Sunday, 6 September 2015

Scotland - with good weather

Arriving at Croabh in glorious sunshine was a pleasant surprise after the poor weather we'd all experienced since Easter and to my great delight the sunshine stayed. Although there were a couple of very windy days, which prevented sailing, many more light wind days were experienced that slowed our progress.

The photo above was taken at the south end of Eilean na Cille  near Dorus Mor, even though it was meant to be slack water, the photo does show how there is still some flow. On the west side of the island, there was still a southerly stream, when the main body of water had turned and was flooding in a northerly direction.


This stunning yacht sailed out of Crinan, around Loch Melfort and I assume back "home".

If you do sail into Oban from the north, you will have all the ferry traffic as company. There is a basic rule, which is small boats give way to large ones! The ferries do announce their arrival and departure on VHF ch16, so it is worth listening out.

The anchorage at the north end of Seil Island, Puilladobhrain, is very secure and also popular. Some how it reminded me of East Head in Chichester harbour, with boats using it as a destination, dropping anchor and then just enjoy being there. The walk over the pub at the Clachan Bridge only takes 10 minutes and was worth the effort to get the dinghy out.

There is some confusion over the actual height of the bar that is at the north end of Clachan Sound, so I approached about 1 hour 30 minutes before HW on a spring tide. Looking at the tide tables and graph showed that the tide height at Oban was 3.4 metres. Although I did lift the rudder, it was an easy passage with plenty of water. With the gaff lowered, the mast is much lower than the bridge.

Anchored in Ardinamir, I walked over for a coffee in the new visitor centre at Cullipool. This is a very impressive building and they hope to have showers fitted next year. Talking with one of the local people, they explained that fewer yachts were using the Ardinamir anchorage, because of the increase in boat size in recent years. The entrance is quite tight and certainly at a low water spring tide there is less than 2 metres of water. Also by chance and met up with some friends who were sea kayaking in the area.

On Sunday 23 August the local clubs held their annual "Round Shuna" race, in very windy conditions. The first three boats took an anti clockwise route. It is organised as a pursuit race, so the slower boats start first, with the winner being the first home. I did wonder just how early would a Drascombe have to start?

This very safe anchorage was on the eastern side of  Eilean nan Gabhan, in Loch Craignish. The approach from the west is through a narrow channel, some of space that could be used for anchoring is taken up by a floating platform, used to store fish farm equipment/stores.

Passing Fladda, Sound of Luing, in light winds, the tidal movement can clearly be seen, even on a neap tide.

This was the second occasion going south through Clachan Sound. On a rising tide you will actual encounter a south tidal flow, as the sound fills from the north. On this trip I wanted to see how soon would it be possible to pass through the sound, so started just over 2 hours 30 minutes before HW on a neap tide, this showed a tide height of 2.6 metres at Oban. It was just possible to cross the bar at the north end, with the motor on shallow drive. However, the real problem was the weed that would occasionally drag on the outboard prop.

The slipway at Largs marina is easy to use, although when wet the lower half can be slippery underfoot. It is however made of blocks rather than smooth concrete, so should give grip for a car. There is plenty of space for free parking. There is a gate at the top which is locked at night. This could prove a problem if you wanted an early departure. It also was closed when a friend returned later one day and found himself locked in, as it is not possible to walk out either. However, a quick phone call soon  had the gate unlocked.

This is Millport on Great Cumbrae at high tide, where we used the pier and then visited the town, where there is a selection of shops and cafes. A shoal draft boat should be able to use the pier at most states of the tide but it is intended only for occasional use and spending a longer period of time there may be difficult. There is a small harbour here as well, where it is possible to dry out on sand but this does not look level and is really only accessible close to high water. There a plenty of rocks and reefs in Millport, so a careful approach is needed.

Meeting a submarine is not unheard of on the west coast of Scotland and the Clyde is always going to be a possible meeting point. This one was escorted by two large black RIBs and a tug. The lead RIB was clearing the way and a yacht following me was very quick to tack when approached. The speed of the submarine was quite considerable and it soon passed.

Our stay in Largs marina coincided with spring tides and it was noticeable at low water that not all boats were still afloat. I am uncertain if "Compass Rose" had a bilge keel but it certainly had settled quite firmly on the sea bed.

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