Visitors on Ragdoll

With the nights drawing in rapidly, Chris and Rosanne left work early to try and make it down to Ragdoll before dark. It didn’t used to matter so much when she was kept on a pontoon, but now that she’s on a mooring, everything becomes that little bit trickier in the dark!

We sat Ragdoll on the pontoon overnight, and waited for our weekend visitors to arrive. Whilst we were waiting, Chris managed to fix the issues with the engine light not coming on. It turned out to be a relatively easy quick problem to fix! Yay!

Rosanne’s brother and sister-in-law arrived for their first sailing trip quite late, and we all enjoyed a takeaway and catch up on board before bed. We were up early next morning to make the most of the day, and enjoyed a “Ragdoll Special” bacon pitta for breakfast.

We sailed down the Clyde, and onwards into the Kyles of Bute. As we approached the Kyles, we were very pleasantly surprised when a tug coming in the opposite direction slowed right down so that we didn’t hit his wake at full blast… what a considerate skipper! We even had the kite up! It got a bit rainy, but it was still nice to be out. We anchored in Caladh Harbour, in among several other boats.  It was the busiest we’ve seen it in a while, and was a bit of a squeeze!  Monty bit well and Chris was most pleased.

After a bite of lunch, we all piled into the dinghy for a circumnavigation of the island.  It was the first time we’d had more than 2 of us in the dinghy, but thankfully we stayed afloat! Chris decided that the weather was too tempting not to take a snorkel, (well, it was rainy, but the water was very clear – any excuse really…) and enjoyed exploring the bay, checking out how Monty was holding along the way.  Nick, Sue and Rosanne enjoyed drinking tea and warming up back on Ragdoll.

Note for the Log

The bottom at Caladh is perfect for anchoring, especially towards the north part of the bay – gritty sandy clay, occasional small rocks and weed, otherwise very clear and obstruction free. Some debris in the form of beer and wine bottles, old disposable barbecues etc. I had to satisfy my curiosity as I have tried several times in here with our old CQR and failed to get a decent bite. As you can see, Monty the Mantus is well in! Out of curiosity, I had a glance at how our neighbours Delta was coping. It was set, but not as deeply buried, and where the Mantus had set within the length of the anchor with no drag mark, the Delta had dragged almost half a boat length! These modern anchors are well worth the investment. I also had a look at the rocks to the North entrance, and I will do another post about that soon.

With the weather improving we decided to head back to Rothesay for the evening, chasing the blue sky! Rothesay harbour was also the busiest we’d ever seen it, and thankfully there was just one Ragdoll sized space left!

We cooked a super tasty pasta meal onboard and enjoyed the rest of the evening a la Ragdoll.

Next morning we went for a walk to Port Bannatyne and checked out a house where Nick and Rosanne holidayed as children. It was nice to walk a little further than we had before, and explore a little wider afield.

After paying our berthing fees, and obviously, an icecream from Zavaroni’s we got back onboard and set off back. Rosanne made some tasty pastries along the way.

Chris got the harness out and decided to throw Rosanne overboard. She got some cool new angles of Ragdoll to photograph. Chris wasn’t able to persuade anyone else to put the harness on, so to continue the fun, he then sent Rosanne up the mast! She was pretty terrified, but also really enjoyed the awesome view. The hardest part was coming back down again!

With not much wind, we had an enjoyable motor back to our mooring, paying Cloch Lighthouse a visit along the way. As always there were plenty of porpoises! We were back at the moorings around 4pm, and after saying goodbye to our visitors we packed Ragdoll up for another week. We’re really feeling the end of season pinch now. Keeping Ragdoll on a mooring this season means we need to be a little more careful when it comes to poor weather. Combined with the shorter days, the end of the season is close by.

West Coast Adventures Part 8

Day 13 Portavadie to Rothesay

After two nights in Portavadie we felt human enough after our adventures to begin returning home. We were starting to run low on food… and even with our usual mealtime inventiveness, we were struggling to create a snack from carrots, sweetcorn, chorizo and Parmesan! After a quick look in the shop, and refuelling, we headed off, thinking that the weather was improving.

We got the sails up and had an enjoyable sail back to Ardlamont.  Rosanne only had to sing the first line of her porpoise song, when three jumped out all at once very close by!

By the time we entered the Kyles the weather was worsening, and the rain was driving hard.  We had planned on stopping in Tighnabruaich for the night, but after going round what felt like all of the moorings in the field looking for a visitors one, and finally finding one with an impossibly long pick up buoy bridle, that simply wasn’t going to be safe, we abandoned that plan and continued on. We stopped off in Caladh harbour to try Monty the Mantus out again, and allow ourselves to dry out for an hour or so. Rosanne was pretty much soaked through and shivering, so once they set off again Chris let her stay below and keep warm with her book. It’s the first time ever she hasn’t been out on deck during a passage!

We decide to head to our trusted favourite – Rothesay harbour to spend our last night. We ventured out to Sea Dragon, the local Chinese Restaurant for dinner, but it was such a rainy night we didn’t want to go wandering too far.

Day 14 Rothesay to Gareloch

The weather finally lifted next morning and Rosanne awoke to brilliant blue sky. She grabbed her camera, left Chris sleeping and dashed off to get some pictures. On her way back she stopped off for some croissants to take back for breakfast. By this point Chris was up and about doing some teak cleaning… one of his favourite jobs! We ate breakfast on deck, and then somehow Chris noticed some fishing line hanging down in the water from our prop…. doh!

We really needed to get it off before it caused any serious damage, so it was into his wet suit one last time, to go down and cut the prop free. Once again this raised a bit of curiosity amongst the other harbour visitors!

Before we headed off, we went for an icecream at Zavaronis, and then took a walk to the east of Rothesay, where we’d never been. It was almost tropical weather… which made it extremely hard to leave! As we were walking back we noticed there were a number of boats heading towards the harbour, and Chris’s pace quickened as he became concerned about Ragdoll’s safety.

As we arrived back at Ragdoll we were “spotted” by the guys onboard Lady J. They’d been following our journey via our posts on Sailing and Cruising Scotland. We also had a very pleasant chat with the skipper of Largo Bay. Unfortunately, we had put it off as long as we could, and finally had to leave.

We had a beautiful sail back up the Clyde, taking it slowly, but thoroughly enjoying it. It was so warm we were in t shirts and shorts, and Chris likened it to some of his days spent sailing in Greece! We had some more close encounters with porpoises which made Rosanne’s day!

We finally made it back to Gareloch around 7pm. We planned on trying to sail right to our mooring, but we met some rather strong tide, and whilst trying to tack, we ended up going backwards… so we had to give up and turn the engine on. There was a beautiful sunset as we berthed.

Then it was time to pack Ragdoll up and say goodbye until next time, as we made our long drive home again.

What an awesome two weeks!!!

West Coast Adventures Part 7

Day 12 Portavadie

We felt we were maybe a little hasty in our judgement of Portavadie the last time we visited, and decided we would give it another go. This time, mid week, and during a quieter part of the season. We were certainly impressed with the friendliness of the staff – in the office, spa, restaurant and bar, they were all great, and couldn’t be more helpful or pleasant.  A welcome change after the Inverhairy incident.  After 10 days onboard Ragdoll, and all the bruises and tired muscles gained from working the canal locks, we felt we deserved a treat, and a spa day was just the tonic! The forecast was for rain anyway…

We checked into the spa around 10am… and checked out around 8pm…. both with fingers and toes shaped like prunes! It was lovely to have such a relaxing day, floating around in the hot tubs, pool and outdoor infinity pool (even if it was blowing a gale and raining heavily!!!) We also enjoyed a delicious pizza and salad, rounded off with an ice cream sundae in the restaurant, and enjoyed super luxurious showers before we left!

It was back to Ragdoll for a snack for dinner, and then back to the bar for a drink before bed!

West Coast Adventures Part 5

Day 8 Crinan Basin to Cairnbaan

With a wet day ahead we got started on the canal fairly early. We left the basin lock with a motor boat in tow, but they soon disappeared and we were left to do our own thing. As we approached the first lock of the day we caught this boat up again, but with another yacht already in the lock there was no space for us too. We hung back and waited to follow afterwards.

As we were waiting, a charter dive boat arrived and overtook us, without considering that we were already waiting and were busy preparing the lock. Eventually they moved themselves far enough forward to let Ragdoll into the lock too. Although they had plenty of extra crew, it was a bit of a case of too many cooks, and was incredibly disorganised. Rosanne ended up doing a lot of the work despite the extra bodies, including having to take the other boats lines, because the crew continuously kept forgetting to go ahead in preparation for the next lock. Rosanne wouldn’t have minded if the skipper or crew had at least said thank you! Rosanne had to reluctantly take charge of the situation, otherwise noone was going anywhere! The other boat finally stopped for the day at Dunardry and we continued on by ourselves.

Having done the journey both in a group, and as a single boat, we actually preferred doing it on our own. It was more or less the same amount of work anyway, as the other crew didn’t really do much to lessen the load. Having another boat, especially such a large one, made the locking up more chaotic, and we had to be much more careful opening the sluices.

On the journey through to Crinan Rosanne had noticed a swallow or house martins nest in one of the lock gates. This time around, the babies were now sitting out of the nest on one of the wooden panels of the gate. They were plenty above the current water line, but still not the safest of places to nest! The poor little things looked completely soaked from the rain. With a horrible fear of catapulting them into the canal, Rosanne was extra careful when closing that particular lock gate!

We pushed on down the locks to Cairnbaan, and stopped off just across from the pontoon we stayed on on the previous journey. It had rained all day, and so we were relieved to take our foulies off and let our skin breath. It’s hot work dealing with the lock gates, and even in the miserable weather, it was easy to get too hot wrapped up inside all our wet weather gear.

We felt we’d done a great job getting through the locks, especially in such miserable weather, and so we rewarded ourselves with dinner at the Cairnbaan hotel. We sat in the bar on a very comfortable sofa and enjoyed the rest of the evening. After that it was definitely a night for hot water bottles on Ragdoll.

Day 9 Cairnbaan to Ardrishaig

With another wet day on the cards, we worked our way from Cairnbaan down to the basin at Ardrishaig, arriving around lunchtime. The basin was quite full and so we had to raft alongside another yacht. Some more yachts followed us down and it was all a bit chaotic as everyone got moored safely. Once again we were super glad we have so many fenders. We often get amused comments from people about the number we have, but in situations like this, with so many boats in close proximity, we have every single one in a key position so that we have far less to worry about incase anyone does collide with us. We don’t understand why some boats have so few!!

Bizzarely, at around 4 pm, the maelstrom stopped and the sun came out! We went for a wander in Ardrishaig, but didn’t find it had quite the same qualities as Crinan. We found a shop and restocked our supplies. Almost kicking ourselves for not pushing out to sea and heading on to the next destination, we made the most of it and got the paddle boards out for a trip down Loch Gilp. It was flat calm and there was lots of wildlife around…porpoises, seals and lots of herons! It was great to be out on the SUPs again, although Rosanne’s arms were tired from all the locks, so we took it fairly easy and enjoyed the view! We spent the evening warming up with some good company onboard Valia – our boat neighbours for the night!

West Coast Adventures Part 4

Day 5 Crinan Basin to Ardfern

Next day dawned bright and sunny again, and we had breakfast of cake and hot chocolates at the Crinan Coffee Shop whilst Chris did a couple of bits for work using the wifi. We watched a seal hunting mackerel, which were hunting sprats off the harbour wall. After a trip to the chandlery to pick up the charts for the local area, we decided to set off in the direction of Ardfern. We enjoyed the luxury of the hydraulic sea lock! Rosanne’s muscles were a tad tired from the day before!

Once in open water again we got the sails up and enjoyed a leisurely drift, vaguely in the right direction up Loch Craignish, inside of Eilean Macaskin. The wind was very light, but it was nice to be sailing again, and we spotted some seals along the way on the skerries surrounding Liath-Sgeir Mhor. We looked into the Goat Island anchorage, but it was deemed “not as perfect” as the anchorage we had just passed on the North East corner of Eilean Macaskin, so we looped back and put “Monty” the Mantus – our new anchor to the test. Happily, Monty bit hard and deep on the first try on a short scope in 5m. We climbed into the dinghy and set off round the beautifully sheltered bay to explore. There was a wreck marked on the chart, but we couldn’t find it anywhere. The water was shallow, and we could watch the wildlife in the water and on the sandy seabed. After a good explore of the bay, we made for land, and went to explore the island. We found a wee bothy which was in excellent condition, but thoroughly shut up, and had a little walk along a vaguely beaten path. It soon got overgrown and boggy and so we decided to turn back before we fell down a hole or got eaten by thistles!

Back on Ragdoll we continued our sail up Loch Craignish to Ardfern. Ardfern was a hub of activity, but they managed to squeeze us into a berth. On our usual Marina tour where Chris likes to perv on all the boats, and Rosanne pretends to get frustrated while secretly enjoying looking at the bigger boats, we met Chris and co on Happy Dawn who had just come back from the Bay of Pigs on the north of Jura. We also bumped into Slippi Jin who are based in the same home mooring field as us. We set off for a walk around Ardfern in the evening, and soon found the local pub – The Galley of Lorne Inn. We sat outside in the beer garden and made friends with a rather playful dog. He quickly became our buddy when our burgers arrived! After that we wandered back to the marina and once again stopped for a chat with Dave and Karen of Slippi Jin and their lovably crazy spaniels. The chat soon became drinks onboard, and by the end of the evening Chris was just about convinced that a spaniel would make an ideal boat dog…

…though next morning he denied admitting it!

Day 6 Ardfern, Mostly All Ardfern

We half considered getting up at the crack of dawn to head through the Dorus Mor and up to Oban….but then we remembered we’re on holiday and would rather just take it easy! After breakfast we checked that we could stay for another night, and Chris got overly excited about the drawers full of every shiny piece of hardware you can imagine in the chandlery, and then we piled into the dinghy to go exploring. We enjoyed a long, lazy trip in shallow water up through the Lagoon behind Eilean Mhic Chrion.

As usual, we were boat spotting as we went, and Ardfern was no disappointment – its chock full of great cruising boats! We took a walk on the island while we were on the way back, and then it was some time out for boat maintenance and a wee trip to the well stocked local shop for some provisioning. Our reward for working was a trip through the moorings, around the coastline and up through the Lagoon again on the iSUPs. Once back at the marina, we tried some yoga on the paddleboards, had a tasty dinner, and then headed to bed! Another great day, and we were really glad we didn’t set off on a mad mission… it was the best kind of day for chilling!

Day 7 Ardfern to Crinan Basin

With the weather about to turn, and reaching the approximate half way point in our trip, we chose to head back to Crinan and spend the next two days working back through the canal. As we were leaving Ardfern we almost joined in with a race start! On the way to Crinan, we had some gusts up around 28kts again, and as usual, the wind was from exactly where we wanted to go! On the way into Crinan, we had a bit of a wait for the sea lock to become available, so we dropped Monty the Mantus to wait… this turned into a bit of an adventure. Monty got an excellent bite, so excellent that we were both nearly catapulted overboard! When the time came to retrieve him, we hauled up an old pot weight too, adding at least 30kg to the lift! Fortunately we got the anchor to the surface where we were able to cut away the fouling. We had to wait a while in the sea lock as there were several boats heading in behind us. In the end we were locked up with three other boats which was a snug fit and quite entertaining. Once inside, we were given the ultimate berth right in front of the Crinan Coffee Shop. It would have been rude not to have hot chocolate and cake sitting outside by Ragdoll.

As we were watching some boats coming up the sea lock, we spotted some children with water pistols, who were soaking the canal staff, all in good fun. Chris decided we should get our water pistols out too, ready in defense, and rushed off to fill them. A while later we got back onboard Ragdoll, and Rosanne squealed when she noticed the sink was overflowing….all of our lovely hot water was overflowing from the sink and draining directly into the fridge….the salmon was poached and the spinach was soggy! It was a good job we noticed when we did!

Once we had cleaned up after the chaos, Rosanne went for a walk around the coastline, whilst Chris did a bit of snorkeling, and then we joined forces to bake a Courgette Bread / Pizza type thing… it worked out ok, but it was more of an Omelette! We’ve been enjoying experimenting more with our boat cooking! 

By the time darkness hit, it was getting really blustery. We went for a brisk walk around the basin, but were glad to get back onboard Ragdoll and get the hot water bottles out!

West Coast Adventures Part 2

Day 2 – Rothesay to Tarbert

After another lazy morning, and a quick visit to the hardware shop to pick up some essentials we set sail on the next leg of the adventure. With plenty of rain, but also some wind in the right direction we sailed through the Kyles and on towards Tarbert. Once again we had plenty of porpoises along the way!

We arrived in Tarbert slightly soggy, but thankfully it turned out to be a dry evening. Chris got on with cleaning the rest of the hull and we won back the rest of our lost speed! Meanwhile, Rosanne got her inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard out for some practise. She enjoyed spying on the local wildlife!

At one point Chris noticed a disturbance in the water and alerted Rosanne to the fact it was heading straight towards her. Whilst Chris ran off up the pier to watch the huge shoal of fish pass through the harbour, poor Rosanne, feeling slightly vulnerable on the water, had a momentary panic that she was about to be dragged into the depths by some mystery sea creature!

Once back on dry land it was time to warm up and enjoy some Thai Green Curry on board Ragdoll before bed.

West Coast Adventures Part 1

Day 1 – Gareloch to Rothesay

It was touch and go whether this holiday was going to happen after all! Chris had been sent to Houston two weeks previously and just narrowly escaped being trapped there by hurricane Harvey!

We arrived at Ragdoll late on Saturday and spent a while unpacking and figuring out where to store things. Chris couldn’t understand why we had so much stuff, but Rosanne had to remind him that the longest we’d ever spent on-board before was four nights!

Sunday dawned a nice bright morning, and whilst Chris had a long lie in recovering from his jetlag, Rosanne enjoyed drinking tea on deck watching the wildlife- including a Kingfisher!

In the afternoon we set off towards Rothesay. Within a few minutes of motoring, we began to wonder why we were going so slowly!? We had lost 3 kts off our usual speed and put it down to growth on the hull.

On arrival in Rothesay Chris got his wetsuit on and jumped in to investigate. Sure enough, the propeller was home to a number of barnacles, and there was plenty of soft growth across the whole hull.

Chris spent a couple of hours scrubbing, and making friends with the fish, whilst Rosanne entertained the curious onlookers. Once the prop and one side of the hull was clean he decided to call it a day and Rosanne rewarded him with dinner at our favourite Indian restaurant.

We were super excited about where the next 14 days would take us!!