Rosamund and I had been planning to sail up Loch Fyne since we first arrived in the Firth of Clyde in 2015, but the opportunity had evaded us. Now we had both the time and a weather break to get to that cherished Oyster Bar at the head of the loch or so we thought…
We left Ardnishaig mid-morning in much calmer seas than our new sailing friends had experienced the day before*. We had a lovely sail up Loch Fyne for 3 hours reaching almost Inveraray before we had to take the mainsail down and motor the rest of the way. We picked up one of the Oyster Bar moorings about half a mile from the head of the lake and took the dinghy the rest of the way, leaving her on a beach at high tide. We had read that it was not straightforward to get to the restaurant. This was no exaggeration as we had to find sticks and hack our way through the undergrowth to find the road and eventually the restaurant. The effort was worth it. The food was wonderful and we were also able to stock up on good bread and fish at the deli.
We made good progress with a SE wind until we approached Inveraray (left). Right: the head of the Loch with the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar the white blob in the far distance.
By the time we left it was getting dark – it was now after the equinox and we were noticing how the sun was setting significantly earlier each evening. While we had been relaxing in the restaurant, the tide had left our dinghy high and dry – almost 2 cables from the waterline. Ros commented later that it rather detracted from the wonderful experience having to lift the dinghy through the mud so far. Ever the optimist, I said, “at least it’s firm, we could be sinking up to our knees!”, but was secretly thinking I should have brought my waders as a precaution. Even when we reached the water’s edge, the water was so shallow we had to wade another cable before Ros could get in. Then I had to row for a while until I had the depth to get the outboard started.
Clockwise from top left – hacking through the undergrowth to get to the restaurant (dinghy at high tide in the distance); Ros with her oysters; the view from the restaurant down the loch to where Milo was moored and looking back to the restaurant when we eventually got the dinghy back to the waterline
The next day there would be no wind and the tide turned early, so by 7:15am we’d slipped our mooring and were gently motoring SW through the morning mist. As we approached Inveraray we could see that we were experiencing more than an early morning mist – the promised sunny day did not materialise – instead we headed into a full thick sea fog and I had to get Rosamund up from below to stand on the foredeck with the foghorn.
The changing views of Inveraray in the mist
Ros with the foghorn on the foredeck
The calm sea was mirror-like and, as the mist was patchy, it led to some very interesting reflections. The mirror-like sea also meant we saw several schools of porpoises passing us, which we might normally have missed. We’d mentioned before that one of the things we both like about sailing is the unexpected and this was certainly that and a fine substitute for the expected sunny day.
Leaving one sea mist behind us
Beautiful reflections created by the calm sea
The scary moments were nearly running into marker buoys and fish farms. The chart plotter was a godsend, but not being able to see more than 100m at times was unnerving – suddenly 5 knots seemed very fast.
Portavadie Spa – when we last visited, there was a beautiful view – this time just sea mist
Our safe arrival at Portavadie Marina in the mist was largely down to satellite navigation. The Portavadie spa, with its infinity and hydro pools and sauna were most welcome after our cold misty start.
Safely berthed in Portavadie Marina. It was sunny over land, but at sea, as can be seen in the distance, it was still misty
* When we looked at the Marine Traffic website, we realised that Whisper had left Otter Ferry very early the morning we enter Loch Fyne and was tacking toward Largs, so we would not meet them at the restaurant that night after all. It was only later (see their comment on our “Crinan Again” blog) that we learned that their starter motor had burnt out and they had to head for their home port as soon as possible while the winds lasted. I’m pleased to say they made it. And I’d thought they were just sailing enthusiasts!!