Sunday, 26 April 2015

2015 Season; Launch day and first short cruise of the season.

We had 'Norman James' hauled out in early March to allow the riggers to replace all the standing rigging, and some of the worn running rigging. In addition the stuffing gland was repacked along with a few other jobs carried out while the boat was ashore. Initially we had penciled in 20th April for relaunching, but we saw a weather window opening a little earlier, so the marina was contacted and the launching day was set for 17th. We drove to Largs on 15th to do a few pre-launch jobs on 16th. At 09-30 on the 17th, the boatyard staff turned up to re-step the mast and take 'Norman James' over to the pit to launch. We finally moved over to our allotted berth and spent the rest of the day and Saturday re-fitting sails, and generally getting the boat ready to sail.

'Norman James' Re-launching.

On Monday 20th April, we were ready do do a shake down cruise, and with a settled forecast we decided to make a few days of it. Heading south down Cumbrae sound we had a gentle beat on both tacks to help settle the new rigging. 

 Heading for the southern tip of the Isle of Bute.

As we approached Millport on the South end of Great Cumbrae the wind started to fade, the engine was started and we headed for the southern tip of Bute and on to Lochranza on the north west of Arran. As we approached Arran we could see several warships a submarine, and several support vessels. the submarine didn't appear on AIS but the other vessels were identified as 'NATO VESSEL XXX' - so we weren't being invaded! 

 NATO submarine with Goat Fell in the background.

On arrival in Lochranza we found that the Lochranza and Catacol moorings hadn't been laid out yet, so we anchored just of the castle, with great views out to sea and up the valley towards the mountains

Above and below : Views from the anchorage.

Spectacular sunset with crescent moon

The next morning there was no wind and we couldn't decide whether to make for Campbeltown ( south ) to East Loch Tarbert / Portavadie ( north ), in the end we headed south to Campbeltown. 

 The lighthouse on Island Davarr outside Campbeltown with Ailsa Craig in the distance.

Looking back to Island Davarr from the entry channel to Campbeltown.

On arrival at Campbeltown we found that the new marina facility was not finished, but the harbourmaster hailed us and pointed out the visitor moorings, one of which we picked up for the night.

Leaving Campbeltown.

In the morning we decided to motor the thirty odd miles over to Troon Marina to have some easy access to the shore and pick up some supplies. There was hardly a breath of wind, and the water was oily flat.

Flat water on the way to Troon. 

Pladder lighthouse on the south end of Arran.

On contacting the marina we were allocated a berth close to the exit ramp ( which was nice ). We were impressed by the timber processing industry in Troon early last season, and it was in full swing again with thousands of tree trunks being moved around.

 Timber industry in Troon outer harbour.

Troon lifeboat.

We had a couple of nights in Troon prior to setting out to return to Largs on Friday. We called up harbour control to ask permission to leave the harbour, but were asked to wait in the outer harbour while the Supercat ferry berthed.

Supercat ferry berthed outside Troon Harbour.

Five minutes later we exited the harbour and set a course for Cumbrae sound and then on to Largs where we tidied the boat and sorted ourselves out for the drive home. A few teething problems were sorted out during the week but we are now ready for the summer cruising which we hope to start at the end of May.