Clyde Cruise on Sir Arthur 21-27 September 2015.

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Clyde Cruise on Sir Arthur 21-27 September 2015.
Skipper
Mate
Crew
Chris O’Connell
Liz Eaton
Simon Crundall
Liz Thompson
Juliet Thompson
This was the second Clyde cruise run by Gwennili and initially there were 6 on board but the original
Mate had to withdraw in early September. Nevertheless we all travelled to Troon on Sunday 20th
September meeting up on the boat, Sir Arthur, in the late afternoon. Notably there was only one
“local”, Liz the Mate who had travelled from Edinburgh, Simon, who normally lives in southern
France, travelling up from Manchester, Liz and Juliet from Dawlish in Devon and the Skipper from
Marlow in Bucks. After allocating berths and some refreshments we completed various boat
familiarisation and safety briefs prior to settling in and later enjoying some shepherd’s pie and a glass
of wine for supper.
Sir Arthur belongs to the RAF Sailing Association and was chartered by the Gwennili Trust. A HalbergRassey 342, she was quite new boat, well built and equipped with comfortable cabins and a good view
out of the cockpit. She differs from many modern boats in that there is no furling foresail or mainsail
and no “lazy jacks” to assist mainsail stowage and finally, has a tiller rather than a wheel which caused
some consternation during the week!
After a nice breakfast on the Monday we made ready to sail. The forecast was fair but with not a
great deal of wind initially. Nevertheless, after some familiarisation manoeuvring in Troon Marina we
departed and set off for Largs some 15 miles up the coast.
Simon, Chris, Juliet, Liz (T) and Liz (E) at Largs Marina
Man overboard drills were completed en-route and after a few hours the wind was sufficiently strong
for us to hoist the sails and do some real sailing. A brisk passage, interspersed with some tacking
drills, discussion about navigation and buoys etc, saw us make Largs in good time. The staff at Largs
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marina were extremely helpful and provided us with a berth very close to the facilities. A good day
which saw all of us settle into a routine, find the most comfortable place to sit in the cockpit and get
used to steering with a tiller. A pleasant supper of Spanish chicken with rice, accompanied by a glass
of wine, rounded off a good start to the cruise. Liz (E) mentioned there was a very good ice-cream
parlour in Largs town - but nobody seemed keen especially when it was discovered that it was some
20 mins walk away!
Clear skies overnight saw the crew wake to a glorious sunny morning with no wind. The sun soon
warmed us up and with the forecast set fair for the day with fine weather and some good wind later
we readied for departure after breakfast. While the facilities at Largs were good a grumpy Skipper
returned from the showers saying he could not get any hot water; much to his chagrin all the other
crew members had hot showers! Simon became engaged in a conversation with a Swedish lady who
was asking about the crew and admiring the boat saying that she and her husband were sailing a
Halberg-Rassey - but much bigger! A good session was spent conducting manoeuvres in Largs marina
all under clear blue skies and little wind. Outside the marina we did a few approaches to buoys and
then set off for our next port of call, Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. Very soon the wind had perked up
and it became necessary to put in one reef on the mainsail to ease the helm.
Juliet, Liz (T), Liz (E) and Simon en-route to Rothesay
We continued under sail tacking our way towards Rothesay noting that there were very few yachts
about. Avoiding the ferry plying between Rothesay and the mainland we found some relatively
sheltered water to get the sails down and motored into the Inner Harbour where the boat was put to
bed and some exploring of the town undertaken. Renowned for its Victorian Showers and Toilets
some of the crew reported that they were very good and pointed out to the Skipper that there was
plenty of hot water! An Italian flavour to the evening was provided by a supper of garlic bread and
pasta carbonara, again with a glass of wine. Fresh air and early morning starts had taken their toll and
the crew settled into their bunks for a good night’s rest.
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Sadly the following morning was totally different to that at Largs with drizzle, low mist, very little wind
and visibility about 2 miles. Undaunted we donned wet weather gear, readied the boat and set off for
Tarbert via the Kyles of Bute. All the tourist books and sailing pilot books show the Kyles (East and
West) bathed in sunshine but clearly not on this Wednesday. It was heartening to see some other
sailors out and about but all with mainsails up accompanied by motoring cones. After some debate
about which way to turn the boat using the tiller the crew agreed on the right way and navigation
became a little easier! As we progressed up the East Kyle the visibility improved and the drizzle eased
making it a little more tolerable. Passing isolated houses on the shore the stark nature of the
countryside became apparent. Passing by the Burnt Isles we anchored in An Caladh, a remote
anchorage big enough for 2 or 3 yachts – which was OK as we were the only yacht there! Once the
anchor was set we enjoyed a nice lunch below. An Caladh was an old harbour and some remnants
could be seen on the shore along with few houses; but the overall feeling was of a very tranquil spot.
The peace was disturbed briefly by the arrival of a rib with “Police” on the side. About 5 people were
on board and we became concerned that perhaps we had done something wrong in Rothesay. After a
couple of turns in the anchorage and a cheery wave they set off back down the East Kyle.
An Caladh anchorage with the old harbour in view.
By the time we had finished lunch the mist had lifted and there was a hint of some sunshine. Having
cleared the anchorage we motor sailed down the West Kyle, the weather improving all the time with
finally some glorious sunshine and patchy clouds about. It was not until we arrived at the end of the
Kyle that the wind was sufficient to hoist the sails and turn the engine off. We set course for Tarbert
tacking our way up the channel for a couple of hours before the wind dropped and it became
necessary to start the engine and motor sail the remainder of the journey. Simon guided us in to the
harbour and we found our berth securing alongside the pontoon at around 18:30. While the sails
were stowed and the boat secured, some of the crew had struck up a conversation with a young man,
Luke, and his dog Carla and his small dinghy. Luke was studying yacht design at Southampton and had
spent the summer with his parents who lived in Tarbert. It was decided to eat ashore and Luke
offered to take us by boat to the town avoiding a 15 minute walk. Back on the water again he
dropped us off very close to the town centre where we had a pleasant meal in “The Frigate Inn”. All
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the locals were very friendly and quite interested in seeing our crew as sailors. After a pleasant walk
back we turned in ready for the next day’s adventure to Loch Ranza on the Isle of Arran.
A very breezy morning greeted us with some quite heavy showers about. The forecast the previous
evening was borderline but sailable. However the latest forecast in the morning was not good with
winds F6 gusting F7 and heavy thundery showers. With this information it was decided to stay in
Tarbert for the day. Although disappointing, the crew spent the morning chatting about chartwork,
course to steer, tides etc and other sailing topics while the weather outside lived up to the forecast.
Tarbert
After lunch the crew set off to explore Tarbert and top up some victuals. Fortunately the weather had
improved, sunny but still breezy and always the sky threatening to empty rain on the town.
A passing shower in Tarbert
Tarbert was a very pleasant town where the locals were exceptionally friendly and chatty. The crew
split up to explore various churches, the castle ruins and shops after which we congregated in “The
Frigate Inn” for a coffee by a very warm log fire. The forecast for the Friday was better and we set off
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to Lamlash Bay. The wind was light but we managed to find enough wind to sail. The highlight of the
day was the sighting of what we thought was a large dolphin. Liz (E) being a knowledgeable naturalist
thought it was a Minke whale which she later confirmed having checked books etc on her return
home. By now the wind had picked up and we managed a lively sail down the coast and into Lamlash
where we practised picking up moorings before finally securing to buoy No 6. Again a very peaceful
place we spent the time relaxing and watching other yachts arrive from the mainland and secure to
the other buoys in the area. Sadly we were too far from shore to consider rowing ashore. However
the Mooring Master offered to ask other yachts if they would carry out some shopping on our behalf.
Sadly none did so a “dry” beef-bourguignon was consumed that evening.
Lamlash
Nevertheless, a good night was spent on the mooring before setting off for Troon the following day.
Initially calm, the wind outside the bay was sufficient to sail but half way across the channel the wind
died and we were forced to motor sail the last part of the cruise. On entering the marina at Troon we
practised some manoeuvres under power for couple of hours before re-fuelling and finally tying up in
berth 31. The sails, sheets etc were all tidied up and stowed leaving just the interior to be cleaned
and tidied the following morning. The crew assembled at 19:30 for a very pleasant end of cruise
dinner in “Scotts” restaurant. On our arrival back at Troon the Skipper received some news from his
son and was delighted to report the safe arrival, albeit earlier than planned, of his new grandson
Charlie George whose arrival and good health was celebrated by the crew at the bar. The only
downside to the evening was discovering that England had lost to Wales in the Rugby World Cup.
The following day we set to and cleared our berths, cleaned the boat ready for the next crew and
finally departed on our onward journeys having enjoyed a very pleasant 6 days on Sir Arthur. The
Trust is planning some more Clyde cruises next year and I hope they will be as enjoyable as this one.
Chris O’Connell
Skipper
Clyde Cruise
21-27 Sep 15
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