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!

West Coast Adventures Part 3

Day 3 Tarbert to Cairnbaan

We spent the morning exploring Tarbert harbour on the Paddleboards and built up some more confidence! With the wind picking up, we decided to pack up and head on to Ardrishaig and the Crinan Canal.

On the way we had a small detour into Barmore Island, a lovely bay that Chris had visited in childhood. We scouted out the anchorage and then got back on our way. The wind was really picking up heading up Loch Fyne, reaching up to 28kt gusts, but it was nothing Ragdoll couldn’t handle!

As we neared Ardrishaig, a pod of Common Dolphins joined us! Quite an exciting change from the usual porpoises. We soon found ourselves at the Sea Lock at Ardrishaig, where things seemed to happen in a bit of a blur. We were quickly booked in, and assisted  through the Sea Lock, while it dawned on us what we were letting ourselves in for!

The canal staff at the Sea Lock suggested that we may like to pay the additional £60 for assisted passage through the canal, as there was just the two of us. They were almost insistent, but being young and stupid, we looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and said “how hard can it be!?” We both admitted later that we were both a little edgy on the inside, wondering if we were taking on more than we could chew?!

We were assisted through the first couple of lock gates by the very helpful and friendly staff, who made sure we knew what we were doing before leaving us to our own devices!

The sun came out and we were delighted to be surrounded by such beautiful scenery, and on such calm waters. We made it through the first set of locks, and under the first bridge before a 40 min stretch of motoring. We stopped off on a pontoon along the way to grab some last minute supplies from a shop, and finally stopped off for the night on a pontoon at Cairnbaan, just below Lock 5 for the night.

Although the canal is only 9 miles long, progress is relatively slow, and lock gates must not be opened in the evening, as this is when the water levels are checked and adjusted. Although the work is perfectly manageable by two people, it is by no means easy, and so we weren’t keen on over doing it! The weather and scenery was so beautiful we certainly didn’t want to rush it anyway! It’s probably a little different in the height of summer with a lot more traffic, but we felt no pressure in taking our time. Working the lock gates was great fun!

After a walk ahead to see what tomorrow would bring, and with the sun still shining, we set up a disposable bbq on a rock by the canal and had a delicious meal as the sun set. What a satisfying way to end the day! Obviously we followed it up with toasted marshmallows as the embers died. Whilst helicopter spinning a teatowel over his head to try and fend off the midges, Chris managed to send a fork flying into the depths of the canal! At least it wasn’t something more valuable!!!

Day 4 Cairnbaan to Crinan Basin

Next morning we had the Cairnbaan locks and bridge to tackle first. We had to wait for a boat coming down before we could set off, so it was a slow but pleasant start to the day.

All the bridges are operated by lock staff, so we were given a hand with a few gates at this stage, which lightened the work a lot! Whilst the canal man assisted Chris through one lock, it freed Rosanne up to move on up and prepare the next one, so that Ragdoll could move straight into it instead of stopping every time. We met our second boat of the day at this point and had a pleasant chat whilst we waited for the water levels to equalize.

After reaching the end of this set of locks, we had another stretch of motoring towards the summit. One thing we noted was how friendly everyone was. We passed/were passed by lots of walkers and cyclists along the canal path and almost all gave a friendly wave or a hello!

At summit level there was a fantastic view, and we couldn’t help but stop and get the camera out. There was a lake alongside the canal, and we were tempted to get the paddleboards out. We were conscious of time though and realised that we wouldn’t make it all the way to Crinan if we stopped here for too long, so tempting as it was to stay we continued on. By the time we reached Lock 11, Rosanne was starting to lag a little… and no wonder, it was past 3pm and we’d not had anything to eat since breakfast. Thankfully Chris recognised the signs and threw Rosanne a banana and bounty bar to keep her going for the remaining 3 locks.

As Rosanne was closing down Lock 13 after Ragdoll had passed through, she was seriously struggling to close a particularly sticky gate. As Chris arrived back up the hill to help, a man stopped his car and came to assist. Just as all the knights in shining armour arrived she managed to get it going! Typical!!

After the Lock 13 we had another motor with a couple of bridges to pass. Chris enjoyed getting to use our horn. One quick blast and the bridge was opened before your eyes!

We arrived into Crinan just in time to get into the basin. The final Lock gates are hydraulic and operated by Canal Staff only. We found a nice wee spot to moor up in the basin for the evening, and enjoyed the sunny atmosphere. We quickly noticed that there was a huge shoal of mackerel just off the pier, and Chris was straight in there with his fishing rod…. first cast and a line full of shiny mackerel. There were billions of sprat in the water and every so often you would see the mackerel appear in a feeding frenzy. It was fascinating to watch. The locals were out with nets shovelling the sprats into buckets to sell as whitebait at the hotel. Some of the mackerel were a wee bit small, so it took a few goes, til we had 4 tasty mackerel ready for tea.

We pan fried them up with some mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, courgette and garlic, and it was delicious.

After tea we went for a walk up the hill, past the chandlery and boat yard to old Crinan Harbour. It was a beautiful evening, and there were lots of locals about also catching mackerel and sprats. We headed back just before dark, paying a visit to the Vital Spark in the boat yard on our way. There was a beautiful sunset over the Sound of Jura. We finished the evening off in the bar at the Crinan Hotel where we thought about our options for the next step.

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!

DSC_0139

 

The 2016 Round Up

So here is our 2016 round up of our complete season with Ragdoll…  We have really enjoyed being on the Frith of Froth, and have met some great people along the way.  Here’s to a great 2017 season!

We thought we would celebrate with our own little awards ceremony!


Favourite Anchorage

Rosanne: Inchcolm, because it was pretty, there were seals and we got to use the dinghy. Oooh and also there are gnomes, but not for the seagulls…I don’t like the seagulls!!

Chris: Inverkeithing, for the sheer ridiculousness of anchoring there at 10 o’clock at night! 15 to 20kts sustained through the evening, waking up with 0.5m under the keel and the slope of mud less than 30ft away… got away with that one! Just!


Favourite Harbour

Rosanne: Aberdour, because it was always sunny! And we had an epic bbq!

Chris: Dysart, which we will give another chance next season.  It was just so different to what I expected.  The drying mud berth worked so well, with Ragdoll nearly up to her waterline in thick mud!  I think that’s because we managed to get into the inner harbour.  I think it might be a bit more full in the season.


Favourite Harbour Master

Rosanne: Elie, for his comical arrival on his bike when he nearly rode off the end of the pier

Chris: North Berwick because it was free!  The guy just said he was “doubtful as to where his juristiction ended”, and we were technically outside the harbour entrance!


Favourite Sailing Dog

Rosanne: Monty from Selkie!

Chris: Obviously Monty from Selkie!  (Millie can be a close second though as we don’t have a picture of Monty!)


Best Meal Cooked Onboard

Rosanne: Chrissys freshly caught and cooked mackerel anchored off North Berwick.

Chris: Pasta for breakfast ate on the pillow fort on the foredeck while motoring homeward from Eyemouth!


Most Hilarious Moment

Rosanne: Chris and the man eating dragonfly…oh no it was a drone…

Chris: Rosanne bursting into tears from being hit in the head by a seagull twice in quick succession!  She says she loves all animals…


Favourite Mini Cruise

Rosanne: Torn between Eyemouth – for adventure filled, and Aberdour – Granton for a hot and sunny relaxed trip.

Chris: Eyemouth, for all sorts of reasons – seeing what it was like for Ragdoll to stretch her legs and see what she could do, Bass Rock, Reaching inside Craigleith at 7kts with the kite up, Gannets, Planes, Puffins, Seals, Dolphins, passing another Westerly going the other way, going into a completely new place for the first time… and mackerel!


Favourite Character Met

Rosanne: Kenny from Granton, for meeting us in various parts of the Forth and always remembering who we were!

Chris: All our chums who we kept meeting all over the place!


Best Modification to Ragdoll

Rosanne: Well its nice to be able to make a decent cup of tea on the new stove, oven things, and also nice to not get exploded by gas with a nice safe new gas locker that I painted!!

Chris: Our new sprayhood by SailDoctor is an absolute work of art!  It totally transformed the boat – the cockpit is dry, the companionway is dry, you can get out of the wind when beating to windward, and it looks so good on the boat.  It just fits perfectly.  We couldn’t have asked for better, and wouldn’t change a thing on it.  Well done Chic & Nicky!


Worst Moment

Rosanne: Being verbally abused at Limekilns River Festival for flying a flag!

Chris: Thinking we were going to die on the mooring at Dalgety Bay… How far from safety was that situaton?  Probably wasn’t as bad as made out, but 30kts and lumpy seas in a mooring field, pitch dark, with rocks close downwind, and a horrific looking mooring chain, and sea sickness… not a pleasant evening that’s for sure…


Best Sailing Club

Rosanne: Burntisland for the friendliest welcome from strangers! But I agree with Chris below too…

Chris: Difficult!  They are all fantastic.  Every sailing club on the Forth is different and quirky in their own way.  Needless to say the people are generally awesome wherever you go.  I like Dalgety bay for the location – you probably couldn’t get a prettier sailing club set in its own wood with its own log cabin.  Burntisland, though not as pretty, was very welcoming and we were treated like visiting rock stars!  Limekilns is where all our usual chums are, and we like it there, and Granton and Royal Forth was a total surprise this year having never been there.  If I had to pick one… very very hard!


Best Photo 

Rosanne: Don’t make me choooooose! You tell me!

Chris: Probably this one!  Taken not too long after Ragdoll was launched, the reflection on the hull was awesome, and the location – it could be somewhere warm!


Worst Toilet Moment 

Rosanne: Realising IndyBanks loo doesn’t have a door

Chris: The incident with too much prosecco and a wet wipe when we had guests aboard…   less said the better…


 

We are sure there is much more to add here, but this is a good start!

Wishing all Forth sailors a happy new year and a great 2017 season!

Messing about on boats

We awoke on Saturday morning with the intention of a bacon roll and then getting stuck into fixing the hot water on board. On our way to Down the Hatch – where bacon and sausage sandwiches are the bees knees, we bumped into our chums from Indefatigable Banks. As they were visiting on foot and had no plans for the day, a plan was concocted to avoid the DIY and take them for a sail instead. Once we’d dealt with the bacon sandwich requirements we headed back to the boat and ventured out to check out the new bridge as they were about to begin lifting one of the final middle segments in. We were very quickly shuffled on by the Nicola S guard vessel.

dsc_0819

It was a beautiful day so we headed off down river and soon decided to head for Granton as the Indefatigable Banks team had never been. We had a great sail with the kite up. On the way we passed the RS400 racing fleet and Chris had fun identifying all the boats he used to race against. As we headed in to Granton we stumbled upon more racing and tried to avoid getting in the way! We may have gotten a wee bit close for comfort!!

On arrival in Granton we ventured to the club bar for a tasty lunch of soup and sandwiches. Back on the pontoon we found a few people to chat to and spent a while chilling out in the sun. Rosanne watched some tiny fish off the pontoons and tried feeding them a few crumbs. The gulls kept swooping in…not sure if they were more interested in the fish or the crumbs!

dsc_0840

On the journey back Chris had a new victim for his favourite game of dangling someone off the side of the boat. Rosanne had to go first just to prove it was safe! We sailed all the way back to the bridges, and then decided to motor the final stretch as the wind dropped.

Back at Port Edgar, unfortunately the IndiBanks crew had to make a swift exit, after we kept them out to play for too long. (We’re really good at going out for “an hour or two” and returning 7 hours later!!) Chris and Rosanne ventured to the pub for dinner.

Chris bounded out of bed on Sunday excited to fix the hot water! After a lot of blowing of pipes, turning taps on and off and climbing from engine room to cockpit locker and back again, we eventually figured out the pipe that was to blame. Two trips to the chandlery and about 5 x 1m pipe later (we weren’t sure which pipe would be best!) we had hot water flowing readily! Both delighted, we were kicking ourselves a little for not trying that sooner….who knew it could be so simple!

dsc_0902

Having succeeded the mission earlier than planned, we ventured out for a rather windy celebratory sail. Just beyond the bridges we bumped into Dream Catcher heading back in. We convinced Nathan and Yvonne to stay out an play for a while and enjoyed a game of follow the leader. Nathan learnt the hard way that if there is excited pointing going on onboard Ragdoll, it’s generally not a signal to head in that direction, but more likely a seal or some other exciting wildlife has been spotted!

Pirates and Deserted Islands…

So on Saturday Chris headed out into the Clyde for a bit of racing action with Oli in Division 4 of the Largs 2 handed Regatta… Short Course around Holy Island and back.  After a good start and some serious beating, we were in a decent position, but coming out the other side of Holy Island, the wind completely shut down on us… not even re-rigging the spinnaker with a washing line for light weight sheets was to save the day… eventually admitting defeat, we had a long motor back in no wind whatsoever… oh well, next year!

Meanwhile, Rosanne happily entertained herself doing far too much shopping in Edinburgh! She may have got into a little bit of mischief along the way and brought Humphrey the new boat hoover to life….

img_0668

Chris arrived back late and very tired after his big day so was ready to crash out ready for the next days adventures. Sunday dawned bright and clear with hardly a breath of wind…not so good for sailing but the perfect day for a motor sail. We were joined by Rosanne’s friend Jill for her first saily adventure along with Chris’s friend Oli and his  girlfriend Katie.  It was the perfect conditions for guests aboard and we could truly show them the best of the Frith of Froth. We headed out under motor towards Inchkeith, and after a wee while, sensed enough wind to get the sails up. Jill was soon flung overboard (harnessed up, of course!) and enjoyed the view hanging off the side of Ragdoll…she even did some fishing!!

On arrival at Inchkeith, we ventured off to explore, giving the guests the opportunity to visit an island they might never have seen otherwise.  Although the breeding seabirds have now gone, making the island a lot safer in one respect, the vegetation had also grown up a lot since our last visit, making it far more difficult to get around without getting a thorny branch in the face or a nettle up your trouser leg!  Chris, who had deployed in his pyjama trousers and crocs was having a particularly hard time…

All the same, we did our best to explore the bits we could get to, and then retired back to Ragdoll for a rather good picnic…we’re getting good at those!

Before heading back Chris decided to cast his fishing rod off the harbour wall, and was almost instantly rewarded with two mighty mackerel…that boy is just too good at that!! He decided to save them and see if he could tempt some seals with them on the return leg of the journey.