We left Bristol on Friday April 29th to travel north to Edinburgh to stay the night with Andrew, Rebecca and the grandchildren and pick up our sailing kit, left there the year before. We could not believe we were about to embark on a sailing odyssey – it was more like an arctic adventure as we passed through snow-laden hills and roads as we approached within 10 miles of Edinburgh.
Snow laden hills approaching Edinburgh
But on the last day of April we left Edinburgh at lunchtime after Rosamund had indulged in a record provisioning shop. We could not believe we could get all those provisions on board particularly as we were planning to have Andrew, Hugh, Percy and Skye join us for the next two days.
Andrew had a crazy plan to leave his car at some junction on a bus route from Portavadie and catch the Colintraive Ferry across to Bute and have me (Ian) meet them all off the Ferry. In the end – the timing was such that it was quicker for me to cross the ferry myself and pick him up at the junction. The plan worked perfectly and by 8pm in the evening we were all enjoying a whole chicken roast cooked by Ros on the boat – the heat from the cooking being a welcome relief from the penetrating cold and a sea temperature of only 9C.
Catching the sunset on the Ferry We’d had a lot of work done on the boat when she was out of the water. The sail drive had to be rebuilt as seawater was in the oil, we had our wind vane renewed and linked to the Raymarine Chart. But there were a few teething problems which John Stirling, the local Marina manager, helped us sort out on Sunday morning before we left.
Rosamund and I were a bit reluctant to leave as wind conditions were Force 4 gusting 5, but Andrew persuaded us that we had protection from the Kyles and should be OK. This proved to be the case and we had a decent sail up the East Kyle but had to motor up most of the West Kyle as we were head into wind.
Keeping lookout up East Kyle
We quickly passed by the Kames hotel where we’d moored last year and headed for Portavadie after we’d rounded the headland. It was getting choppier now with the wind freshening and Portavadie was a welcome refuge. It was a rough night with thunder and lightning and hail storms, but by morning the sun was shining even though the wind was too strong to go sailing.
We breakfasted with the grandchildren while Andrew travelled by bus to retrieve his car. He was back in no time and after a bacon buttie for a late breakfast we all headed to the Spa. It was fun to go outside on a freezing cold day and sink into a hot-tub with views across the white crested water of Loch Fyne – not a sail boat in sight.
The Portavadie Spa
The next day we decided, despite the bad weather, to head across Loch Fyne to Tarbert. After a short crossing we found the old harbour to be a refreshing change from the rather characterless buildings of Portavadie.
We walked into town later and had an excellent meal at Starfish with Ros being very extravagant and having their seafood special with lobster, crab, langoustines, mussels and loads of shellfish.
Ros’s Lobster extravaganza
As the weather was bad for the next 2 days we decided not to explore further up Loch Fyne, but to sail to the Crinan Canal early the next morning. Leaving at 7:00am and with a high swell on the sea, we soon arrived at Ardrishaig, the entrance port for the Crinan Canal.
We circled at least four or five time waiting for the sea lock to open – the wind was too strong to berth on the waiting pontoon.