Sunday, 14 September 2014

Holy Loch

After an uneventful but pleasant passage of only 14NM from Lochgoilhead we were moored on the inside of the outer breakwater in Holy Loch Marina. The marina is privately run but has big ideas for development, and it will be interesting to see what progress is made in the next few years.

'NJ' moored against the outer breakwater, looking towards the head of the loch.

Next to the marina was a jetty used for the shipment of logs, not quite on the scale of that at Troon, but still a fair operation. The Holy Loch Sailing Club is just in shot on the left.

Logging activity with the marina behind.

We had a pleasant walk along the shore to the outskirts of Dunoon where we had an impromptu picnic whilst watching the Dunoon / Gourock ferrys coming and going.

The view from Holy Loch Pier back towards the village and war memorial.

The Dunoon / Gourock ferry terminal at Dunoon.

Holy Loch village and the marina from the war memorial.

We left Holy Loch after lunch and had a good vigorous sail to Rothesay on Bute. After three nights in Rothesay we set out for Largs Marina, having a good downwind sail. We booked into the marina, and after a day sorting the boat we caught the train to go home for a few weeks.

Saturday, 13 September 2014


About 15 years ago we had had a family holiday in a cottage in Lochgoilhead, so a trip by sea was definately in order. After leaving James Watt Dock a course was set to take us in to Loch Long       ( Loch Goil is a spur off Loch Long ). Turning north in to Loch Long itself we saw a Naval vessel patrolling in the loch, the AIS system identified the vessel as HMS Grimsby. 

HMS Grimsby patrolling in Loch Long

As we approached Finart Bay we kept to the west side of the loch as instructed as we passed the navy facility at Coulport, and shortly afterwards turned to port into Loch Goil.

Loch Long

The entrance to Loch Goil

 On arriving at the head of the loch, we picked up a Loch Goil Jetty Trust mooring just off the cottage we had holidayed in so many years ago.

Lochgoilhead, with the dinghy jetty to the right.

Our holiday cottage from years ago.

 There was lots of waterborn activiity with sailing dinghys, and groups of kids in Canadian canoes. We had a peaceful night on the mooring before re-tracing our track down Loch Long and on to the marina at Holy Loch.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

James Watt Dock

We left Kip Marina at 13-20 on 12th August, and after passing Cloch Point lighthouse, we entered the buoyed channel into the Clyde at 14-30, and moored in James Watt Dock Marina at 15-00.

Cloch Point Lighthouse.

Part of the buoyed channel, and the entrance to James Watt Dock.

The Dock was formerly a sugar dock, and the wharfe building were owned by Tate & Lyle who started their sugar empire here. The dock itself is bisected by a tongue with the main part of the marina in the area between the tongue and the wharfe buildings

'NJ' on an alongside portion of pontoon adjacent to the tongue. 

Looking back towards the entrance from the end of the tongue.

Some of the more impressive inhabitants of the dock were three tugs which were operated by Clydeport, one of these, the 'Svitzer Milford', we had previously seen in 2012 in Milford Haven. 

The 'Svitzer Milford' tug maneuvering in the dock.

Having been suffering from harbour rot in Kip, we only stayed one night in James Watt Dock before setting off for Loch Goilhead via Loch Long.


After paying for our mooring in Loch Ranza, we headed out around the north coast of Arran sailing hard on the wind on starboard tack, then to the southernmost point of Bute ( Garroch Head ). Now heading north between Kilchattan Bay on Bute and The Cumbrae Islands we made good time untill the wind died out at about 13-20, the engine was started and we motored at about 6Kts towards Inverkip and KIP Marina. With about 4NM to go we were treated to the sight of a small group of Porpoises, and at just after 15-00 'NJ' was moored in Kip Marina.

Kip Marina from the entrance, with 'NJ' in the centre

The forecast for the next few days was not very good, with strong winds and rain promised, we ended up staying four nights, and had a few good walks, did general cleaning and maintenance, and provisioned the boat.

Looking south down the Firth of Clyde with Arran in the distance.

Looking northwest with Dunoon in the distance.

Finally on 12th August we left the marina for the short hop up to James Watt Dock on the Clyde.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Loch Ranza

The passage up to Loch Ranza was a pleasant 4.5 hours mix of sailing under genneker and motorsailing.

Genneker sailing.

 As we approached our destination it looked as if we would get a good dousing from a very black cloud, but this held off until 15 minutes after we had picked up a mooring, and were down below enjoying a coffee!

View from the mooring towards the head of the Loch.

Loch Ranza village and the ferry pier.

One of the Loch Ranza & Catacol Sailing Association moorings.

In the morning we dropped off the mooring and motored over to the jetty to pay our dues before setting out for Kip Marina.

Mull of Kintyre and Campbeltown : August 4th, 5th, & 6th

The passage from Port Ellen to Campbeltown was more of an undertaking than most of our recent days, with a distance of about 45NM and the rounding of another major tidal gate in the Mull of Kintyre. The wind was variable through the day with good stints of sailing indispersed with periods of motor sailing. The views from the boat were spectacular with the ever present Kintyre peninsular looming ahead, Islay receding behind, and to the south, Raithlin Island, the northern coast of northern Ireland, and the Galloway coat to the south east. Although we did see a little broken water in places our passage was uneventful, with a significant acceleration as we navigated around the Mull headed into Sanday Sound between Kintyre and Sanday Island. Maximum observed speed over the ground was 8.6Kts.

Rounding the Mull of Kintyre

Sanday Island.

Looking west towards the Mull from Sanday Sound.

As we turned North towards Campbeltown the wind dropped, but with the assistance of the engine we maintained a speed of 7Kts or so. As we approached Cambeltown, Island Davaar came into view, this has a covering shingle spit which connects the island to the land preventing what would be a tempting shortcut!

Island Davaar, the shingle spit is to the left of the island.

A short while later we were tied up safely to the long leisure boat pontoon next to the harbour.

The pontoon at Campbeltown, 'NJ' on the outer end.

We were pleasantly surprised by Cambeltown, with it's sturdy pontoon, a good supermarket near by, and many impressive buildings including the Royal Hotel where the pontoon dues were collected. We will be interested to see what transpires over the winter as a major expansion of the yacht facilities is planned, with the existing pontoon being removed in November.

The Royal Hotel, one of many impressive buildings.

We made up for our premature depature from Port Ellen with a three night stay in Cambeltown which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Islay Sound and Port Ellen

The anchor was raised at 09-05, after a comfortable night despite the near gale, and by 09-45 we had cleared the entrance to Loch Tarbert having taken advantage of the much improved weather to take several photo's.

The boats log records the wind as a 'flat calm' which surprised us after the howler the night before! As we entered Islay Sound the boat accelerated steadily, reaching a maximum over the ground of 9.3Kts.

The 'Paps of Jura' from Islay Sound.

Islay seems to be the epicentre of whiskey distilling, as we passed through the sound, and then south to Port Ellen we noted at least six distilleries proudly displaying their names on the seaward facing walls.

Bunnahabhain Distillery in Islay Sound.

When we arrived at Port Ellen, the small marina was full, so we headed over to the other side of the bay, and anchored off the beach - one of the interesting aspects of this area is the very small tidal range ( LW 0.4m, HW 0.8m for the day ) which makes anchoring very easy.

Anchored off the beach.

Port Ellen Harbour from the anchorage.

The intention had been to spend a couple of days at Port Ellen, but with 'no room at the Inn' and the tide fair to round the Mull of Kintyre the next day we decided to note Islay for a future visit, and head off to Campbeltown on the east facing side of the Kintyre peninsular.