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!!!

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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