We wanted to spend the day walking on Holy Isle and the obvious thing to do was to anchor just off the pontoon there in order to avoid the extortionate ferry fare from Lamlash. However, there was still a southerly gale in the forecast (although there was no sign of it in the morning) and, in the end, we paid up and took the ferry. Thank goodness we did!
Looking over Lamlash Bay from Holy Isle
The island is a “Sacred Site” and it was bought by and is home to a Scottish Buddhist Centre to promote health and world peace on a non-denominational basis. There are no vehicles, and dogs are not allowed; but respectful visitors are welcomed and are shown how the monks and volunteers are trying to minimise their impact on the environment and protect the natural wildlife, fauna and flora.
The designated walking route right across the top of the island is fairly arduous, but worthwhile for the fantastic views – all over the Firth of Clyde, and back towards Arran. We even saw our first submarine from the top. Something that we have never seen from sea level.
We were sheltered on the walk to the top and it was only when we started to scramble down the other side that we realised just how much the wind had come up. We knew the boat was safe – but were concerned about the dinghy ride back out to it. We rushed to get an earlier ferry back to Arran, and then got absolutely soaked in the dinghy. It was only about 100 yards from the shore to the boat but already the waves were building.
It was then just a question of riding out the gale that went on until the early hours of the next morning. We had a good mooring and in fact the boat was much more comfortable than it had been in the various marinas where we have holed up during storms before…but even so it was not a good night.
Left Cumbrae early as some forecasts suggested that strong winds were on the way from the south – and the pilot guide says that Millport is “untenable” in such circumstances. It took us about 4 1/2 hours to do approximately 13 miles as half way back to Arran the wind entirely died away. – not what we were expecting, but it turned out to be very lucky. As we were drifting around on the flat sea we passed a small basking shark. Something we would never have seen if the water had been choppy.
Shortly after that excitement the wind came up from the west to around 18 knots and we were able to complete our journey in style sailing flat out with a blue sky. Coming back to somewhere we had been before made a welcome change. We knew just what to expect and were able to moor up to a visitor’s buoy very easily. We are winding down to the end of this stage of the trip and it was good to feel that our sailing skills have improved over the last 4 months.
Woke up to pouring rain and no wind, so spent the morning reading, and watching boats from the nearby Largs regatta drifting past in the mist. By lunchtime we were bored and decided to go ashore however wet it was: but we were lucky. Just before we got into the dinghy it stopped raining.
The Millport authorities had been hard a work in spite of the rain and all evidence of last night’s revellers had been cleared away and there was a strong smell of disinfectant around the harbour! By the time we had bought a Sunday newspaper and had a coffee and a snack the sky was clearing, and it turned into a lovely afternoon.
The “thing to do” on Cumbrae is go cycling. It is only 6 miles long and very flat so you can enjoy the view without exerting yourself too much. We had a really good afternoon, and even warmed up enough to have an ice cream (the first of the trip), then returned to the boat for a sundowner in the cockpit.
Early morning at the Burnt Islands
For the first time since we arrived in Scotland there were no strong wind warnings in either the day’s forecast or the outlook for the following 24 hours . By the time we had motored half way down East Kyle, there was about 10 knots of breeze. We were in no hurry, and gently tacked back down towards Rothesay enjoying the calm.
We were then able to broad reach down the west side of Great Cumbrae – and put the cruising chute up!
Richard making sure he doesn’t miss a wind shift – still wearing foul weather gear
It was the first time we had used it on the whole trip (except for an unsuccessful attempt at Saundersfoot when the wind changed direction and died as soon as we had it organised.).
Cruising chute goes up and layers of clothes come off…
It was a lovely peaceful sail, and the sea was so flat that we saw lots of porpoises. There are a lot in the Clyde but usually they keep well away from the boats. However, today we were going along so quietly that they came close enough for us to hear the “humph “ each time they surfaced to breath.
Millport was a rude awakening after such a peaceful day. It was hosting a “mods” weekend. Large numbers of ageing mods on scooters had turned up and were determined to enjoy themselves. Every pub had drunk people spilling out of it, singing at the tops of their voices and the air was filled with heavy bass thumps from bands and juke boxes. We retired to supper on the boat fairly quickly.