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Scotland Sailing
Insights into Sailing in Scotland
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2010 so far…

September 13th, 2010 alison

The 2010 season at Charter For You has been a busy one with not much blogging time, but the changing weather which suggests that the sailing season may not have long left this year has produced a lull and the chance to look back at the season so far.

Our Bavaria 44 “Pamina” had enjoyed a winter sojourn in Lanzarote and made her way back to the Clyde during April. A trip via Madiera, Portugal, France and Ireland,  saw her arriving back at the end of the month with only a few weeks left before she was due out on her first charters. An erupting volcano couldn’t stop her making it back on time! Meanwhile the first RYA courses and bareboat charters of the season were underway.

“Pamina” had an exciting start to her season with a multi-boat stag party to take care of and then a trip to Scottish Series as mother ship to one of the racing boats, along with her usual daysails and family holidays where she got to tour her familiar waters of the Clyde. The other charter boats were also cruising the west coast in style. “Iona” took a few trips up and down the west coast to Badachro, Gairloch, and “Rotozaza” did some milebuilders from Inverkip to Oban so that she could enjoy some West Coast cruising with her owners before going on to do a long West Coast charter with some visitors from Germany. “Clan” also had been taken on a few trips around the Mull and back through the Crinan Canal.

“Blue” the Moody 54 was also doing some long distance cruising this year, after a weeks charter in the Clyde she took a trip up the West Coast and out to the Outer Hebrides for the Clyde Cruising Club’s centenary cruise. She partook in their sunflower of yachts in Loch Drambuie, before dropping her guests in Oban and heading back down to Kip Marina for the rest of the season.

Later “Pamina” was out again on a multi-yacht party and could be seen tearing her way down the Clyde to Lamlash on one of the windiest weekends of the year so far.

Pamina en route to Arran

Pamina en route to Arran

Although it’s raining now, the weather has really been quite kind to us this season. There has been plenty of breeze to provide fantastic sailing and really it is hard to beat sailing up the west coast, round villages and towns… (thank you Deacon Blue). Most of the charterers have experienced wind and sunshine with the odd rain shower, and, hopefully this will continue. Rainy it may be, but it is still warm and with the weather set to improve as the week goes on we hope that the rest of the charters and courses this year will get the weather they are wanting to make their holiday something special.

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The great “Dileas” adventure… (Part 5)

November 2nd, 2009 alison

Read Part 4

We got up early to catch the tide down the Sound of Mull and make our way to Kerrera for some crew changes. Being close to Oban it has good transport connections and also gave us the opportunity to have a meal ashore in one of the restaurants on the North Pier.

The next day after the crew change over and some provisioning we carried on our way to Puilladobhrain where we were going to anchor for the night. Being not much more than an hours sail from Oban it makes a good stop if you can’t leave until after lunch. There was limited space there as 15 boats were already anchored, but we found a gap and enjoyed what remained of the sun while watching a seal play around the boats in the hope he would get lucky with some food.

Evening at Puilladobhrain

Sunset at Puilladobhrain

The next part of the trip was going to take us south again, although when we left Puilladobhrain we hadn’t actually decided where we were going to stop. We left early and passed Insh Island, Easdale, and retraced our steps through the Cuan Sound. We had decided we wanted a mooring or a berth rather than anchoring and that gave us options of Kilmelford Harbour and Pier, Kilmelford Yacht Haven, Craobh Marina or Crinan boatyard. After deciding that Loch Melfort would probably be more peaceful than Crinan boatyard we headed there and picked up a mooring at Kilmelford Harbour and Pier, just in time to inflate the dinghy before lunch, and to spend a leisurely afternoon on shore.

Fishing boat on the beach at Loch Melfort

Fishing boat on the beach at Loch Melfort

The final part of our trip was to take us to Ardfern where we were leaving the boat. As we got ready to leave the wind picked up and we had one of the best sails of the trip down Loch Shuna, through the Dorus Mor and up Loch Craignish, avoiding the lobster pots as we went. We were tied up in the marina about 4 and a half hours later and cleaned up the boat and ourselves before we treated ourselves to a final night dinner in the Galley of Lorne.

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The great “Dileas” adventure… (Part 2)

October 23rd, 2009 alison

Read Part 1.

The rain from the previous day had gone when we got up, but it didn’t seem far away. We decided to stay above the canal basin and watch all the boats head through the locks - and as the fleet was heading through for West Highland Week there was almost guaranteed to be some entertainment…

As we had our morning coffee the bottleneck began and we were glad to be tucked in out the way against the wall.

A busier Crinan Canal

Crinan bottleneck

As most of the yachts were heading North through the Dorus Mor most had to be away by lunchtime, and with the bottleneck over we enjoyed a peaceful afternoon and evening with coffee and cake outside the Crinan coffee shop, and later some drinks in the Crinan Hotel bar.

Sunday started a bit sunnier, but with strong winds forecast we decided just to head to Craobh marina, which gave us the option of heading to Oban the next day if the forecast was still for strong winds. We thought we might have seen some of the West Highland Week fleet racing from Craobh to Oban, but we were just a bit too late and just caught the tail end of the fleet rounding the bottom of Shuna, heading up the Sound of Luing and past Fladda Light.

As the weather was nice we extended our sail and went past Craobh, into Loch Melfort to investigate the anchorages and moorings there. Then it was back to Craobh to settle for the evening and enjoy the fabulous sunset.

Berthed at Craobh Marina

"Dileas", and the Craobh sunset

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The great “Dileas” adventure…

September 10th, 2009 alison

Departure day of the great “Dileas” adventure dawned with rainy weather on the horizon, and we hoped it would improve. We loaded all our kit and food onto the boat between the showers and eventually left Kip (3 hours later than planned!). Thankfully by that time the rain had stopped and we headed for Portavadie. With the wind on the nose and our late departure we decided we would break ourselves gently into our holiday and just motor towards the Kyles of Bute. We passed Toward and Rothesay and headed towards the East Kyle. As we passed Ardmaleish Cardinal the wind was at a better angle for sailing but it was quite light and, as we had to be at Portavadie before the entrance shut at 9pm, we kept motoring. We waved as we passed the Maids of Bute to make sure they would see us safely on the rest of our journey, and we took note of their apparel to forecast the weather for the rest of our holiday. With one dressed in a polka-dot sundress and the other in a macintosh and sowester hat it appeared that they were hedging their bets. Little did we know they were actually deadly accurate and for the rest of our trip it rained every second day. Thankfully on the other days there was usually glorious sunshine which gave us the chance to dry out!

We continued our journey passing Tighnabruaich and Kames before rounding Ardlamont Point and heading for Sgat Mor. The island never seemed to get any closer, but eventually we passed it and made it into Portavadie with 10 minutes to go before the entrance closed. After a late dinner on board we settled for the night in preparation for our canal trip the next day.

Friday began with some sunshine. We left our berth in Portavadie after making use of the showers, hairdryers and hairstraighteners!!, and headed for the Crinan Canal. The wind was from the south so we pulled out the headsail and surfed our way up Loch Fyne to Ardrishaig, and made it into the sealock two hours later. The forecast weather which had stopped us going round the Mull of Kintyre was starting to make an appearance, and as the sealock rose we measured 40kts of wind frequently gusting. Some of the boats in the West Highland Week feeder race from Inverkip to Ardrishaig were surfing their way up the loch as we entered the canal, and we were glad we had made it in before them when we saw how overpowered some of them looked, and some of the extreme berthing manouevres which were going on at the pontoon before the lock.

We managed to work our way through the whole canal, past Cairnbaan, Oakfield Bridge and Bellanoch before arriving at Crinan about 7pm and tying up before the lock which led into the basin. Unfortunately the rain had come on just as we arrived at the canal and it stayed on for the rest of the day. We had never been quite so wet and decided that as the forecast for the next day was still quite windy and wet we would possibly stay in the canal for a day and watch all the boats going through.

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West Highland Yachting Week 2009

July 28th, 2009 alison
Spinnakers heading from Tobermory to Oban

Some yachts taking part in West Highland Week 2008

West Highland Yachting Week starts on Friday for those boats in the Clyde ready to make their way west. With a 9am start from outside Kip Marina the competitors will head down round Garroch Head and make their way up to Ardrishaig, ready to go through the Crinan Canal on the Saturday an dmake thier way to Craobh. Those already on the west coast may take part in a feeder race from Gigha (after some live music the night before in the Gigha Hotel) or Oban to Craobh Marina, where an evening of entertainment awaits them in the Lord of the Isles Bar and Restaurant.

On the Sunday the fleet splits into 10 classes and races to Oban. Passing Shuna,going through the Sound of Luing, leaving Easdale and Seil behind them they finish in the Sound of Kerrera and split for the night. At Oban there is a number of places where the fleet will choose to berth. Some may moor outside Oban Sailing Club, while others will tie up at Oban Marina, Kerrera, or Dunstaffnage Marina. One or two boats may even tie up alongside the North Pier, in the very centre of Oban.

The Monday and Tuesday are spent racing out of Oban, with the whole fleet racing round Lismore in an anticlockwise direction on the Monday. On the Tuesday the fleet splits in two with those yachts flying kites going round the cans in the Firth of Lorn, and those who are in the restricted sail classes sailing a set course away from any out of control spinnaker poles! The late starts will allow for a full appreciation of the social programme, with the Kerrera barn dance on the Sunday evening, a skipper’s reception, Oban Sailing Club barbecue, and “Skerryvore” in the Skipinnish celidh house on the Monday, and the Wide Mouthed Frog at Dunstaffnage getting in on the action on the Tuesday afternoon and evening with entertainment and live music.

Wednesday sees the fleet come together once more for the race to Tobermory. The 1130 start means there’s no excuse for being late to the start line, and after passing Lismore Light, the entrance of Loch Aline, Green Island and Calve Island the fleet will settle in Tobermory Bay for the night. On the Thursday the fleet again splits into two groups for the Round the cans racing in the Sound of Mull. Entertainment in Tobermory will be the usual selection of live music and celidhs. Macgochans Pub has both “Trail West” and “Gunna Sound” playing live, and it would be a surprise if there was not some sort of live music in the Mishnish also.

On the Friday there’s the earliest race start of the week with the race from Tobermory, back down the Sound of Mull, to Oban starting at 08.30am. Hopefully this will give everyone a bit of time to get cleaned up and presentable for the final prizegiving in the Corran Halls on Friday evening.

Best of luck to everyone who’s competing in West Highland Week this year, let’s hope for fair weather and good winds! Anyone who’s interested in seeing more of the sailing instructions will find them here, and there’s lots of additional information in the West Highland Week website.

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