Couple of Maintenance Jobs

Last week I discovered a leak coming from the hot water system, it wasn’t much, but enough to cause a puddle of water under the sink and something that definitely wasn’t going to get any better and probably fail at the most inopportune moment. The water pump kicks in when there is a drop in water pressure in the system and this leak caused the pump to start every so often, which was most annoying at night. I contacted Jabsco, who were very quick to respond, and ordered what I now know is the accumulator tank. The tank, pump and filter are all bolted to a board which is in turn bolted to the bulkhead under the sink. The tank was accessible but awkwardly placed behind the cooler compressor.. The new tank looked slightly different to the old one which, as it turned out, made a significant difference to fitting it on the board.

The water system must have been fitted some considerable time ago as the the hoses were very much welded to the connectors and I eventually had to cut them off in order to free the tank which meant a trip to the chandlers for extra hose and clips. I fitted these only to find that the connectors on the new tank were significantly longer than the old and there was no way I was going to be able to fit the tank using the current configuration. After much cutting, a second trip to the chandlers for more hose, clips and connectors, I eventually managed to reroute the hoses and reassemble the whole thing. A test produced a couple of leaks but quickly solved by tightening the clips.

Not as neat as the original installation, but it’s now leak free and won’t waken me in the middle of the night.

On the last trip we had a day of miserable rain and I noticed just how slippy the gangway steps became if the hatch wasn’t closed and they got wet. I ordered some anti slip tape from eBay. Easy to fit and very effective, no idea why I didn’t do it before.







An American, a Canadian and a Scotsman.

As usual, there were a number of maintenance jobs to be done, none of them critical, just ones that you mean to get around to. So, I secured the dodgers, fixed the wobbly floor at the heads, fitted some hooks in the cabins made up the bunks and generally tidied up and readied the boat before Brandon (the American) and his wife Lauren (the Canadian) arrived on Thursday evening.

The plan for the weekend was to spend the first evening in the marina, eating in Scott’s Restaurant and then setting off for Portavadie on Friday morning. Saturday a sail up to Otterferry for lunch, heading to Tarbert for Saturday night and returning to Largs on Sunday. We had a great night in Scott’s Restaurant and Brandon and I consumed large quantities of Punk and Joker IPA back on the boat with Lauren getting stuck into a bottle of Pinot Grigio.

After a leisurely breakfast we set off  south past Cumbrae and through Cumbrae pass towards Bute. We motored the first part and once into Cumbrae Pass I put the sails up and we managed to get all the way across the Sound and Inchmarnock Water. We arrived at Portavadie around 1630. We had decided to eat on board and I set about making pasta. After eating we played “Wizard” a whist type card game – great fun.

Saturday’s forecast had always been looking poor, but the reality was worse. It was a grey miserable morning, alternating between drizzle and rain which lasted the entire day. Not relishing the prospect of a slog up Loch Fyne to Otterferry and the unlikelihood of actually crossing to the restaurant, we decided to have a lazy morning and head straight for Tarbert for lunch. It was still raining when we arrived but there were some breaks. During one of these Brandon and Lauren went for a walk to the Castle and on the way booked a table at Starfish, probably my favourite restaurant anywhere. Trabert was quite busy as there was a Traditional Boat Festival on and there was to be some entertainment in the harbour marquee later that night. After a fantastic meal we made our way back to the harbour. The entertainment was a local young guitarist, he was reall very good with a voice a bit like Paolo Nutini. On our way back to the boat I noticed that some of the  traditional boats were lit up.

After Saturday’s terrible weather, we woke to glorious sunshine on Sunday morning.The forecast for the day was good with F4/5 westerly which we give us a great broad reach to the Western Kyle. We made great time across Inchmarnock Water and started on beam reach up the Kyles. We had started off too close to the island of Bute and were forced to make a couple of tacks to get round. I put the engine on as we passed Kames and we had lunch and then a great run down the East Kyle avoiding the ferries. We sailed all the way back to Largs, dropping the sails just outside the marina.

It was a brilliant weekend with some of the best sailing this season. Brandon and Lauren are great company and welcome back any time they wish.



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.

Tarbert Weekend in June

It’s been some time since Jess has sailed to Tarbert, the last time being September last year for the Music festival. This weekend we were heading to Tarbert for The Sailing and Cruising Scotland Flotilla. The flotilla is organised through a Facebook Group and this year was the second to Tarbert and saw some 60 to 70 boats there on the Saturday.

I arrived in Largs on Thursday and Alan joined me later in the afternoon. We had decided to make for Tarbert on Friday and glad we did as we managed a great sail having to only rely on motoring for an hour or so. We arrived just before four and waited for our other crew member, Gary to arrive on the bus from Glasgow before going to Starfish for dinner.

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  • Tarbert Weekend in June

We spent most of second day in the pub playing pool. Gary and I managed a short walk up to Tarbert Castle in the morning. In the evening we went to the BBQ and marquee tent on the harbour wall where the really good None The Wiser Argyll were playing,

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  • Tarbert Weekend in June

We left fairly early on Sunday morning and again this turned out to be a great idea as this was another great sail back to Largs.

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  • Tarbert Weekend in June


Family Sailing

I’ve  just returned from a couple of days of sailing with my fellow ukulele player and neighbour Tom and his family.

I travelled through to Largs on Thursday morning to get the boat ready and Tom and family arrived just before eight. After they we had put their stuff on board we went to Scott;s in the marina.

We set off on Friday morning in glorious sunshine and made our way towards the East Kyle. We managed a short sail in a fairly decent wind but as we approached the Kyles and toward Burnt Islands the wind became very light, but it was a beautiful motor through the narrows and after Buttock Point we managed another bit of sailing to Ardlamont Point.

We arrived in Portavadie and Tom and the family set off for the Leisure Centre and pool. We ate in the Lodge which is less formal than the restaurant in the main building (and I think better for it)

We left for our return to Largs around 9.00 on Saturday morning and motored back to Largs.



Four Day’s Sailing in May

I traveled through to Largs on Wednesday morning to do a couple of wee jobs on Jess and get her ready for the trip. The previous trip over the Easter weekend threw up a couple of issues, the main one being a fuel leak. The leak was sorted but the bilges ended up with a bit of fuel in it which I had to clean out. I pumped out the worst of it (which I disposed off in the oil recycling tanker in the marina) and then used oil absorbent pads to clean up the residue, finally cleaning out with Viro-Sol, an environmentally safe Citros based cleaner and degreaser.The first extended trip of the season saw us cover just under 100 NM starting off in Largs and visiting Lochranza, Campbeltown and Portavadie before returning to Largs.

Day 1

My friend, Alan, arrived on Thursday at around 10.30 am and after stowing things away and paying a visit to the fuel berth, we set off for Arran. We had planned to head for Lamlash, but with strong easterly winds forecast overnight, we decided that Lochranza might offer a more comfortable night. We managed a bit of a sail out of Largs past Cumbrae and Garroch Head but the wind died and we were forced to motor-sail across to Lochranza. It was near a flat calm when we arrived there and we easily picked up a buoy. After tidying up we planned our passage to Campbeltown. We put the outboard onto the dinghy and made our way to the jetty and spent a great evening in the Lochranza Hotel chatting and drinking with cyclists, walkers and other sailors.

Day 2

Later in the year, we are planning an extended passage around the Western Isles. In the past two years we have made our way through the Crinan Canal, so this year we have decided to tackle going round the Mull of Kintyre making for Ballycastle and then heading north by way of Port Ellen, Gigha and Craighouse. One of the main reasons for this trip was to visit Campbeltown as neither of us have sailed there.

The forecast had looked good with a favourable easterly wind, however, it never really materialised and we ended up motoring most of the way. This turned out to be no bad thing. On the previous trip the engine had been playing up with engine revs occasionally dropping by 100 to 200 rpm before settling back to what is was before. I had put this down to the leak, but this issue continued yesterday and part of this morning, but as the day went on the problem disappeared and the engine performed flawlessly to Campbeltown.

We were both impressed on arrival, it is a very nice well planned marina, great facilities, right on the main street and the best WiFi I have come across in any marina! After tying up we tidied up and went to look for somewhere to eat. The Royal Hotel is directly opposite the marina and we ate in the restaurant. I had looked up TripAdvisor for nice pubs and The Fiddler’s Arms came up with favorable reviews so after eating we set off to find it, unfortunately it didn’t live up to the reviews and we returned to  bar in The Royal Hotel.  I’m glad we did, The Black Sheep Bar was great. We spent a great evening of banter with the bar-staff and a group of blokes who had arrived after us in a charter boat. We’ll know next time to head straight for here and not waste time looking anywhere else!

Day 3

We had spent the previous evening poring over various wind and weather websites to try and work out the best time to depart. Once again a favourable easterly was forecast later in the afternoon which would let us sail from the north west of Arran all the way to Portavadie, our destination for the night. We left just after 10 am  in order to make the most of this. Sadly, once again the wind failed to appear as forecast and it wasn’t until we were a couple of miles from Portavadie that it was strong enough to allow us to sail. However, we did manage to see a basking shark, dolphins and porpoises.

We like Portavadie, you are never stuck for a berth and the facilities are excellent. Alan had phoned earlier in the day and booked a table in The Lodge for dinner and a berth for the night. As we were sitting enjoying a beer before going for dinner, another boat tied up alongside and we got talking to the crew when we saw them later in the bar. Allan and his daughter Laura along with their friend run a charity, Able2Sail, a Scottish registered charity set up to provide sailing experience for those of all ages with a disability and for those affected by disability for example carers and siblings. We chatted for a while and they invited us back to their boat for a drink after dinner. We did and had a very enjoyable evening.  The charity are always looking for volunteer skippers and crew for day sailing, overnight, weekend and longer trips. I have filled in an application form for volunteering.

No issues with the engine at all today. I suspect it was a problem with dirty or contaminated fuel which eventually worked it’s way through the injectors and was burnt off.

Day 4

We had planned to stay another day, sailing up to Otterferry for lunch before sailing back down Loch Fyne to Tarbert for the evening, but the forecast for Monday, when we would be returning to Largs, was grim. Neither of us fancied a wet slog across Inchmarnock Water back to Largs. So, we decided to cut our losses and make for home, via The Kyles of Bute. I’m so glad we did as it turned out to be the best sailing day by far. We sailed nearly all the way from Portavadie around The Kyles and across Rothesay Bay back to Largs, only motoring through Burnt Islands where the wind was just coming from the wrong direction. 

All in all, a fantastic trip over the four days which puts a few more sea miles under our belts, a great mixture of weather, porpoise, dolphins and sharks, a couple of issues ironed out  and meeting and chatting to some wonderful people.

Easter Weekend Sailing

After a brief time out of the water for some annual maintenance and a few repairs, Jess is back in the water.

A friend from my ukulele group joined me for a weekend trip round the Kyles of Bute and on to Portavadie for the night. The weather wasn’t great on Sunday but we did manage a great sail across the Sound of Bute and up the East Kyle. In 20+ knots of wind coming from the NE we managed a steady 6.5 – 7 knots.

Great night in Portavadie, service and food up to its usual high standard.

The forecast for Monday looked promising with a good wind coming from the NE but that never materialised.  Instead we got a glorious sunny day with virtually no wind.

As always, the first outing threw up a few issues that will need to be sorted.

Annual Maintenance

Jess was lifted out of the water on Saturday for annual maintenance. After a quick turn- around, she’s back in the water.

There hasn’t been a great deal to do to her this year unlike previous years when I have carried out quite a bit of upgrading. She was fairly clean when she came out and after a power wash she only needed a quick wipe down before cleaning, polishing and waxing the hull and applying a coat of anti-fouling.

Deck and spray-hood cleaned today and a thorough clean and tidy up below decks.

A couple of wee jobs to do next week and then she’ll be ready to go.