Three men from Church Minshull have taken to the high seas in a sailing boat. Here they chronicle their adventures over their long weekend. Will they know the difference between Port and Starboard? Will they stay afloat? Will they run out of ginger biscuits as they try to combat sea sickness? It's an exciting challenge. Let's just hope they're made of tough stuff!
Day 1: An early start from Church Minshull, which meant the crew arrived at Largs in good time. With the weather overcast and raining, naturally the first job was buying fish and chips in the marina. Eventually after all the checks and safety briefings completed, the 'Island Runner' was underway, with the crew consisting of the Skipper, Shipmate and Salty Seadog (names withheld for security reasons ...social security reasons!).
We set a course, with Shipmate at the helm, heading for the Cock of Arran, which is just below the Butt of Bute (who knew...???), but wind created quite a chop, leaving Salty Seadog feeling really queasy. Skipper took the decision to 'abandon ship' (sorry wrong term) to 'about ship' and head with the tide which made for a less queasy ride. A couple of Mrs Skipper's ginger biscuits helped calm Salty's tummy for a while (ginger is good for seasickness don't you know!).
Shipmate did a competent job of steering the boat to a small bay called Milton (or Milftown as he called it!!), where we dropped anchor for the night. The Skipper set about making a well earned meal of beef stew, green beans and boiled potatoes, but not before Shipmate broke out some sushi as an aperitif. Skipper happily tried the cold, raw, uncooked fish rolls and complimented this with his own fruity curried grasshoppers...yes, I do mean grasshoppers...! Both delights were offered to Salty, who on seeing them being consumed by his more robust matelows, grabbed a can of ginger ale to fend off more nausea...roll on day 2 ...!
Day 2: Overnight the temperature dropped, leaving the windows of the cabin frosted over – a chilly experience. However, Shipmate kindly ensured that Salty Seadog knew he was not too far away if needed, by his rhythmic snorting ...all night... something akin to the way a constipated warthog would sound... bless him!
At about 9:30am the 'Runner' weighed anchor and got underway, sailing past the snow-capped highlands of North Arran. Today it was Salty's turn to take the helm, little knowing that this would become his nemesis, as the previous day Shipmate had got 7.44 knots of speed out of the boat the day before.
The day turned out to be a lot calmer, sunnier and overall a more pleasant sail than yesterday, but despite the Skipper praising Salty Seadog for the way the boat was maneuvered around a couple of cold, wet weather fronts, he could only get 6.2 knots out of it.
The Skipper anchored for lunch in a bay where seals, bird life and the occasional shy dolphin break the surface of the water. Roast beef and lettuce sandwiches, hot soup, followed by Mrs Skipper's flapjacks meant the boat was underway again headed to the Mull of Kintyre.
The immaculate helmsmanship by Salty, obviously left Shipmate a little indifferent, as following a 15 minute 'power nap', all he wanted to point out was his 7.44 knots. From here on, 'in the helm' will be known as 'Attiller the Helm' as this appears to be a gauntlet thrown down.
In the early evening, the crew docked in Portavadie marina, had a cup of tea and a slice of Mrs Skipper's ginger cake, before enjoying hot showers and a wonderful meal in the restaurant. Back on board, the crew retired to their respective bunks and Shipmate fell asleep immediately snorting ...anybody know if Sennakot works on warthogs...
Day 3: Last evening the temperature dropped once again, but before retiring to his bunk, the Skipper let it slip that his cabin is nicely warmed by the radiant heat off the boat's motor, but this heat doesn't reach the rest of the boat. In the early hours, the automatic bilge pump kicked in creating quite a racket, meaning the Skipper was awoken and had to get up and turn it off...Karma works in mysterious ways possibly?
This morning, Shipmate was back in charge of Attiller the Helm and was allowed to exit Portavadia marina himself (last night the Skipper took charge from Salty to steer into the dock). Anyway there was no hard feeling from Salty Seadog about this as the erstwhile crew set off up Loch Fyne, past the renowned salmon fish farms and headed to the Crinan Canal at the town of Ardrishaig. The day was brilliant sunshine with azure blue skies, but sadly no wind, meaning most of the travel was covered by motoring along and more specifically meaning Shipmate could not build upon his 7.44 knots..!
At about 12:30, the 'Runner' was anchored in a beautiful, peaceful bay for lunch. The Skipper and Salty Seadog took advantage of a bit of spare time to exchange some funny 'dad' jokes, but Shipmate was not amused, barely cracking a smirk on his face...! Undeterred, once the boat was underway again, it was thought that there was a hand moving in the water, but it was just a little wave..! Barrump!
...Maybe Shipmate had a point after all ...
The day ended in Saint Ninian's bay off the Isle of Bute, with a bottle of fizz, a game of cards and a generous helping of Mrs Skipper's lasagne... not a bad life this sailing lark is it..?
Day 4: The last day dawned with a strange dialogue between Shipmate and the Skipper.
Shipmate: "Aaah, it's gone stiff..!"
Skipper: "Do you want me to rub it?"
Shipmate: "No just bend the end back...!"
Skipper: "How's that?"
Shipmate: "Aaah, that's good..."
Skipper: "Happy to offer relief..."
It's horrible when you get leg cramp, isn't it...?
The crew set off at 7:00am, up the West and East Kyles of Bute, avoiding low sand banks and rocky outcrops. Another sun drenched day without wind meant the motor was once again employed for most of the journey back to Largs, although there was one brief moment when gusts got up near Rothersea, but by the time the mainsail, genoa and winsail where unfurled, the gusts had dropped.
When the 'Runner' reached Largs marina, the Skipper redressed the previous day's balance, by allowing Salty Seadog to sail the boat directly onto the mooring...quite a difficult activity, but perfectly executed...!
As this is the last blog, thanks go to Skipper for the fabulous time enjoyed, the knowledge of the region and the overall experience. Thanks also to Mrs Skipper for the delicious cooked food, the flapjacks, biscuits and cakes, which made our break all the more enjoyable.
In ending, a conversation between the crew...
Shipmate: "I went on a sailing course in Poole"
Salty Seadog: "In Dorset?"
Shipmate: "Yes, I'd recommend it to anyone..."