Tag Archives: clyde

Clyde Bucket List?

To some cruiser sailors these days it seems the Clyde has become little more than an A class road north and west, ith a convenient parking place near transport. The rush is to get westward, round the Mull or through the Canal with Adrishaig or Gigha often being the first stop. The wonders of the inner and outer Hebrides of course abound and astound.Weather aside it is a glorious and spectacular area to sail in. Also there is the push from the clyde as ‘AWB’s’ (average white boats) fill many of the old favourite haunts of my Father’s CCC days of the 60s and 70s. 

Some places were of legendary status in my family. My father and David Eglington, a fellow naval architect, once took a flush decked classic sailor under 30 ft on an odyssey around Mull. They anchored or tied to the rings at Tinker’s Hole, with an eerie scream of a seal startling them awake , both baning their heads on the underside of the deck as they lay like sardines in ribbed packaging. Also less exotic places were held in enough esteem for a weekend destination and a good hook drop, with nerry a thought to pontoons or visitors moorings.

So these past little sink holes and muddy lagoons are on the bucket list as well as other more interesting and less popular drops which have interest ashore, or are just a place to let the madding crowd rush past.

Caladh Harbour
I am the first to appreciate that Caladh is a victim of its’ own success and recent reports suggest that is has become festooned with moorings, such the phobia of anchors the average yachtie has today. It had a few back in about 2001_3 when we took ‘ Sonja’ a still winters afternoon at dusk round to Kames. .

 I live in a land far, far away, so haven’t popped the nose in there for many years. I think as a very young lad i did get an overnighting there on ‘Trojan Maid’ because when I was there as an adult poking the bow in, those kind of strong visual association memories came very strongly back to me.

 Anyway of an out of season week day you can probably be there yourself, on yer todd. Otherwise you can try in the mud near the wee pier at Loch Ridden a stones throw from Caladh if the hoi palloi insult your AWB with their prescence. Alternatively you can up to Kames and drown your sorrow of the populusness of Caladh, a once quiet jem stolen from heaven, has become Hades Bavarius.

Caladh ‘harbour’ is firmly on the bucket list though, out of pure nostalgia. You can fill a good place to bursting point, but you can’t put it down.

Swine’s Hole

Swines hole provides a nice drop, probably only for a couple of boats on the hook though, given you are likely to swing like a Dervish on the gusts funneling down either loch. Flat water is pretty much guaranteed though, with little night time or evening water traffic to speak of. My aim here would be eitherr to rescale the mountain immediately south of it, which is the most prominent hill you see from Rhu Narrows, a great Whales’ back I finally conquered with a longish day in artic conditions one winter with my pal Raul. The views are stunning as it sits like a pivot pin for eatsern Argyll  with the panorams in all directions of the compass being worth the two hour slog. Alternatively as we did that day, there is a route march up the tarmac ( as usual we ended our walk in the dark being tardy folk, but we had planned for this) to Civilisation through Carrick Castle (any commercial offer theren now? ) and to Lochgoilhead itself.

Unless you have never scaled the Cobbler or in the case that you need to fetch or despatch crew to westward bus or train, further north to Arrochar is not really worth it, with some fluky vertical winds produced in the classic glacial ‘fjord’ which would be equally at home in Hardangar. Pack walking boots and bobble hat and travel there by road or rail. However as a first taste o’ the Heelans, Arrochar is a very scenic spot and I once saw a former Clipper race boat drop its’ hook and the boys wi the gaul tonpump up the dingy,  came in for beers at the Village Inn. Not on my bucket list, unless they have opened a micro brewery there since last I shadowed upon the hostilleries there a decade ago.


Tour of Bute’s Hookers

Bute offers several interesting places along its serpentine coastline. On the SE tip there is Glencallum Bay, whose prominent and nasty rock on the N side is used during Yacht Master courses to test the mettal of would be skippers by circumnavigating it. Transits, bearings and soundings come to mind if the GPS is out of bounds. The South of the bay offers though good holding and a nice often secluded spot to see just as I describe, the rest of the world scurry past at a safe distance.

Ettrick bay is generally considered to dry out too far to be of use, but there was a decent cafe there and I wonder if it is worth the poke on a half risen tide? Or are those underwater restrictions marked on the chart military nasties from WWII likely to go caboom or steal your ground gear  ? It is one of those many places I once almost got to, and would have come by sea as an older lad with the Sea Scouts. Their expedition in wayfarers round Bute is somewhat legend to us and alarming to Des’ at the saqilign school up the kyles. Character building stuff I didnt build myself on. Its not very sheltered from anywhere, just a nostalgic thought if there is a cafe open or other things of interest to row ashore for. St. Ninian’s bay is its’ neighbour, quite popular amongst seekers of solace I read. 

Wreck Bay is quite popular being a place to barbeque ashore for the Scottish Sailing and Cruising club and sailing school a like. I dare say you swing a little in a sonata or lightly laden racey cruiser.

Bute is maybe best done with folding bikes or combined with banging around the other main land drops like Kames and Caladh. It would be a very good practice ground for skipper practicals, meaning you always have time (and daylight out of ‘season’) to try things a few time, test your holding and unhook before having another go. A long weekend with clockwise and anticlockwise completions would appeal to me no end to be honest, picking places or fortuitous bouys for a true beat, practicing witb my crew  on spinnaker technique mid channel and navigating the Kyle and Burnt islands’ two passages with swinging lead and transits in tide both agin and with you. Familiarity they say breeds contpempt. so treating these so well kent passages with attention to utter detail and concentration of special exercises will keep a skipper and crew within respect for the fine ditch round the finest of Royal Isles.

Asgog and Ostel (Kilbride) Bays

As a racing sailor you just rush by here hoping for favourable tide and a header to tack on once you are truly into Fyne. The view of Arran over Ostel Bay’s sands is truly amazing. The sandy bay offers kids hours of fun and in warmer summers, some paddling and maybe flounder spearing too. As an anchorage it is dooable in rare situations due to it being shallow quite far out and exposed from SE to WSW. However the next bay, Asgog, offers better shelter apart from S and SSW , and a shorter row ashore. It has an isle with that wee light you see as you haste ye tae Tarbert, and the same isle affords the bay  extra shelter from the westerlies. There is a landrover track heads towards Ostel, with I would presume navigable boglands and a burn at worst for a couple of hundred meters to the sands themsevles. Calm weather and an outboard tour may avoid any wear on the yellow wellies. Bucket list for sure, with a good camera and kids in tow.

Upper Loch Fyne

Once passed Ardrishaig it has always struck me that the cruising boats moored north of this point are ‘odds and sods’, from those galley style seventies flights of ketch rigged fancy, to things like jaguar 21s and Drascombe luggers. And why not, me a boat snob yet bouyant craft embarressed by mortgage and kids, I should shut up! These are fine pottering craft for locals and Lochgair offers a nice spot with access to bus and probably still free parking when you do go away for a week. It has always had a popular ‘motorists’ hotel at the busy roadside, beware when with kids or dogs. It is very sheltered from sea there. One of my earliest memories is a late night arrival in a thunder storm and sleeping in an arm chair as a nipper. That was by road, never stuck a bow in the place so it kind of is on the wee pale list if not in with bigger bucket..

North of this we have the rather charming Minard with its islands and the odd rock to look out for. A wee shop and possibly a cafe, a sandwich stop or an alternative overnight in a nasty westerly. Further up that western side  we have Furnace wi’ shop /PO, alas no longer a public house which once had very good food the last time I visited the Mckellars there ( Alistair sadly departed this mortal coil not long ago) . Not much to speak of as an anchorage, just a beach line to anchor and a place to row to at the ends of the terraced houses. Oh, plus numerous sea trout at the river mouth you can spin for accidentally on purpose when they are running, on the salt side of the Admiralty chart of course! Best try dropping in the silt there.

Over the other side we have of course Otter Ferry, a charming spot which seems sheltered enough when I have been there and has boasted visitor moorings with maintenance before at least, disclaimer disclaimer. There is a restuarant there and just, well , tranquility. I dont think it gets busy with boats. Trip line recommended on kedge, no dounbt old moorings and ‘stuff’ there or some clay with the density of a black hole I have heard it said. I have lubbed there merely by land to my great shame, it not being that far from Tarberrt after all. On the list it goes, booking a table ahead I hear is advisable. 

Since my kids need entertaining then Inverary is pencilled on the chart. I wonder if the hulks of Penguin and some other puffer are still there? The Pier did offer a high water drop off point and there is anchoring all be it on a large tidal range there.

On the other side I have a pal with a cottage near Cairnbahn and St Catherines and you know that coast has got some wee drops all the way down which few bothered with in my day. There is a brewery and beef farm at the head of the loch and Loch Fyne Oyster bar on the western side of course. Inverary makes the list if kids are with me for a day ashore and two nights on the swing.

Eastern Kintyre and Arran

This coast is little known to me, not having sailed the short handed race which I think was the only one with a passage up Kilbrannan sound there. Having scurried down to Machrihanish often enough, I know the west well as a land lubber and would be-surfer. Along the shores of Kilbrannan I would like a peak at Loch Ranza and then Carradale and some other places and refer to the chart and play it by ear. Goat Fell and Holy Isle appeal to me for walking expitidions. 

Campbelltown is much under-rated and if the chat-rooms and FB folk are anything to go by, more popular with Ulster sailors than Clyde yotties. Replenish yourselves from Tesco, Malt o’ the Month, chippy or two and so on while using the ease of the pontoon. Or perhaps there are nice wee hooks either side of Davaar island and a tour to the cave at high water with the rubber ducky to get it all to yourself, or save some great unwashed who dindnae ken the tide wud come in.

I love the whole area and have had many, many weekend breaks there and going way back some family caravaning int he early 1970s. Phew long time ago !

From there it is Sanda for me, and a bloody minded anchoring to kedge the tide overnight, just to irritate the new owner who packed up the once popular pub. Forward then to Gigha, which is well and truly out of the Clyde but kind of an obvious border checkpoint before you venture northwards to the Lorne and ‘Vrekkan. Good to suppor the island community there!

Round the Rugged Rocks The Ruddy Rascal Reached…..

Now how about a real challenge for a crew big enough for two watches in clement weather with enough wind to hit the top of those polar tabels for VMG, but not too much, and a rolling sea rather than a chop. A nice even SW’erly which has blown up from the N. Channel some days and built that typical swell you get South of Dalmarnock.

Leaving Largs for example then we leave Cumbrus Minorii to port and wave to the gongoozlers at Millport before rounding afore mentioned Dalmarnock of a late summer eve with the long beat on a single tack Towards the Ayrshire coast, with perhaps Lady Isle off Troon as the next mark of the course to STB, and a test of nightime navigation around  it, before onwards to that once so adored of race marks, Ailsa Craig.

The source of nearly all the world’s curling stanes, Ailsa Criag is a sentinnal and a most odd geological feauture. A lone bap shaped mountain in the firth’s widening expanse. In the hey days of the RORC Tonne raters I was told, the Ailsa Craig race(s) were the big deal, with a whole weekend devoted to negotiating her to port and bouncing around with wind against waves and tide very often <br>

. Infact I have heard from a good source who raced tonners and then sigma 33s that this damnable race which is really offshore for all intents and purposes, is what put paid to a good deal of  passage racing and whole weekend racing. In the 70s and 80s though, rounding the big old pap was a test of  manhood and grim determination. Demands for more regatta oriented weekends with the chance to practice starts and thereby get a few more shots at the cherry became more and more the norm as the CCC and other club’s questionnaires’ revealed the truth about sailors – get round the cans and into the bar asap. I feel kind of priveledged to have sailed the last Scottish Series overnight to Tarbert in a nasty bit of overnight weather and pitch blackness down the Ayr coast and up the Fyne. Tamed, sanitised, pussified., how accurate were the  interpretations of these questionnaires ? were the questions leading in any slight force of hand way? Or was it a slim majority? Or did they just ask the  right people or pester them to deliver their finished papers or internet forms while those irksome offshore crowd were laissez faired oot of the results? 

There is no doubt that Clyde racers did want to have more weekends based on four to six races with decent courses rather than round the bay’s navigation bouys or a calendar dominated with distance races  ‘offshore’.. But things change again. The average water length is up and many racers are 35 – 45 feet in the kind of echelon who would want to attempt round-the-rocks witth overnights. Aslso it could be run as a timed cruise over four weeks of entry for example. 

So Ailsa Craig to Starboard then before probably the greatest challenge – the tidal gate of Sanda rounding with it to Port. It is not far to Sanda in fact and you can see that Ailsa Craig is pretty near to the Mull of Kintyre area and only a jaunt over. I imagine that you could use six to ten hours to round Ailsa from Dalmarnock and be doing so therefore in the early morning. Given no choice as to timing you would then have to do what they do in the Fastnet and stem the tide by going along the shore and any back eddies or even kedging. The HSE crowd witll have us including Sheep Island to STB, but I reckon you can sneek the tide if it is neaps and roll over the bank there which pretty much dries on low springs I see from the chart. Talking of sneeks, it would be nice to have Pladda (Arran’s dangling fruit, not Lismore’s in this case) to STB and go through the sound as I think maybe even the Waverley has done on high water, but that is just too ballsy , it is nasty and undefensible.

Holy Isle then is the next mark of the course with hopefully an afternoon or evenings spinnaker work (ban on spinnakers from 11pm to 4 am btw) with a bear away back from Sanda and a long run or broad reach up.We then retrace our steps given we enter our second night of sailing and head round Dalmarnock to STB this time and inbetween the Cumbraes. Here also you have the chance to call a shortened course on yourself and just sail up past Hunterston given the wind has died down and progress was pedestrian 

There you have it, a May to July test of mettle and the true spirit of sailing being an end in itself, not a camper van like means to get to an end point with a pub that smells of vinegar and bleach and serves flat beer and soggy chips. I imagine a few clyde sailors I know would perish from a combination of malnutrition, mental exhaustion and pub-cold-turkey, while a good few others would relish the chance to stock up with UHT milk and exstra weavel ships biscuits, forget anchors and motoring worries and just sail their goddam boats non stop, all weekend from Friday pm to Sunday evening. 

Fantasy Crusing Down Memory Tide Line….

So many images spring to mind from old memories now as I jott this little bucket list of clyde cruising. In fact I feel like I am suitably refreshed, yet a little exhausted from merely writing this, and the mental exertion of tavelling in my mind, back to my once homeland and the folklore of my family and their yellow wellied, javelin jacketed cruising crew back in the happy 1970s. 

I think my father who passed away in 1980 all too early, would be proud of my racing experiences and achievements. Perhaps he voyaged with me, or gave the odd helping hand on the tller

Racing is all consuming and often you get little time to soak in the scenery, lest there be a long one tack beat up a sound or Loch Fyne. With goals of being in the boozer first and so on a bit behind me, I feel it is time to explore nooks and crannies. Time to make friends with kelp, dead mans’ fingers and stinky black clay, with the odd battle ship mooring  for more embracing company. A bucket list for the chain and hook it is then.

 I hope to do this all one sunny, force three day, but for now I content myself with the water under the keel I have enjoyed in the Kyles and the lochs, and the peaceful evenings on Trojan Maid whiled hooked onto Gods own country’s seabed. 

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Sailing into the Blue Yonder

Tommorrow is the final day’s racing at Tarbert in the Scottish Series, a regatta which evolved out of the ‘Tomatin Race’ of the early 70s. I have done five series and made damn well sure I was booked on for the final overnight, on a good ol’ clyde stalwart of days gone by – a hunter Impala, Llamergaya I think she was called.

I am really rather lucky to have not only sailed on the upper and lower clyde, but also on the Forth, the Tay and out of Oban. Of  course I have also sailed in Bergen, Oslo and the South Coast here , but my formative years were sailed on the East Patch.

Apprenticeship Duly Served at the Auld School

I served a rather late apprenticeship in sailing, being an adult new comer to the less subtle arts of racing. Firstly a season and a half on the infamous bene FC Europe ‘ Defiance II’ and then a rather more easy going pace on the Sigma 33 ‘Rajah’ with Roy Summers and Co, who are still going strong and competing this week I see over in Tarbert Loch Fyne.

In between the two boats I actually did the old school RYA course in dinghy sailing at the original Tighnabruaich sailing school ,where Derek who now has his own school down the sound, was senior instructor. It was a good grounding in seamanship as much as helming skills in there hotch potch of different dinghies.It blew old boots most of the time and we had an eclecitc bunch of folk, with Manchester school for girls in attendance and the Kirk’s minister from the isle of Barra.

My visit to the famous school was actually the same time as Scottish Series, I wasnt on the short list or the long list for Defiance (luckily, they had a bit of a mutiny I heard) and I was darn well going sailing that holiday weekend to make the most of the bank holiday. I think it was five days saturday to thursday or the like. Anyway I learned a lot of really good techniques, knots and so on. Derek was a hard task master and was looking after other sailors on the last couple of days so passed me only to RYA 2, which was a dissappointment, and there were mumbles back home that this was part of their marketing strategy! I got the rarer level 4 (surpassing three) over at Minorca sailing five years later.  I still teach some of the wee tricks and general attitude to seamanship in my own instructing, which begins tommorrow night incidentally with adults this time in day sailer keel boats. I put May 1995 as a big milestone in my sailing logbook though. An hour in a dinghy is worth eight in a racing yacht has been my motto ever since!

I signed up with Rajah a month later and was thrown into the deep end so to speak with the classic Tobermory race, a Port Bannatyne start line to Ardrishaig, with Ivanhoe leading our flottila with the scurl o’ the pipes from her foredeck through the Crinan Canal. A 5 am breakfast at Crinan to catch the tidal gate at the Doris Mor was followed by some hard spinnaker work, and a long day up towards the Lorne as the wind died south of Oban. Eventually a sea breeze to the top of 4 came in and we were all in by 4pm at Tob’. As a racing chap, I do sometimes think of how we are rushing past places of my family folklore likePuilladobhrain,. meaning Pool of the Otter, and in later years places which had mythical status to me as a nipper, far away holiday snaps and log book recitals, and reminicing between the crew and my father. Small keep sakes like tiles from abandoned buildings on the Treshnish islands, and much talk of Tinkers hole with the rings in the cliff faces to tie up to.  However coming up Fyne or the Sound of Mull in a fleet eager to hold their time or win their one design, with a full crew and three sheets to the wind,  just beats crusing around on white sails hands down every time. What a privelidge to have raced here often!

I was starting to feel I really had some skills under the belt, afer the baptism of fire on Defiance, the old school basics at Tigh’ and now one of the longest running events in the calender behind me. A delivery cruise through both Easdale and Cuan in blustery, Scotch mist conditions cemented my feeling of having waters past my own keel.

Rajah was a very good apprenticeship with some good sailors on board, and we had the luck of Neil McGregor coaching us for Cork Week 96 when we lighted the boat to class legal minimum, and she lifted her skirts with some whipping of us all by big Neil! 96 was a great year with warm weather and wind most days, and the whole event was a spectalce. Clyde boats dominated the sigma 33 class, with St Joan winning and Vendeval, Phoenix and Pepsi all being in the top ten. We scored a firth and a tenth I believe, having been third boat around the first mark one day when we punched through on the start line and got away with clean air up the beat. That was quite astonishing, a mid fleet gentleman’s boat often accused of being ‘social sailors’ down the Northern, showing a clean pair of heels to over seventy other sigmas!

Moving On Up the Ranks

Now Rajah didn’t sail wednesday nights, so I got the chance to sail with Harold Hood on Odyssey, and that was an eye opener because Harold was a former GP14 champion and veteran of several nationals. He came new into the fleet, having sailed Etchells and some other boats, but managed to be in the top three upper clyde Sigmas within a few outings. It was interesting to sail with them, and fun to win races, and I learned just how much of any regatta is decided on the start line, where Harold was a deamon with no fear what-so-ever, which got him in trouble with Charlie Frize on more than one occaision when the sig’s were thrown into class 1.

Work took me to Manchester for almost three years, and I of course met some sailors in the most likely setting of the Church Inn at Uppermill, about as inland as you can possibly get wothout being up Scafell Pike in England. Dave Cummaford was a regulat and invited me to do some irish sea racing, ISORA, and being young free and single I could spend my late youth bashing around all weekend in the Irish Sea, and then doing half of Celtic Week out of Pwhelli. That was interesting again, because they were a bunch of glamour-pusses in matching jackets on a Corby 35 with a deamon CHS rating. It was a fast, cleanly laid out boat with some really good sailors on board, but nearly all the time was spent sailing in our own wind, quite far from the faster Sigma 400s, and then sitting over a hot laptop waiting to see how we might place. Not that it put me off handicap racing, nor offshore. It was very good experience.

I was ‘booked’ for Converting Machine again for Scottish Series 1998 but got on board another boat who needed me all week, and kind of ignored Dave’s protestations later and got flicked from the crew list no dounbt for this misdemeanor. We were able to stay at someone’s hoose, Uncle Willy, who was an old retired fisherman with a big front room to his house with extra beds for about five of us. John from Ardershier was in two with Rob Inglis and some others, and we had a rather jolly time, us being commandeered onto the Irish IMX 38 ‘Braveheart’. I remember meeting them in the pub on the friday night after the delivery, and they were looking dejected, after a poor result and a lack of crew for the event. Me and john and perhaps another punter were as delighted to offer our services as they were to welcome us to the team.They were all called Brian if I remember rightly. Brian Matthews, a veritable legionnaire of Scottish Series and the Irish cicuit, was their coach and gave mes some of the best advice and tips on trimming I have ever had. I kind of forgot to sail with conveting machine which was running an odd mainsail in dacron to go trophy hunting in  a CYCA class of all places, I mean Tarbert was the annual shake down for IRC craft and their new sets of sails!

I think I will have to blog again from this point forward, but basically with this and then 2000 at Minorca Sailing in performance dinghies for a week, cemented my skills and knowledge and made me a useful guy on any boat, be that front, back or the middle bit where the boxing matches happen. I am far from a master dinghy sailor, nor I am Sir Ben on the stick of bigger boats, but i feel a certain road to mastery was taken by my route and Minorca honed my skills for boats of all sizes.

Coasts Apart

I moved to Edinburgh from my stint in Manchester and ended up working for what was then quite a high profile internet design and programming agency as a project manager. The pay was mediocre but it came with wheels, so I was able to shoot around the place. This meant I could sail at Port Edgar and Dalgety bay, keel boats and my own Tasar and other dinghies respectively. Also I decided to do some more west highland weeks, on my own terms, with a share of the helm.

Oban replaced Rhu as my ‘home port’ for two very enjoyable seasons sailing with Twig Olsen and Peter Duggan, with various crew including Gill Reavley, one of the Thomas brothers, Sandy Loynd from Tob’ and Alistair Olsen. It was a rather illustrious time for the boat ‘Fly’  and my helming too with wins at West Highland Week and Round Mull, and Peter and Sandy won of course the Scottish Two Handed on the clyde.

Like my father before me, I felt that the ‘real stuff’ begins once you’re over the top of the Crinan canal summit and venturing westward, so this move was cutting out the middle man. Also I got to sail on one of my favourite designs of all time, the Hunter Impala, called Fly. Much nicer than the Sonata to live in and far more sporty in feel and response than the Smeg when you consider David Thomas’s other two big UK successes.

Round Mull must surely be one of the best stage races in the world as far as scenery and craic goes, and I see it has grown in popularity and hull length ever since, with a move I believe to a week later in the calender coming more into holiday sweet spot. It is done by quite a select band of sailors who commit to having their boat up there for the season.

We were also lucky in competing in feeder races to both WHW and Round Shuna, the latter necessatating sailing under spinnaker through the Cuan sound, although we avoided Easdale. Round Shuna is another wee peach of a race and social, which anyone who happens to have sailed WHW should consider keepng their boat on God’s side of Kintyre just to do this event, once in a lifetime at least.

WHW 2000 was wonderful weather by in large, with the Hunts winning the event overall having eaked a fine tune out of their laser 28 ( relatively it didnt have a bandit handicap like say a comfort 30, and they could have won on IRC I dare say!) We had a support boat , Twig’s Nelson and we did Ken Grant’s after party at the light house at Corran ferry, with a final, peaceful late evening cruise back to N. Ballachuilish.

After WHW 2001 we also enjoyed some interesting crusiing in some bloody aweful weather. Jackie Stewart of motor racing fame was celebrating his 60th or 70th birthday and had hired I beleive the entire Hebridean Princess, with Sir Sscchean on board. We saw her steaming north as we made it to either Arisaig or Coll. We were ‘storm bound’ in both ports, with a dash in better weather made from Arisaig to Coll with a really big beam sea on the go, great mountains of green would suddenly rise and I had to turn the bow up on more than one occaision to bob over rather than risk being rolled (that extra lead on the keel is only a wee bitty bit on an Impala actually!!)

We had two nights on the tourist moorings there, each time walking the rubber dinghy the half mile up to the hotel, and then drifiting on the strong north westerly down the creek of a loch, aiming the dinghy as best we could at the impala and hope to hell we did not overshoot or loose grip on Fly ! It would be a long trip to Bunessan or Staffa in that wind with a half skinful in you.

Finally it came time to travel back home and we did a fairly ambitious Coll to Ballachullish three up wi’ the then wee man, Alistair Olsen. On the way up the firth of Lorne, there lay the Hebridean princess in that sandy bay on the Morvern side, we had heard there were a good few sea sick from the tour and I can remember why – force 8 two days and top of 6 several other days, with temperatures as low as 8 ‘c at night!  The temperature picked up too that evening, and we slept off a long day on the mooring at the little pool there which I cant remember the bloody name of, but is a kind of cosey little Caladh type place. With itinerant midges of course, but we slept pretty well in the dead calm of the bay.

That actually marked the end of my love affair with sailing the west coast at that point in time. I knew you cannot really go back and expect things to be the same, and Fly was due an inboard and so on. In truth I wanted to do more helming as i felt that I had come as far as I possibly could with crewing, and Pete was of course most interested in helming most of the time, especially when I pulled out Fly’s first and rather illustrious win on the Oban-Tob leg of WHW in 2001, in the old sea dogs class 5 as it was then, against all the bandit handicappers and all the local back eddy knowledge, and three other impalas in class!

I regret losing touch for a few years with Pete and Twig but hope we can get a sail together next year.

East is East

At the same point in time I was also sailing on a 707 over in the east coast, and got my company to sponsor East Coast Week. This was run at Dundee out of the Royal Tay, and I was able to sail a few times with the once infamous west coast boat Rhett Butler, then passing to the sober hands it has to be said of Dave Suttie. The DB2 was a proper old race boat, a little tired but still able to impress up wind. I got to sail a couple of days at the ‘week’ and was on runners when we hit the shelf at Broughty castle. Bump. It was a falling tide and we did not really know about the shelf. The boat developed a slow leak and needed repairs, Silvers taking on the job that winter.

The 707 was a good experience too, because before I had done a winter series on a lone FC 8m, whcih was fun but often a little hairy. We had the sail maker Simon Jackson on boat ‘ Activ8or’ and I learned a good few more tricks it has to be said, plus more fine details on use of the rules from a fantastic sailor. The 707 was also hairy, we often sailed just three up which made upwind a struggle and off wind a blast. However after a decent broach at 12 knts I got used to the feeling of not quite trusting the helm, another Dave IIRC, and enjoyed the wee machine. Once we were going so fast under the forth bridges that the displacement boats literally looked like they were sailing backwards!

Never Quite Fitting In

It was really high time to concentrate on my own boat, but a year of part time work and a mediocre salary in my new job at Inchinnan meant that Ididnt have budget. I tried sailing with a couple of other boats on the clyde but I was  a bit of a spent force if truth be told in terms of social network there.

On the Clyde I never felt I quite fitted in, or was accepted into the core of crew around my own age. They had all been dinghy and day boat sailors in their teens, most had crewed on Drum in her day, and really I was an outsider who also got labelled as pretty rubbish from my early days out as a virtual novice to keel boat racing, and then sailing with the rather unfarily branded ‘ social sailor’ boat Rajah. The trouble there was that they were all older on board and the usual crew bonding and beer swilling in the throbbing crowd in the beer and bands tent was lacking. Being with other crew was ok, but it would have been better to be in a team and bond with folk around my own age then I can see that in retrospect.

I don’t regret a god-darned minute though, and my social awkwardness is something I just have to live with.
Mera Norvegicus
The  east coast followed including East Coast Week out of Royal Tay, on the now no longer infamous ‘Rhett Butler’ and planing under the Forth bridges on a 707. Three more Tarberts and a total of four West Highland Weeks and I had my spurs and some scars to show.

Where now though?
Well it has to be a new blog that one too I am afraid! I need my kip and my berth awaits.