Skipper Tinu Cornish; Mate David Adshead; Crew Paul Johnstone, Deborah Abbot and Leonie Coveney
Sunday 22 July
RelaX had to be bought back to Troon for some repairs on Monday but wanting to make the most of the day we headed off to Arran. The wind was Bft 3 from the SW so we had a nice time practicing our tacking before picking up a buoy in Lamlash Bay, Isle of Arran. It was so beautiful there we decided to stay the night and get back to Troon first thing in the morning.
Tuesday 24thJuly: Port Bannatyne
We wanted to set ourselves up to be at the right time of tide to get around the Burnt Isles which the Almanac warned us had tides up to 5 knots (how exciting!) so considered Rothesay. Careful reading of the almanac and pilot guide identified that the marina had a max depth of 2.4 meteres and much of it 2.1 so far too shallow for ReLaX. Port Ballantyne which was dredged to 2.4 was chosen instead and to make sure we had enough depth we were on the hammerhead at the entrance. We had a bit of a scare coming in. The pilot guide had suggested leaving the head of the breakwater 20m to port and the chart plotter promised 8m of water. Suddenly 0.1 depth under the keel – hard to port, full throttle and out of it. Phew what a relief!
On the way up I decided we should practice anchoring before we had to do it in ‘anger’ so we stopped for lunch in Killchattan bay. The challenge- kelp. Because of the warm weather the kelp was a real issue. I had been told (not sure by whom) that to dig through the kelp to dump a load of chain on top of the anchor before paying out backwards. That did not work and very slowly over lunch the boat moved. So that approach to anchoring in kelp was definitely not going to repeated. Later that evening, chatting to a local, David was recommended to let out chain the exact height of the water then drive the boat backwards until the anchor digs in and then let out the extra 3 x’s the depth. I could see potential issues with our electric windlass doing that so no overnight anchoring on this trip. Any better advice any one?
Wednesday 25thof July Burnt Isles to Loch Fyne
The pilot guide had stressed the importance of going from the East to the West Kyle at the right time of tide because the tidal restriction at the Burnt Isles accelerates the current to 5 knots at springs in the North channel (how exciting!). We were nearer to neaps but still expected some excitement and arrived there at high tide. After all the anticipation it was pretty but tame (I was a bit disappointed as I was hoping for the excitement of the straits of Jura or the Gulf of Corryvreckan which I had experienced the first time I sailed in Scotland.)
As we entered the West Kyle the wind freshened, and we beat our way south until Ardlamont point. Wonderful - everyone enjoyed helming the boat through the tack! ‘Helms a lee; bear way to pick up speed; trim the jib then head up as high as you can without stalling her. Watch your speed – bear away if it drops and, in the gusts, take the lift; take the lift! Paul especially remembered his roots as a dingy sailor and really got the hang of helming RelaX (we also kept her in reef three pretty much all the time so there were no issues with weather helm; relying on the Jib to drive her).
Wednesday 25th – Friday the 27th Portaverdie
A couple we had met at Port Balantyne, on discovering we were planning to go to Tarbert in Lower Loch Fyne, suggested we went instead to Portaverdie. They waxed lyrical about the five -star facilities including outdoor jacuzzi and infinity pool. So, we decided to follow their advice and after another dramatic mooring experience we unanimously voted to stay the following day to give everyone a chance to rest and recover their nerves. We were so glad we did! In it was a marvellous experience!
Week 8 of the summer cruise was the first week any of us had sailed with PYC and not eaten a single sausage, piece of bacon, pork pie or pasty. It was all healthy salads for lunch and wonderful home cooked meals when we were not dining out. Over the week we enjoyed cod in arrabiata sauce, lamb steaks with orange and pine nut cous cous but the dish of the week was Paul’s moules Italianne.
We had taken the ferry over to Tarbert and Leonie and Deborah ferreted out the local fishmonger selling the catch that had been landed that morning. The fish we bought was left in the fridge to be picked up on our return, while we went for a walk around the castle and local headland
Saturday the 28thof July
We had to get back to Troon by lunch time so that our new ‘besties’ from West Coast Marine Services could send someone to minister to RelaX again before early closing on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, the wind was on the nose all the way back so no sailing on our last day. I did try as there is nothing more frustrating that having enough wind to sail but it being in the wrong direction. The crew were very patient with me as I tried twice to get the sails up to see if we sailed close enough to the wind we would be able to make our course – but nothing doing! Still it was a chance to RelaX and enjoy the last day of the holiday.
Luckily for us we managed to beat the rain heading south from the north and get back to Troon before the heavens opened! Which of course happened just as I had finished having a BATH (Yes a bath! Troon is the only marina that I have ever come across that has a bath as well as showers). So my lovely bath was finished with a cold shower!
Sunday the 29th July
Another early start (my crew came to curse me for our early starts) as the torrential rain across the country on Saturday had disrupted travel, so we decided to leave the boat early in case we all had terrible journeys. So after deep cleaning RelaX we headed off back down south. The Firth of Clyde is a fantastic sailing area and matches the Ionian, in my opinion. Despite the challenges a really great week with the friendliest crew. Are we daunted? No we meet again in September – this time on dry land.