We had originally planned to take Jess out on a shake-down the weekend after maintenance was completed and she was back in the water but, the weather turned, blowing F7/8 and we decided to wait until the following week when we would be setting off for a night in Tarbert.
I had driven through to Largs a few days earlier to get the boat ready and finish a couple of jobs – one was to fit a USB socket at the side of the instrument panel to have power for a tablet mounted on an arm under the hood. I have a Chart plotter which I use for navigation, it doesn’t have AIS (Automatic Identification System) capabilities and I don’t have an AIS transponder. I use a tablet with an app called “On Course” – which is not AIS, instead it simulates the data transmitted by AIS transponders but only transmits and receives data through the Internet. Obvious drawbacks are that it needs a phone signal, the tablet’s battery only lasts so long and it doesn’t show up on genuine AIS systems. However, it’s useful when visibility is poor so I can see other vessels around me and it allows anyone with Internet access to see where we are and follow our progress. Nearly all of my sailing is in coastal waters and there are very few places where I don’t get a phone signal. I have to stress that it is not a substitute for a bona fide AIS Transponder system. I cut a hole with a hole saw drill bit and wired it to one of the existing instruments. It will be handy for the tablet which also doubles as another chart plotter should the Lowrance fail.
Before Alan and Mark arrived I did final preparations; filled the water tank, checked the engine, sorted the sails out and loaded the route into the plotter. They arrived fairly early and after they settled in and we untied and set off just after 1100. There was a light wind out of the east and this allowed us to do a little sailing towards Inchmarnock and across to Tarbert. It turned out to be a very pleasant day with the sun appearing later in the afternoon and we arrived in Tarbert just after 1700.
For a Friday afternoon, Tarbert was surprisingly quiet. The visitor area of the marina wasn’t empty but there were many pontoons available. There are a couple of cafes and of course, the wonderful Starfish Restaurant but it was a lovely evening and we decided on the chippie and a seat looking over the harbour and a couple of pints in The Islay Frigate, a really friendly pub where you are always made to feel welcome and which has some of the best artists and bands at the Tarbert Music Festival – where we will be off to later in the year.
The weather the following morning was very quiet and we decided that if we were having to motor then going around the Kyles of Bute would be a nice trip. It takes a couple of hours longer to get back to Largs, but it is very picturesque. We arrived back in Largs just after 1800 and after tidying up and packing, Alan and Mark returned home. I decided toil stay another night and planning for the next trip to Northern Ireland.
It was a successful shake-down and everything went well and worked as it should. We did lose a fender off the back of the boat, but I didn’t tie any of them on. Just sayin…