Largs, Portavadie, Otterferry, Tarbert.

Looking out from the cockpit on Thursday morning, the plans for the weekend didn’t look that promising and it didn’t improve as it rained constantly for the remainder of the day. However, things did take a much better turn for the better.

I had arrived late on Wednesday evening with the intention of doing a couple of maintenance and repair jobs on Thursday but with the weather so bad I was confined to those jobs down below.  My two sailing companions for the weekend arrived just before five on Thursday afternoon. John had been sailing with me last year but this was the first time for Ron. After unpacking and settling in we went to Scott’s Restaurant in the marina for something to eat.

It brightened up on Friday morning and after breakfast we got the boat ready, tidied up and set off for Portavadie. There was a good wind from the North West and we sailed toward Cumbrae Pass, round Garrock Head  and across Inchmarnock Water. After a couple of hours of tacking it was clear that progress was slow,  so we started the engine and arrived in Portavadie just  before five. We ate and spent the evening on board.

 

Saturday, despite the grey dismal start to the day, we decided to stick with our plan and head north to Otterferry for lunch at the wonderful Oystercatcher Restaurant. The wind had backed a little and there was a bit more west in it so we managed a slow broad reach up to Otter Spit. By the time we had picked up a mooring the rain had eased a little so we thought that having come this far, we may as well make the last effort to get the engine on the dinghy and cross to the restaurant.  The weather closed in again during lunch and the return to the boat was in slightly damper conditions.  There was still a fair breeze so we managed to sail most of the way to Tarbert where we intended staying the night. It slowly cleared and the sun even managed to come out at one point When we arrived, the harbour was completely full with no visitors’ berths available. It was after five and the Harbour Master had gone home for the day. Had he been there he may well have found us a berth. As it was, we just turned around and headed across  Loch Fyne to Portavadie for the night – there are always berths available there.  I found out later that the reason for Tarbert being full was because of the annual Tarbert Seafood Festival.

 

A straight passage back from Portavadie to Largs normally takes around four and a quarter hours if you don’t go round the Kyles of Bute. My friends needed to travel back to Edinburgh so we left for Largs at 9.45am which would allow them to get home by around 4.30pm.  Overnight, the wind had backed a bit and was blowing around 25 knots. I reefed the mainsail and unfurled about two thirds of the foresail. We tore across Inchmarnock Water averaging a speed of 6.5 knots and exceeding 7.5 at times, which is about as fast as my boat can go, irrespective of the wind speed.  We sailed a broad reach all the way to Garroch Head with the wind blowing force 5/6 and gusting to 7/8. Once round Garroch Head, I dropped the foresail and we did a short run through Cumbrae Pass and then a beam reach up Largs Channel. We met Waverley just as we were approaching Largs Yacht Haven. It was an exhilarating sail and all credit to John who was on the helm and got us back to the marina in less than three and a half hours.

 

Despite the gloomy outlook we really only got wet on Saturday.  A great weekend sailing with great company, great food and one or two beers..`

I’ve stayed an extra day to try to complete all the jobs I didn’t manage on Thursday due to the wet weather. I’ve done nearly all of them and now just need to tidy up the boat ready for the next trip in a couple of weeks. I took a nice walk into Largs this morning to pick up a piece of Perspex which covers the engine instruments in the cockpit – I broke this with my fat arse on a previous trip.