When hurtling around Silverstone, race cars exit Druids, the final bend, and are then really able to stretch their legs. They are in their element, doing what they are designed to do and wowing all that experience them. The same was true of Ruffian as she exited the confines of the Crinan Canal and out into open water with a following breeze and sunshine. She stretched her legs and she wowed all that saw her. Well Fiona and Iain anyway. Where race cars fall over is their singlemindedness and lack of adaptability. This is not true of Ruffian as she is truly adaptable giving Iain a Birthday to remember and hosting Friends aboard.
Having spent a week in confined waters around Luing and Crinan, making sure that everything was working after Ruffian's shore side stay and then having been cooped up the in the Crinan Canal for a couple of days, the feeling of finally being in the relatively open waters of Loch Fyne was like a cloud lifting. The lifting cloud was both metaphorical and physical, as we were quickly rewarded with a hurtling downwind sail in bright sunshine before turning left making for the Kyles of Bute, or Kylies Back Passage as alluded to in earlier blogs. We think that all those who have ever been in Kylies Back Passage always want to go back for more.
Having happily stopped at the top of Loch Riddon it was time to put the boat to bed and most importantly celebrate Iain's Birthday. Iain had already been given gifts that money couldn't buy. He'd spent the day partaking in his favourite activity, sailing and with his favourite friend, Fiona. He was particularly happy with the second as she'd already posted on Facebook that he was her "most favourite husband". This meant that he was winning yet another competition. The 'Lets be Fiona's best husband competition'. Thank you Fiona for Iain's priceless presents.
The next stop was to be at Chris Helm's home port of Rothesay and take in the developments at his farm. We negotiated the Burnt Isles successfully, by guessing the tide as our pilot book made no reference as to when to go through them west to east, and stopped in Rothesay Bay. At the farm we could see that all the hard work of months past was paying dividends. The strawberries were in full crop, as were salad leaves and courgettes amongst many others. The work and investment in the future never stops and the boys were busy getting soil ready for planting as well and investing in next year with rhubarb and asparagus. On the tour of the farm we managed to harvest the pick of the crop which will supply us on Ruffian for weeks to come and feel that there is something very special about simply pulling food out of the mud knowing that it'll be on the table that night.
We had invited Chris to have dinner on board Ruffian whereby we could feed him some of his own fare. To our surprise at the allotted time, instead of Chris arriving by normal means of transportation, ie car, bike or bus, we heralded the arrival of Chris onboard his fine ship, Yellowbird, having sailed around from the next bay. This enabled us to decimate the red wine supply, as transportation home for Chris would be a quick row between boats and then a sail home in the morning.
As we are now on a bit of a mission to get south we couldn't hang around in Rothesay and take in all the things we wanted to, but being June and hence the height of summer getting to Arran would be a joy. So out into the bay we sailed and quickly put on thermals, mid layers, offshore trousers and jackets. Ear flaps up, spray masks across, hoods down, we bunkered down for the joy of a 3 hour motor sail in the rain. At least we could take in all the amazing Scottish scenery, oh no we couldn't. The visibility drew in and we could see no more than 200 yards. The one benefit of this gloom was that as we drew into Lochrazna on Arran the ruins of the castle slowly emerged from the mist and we had visions of invading this place like Vikings of yesteryear.
Tomorrow the raiding party will set foot on Arran and then we'll be again heading south where we'll find a safe harbour, to await a weather window for favourable winds, to blow us into and across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man or the Menai Straights.
Ripping down Loch Fyne in fine sunshine.
Happy birthday to you. Squashed tomatoes and stew. Bread and butter in the gutter. Happy birthday to you.
Food from mud. Remarkable.
Bute Produce's produce was blossoming.
Hmmm. Veg. That'll keep us going for a while.
Yellowbird made a surprise entrance for dinner in Rothesay Bay.
We've having to get up earlier and earlier to catch dawn.
Goodbye Yellowbird. Enjoy your dawn sail.
Sailing in June gets no better. NOT. Rain, fog, cloud and cold. Isn't it supposed to be warm when you head south?
Someone has stolen the hills on Arran.
Lochranza Castle looking moody in the evening gloom.