Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Voyage Update

I've updated the voyages map with our trip from Stornoway to Holy Loch.

Monday, 27 July 2015

End of the Sailing Season?

We are going to be getting Robinetta out of the water for the winter at Fairlie Marine, and putting her in their shed for some TLC. That will happen sometime in October, but we have no firm plans to sail her again before that (although we hope for some time in September...) That meant we needed some where to keep her until then.

We investigated possibilities, and leaving her at Holy Loch Marina turned out to be the best. They offered us their summer mooring rate, rather than a monthly visitor rate, and she will be safer in a marina with someone keeping an eye on her than on a mooring.

This morning we moved Robinetta from the visitor's area to a berth much closer to the marina office, and put her covers on. Worm is ashore and upside down to keep her dry. Leaving them both with an "end of the season" feeling in July feels sad, but we have had nearly six weeks on board already, and Julian doesn't have much holiday left!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Colintraive to Holy Loch

We came off the mooring at 0655, and motored down the East Kyle, with what little wind there was ahead of us. It was a grey morning, but dry, with good visibility, and within the hour we had the sails up and were on a close reach past Port Bannatyne. After that the trip just got better! The sky brightened and showed us some blue, and we had a lovely sail up the Cowal coast, only having to tack once as we rounded Towards Head. We started with full main, and ended up with it as reefed as it can get, but we carried the no2 jib and staysail the whole way.

By the time we reached Holy Loch the sky had clouded over, and the seas were getting up, but we had timed it pretty perfectly. Going head to wind we shook the reef out before towering the main, then motored into the marina and onto the fuel dock. The only thing wrong with today's sail was the temperature. I look forward to sailing when not wearing full oilskins on top of four layers!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

St Ninian's Bay to Colintraive

Got up in a very leisurely fashion again, 1000 before we finished breakfast! However we did have the sail covers off, the jib bent on, and the end of the stay-sail's self tacking track repaired before we ate...

The knob that stops the stay-sail sheet car sliding off the end of the track had been jury rigged ever since we bought Robinetta. Every time we try to put something permanent in place it comes off! We had ignored the current “temporary” set up of gaffer tape, washers and screw for too long, and it needed replacing.

After breakfast Julian went forward to haul the anchor up. It had held us securely all night, and saw no reason to shift now! We had to motor forward to take the weight off the chain before he could move it, but it came up clean. We tried sailing once we were out of the bay but progress was too slow even after we tried the reaching sail, and changed up to the no 1 jib, so the engine went back on and we headed up the West Kyle towards Tighnabruaich.
Once there we anchored and had lunch, then rowed ashore in search of ice cream. Tighnabruaich was bustling! The paddle steamer Waverley was moored up at the pier, the life boat station had an open day and a raft race had just finished. The weather was glorious too; bright warm sunshine!
Once back on Robinetta Julian decided that his trousers were too filthy to wear to the pub we were heading for. Due to a packing error he only had one pair with him, so he got back into Worm and washed them over the side, using Ecover washing up liquid, rather than laundry detergent. They are “solar dry” Craghoppers, so there was every chance they would be dry by the time we reached our destination!

Once back on Robinetta we raised the main and sailed off the anchor without turning the engine on, which is not something we do often! Julian reported twice the anchor's weight in kelp hanging off it when he hauled it up! The old fashioned fisherman's anchor has really worked well for us this trip.

We sailed in fluky winds to and through the Burnt Isles to Colintraive, on the edge of gybing several times, but never actually doing it. The Clyde Cruising Club directions says how variable the winds can be here, and they went from a fine reach to a dead run with hardly a moment's notice. As the wind speed varied between force 1-3 it was interesting and fun, rather than hard work. We got the sails down at Colintraive, ready to pick up a mooring, but left the staysail up as we often do. This was a mistake here, as it kept blowing Robinetta's head round making us look like amateurs, but once we dropped the sail steering became simple and we picked up the buoy without any other problems.

We looked at the weather in the pub that evening, and decided on an early start. Tomorrow afternoon promised F6 gusting 7-8, with rain. It would be good to be safely in Holy Loch Marina before then.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Lamlash to St Ninian's Bay via Dunagoil Bay

We had a very lazy start to the day... With very little wind and bright sunshine we raised the main on the mooring to shake out yesterday's reefs. With the stay-sail and no.1 jib there was just enough wind to sail off the mooring. Then we raised the reaching sail and furled the jib, to make 1-2 knots towards the south end of Holy Isle. We even got the old stay-sail out and rigged a water sail... The main point was to dry the sails, but it made a lovely contract to yesterday's foredeck work!

Holy Isle

We lost steerage way after an hour, and were still in Lamlash bay, so the engine went on, and at 3.5 knots instead of .5 we soon reached the red channel marker that marks the end of Holy Isle. Once there we found a little wind, but could only make 2 knots under sail, heading due east. The engine soon went back on, and we headed north, back towards Bute, completing a circumnavigation of Holy Isle instead of Arran!

The seas were totally flat so the autopilot went on and we dropped the main sail.
I washed the inside of the cabin down with sea water to get rid of the black mould that was creeping back, and Julian straightened the winch handles and did some fishing (with no catch) while the weather went from warm sun, to light rain, then back again. We had no wind until after lunch, but as soon as we'd eaten the main went up again and we sailed (still on autopilot).

After a lovely gentle sail we dropped anchor in Dunagoil Bay. The water was so clear that we could see the sand 3m below. It was not especially sheltered with the wind now from the NW, so we decided not to spend the night, but we wanted to visit Dunagoil Fort, so I rowed ashore while Julian swam!

Watched by curious heifers we moored Worm to some rocks and set her anchor in the sand. An easy scramble along the shore brought us to Dunagoil Fort. A lovely place! We discovered house remains on the summit, plus our first chunk of vitrified fort. We also found fresh puffball mushrooms, and picked enough to add to our dinner.
Vitrified fort remnant

The row back to Robinetta into the swell was not as pleasant as the row to the beach, but not too difficult, and the anchor came up beautifully clean. We raised sail as we cleared the bay and set off best course to windward.

We beat north for a couple of hours. The tack towards Arran was depressing, the land being dark and far away, while the sun was in my eyes so I could not easily check the sail set. The swell got up, and I wondered about reefing. Then we tacked, and had the sun behind us, and Bute to admire. We also sped up, from a slogging 3 knots to 4, and this was the making tack!

We approached St Ninian's Bay, our intended overnight anchorage, and were not sure we had made the right choice. There was one yacht already in there, and it did not look especially sheltered. Clyde Cruising Club directions said to anchor in 8-9m, which is deeper than we like. We got the sails down in the bay, and it was calmer than it looked, then as we were motoring towards our chosen anchoring spot another yacht came in under motor and passed us. They were obviously more aware of us than it seemed, and left the area we were aiming for clear.
St Ninian's Bay anchorage

Once the anchor was dropped and set we realised that the anchorage was great. Despite the cold wind above decks it was peaceful below with no rocking at all, and we had an undisturbed evening, watching gannets fish on the other side of the bay.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Kilchattan to Arran

About 0430 Robinetta started to roll, just like she had in Craighouse last year. By 0500 it was too bad to sleep, so we got up and by 0520 we had the anchor up and were motoring out of the bay. Our destination was Arran. Julian wanted to do a circumnavigation of the island, so we hoped to make Cambeltown, then back up the west side to Loch Ranza tomorrow. I suggested that we might want to motor the 3 miles to Great Cumbrae and have breakfast at Millport, but it was a very vague idea and Julian made a cup of tea instead, He had just hauled up the anchor, and raised the main. We kept the reef in from yesterday.

By the time we were clear of the bay the source of the swell that had woken us was obvious; the sea state in the Clyde was higher than yesterday. The wind was strong too, certainly more than the 4-5 of the forecast. We had not put yesterday's jib away, so Julian had just hoisted the same one this morning. It was the no 1, too large for today's winds, so Julian went forward to change it for the no 2. He got soaked as Robinetta repeatedly ducked her bowsprit in the water, sending lumps of spray over the foredeck. The drenching was worth it though, as the jib made Robinetta much easier on the tiller, but the seas were pretty horrid. Without the engine we slowed to under 3 knots, and the waves stalled her, so we needed the engine on all the time to make progress, as more sail had her heeling too much for safety.

The promised 4-5 SW with slight seas turned out to be 5 gusting 6 with moderate seas. Our next reef down meant dropping the stay sail, which meant another soaking trip to the foredeck for Julian as the stay-sail never wants to come down even though the halyard can be dropped from the cockpit. Then the stay-sail sheet shackle came off the end of the club foot so he made a third trip forward to secure it.

Meanwhile I stayed on the helm and motor sailed our best course to windward. We reefed the main another few rolls as a rain cloud brought stronger winds and steeper seas, then we finally got some protection in the lee of Arran. Conditions were too nasty to want to carry on.

By 1000 we were in Lamlash Bay, and we picked up a mooring at 1020. The wind was still fierce but there were no long swells to make to make Robinetta roll, so after a cup of tea I made porridge, then Julian cooked bacon rolls. After that we went back to bed. 5 hours of challenging sailing before breakfast is exhausting!

Waking at 1430 we got a second line on the mooring buoy, and made Robinetta ship shape, with the jib away and the sail covers on. The wind was still too gusty to want to row ashore, but there was sunshine, so we hung up the oilys and life jackets to dry in the cockpit, and did some maintenance work, then relaxed in the cockpit with a drink and snacks. The wind was dropping, but there were still gusts that would make if unpleasant to row ashore (although fast to row back!)
Pequita moored at Lamlash

By 5 all the visitor moorings were full, and the moorings boat came by, and took our money. Then we had another visitor. We had met Luke, who owns the twister Pequita, at Tarbert, and he keeps her at Lamlash. We were moored close to his boat, and he saw us there and came over for a chat. After that he very kindly gave us a tow ashore in Worm so we could go to the pub for dinner.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A walk from Kilchattan

The walk from Kilchattan bay to Dunagoil Bay and St Blane's Church then over the hills and back to Kilchattan is pretty near perfect. There are standing stones, wonderful views, an atmospheric ruined church, and abandoned farmsteads, so lots to see!

There is wild life too. I saw a deer bounding away from us, and we both saw a pair of buzzards (or two) overhead. They were difficult to photograph, but Julian got a lovely shot of a gold finch.

It took us two hours, and if we had had another hour we would have detoured to see Dunagoil fort, but as it was we did not get back to Robinetta until 2100.