plaque was an antique! The gardens are famous the the wide variety of exotic plants exhibited, and has sections from many tropical & sub tropical regions that can grow in Tresco’s warm micro climate.2014-08-09 14.50.14

2014-08-09 14.51.52

2014-08-09 15.13.08

2014-08-09 15.42.25

There is also a museum of ship’s figure heads rescued from wrecks around the islands.2014-08-09 15.36.29

2014-08-09 15.36.45

By late afternoon the weather began to change for the worse as Hurricane Bertha approached from the Atlantic, so we stocked up at the shop and headed back to Tante Helena.

Overnight Hurricane Bertha blew and blew, it wasn’t terribly peaceful or comfortable onboard but we felt safe enough. Tante Helena’s strength was tested at about 8am when an adjacent French boat broke free from her mooring and crashed into us bending the pulpit metalwork at the bow with her anchor. Fortunately for us the damage wasn’t too serious and we probably saved the French boat from drifting into the rocks!

By the afternoon the wind had reduced enough for us to take the dinghy ashore again and explore the northern end of Tresco. Cromwell’s Castle guards New Grimsby Sound and the higher ground affords some good views of the other islands.

2014-08-10 14.19.29

2014-08-10 14.30.24

2014-08-10 14.54.20

Bryher

Again the wind blew strongly overnight but settled in the afternoon so we took the dinghy across to Bryher to explore. Bryher is an island of contrasts – the north west side is very rugged exposed to the Atlantic swell, whereas the southern end has sandy beaches and dunes. We dropped into the very exclusive Hell Bay Hotel for a beer & coffee whilst avoiding a rain shower.

Northern side looking west into Atlantic:2014-08-11 13.57.53

Northern side looking east:2014-08-11 14.05.44

South western side:
2014-08-11 14.46.42

Eastern side looking across New Grimsby Sound towards Tresco:2014-08-11 15.11.36

It turned out we had stayed a bit too long as when we returned to the dinghy the tide had come in too much and we were unable to untie it from the jetty which was now underwater! We had to wait a couple of hours for the tide to retreat enough to retrieve the dinghy and return to Tante Helena for supper.

The evening’s high tide was followed by an exceptionally low tide at midnight and the boat had barely enough depth beneath the keel; after watching the depth sounder for a couple of uneasy hours we decided that we would move to a deeper mooring in the morning. Us ‘east-coast’ sailors aren’t used to huge tidal ranges!

St Marys

Strong winds continued to keep us hemmed in New Grimsby Sound, so we took advantage of the daily ferry service from Bryher to St Marys rather than attempting to sail Tante Helena over. The ferry took us into the port of St Mary which is the major town of the islands and also where the Scillonian III ferry to the mainland docks. The town is well stocked with shops for locals and tourists alike. We walked around the northern side of the island and enjoyed views back across to Tresco and Bryher.2014-08-12 11.28.05  2014-08-12 12.59.58

There is a small sandy bay on the southern side of the island which is popular with holiday-makers, there were also a few yachts anchored there.2014-08-12 15.05.32

On the return journey the ferry travelled via St Agnes, so that was another island ‘bagged’.

2014-08-12 16.16.14

Despite difficulties caused by Hurricane Bertha and huge tides, we thoroughly enjoyed the Isles of Scilly and hope to visit again. A real highlight of the trip.

1 Comment

Filed under Sailing

James’s Summer Cruise – Part 2 – Ireland

Part II – Ireland – Irish Sea

Rathlin Island is an L-shaped outcrop of rock about 5 miles north of the Irish coast with a population of around 200 which gives it a very special feel. Marconi conducted early radio telegraph experiments at the eastern lighthouse and Robert the Bruce encountered a spider in a cave on the island. There is a great little museum which explained a lot of the history. We had time to walk up to the lighthouse and could see the Giant’s Causeway in the distance.

2014-07-23 10.16

2014-07-23 10.14

2014-07-23 09.48

Rathlin to GlenarmMAP8

The tide which has sped us along the previous day now held us back as we headed south east to round Fair Head, and once the tide had changed the wind was on the nose! 2014-07-23 13.50We motored most of the way and enjoyed the scenery. Glenarm is a charming little harbour and we made the most of the modern facilities.2014-07-23 17.40

Glenarm to BelfastMAP9

The 30 mile trip took us right into the heart of Belfast at Abercorn Basin. The scenery changed from rural to industrial to urban redevelopment along the way.
2014-07-24 14.23

Belfast

Abercorn Basin was a great place to stay as it was only as short walk into the city centre and we explored the leafy Cathedral Quarter in the summer heat. 2014-07-24 17.44.43

2014-07-25 11.46.12The highlight of the next day was the Titanic Exhibition and a tour of the dockyard and old Harland & Wolf offices where thousands of ships were designed, built, launched and fitted out. A very memorable exhibition and well worth visiting if you get the chance. 2014-07-25 14.07.58

2014-07-25 14.13.25

2014-07-25 16.49.12

2014-07-25 14.35.22

2014-07-25 16.47.24

We were told that H&W no longer build ships but service the offshore oil & energy industries. The huge yellow cranes ‘Samson & Goliath’ still dominate the skyline, but much of the Titanic Quarter is being redeveloped with modern housing and a large leisure complex.

2014-07-24 15.50.01

2014-07-24 15.45.36

Belfast to BangorMAP10

An easy trip out of the estuary, we noticed a lot of golf courses along the coast. We thought Bangor was rather like Southend with its funfair and amusement arcades! Peter joined us for a meal at the Marine Hotel which overlooked the harbour. 2014-07-26 21.14

Bangor to Stangford LoughMAP11

We started early to catch the tide and had a good sail except for a squall as we approached the entrance to the Narrows. We were joined by an unusual passenger some of the way:2014-07-27 10.58.24

2014-07-27 11.05.15

We were glad of the GPS chart plotter as many of the beacons and ‘leading lines’ shown on the paper chart were unclear until we were right upon them.

Strangford was named by the Vikings meaning ‘strong fjord’ due to the tidal races for which the Narrows are renowned.

2014-07-28 09.46.58

2014-07-28 11.53.40

There is a modern tidal generator situated in there and on our return trip it was raised up for servicing.


2014-07-28 15.10.40The next morning we had time to explore the Lough where it widens out and we sailed in smooth sparkling water. We had to wait about an hour for the tide to turn in the narrows before exiting so we picked up a mooring in a side creek and watched a fleet of toppers racing.2014-07-28 14.51.10

Strangford to ArdglassMAP12

An easy passage, the beacons and leading lines were much more obvious on the way out! There were lots of seals as we approached Ardglass through its narrow channel and we were lucky to find a vacant pontoon right ahead of us as we arrived. We were soon joined by yacht Kasimir alongside us who had previously contacted Alan via his blog. We also met popular yachting author and journalist Tom Cunliffe and his wife whilst we were there; they were trying to get a wifi signal to upload some photos to the publisher – a working holiday for them.

Ardglass was our final port in Northern Ireland.
2014-07-28 18.42.06

2014-07-28 18.43.30

Ardglass to CarlingfordMAP13

A good westerly wind blew us down the coast and as we arrived at the entrance to Carlingford Lough we saw Peter leaving in Arcady. A classic design lighthouse marks the dangerous rocks on the way in, and strong tidal flows have led to a novel design of buoy to mark the channel.2014-07-30 11.49.13

The lough also forms the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The town of Carlingford which owes it name to the Vikings is in ROI and seemed to be a prosperous tourist destination.2014-07-29 17.30.04

2014-07-29 17.27.15

2014-07-29 16.33.55

Carlingford to MalahideMAP14

We had to wait for sufficient tide to rise before leaving Carlingford marina, but once we did we enjoyed a fast beam reach all the way to Malahide averaging 7 knots (13 km/h) over 42 nautical miles (78km).
malahide-marina

Malahide is a modern town with a largish marina and it was easy to stock up on provisions and a local hardware shop supplied camping gaz at a very reasonable price. We also made a few running repairs to a batten that had fallen out and a broken stanchion base.

Malahide to DunLaoghaireMAP15

Variable winds made crossing the Dublin bay TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) tricky and there was quite a lot of traffic to avoid on this occasion, plus rain-showers reducing visibility at times. DunLaoghaire is a large harbour hosting a ferry terminal and a sizeable marina.

As we arrived we had to dodge dinghies training in the shelter of the outer harbour, and in the evening a large racing fleet from the local clubs assembled for round-the-cans racing. We rendezvoused with Peter again and planned our visit to Dublin.2014-07-31 16.18.27

2014-07-31 17.02.11

2014-07-31 18.28.37

Dublin

It was a short walk from the marina to the railway station and then a 15 minute ride into the centre of Dublin. We joined thousands of tourists as we visited Trinity College, the Irish Museum of Natural History, the Irish Museum of Archeology and History.2014-08-01 11.41.03

2014-08-01 12.03.10

2014-08-01 12.05.20

We wandered through the Temple Bar area to the river and after lunch searched out the Brazen Head for a Guinness – Ireland’s oldest pub apparently!
2014-08-01 13.18.46

2014-08-01 14.16.54

2014-08-01 14.23.34

2014-08-01 14.48.22We also walked around the cathedral and castle which had a display of sand sculptures.2014-08-01 14.58.16

2014-08-01 15.06.46

We stayed in DunLaoghaire marina for a couple of extra days due to poor weather and visited a very interesting exhibition about Shackleton, and the Irish Maritime Museum which is inside a decommissioned church.
2014-08-03 14.07.59

2014-08-03 14.49.30

2014-08-03 14.59.05

2014-08-03 15.19.09

2014-08-03 15.19.17

2014-08-03 15.51.22

2014-08-03 16.09.41

DunLaoghaire to ArklowMAP16

It was a long sail with wind against tide, but when we arrived we found a visitor’s pontoon and were given a lovely welcome by the Arklow Sailing Club. We had intended to make an early start next day but abandoned the plan due to poor weather conditions and we were still quite tired from the previous day, so we relaxed and explored Arklow some more.Arklow-bridge

Arklow to Kilmore QuayMAP17

Another early start to catch the tide, but at least it was clear and dry! A good sail, mostly on a close reach. Kilmore Quay is primarily a fishing port but the marina was comfortable and we enjoyed a fish & chip supper in the town.2014-08-06 15.15.10

2014-08-06 15.40.55

Next morning we topped up with fresh water and diesel and prepared to cross the Celtic Sea….

1 Comment

Filed under Sailing

James’s Summer Cruise – Part 1 – Scotland

Part I – Scotland – Malin

In mid July 2014 I joined my friend Alan on his 34 foot sailing yacht Tante Helena as part of his cruise around the UK. Alan had set off from Shotley Marina near Harwich in early June and had already sailed up the eastern coast of England and through the Caledonian canal to western Scotland. I joined the boat at Dunstaffnage near Oban.Picture 1

Essex to Oban

In order to rendezvous with the boat I travelled to Glasgow by train the previous day and I was very pleased that the trains all ran to time without any problems. I checked into a hotel near the main Glasgow station and had some time to explore around George Square which was preparing for the Commonwealth Games.
2014-07-13 20.15.32
2014-07-13 20.20The next day I took a coach from the nearby Buchanan bus station which took a scenic route around Loch Lomond before dropping me off a couple of hours later at Dunbeg, a short walk from Dunstsffnage marina. At this point I became aware how quickly the weather can deteriorate in western Scotland as I had left Glasgow in glorious summer sunshine, and it was now pouring with rain.

I phoned Alan to say I had arrived, and found him tackling the laundry, making good use of the time in port. I had expected to also meet Alan’s wife Geraldine at this point but unfortunately she had needed to return home with Mike and Myra (the previous crew) that morning as her mother was unwell. Alan showed me the charts and the outline plan for the next part of the cruise, hoping that Geraldine would be able to rejoin us in a couple of weeks.

We spent the rest of the afternoon getting ourselves and the boat ready and sheltering from the rain – it was one of the few times we used the heater to dry things out. Later in the afternoon a large fleet of boats from the West Highlands Yachting Week arrived; we thought they were going to have a big party but they didn’t disturb anyone. We ate supper on board an then were invited over to neighbouring yacht Inis Free for drinks and exchanging salty tales.

Oban to CraobhMAP2

The weather was much improved by morning and we set off in smooth water and light winds along with the West Highlands Yachting Week fleet who were heading for Mull.

2014-07-15 09.21

We turned south west towards the town of Oban under power, then the wind filled as we entered the Sound of Kerrera and we were able to sail.

2014-07-15 10.02
We needed some careful navigation as we transited the narrow Sound of Luing with strong tides, overfalls and rocks to catch the unwary. The scenery was equally dramatic with the mountains of the Isle of Mull rising behind us and the rugged Isles of Luing, Lunga and Scarba to our sides. I took some photos of Inis Free who were going further round to Ardfern.

2014-07-15 13.26
Craobh Haven is a harbour formed by a breakwater joining three small islands and hosts a number of commercial vessels as well as yachts and motorboats.

2014-07-15 16.23The next day we stayed in port as the weather forecast was poor and walked up the hill to see the view towards Ardfern.

2014-07-16 11.31
We were able to buy a few basic provisions from the store and did some routine maintenance. There was a slow wifi connection so I was eventually able to catch up on news of the Tour de France.

Craobh to CrinanMAP3

We made good progress from Craobh assisted by the strong tide and shot through the narrows in turbulent waters. The whirlpools of Corryvrekan are not far away! We caught a brief glimpse of a couple of dolphins. The water settled and became much shallower as we turned east towards Crinan. We had to wait for a couple of hours before entering the Crinan Canal as there was a hydraulic problem with the sea-lock gate.

2014-07-17 13.37

2014-07-17 14.53
To enter the canal basin we were crammed into the deep sea-lock along with three other boats. The tide was low so it took a long time to fill. We decided to spend the night in the basin at Crinan and it was a lovely spot.

2014-07-17 16.22

2014-07-17 21.43

The Crinan CanalMAP4

The Crinan Canal cuts across the top of Kintyre from west to east, the purpose is to avoid the exposed western side of Kintyre.

2014-07-17 16.58We transited most of the distance in company of two other boats, one of which fortunately had a couple of energetic teenagers on board who were a great help taking lines and operating the lock gates. The other boat had a local ‘pilot’ on board to help who knew the system, but seemed in a bit of a hurry at times!

2014-07-17 15.26

2014-07-18 10.45We had hoped to stop for lunch half way along but there was a lack of free pontoon spaces to stop at so we carried on with the other boats until we found a space near Lochgilphead. We were pleased to stop as the up-locks had been quite hard work, particularly with the strong wind that blew up at one point. We walked into the town, had a beer and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

The next morning we completed the last few down-locks ourselves as they were much easier and made our way out to sea at Ardrishaig.

Ardrishaig to TarbertMAP5

It was an easy trip south along Lower Loch Fyne in relative shelter from the land and gentle scenery. We passed a number of fish farms which make up a considerable part of local industry.

Tarbert is a fishing harbour that has recently been granted European money to build a modern marina in order to encourage tourism. The new pontoons were certainly impressive.

2014-07-20 09.50
As we approached the marina it started to rain and we were glad to have our lines taken by Peter, a yachtsman who Alan had met previously on the trip and had spotted us approaching the harbour. Peter joined us for supper and it was fun to catch up on experiences of the previous weeks. The next morning we explored the town and climbed up to the castle – our first encounter with the tale of Robert the Bruce.

2014-07-20 09

2014-07-20 10.17

Tarbert to CampbeltownMAP6

We were able to sail about two thirds of the trip which took us through Kilbrannan Sound which runs between Kintyre and the Island of Arran. The difference in scenery between Kintyre’s rolling landscape and Arran’s mountains was striking. We caught glimpses of dolphins and seals as well as gannets and guillemots.

Campbeltown is a natural harbour guarded by Davaar Island and its lighthouse, built by the Stevenson brothers.

2014-07-22 08.00
The harbour hosts a NATO refuelling station and a substantial fishing fleet. It has recently installed a pontoon for leisure boats which was much better than the concrete harbour wall we were expecting. Fees were paid at the local hotel, which of course also provided refreshment to the thirsty sailor.

We took a day off to explore Davaar Island which is accessible by causeway at low tide. There are seven caves on the island and largest has a painting of the crucifixion of Christ on the wall inside painted in 1887 by local artist Archibald MacKinnon after he had a vision in a dream.

2014-07-21 11.48

2014-07-21 11.49
Meanwhile, Peter arrived and invited us to supper aboard his yacht, Arcady.

Campbeltown to Rathlin IslandMAP7

We left Campbetown in the early morning sunshine a couple of hours before high water. The tide turned as we cleared Sanda Sound and we whizzed along past the Mull of Kintyre at 7-8 knots over the ground.

2014-07-22 10.55
We soon crossed the shipping lanes (only one ship) and Fair Head began to appear on the horizon, but rather than head straight for the Northern Irish mainland we headed for the small island of Rathlin.

2 Comments

Filed under Sailing