Thursday, 20th June: A Working Day in Ardrossan
We popped over to Ardrossan this morning. Jib only, downwind the whole way. Got rained on. Pretty unremarkable sail!
Stats: distance 13.1M, underway 2hrs 20m, average speed 5.6 kts, max speed 8.3 kts
An afternoon of jobs: laundry, food shop, petrol for RIB, gas for cooking, picked up books we’d ordered and took delivery of our new very small dinghy for short trips when you can’t beach the RIB. We also spoke to Clyde Marina about overwintering here, and it looks like a very good contender. The staff here are very friendly and helpful, and laundry is free. Yes, you read it correctly; they do not charge for either the washing or the drying! There is only one machine, and it’s the size of a normal household machine, but this is very much a no-nonsense marina, so it fits in.
Friday, 21st June: Midsummer’s Eve and off to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute
Midsummer is a big thing in Sweden and every year it hurts not to be ‘home’. After so many years away, you’d think I would have got used to it, but some traditions are so very precious. We stayed at my sister’s a few midsummers ago, and it was a proper celebration by the water, with lots of good food and drink, dancing around the Midsummer Pole and games with friends. And lots of birch leaves and flowers. It was lovely!
And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a guide for: Swedish Midsummer – Svensk Midsommar
We left Ardrossan midday, and tacked our way to Bute. It was a really nice sail, and we even had sunshine! We saw masses of wind turbines up on the hills and then passed by the Hunterston Power Stations. Lovely electricity being generated!
We sailed the route between Little and Great Cumbrae which was so pretty, especially Millport. We anchored on the west side of Rothesay Bay, near the Sailing Club. Keeping a good distance from the ferry route.
Stats: distance 21.9M, underway 3hrs 12 m, average speed 6.8 kts, max speed 9.0 kts
The archaeological record shows that Bute has been continuously inhabited for 6,000 years. Bute was a very popular holiday destination ‘doon the watter’ from Glasgow in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and there are still about a million visitors per year. Not bad for an island with a population of around 6,500 people. My friend Linda told me recently that her grandparents ran a guesthouse in Rothesay and this is where her Mum grew up, and where her parents met during WWII. We went ashore and took a walk up to this house and took some photos that I sent to her. There’s an astounding view from the house, such a good spot to stay on your holidays!
We also went to the Victorian toilets that Linda mentioned to me, and they are splendid! I went into the ladies’ first, and to be honest wasn’t too impressed, then I was told it’s the men’s side I need to visit and that was very different!
The evening was warmish, which is such a pleasant change, so we had dinner outside and sat up watching the sunset until 11.45pm.
Saturday, 22nd June: Rothesay and going to the Kyles of Bute
There were boats all around us first thing in the morning. We were in pole position for the Round Bute Race. This is an annual 45-mile race run by the Isle of Bute Sailing Club. It was amazing seeing them all getting ready, and as we were anchored really quite near the start line, we saw it all first hand.
We got into the RIB and once the CalMac ferry had departed, the lights in the harbour turned green and we could go in and tie up by the jetty. We first went to Bute Museum. There is a good archaeology and social history section, with some very nice carved stones and a Viking sword hilt, and a varied assortment of Victorian and Maritime memorabilia. The Natural History section had a clear local feel, and even included live examples of local wildflowers.
We then visited the moated remains of Rothesay Castle, with Scotland’s only circular curtain wall. We saw a well-put-together video explaining the castle’s history and its part in the siege by King Haakon IV of Norway, the Wars of Scottish Independence and Cromwell’s troops in the late 17th century. The castle walls had clearly become a bit of a gull nursery, and we really enjoyed seeing the fledglings! We chatted for a bit with a lovely Glaswegian lady who had received a membership of Historic Scotland from her son, and with that in hand and her free bus pass, she had managed to visit a remarkable number of castles from Edinburgh to Argyll.
After our morning’s sightseeing we set off north. There was almost no wind, so although we tried to sail, we did have to turn on the engine for a bit. We thought we would come across some of the race yachts on their way to the finishing line. And yes we did, but they were all motoring. What a shame, the race must have been called off due to the lack of winds.
We went into the Kyles of Bute and anchored near the Burnt Islands, so called as there are vitrified remains of a fort on one of them. We were right in front of several very large homes with big lawns going all the way down to the water. We had two very small islands next to us and they were covered in vociferous gulls!
Sunday 23rd June: Kyles of Bute
It’s our 35th wedding anniversary today. 35 years very well spent with my lovely husband and three children; definitely something to celebrate!
We left our spot by the gull islands and pottered into the entrance to Loch Riddon. Dominic had spotted the perfect anchorage just behind Eilean Dubh, in our newly purchased The Scottish Islands – The Rosetta Stone of Island Hopping. Such a lovely spot! And we were so lucky to have sunshine in the afternoon. Dominic flew the drone over us and took some amazing photos.
Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th June: Kyles of Bute and Portavadie
We’ve had a few disturbed nights, and a distinct lack of sleep, so we left the fjord-like kyles and wafted around the Cowal peninsula to Portavadie marina. This is a very nice marina indeed. It’s set in a man-made lagoon on Loch Fyne, features a spa complex, a myriad of holiday flats and cottages, and all sorts of conveniences. We settled for a drink in the bar, had a very good sleep and woke up to warm air and sunshine. Dominic worked on the boat, and we enjoyed the settled weather.
We’re on our way to the Crinan Canal now. On Sunday we found an unwelcome message on their website: “Due to continued exceptionally dry weather, from 1st June 2019 we are unable to offer passage to vessels with a FRESH WATER draught over 2.1m, until advised otherwise.” Our fresh water draft is 2.35m…. and not going through the canal means we would have to add 100M to our journey and go around the Mull of Kintyre. Dominic got hold of them on Monday and luckily they will raise the water level for us on Wednesday. We’ll go and anchor in Loch Gilp tonight, ready for our next adventure!