Leaving Ardoran

Loading the boat At Ardoran
Loading the boat At Ardoran

Rain and mist till late afternoon. Leaving Ardoran at midday, regretfully, as such a lovely, friendly place, and Colin and Helen at the boatyard such nice people. We’ll also miss the world’s best seafood stall, by the ferry terminal in Oban, so tempting I could not pass it without having mussels for breakfast several times when we were last here. The scallops cooked in wine, eaten from a disposable plastic dish, were just about the best and biggest ever, and as for the oysters and the massively filled crab sandwiches…. must go back. Continue reading “Leaving Ardoran”

Oban to Crinan

A fine day’s sail down the Sounds of Kerrera and Luing and across to Crinan, where we picked up a mooring close to the boatyard pontoon (for £15)  and went ashore for drinks and a walk round the village. Crinan Hotel has a traditional pub at the side, and good food.

Across the loch from Crinan
Across the loch from Crinan

The boatyard at Crinan is restoring one of the famous Clyde puffers, tiny ships that traded around the Hebrides and could be beached to land cargoes. Continue reading “Oban to Crinan”

Salen to Puilladobhrain and Oban

We had planned to go from Arisaig or perhaps Canna round the West of Mull to Iona, past Staff and Fingal’s Cave, but the weather was doubtful for the exposed anchorages on that side of the island so we decided to head back down the Sound of Mull again and maybe make a dash for Iona from the other direction the following day. However, half way down Tony had a call to go home to deal with a family emergency, so we diverted to Oban, first stopping at one of the best known anchorages on the Argyll coast, the tiny, tucked away Puilladobhrain.

This is the point to mention the excellent large scale charts produced of West of Scotland anchorages by Bill Bradfield using his own new surveys. Judging by a talk he gave to the Cruising Association in London in February, amateur surveying has become a passion with him, and he must now be very close to being a full professional judging by the quality of what he produces. His charts come with lots of health warnings, but we found them very accurate the dozen or so times we used them. They are available from Antares Charts.

Continue reading “Salen to Puilladobhrain and Oban”

Tobermory, Lochs Droma Buidhe & Suinart

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Towards the head of Loch Suinart

Unpleasant weather was forecast so we decided to explore nearby lochs, and dropped the idea of going past Ardnamurchan to revisit Arisaig and Loch Moidart. For lunch, we went into the delightful Loch Droma Buidhe (or Drumbie), which is found through a narrow entrance, almost invisible until you reach it, but opening out into a very pretty anchorage. Continue reading “Tobermory, Lochs Droma Buidhe & Suinart”

Ardoran to Tobermory

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David Fairhall and Tony Kennedy at Tobermory

David Fairhall joined Tony and Peter for a few days commissioning cruise, first to Tobermory in a brisk southwesterly up the Sound of Mull. This was after negotiating the interestingly shallow, narrow and winding exit from Loch Feochan (reminiscent of the east coast rivers of Suffolk and Essex where we used to be based.) We were retracing our steps from last year, when we went from Oban up past Ardnamurchan to Rhum, Arisaig and Loch Moidart among other places. Continue reading “Ardoran to Tobermory”

Fitting out at Ardoran, 4 -11 May

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First launch….

We arrived at Ardoran Marine on 4 May to stay at one of the three chalets the boatyard owns, with a few days fitting out planned. (Peter, Christine, Tony, Elaine and Nigel). Ardoran stores boats in an old quarry behind the main workshop, and we found Spring Fever in excellent condition, dry inside and well cared for, with the anti-fouling done ( a present to ourselves because of the 500 mile drive to reach her.) Continue reading “Fitting out at Ardoran, 4 -11 May”

Round Britain 2012-13: Cowes, Whitby, Inverness, Oban

This is the story of the first year of our two-year round Britain cruise in Spring Fever, a retired racing boat on a mission to go slowly (like us). A previous round Britain in 2007-8 in an earlier boat, Pepper of Brixham, had left us hungry to see more of the beautiful West of Scotland, where we had time to spend only a month sailing.We decided to go anti-clockwise, up the East Coast and down the West, rather than the clockwise route we used last time, and to use the Caledonian Canal rather than Cape Wrath and the Orkneys, which we visited in 2008. The account of our passage back from Scotland down the West Coast of Ireland in 2013  was written as a daily blog (follow this link to see all the posts) but this first part of the cruise is a single account, a photo album with words.

A cheerful start - a Robin spends time with us off Beachy Head
A cheerful start – Robin off Beachy Head

We left Cowes on 11 April 2012 for what always seems a bit of a trudge to the Thames Estuary, though with the right timing there are about 11 hours of favourable tide on the way from Beachy Head to Ramsgate, which cheers things up. After leaving Brighton, for an hour or two we were much entertained by a stray Robin’s search for a safe haven on the boat. He eventually found such a good hiding place – it was a mystery where – that we didn’t see him again until he flew off while we were entering the Deben in Suffolk more than a day later. He had hitched a 130 mile ride.

Follow this link to read the the rest of the story of our cruise up the East Coast and through the Caledonian Canal.

Round Britain in Pepper 2007-8

Goodbye, Kehaar. In  2001 we decided we were spending too much money and time on the boat we had owned for ten years, and sold her. Wouldn’t it be much more sensible to charter other peoples’ boats in nice places, and get on with our lives the rest of the time without obsessing about equipment and cruises?

Pepper of Brixham
Pepper of Brixham

For several years it worked. Hello, Seychelles, Adriatic (several times), Greece and other destinations. However, William began to investigate the idea of buying a small boat and sailing round Britain in his gap year, so naturally I helped him narrow down the choice and began to visit boatyards with him to look at ideas, with a Contessa 26 the favourite. We looked at several.

It was the beginning of a slippery slope back to boat ownership. Will changed his plans and went off round the world using other means of transport; I kept on visiting boatyards, egged on by a small inside voice telling me that it would be good to have a healthy outdoors project in the run up to retirement, and sailing round Britain could fit the bill – my own sort of gap year. The upshot was that in 2005 we bought Pepper, a Verl 900, a 30 footer with an unusually large amount of room down below for a boat from 1978, and a surprisingly good turn of speed for her top-heavy looks.

She had a new engine and Furlex, and the hull had just been resprayed professionally, but otherwise she needed a big refit, which we spread over two years, until we had new rigging, electronics, sails, ground tackle, and a host of the other odds and ends that need renewing on every boat of this generation. The plan was to go slowly, fitting a round Britain cruise into other schedules by doing it in stages, exploring as we went, and finding places to leave Pepper whenever necessary, including a winter at Oban in Argyll.

Follow this link to read about the round Britain cruise in 2007   and this link to read about the second year from Oban to the Orkneys and back down the east coast.