Last Monday (8th June), Mister E and I seized the opportunity of what we understood would be a calm weather window and set off on a four day voyage. Our time away was limited by a dental appointment for Mister E and a family party on Saturday evening, and the plan was therefore to round the Mull of Kintyre and spend two days on Gigha before returning to Troon and then home.
The one thing I have learned about sailing over the years is never to rely on that weather forecast and that everything is always at least twice as cold, wet and windy as we expect. Hence I can only blame our lapses in preparation on the fact that it was our first outing this year. I should, of course, have gone with instinct and taken a hot water bottle in addition to my heavy duty sleeping bag, inner lining and blanket. Instead I had to rely on socks and multiple layers of clothing to stay warm in bed.
I also assumed that two towels would be sufficient when of course in the absence of perfect conditions, they never seem to dry again after use. As for the total absence of sun tan cream on board after a late autumn clear out, whatever were we thinking? Having learnt the hard way in the past, that was definitely something that we could not set off without and so I made a quick trip into town before setting sail in order to acquire some of that high protection white lotion.
It was cool and overcast when we set off shortly after 10am and although the sky brightened on our South Westerly course, a chilly wind dominated.
As a result I remained well wrapped up and did not bother applying that sun tan lotion. An error that I regretted later that evening. Offshore, the sun strikes noses brutally!
By 3pm I had run out of fleeces to add to my various layers of clothing. Of course, those bronzed gods that appear on all the promotional literature for boats had abandoned our vessel long before we took delivery and although some warmth was generated by pulling ropes and winding winches, it really wasn't sufficient. At that point, approaching the Mull of Kintyre (made absurdly famous by Paul McCartney and a band of pipers but in reality notorious for its wind and tides), with 2 reefs in the mainsail, an increasing wind and only me for crew, Mister E made the decision to turn around and we headed into Campbeltown for the night.
Anchored in the lock we were well-sheltered from the wind and I spent the night being rocked gently in the bow of the boat. In fact the experience was not unfamiliar to one I once had in a flotation chamber at a day spa. There, artistic types apparently flock to float in salt water inside a darkened tank, and where the effect on the senses is purportedly to generate new and imaginative ideas. Of course, all I got in Campbeltown was a vivid dream but I'm sure it is something that, given time, we may be able to market!
The next morning we were greeted by much calmer conditions and on emerging from Campbeltown Loch pointed Northwards and sailed (assisted by the motor on occasions) up Kilbrannan Sound between Kintyre and Arran. The Argyll mainland is an absolute delight of hidden beaches and beautiful countryside, although you don't always get to see it in such lovely sunshine, which is why it probably remains so unspoiled.
Our destination was Lochranza on Arran, where we arrived mid-afternoon, mooring overnight to a visitor's buoy. It really was an idyllic setting both on the water and, when we went ashore, in the village itself.
We had a pleasant stroll on land, taking in and exploring the interiors of the ruined castle (there is always something slightly thrilling about climbing spiral staircases even when you know they are only going to lead to the open air) and the local bar, as well as around the village. Unfortunately my camera chose to run out of battery power shortly after our arrival and that lack of preparation I referred to at the beginning of this blog entry meant that I had not even brought the charging lead! I did have my phone, but that was, of course, flat too! Ah well, it saved dropping either or both of them overboard from the dinghy; you have to look on the bright side, after all.