If cleanliness is next to godliness, then Ruffian, Fiona, Iain and even Larry have been elevated to a position of exaltation due to our activities. We have also had the most eye opening time with Chris Helm who has shown us hospitality without bounds and agricultural insight a plenty.
The sail from Kilchatton Bay to Kames Bay at Port Bannatyne was the similar to many of the other sails we've had over the past couple of weeks, as in upwind. We are finally understanding how to get Ruffian to go upwind now, as we've come to the conclusion that she isn't a race boat and the sail's are not blades that create masses of lift and big acceleration in the slot (that's enough of technical sailing talk). This is really one of the beauties of being able to do what we are, that we are able to learn so much about the boat, the sea and each other.
Once in Port Bannatyne we were able to hitch up with Chris Helm. We cannot think Chris enough for his hospitality. It was abound from the moment that we tied up; as we tied up on his mooring; just across the water from his local; in front of his house; which is equipped with all the amenities that you have in a house and all the above he let us use without limit. Thank you so much Chris. With the open access to a washing machine and a bathroom, all inhabitants on Ruffian are so clean we squeak and all our clothes are washed and dried as we changed Chris's house from a home into a Chinese laundry.
Chris works on the island with disadvantaged young people, helping them back into work through the medium of farming. The medium of farming not only gives them a new skill that is required on the island but enhances all the soft skills such as giving structure to their time, self-confidence and achievement in harvesting a crop. We were lucky enough to be able to have a tour of the farm, which although being only 6 acres, has a massive array of produce, from herbs and spices to soft fruit and root vegetables. This is then sold into the local community meaning that the efforts of the farm are self-financing. We learnt all about crop rotation, companion planting, wildlife corridors, soil conditioning, edible weeds, the list just goes on and on. It goes to show that small scale farming can be both environmentally friendly and also financially viable. Well done Chris, you should be an inspiration to us all. If anyone is interested further then please visit www.buteproduce.org.uk.
As a bit of a confession we are now having a bit of a provisioning nightmare on Ruffian. Foolishly when we slipped lines all the way back in March we provisioned the boat fully from a local supermarket but we didn't think about the long term availability of homemade marmalade supplies. We have now opened the last jar of homemade orange marmalade. We happily munched our way through all of Pamela's excellent produce and have now opened the jar that was given to us by Isobel's mother, which is also proving to be of outstanding quality. We are very much in a quandary as to what to do to replenish our supplies. We do not have the equipment (or the skill) to make any ourselves and if marmalade is posted to Ruffian, On the Sea, UK, we don't think it will find it's way to us. Any suggestions as to how to resolve this serious situation would be gratefully received.
On Friday night Ruffian proved to be an excellent social venue as, for the first time since we left, we have now entertained on board. Ruffian provided the starter, main and cheese board whilst Chris provided homemade bread and some of the crunchy green produce from his farm. Usually after you host friends at your home the end of the evening is when things start to wind down. This is not the case when you entertain 'offshore'. After dinner Chris was duly 'run home', in the dark, on trusty 'Thug' and deposited on the beach. Thug was then re-launched into the surf and most notably into the fields of invisible seaweed that were waiting to ensnare the outboard prop in the dark. The sacrificial cotter pin that drives the prop then snapped, as designed, and Iain was faced with a 100 yard upwind row. He finally made it home, cold and soaked but safe to the relief of Fiona.
Over the next few days we'll be making our way around the top of Bute and then into Loch Fyne, probably heading towards Port Tarbet. It looks like we've got some significant weather on the way and we want to be safely tied up in harbour before it arrives. For those of you who now how to read GRIB files I've included a screenshot below of the latest GRIB, for those of you who don't, blue=rain=bad, red/pink/orange arrows=LOTS of wind=bad.
Yep. Fiona thinks its still cold.
More upwind work.
Yep. Iain Thinks it still cold.
Ruffian moored on Chris's boey.
Picturesque Kames Bay.
Chris with some fine produce.
If you want more info this is where to go.
Iain Bag making.
In the 'local'. You can just make out our home through the window.
Yet another sunset.
Thats a scary GRIB.