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 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!

Holy Loch

After a particularly busy week at work we made it to Ragdoll on Saturday evening, after a detour to check on one of Chris’ work vessels… at 79m, a slightly larger boat than Ragdoll!

It was a rather choppy, wet night so we chose to spend the evening on the pontoon rather than having adventures! A tin of spaghetti hoops, and a cider later we were both fairly content and spent the evening catching up on some of our favourite sailing video bloggers.

Next morning we headed out to Holy Loch. There was no wind, but it was a beautifully flat day for a motor. Unfortunately Chris wasn’t feeling too good, but Rosanne took the helm and enjoyed being skipper for once… she didn’t even sink!

The sun eventually made an appearance and the porpoises were out to play making the trip complete!

We stopped off in Holy Loch just long enough to get an icecream….we’ll have to return to explore further!

It wasn’t one of our most adventurous trips, but it was nice to make it out on the water and blow the cobwebs away!

Portavadie and back…

With a long weekend ahead, we raced off to Ragdoll with no particular destination in mind. There was a rare heatwave going on in the Clyde, so it was a super fast ready, set, go to get onto the water before we melted in the marina! Rosanne actually had her shorts on – unheard of in the UK!!

We made it to Rothesay as the sun was setting, casting a beautiful light over the Clyde. There were porpoises aplenty to entertain us along the way. We anchored off in the bay, and were immediately given a full vessel inspection by the resident swan who thinks he’s the harbour master. We had a lovely evening on deck with our lamps, watching the lights of Rothesay twinkling.

Note for the Log:

Rothesay Bay is deep, and anchoring options are limited to the NE corner of the bay, on what feels like stony ground.  Try as he might, Chris couldn’t get Ragdoll’s 20kg CQR anchor to get an acceptable bite in 7 to 9m, even with every last inch of the 45m rode out.  It just kept skipping on the stones, sending rattles up the chain.  Careful review of the forecast indicated that a light bite would be enough for the night, but full monitoring of the situation was set up with depth alarm and gps anchor alarm.  In the end, the night was perfectly still and nothing came of it, but once again, the CQR revealed it’s weaknesses on difficult anchoring ground… time for a modern anchor!  Likely to be Rocna or Mantus in 20kg.

Next morning we had a leisurely breakfast and were again joined by the swan and some gulls. We prepped Ragdoll and ventured in to the outer marina to see if there was a space for us to stop and visit the town for a few hours. We made our way to the castle and enjoyed exploring its grounds. There were a number of nesting gulls, and for obvious reasons Rosanne was a little wary. To our surprise we noticed that these were no ordinary gulls….they had laid golfballs instead of eggs!! (This is a licensable type of management for gulls. If the eggs are swapped for golf balls, without the gulls noticing, then they will continue to sit on them, well past the point of them laying a second brood during the season, thus managing the population size)

After a wander around a few of the shops, and obviously a stop for an icecream at Zavaroni’s we were ready to cast off again and move onto our next adventure. We’d barely gotten out of Rothesay when we heard Waverley on the Radio. She was hot on our heels, and we realised she would be passing us in the Kyles of Bute, just past the Burnt Isles…picture perfect moment! Unfortunately at the moment she approached the heavens opened and we got soaked. We caught up with her again at Tighnabruaich where the sun reappeared.

We headed on down the West Kyle past Ardlamont, finally picking up some wind worth sailing in.  There were plenty more porpoises, and Rosanne continued to struggle to concentrate on steering every time a fin appeared.

With the Scottish Series taking place at Tarbert, we thought it would be sensible to go to Portavadie instead of risking not getting a berth. Rookie mistake. Unless you’re looking for something fairly soul-less and completely not in keeping with the west coast of Scotland, avoid Portavadie (in our opinion). From the moment we approached it all went wrong. We should have given in to the beckons from Tarbert! We were chased into Portavadie by a motor cruiser who was hot on our tail. Whilst trying to manoeuvre into our berth, he decided he was going to plough through to his own berth, causing Chris to have to abort his own berthing operation and clear out for another attempt. Once we had our ropes on, Chris went to pat a seemingly friendly dog, and was immediately savaged! (well, it bit him, a very tiny bite). With loads of families with loud kids who were only talking to each other, and people stepping off their boats in dinner suits and evening gowns, and overspill of racer types from the Scottish Series, we felt like we were not really in “our scene”…

We went for a walk and discovered that there’s not really a lot to see. We found the ferry terminal and a deer, and gazed longingly across the water to Tarbert. We also lost our electricity card somewhere along the way, adding insult to injury… oh well!

After a very satisfying boat cooked meal, things started to get back on track, and Rosanne had the longest shower of her life…well you’ve got to get your moneys worth!

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We didn’t hang around too long the next morning! We set off back towards Ardlamont and got ourselves in among the racing fleet which was all quite exciting and fairly chaotic.

It was another beautiful day to be out, and after a fantastic sail back through the Kyles, we anchored off the Burnt Isles. We had a man overboard drill when Chris accidentally dropped the dingy foot pump into the water.  It started sailing merrily away from the boat on the tide streaming towards Woodhouse Rock…  Chris frantically started the engine, hoping to rely on the awful holding from the CQR anchor to catch up with the pump!  Fortunately this worked, and Ragdoll managed to drag her anchor back far enough to catch up with the pump… Rosanne failed to pick it up again and it was was all fairly stressful for a good few minutes whilst Chris hung off the boat trying to catch it, all the while Rosanne declaring the pump just wasn’t worth it! Eventually the pump was retrieved and the dingy blown up, and a expedition to the Burnt Isles began!

After a circumnavigation of the island, which was great fun, with lots of potential new berthing options considered, and plenty of animals to keep Rosanne happy, we returned to Ragdoll and headed back to Rothesay for our final night.

Rosanne was trying to catch some cool shots of a heron in the harbour whilst the resident harbourmaster swan sneaked up on her and honked so loudly she nearly fell off the pontoon! Chris nearly wet himself with the hilarity. We visited our favorite new Indian restaurant, where the restaurant owners young son provided the entertainment of the evening.

The weather changed the next day which led to a rather choppy and blustery return journey up the Clyde. We did get another view of Waverley which brightened up the grey though. It’s amazing just how fast she goes!

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Doon the watter to Rothesay

After a difficult few weeks, we cast ropes off in the early evening with destination Rothesay in mind. It was a beautiful evening and there were porpoises a plenty! Sometimes being out on the water is the best medicine!

We arrived into Costa del Rothesay or Rivera Rothesay around 9pm, unsure if we were too late for dinner, but we discovered the local Indian Restaurant/Takeaway and had the most delicious tandoori platter back onboard Ragdoll. On a warm summers evening Rothesay truly does feel like somewhere a little more exotic!

The next day we went for an explore and found the most amazing hardware shop, which contained everything you could possibly ever need…including lamp oil…always a winner! We made sure we stocked up!! Oh and we also sampled the freshly made icecream at Zavaroni’s! Yum!

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Across the border!

A few weeks after the epic Mull of Galloway trip, Chris and Rosanne met in Carlisle to leave one car and then returned to Kirkcudbright with the other.

We were glad to get back to Ragdoll, who had been somewhat abandoned there! The pontoons at Kirkcudbright are on some extremely tidal mudflats…which were pretty incredible to see at low tide!

We set off early and had a lovely sunny sail from Kirkcudbright down to Whitehaven. We arrived around lunchtime and enjoyed our first experience of a lock gate.

On our arrival, we were warned to look out for a huge tree trunk floating in the sea just off the coast…we spotted it, and steered well clear…that would have been a nasty shock!

Rosanne’s mum and dad, and Millie the dog came to meet us in the marina and we enjoyed a sunny afternoon on-board before returning to Carlisle to collect the car and then back to Kirkcudbright to collect the other car. The logistics made what was a relatively simple sail into a rather more complicated affair!

Whitehaven proved to be a great little marina. It was very secure and always had lots of people around. There’s plenty of parking available and a Tescos and train station within easy walking distance.

We had a few weekends based here but didn’t manage any local sailing unfortunately, due to the weather. We had some visits from family, enjoyed tapas at Anna’s restaurant, visited the Beacon Mueum, explored the town, kayaked around the marina, and enjoyed some chillout time onboard.

All Change!

There was a bit of shift in direction for us at the start of 2017.

Watch this space….

We’re busy working our way through to fill in the gaps, as there are quite a few tales to be told, but for the most part, it is a long and complicated story, so for now, we’ll just skip to the good part and say that Ragdoll is now on the west coast! Hurray!

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