July 24th – 31st 2017

I arrived in Largs on Monday to glorious sunshine and spent the day getting the boat ready. On my previous sailing trip I had noticed that there was a leak in the domestic water system so I set about fixing that the following day. My sister, my nephew and his son were arriving on Wednesday for a couple of days, the weather forecast wasn’t great and if you had believed the BBC then you wouldn’t have crossed the door-step.  Tuesday and Wednesday were wet but the forecast improved and we would certainly be able to get to Portavadie where they could enjoy the new facilities. It was the first time my nephew’s son had been sailing (he’s only 7) and he was a little apprehensive but he soon settled in. We managed a great sail from Largs around the East Kyle and then motored down the West again putting up the sails for a sail all the way to Portavadie. On the trip across I noticed that the repeater instrument wasn’t working and the GPS plotter was playing up. Fortunately being in familiar waters it was easy enough to get to Portavadie safely without resorting to conventional chart navigation. I suspected a loose wire behind the instrument panel and Inspecting the GPS plotter I could see that the power cable was damaged, so whilst my sister, nephew and son went to enjoy the leisure centre  I made repairs. The plotter was easy enough but the repeater needed a bit more attention – I could see the problem (a loose wire) but I needed to do a bit of dismantling to gain access to it so I decided to leave it until I returned to Largs.  It was my birthday and we spent a great evening in The Lodge at the marina. We arrived back in Largs in the early afternoon after a great sail across Inchmarnock and after a bit of lunch my sister, nephew and son left for home and I set about fixing the instruments and getting the boat ready for the next trip, friends were arriving later on Friday for a weekend of sailing. Fixing the repeater proved to be less problematic than I had thought and it was soon working again and after a trip to the laundry, the supermarket and topping up the water and diesel, Jess was ready.

Mairi had been sailing before but this was the first time for Rob. We set off for Portavadie around the Kyles of Bute, wind blowing F5 from the SSW soon got us up to Burnt Islands. I thought we had the chance of sailing through the narrow channel between the islands (for the first time), but, as is the norm, the wind died as we approached Colintraive so we motored round and down the West Kyle, sailing once again after rounding Ardlamont all the way to Portavadie. The weather had been mixed but by the time we arrived the sun had come out and as Mairi was preparing dinner Rob and I entertained her and the marina on our ukuleles! We had decided to sail to Otterferry on Sunday for lunch returning to Tarbert for the evening. The wind was again coming from the SSW and we managed a great run/broad reach all the way to Otterspit. As we were approaching the marker the heavens opened so we decided against landing and eating at Oystercatcher but instead picked up a mooring and ate lunch on board. After lunch I decided that the wind was perfect for sailing off the mooring and rounding the mark at Otterspit which we managed very successfully only having to put the engine on and dropping the sails in Loch Fyne as it was obvious that, with the wind on the nose, it was going to take a long time and many tacks to get any where near Tarbert. It was a pretty dreich journey so the auto helm on an we tucked ourselves underneath the sparyhood. A viscous wee squall got up just outside Tarbert – recording a gust of 49.5 knots (F9 strong/severe gale) but by the time we arrived it had passed and the sun was trying to get out. We decided to have dinner in Starfish – by far my favourite seafood restaurant anywhere!

On Monday we sailed all the way back from Tarbert to Largs in just over 4 hours. Rob and Mairi left after lunch and once again I cleaned and tidied the boat and did the laundry. I spent an extra couple of nights on the boat and tackled cleaning and re-proofing the sprayhood and sail cover. We had a wonderful weeked with some great and exciting sailing along with great company, food, drink and chat. We’ll have to do it again!

My next trip is not for a couple of weeks when Alan and I are taking out friends from Cornwall on their first sailing experience. Stu and Sharon are visiting Edinburgh for the Festival and afterwards travelling through to Largs. I’ve known Stu and Sharon for a number of years now, Stu owns and runs Guitar Retreats and I have been on many of his retreats. He’s a great guitarist and singer and has recently bought a ukulele which he will bring along (Sharon will borrow one of mine). On recent Guitar Retreats we have preformed a mean version of Prince’s “Kiss” so I hope to be doing that over the weekend. Alan and I will be staying on after they leave as we’ll be setting off on our annual sailing trip around the Western Isles, returning to Tarbert for the Music Festival in September.