Sunday, 2 September 2012

Tighnabruaich 2012.

Last year I was only able to make it to the OCSG Tighnabruaich meet for one day of sailing (and an overnight stay), nevertheless it was an eventful trip and I learnt a lot about sailing a canoe in more exposed waters.
This year I had five days off work and Val decided to come and see what it was all about as well so a longer stay was on the cards.
We'd hoped to depart for Tighnabruaich by lunchtime on Friday but as is often the way packing the van took longer than anticipated and it was after 3pm by the time we got away. It's not a long drive for us and the scenery on the way is great so we took our time and took in the views.
On arrival at the campsite at Carry Farm there were a few folks there already. We chose a spot next door to Graham which was right next to the beach and had a lovely view up towards Tighnabruiach and Kames.
This was the view north from the front of our awning, not too shabby!
It took us a while to get set up as we took all our camping gear and we're a bit out of practice at setting everything up (Val and I used to be quite quick at doing this when we were better practiced). Once we'd set up camp and caught up with the others who were present I sorted out Aylen. There was no wind so I didn't feel too bad about our later arrival and the lack of sailing accomplished on Friday. I parked Aylen on the grass ready to go for Saturday if there was more wind. In the meantime Tom arrived and after he'd set up camp we all congregated around a bonfire on the beach. Val had made a birthday cake for Graham which was enjoyed by everybody.
On Saturday morning I woke fairly late and there wasn't much wind in evidence again. It was nice and sunny though so I decided to spend some time around camp with Val. Tom and Graham went to try and catch some fish and to search for driftwood for that nights fire while Dave and Jan Poskitt set sail for Tighnabruaich.
Dave and Hilary were using Gavin's campervan (they'd spent the previous two weeks supporting Gavin on his epic attempt to sail round Britain) and they went off shopping for supplies prior to Gavin's scheduled arrival from Arran that afternoon. Val and I lazed about and I trial-pitched my new two man tent for the first time so that I'd know how to do it in future. At lunchtime Dave and Hilary returned so Dave and I decided to sail south towards Arran to meet up with Gavin and keep him company on the final leg of his amazing trip. As fate would have it though Gavin sailed into view off Carry Point just as we were about to launch to meet him!
 At least we were able to provide a modest welcoming party to meet him.

 After that Dave and I decided to sail north in an attempt to meet up with Graham and Tom. Initially the wind was really light and we messed about experimenting with different paddle sailing techniques however a huge black cloud to the north of us seemed to be heading in our direction and almost inevitably it started to rain.
 We about turned and headed back towards Carry Point. The rain intensified and everyone except Tom and I raced for shelter. We carried on sailing about as small squalls blew through making for some slightly better (albeit very wet) sailing conditions.

 After a while we both became a bit cold so we headed in and got dried off.
That evening the rain abated so we had a barbeque on the beach.
Afterwards we used the barbeque as a basis for a campfire (although it was altogether a more modest affair than the previous nights inferno!)
The forecast for Sunday was much better for sailing so the whole group decided to try and circumnavigate Inchmarnock island (which lies off the west coast of Bute). Val decided not to come as she knew it would mean a long period in the canoe but Hilary decided to join Dave and Katherine was having her first sail in Stacey (Gavin's boat). Jeff and Ellen had arrived the previous evening as well and as usual they were both going on the trip as well as Dave and Jan Poskitt in their respective boats.
I ended up rushing about to get ready so was late signing out, I noticed that Tom and Graham had buddied up for the trip so I joined their group (I've spent a lot of time sailing with Graham so this seemed a natural choice). Although I was slow getting on the water once I'd launched I quickly caught Graham and Tom. It's a revelation sailing Aylen with the added performance she offers over my open canoe, where in the past I'd sailed one of the slower canoes, I now have one of quicker ones!
We all set off on a tack that we hoped would take us beyond Ardlamont point (which is the end of the peninsula that Tighnabruaich is on). When I turned round I could see our whole little fleet stretching out across the loch.
Ahead across a not insignificant stretch of open water lay our destination, Inchmarnock.
Although we'd hoped to make it past the end of Ardlamont Point on one tack we were forced to go about in order to clear it. Here's Dave P in his Fulmar just after tacking.
The wind was better than the previous day but not hugely strong but as we progressed further south we started to encounter more choppy sea conditions.
Before we left the relative safety of Ardlamont Point I double checked with Tom that he was happy to take on the increasingly lively chop, he was. Graham and I both reefed our sails to slow our boats down and make it easier to sail as a group with Tom (whose sail was 35sq ft compared to our 53). At this point the rest of the group started to leave our threesome behind but we remained in touch on the VHF.
It seemed to take us an age to tack down the west side of Inchmarnock once we'd crossed the open stretch. I could hear on the radio that Gavin was already looking for a landing place for lunch at the southern end of the island while the rest of the fleet were spread out in between.
Eventually we rounded the southern tip of Inchmarnock and could see the rest of the boats anchored in a bay on the southeastern side.
Soon we'd joined them and all the boats were bobbing at anchor in the bay or pulled up on the beach as we ate lunch.
It had taken a long time to reach this point so we didn't linger (although the others had been waiting for us for quite a while). We set off again (downwind this time) back up the eastern side of Inchmarnock.

Over to the east was Ettrick Bay on Bute and Jeff and Ellen and the Poskitts headed over that way.
 We stayed close to Inchmarnock and tried to take a more direct route home. At the northern end of the island were Keith and Ann who'd arrived that afternoon and had sailed out to meet us. The bay where they'd landed was populated with curious seals who followed us and watched us as we sailed over to say hello.
The run downwind passed uneventfully and as ever took a fraction of the time that beating upwind had taken.
Keith and Ann, Dave and Hilary and Gavin and Katherine with a moody looking Arran behind them.
Graham passing Ardlamont Point with the afternoon sun behind.
Soon we were back at Carry Point safely and according to my GPS I'd sailed 21 miles. 
We pulled the boats up and unstepped the masts in preparation for the gale force winds that were forecast for the following day. Unfortunately Tom had to head for home that evening to return to work on Monday morning.
On Sunday night the wind picked up as predicted and by morning it was pouring down as well. The wind was forecast to gust up to 43mph and it was much too windy to contemplate sailing. I walked down to the point to see what the sea looked like and take a few photos (which don't do justice to the conditions).

The day was spent sheltering from the weather until late afternoon when things improved a little. On Monday night we all went out for dinner to the Kames Hotel.
Val and I had to return home on Tuesday so we packed up the camping stuff in the morning while it was dry. Keith and Ann and Jeff and Ellen set off on an ambitious trip to sail round the top of Bute then Portage back across the island to Ettrick Bay before sailing back across to Carry Point.

 After we'd piled all the camping gear in the van I went out for a local sail with Graham for a few hours. The wind was quite strong from the south so we sailed in and out of the shelter of Carry Point. When we went out into the open water the wind was much stronger and there was a big swell running which contrasted with the sheltered water behind the point.
I got some decent piccies of Graham blasting along (although as usual the conditions look much more benign than they felt). I managed to clock 9.3mph surfing the swell back in (with one reef left in) and Graham looked to be going at least as fast.
Val took a few photos of me from the shore.
 We packed up just as the heavens opened again so I loaded my boat onto the van still dressed in my drysuit then it was hasty goodbyes and the drive home. Just as we were leaving the intrepid adventurers sailed into view having successfully completed their trip around the top of and across the Isle of Bute.
It was another great meet and a chance to try the new canoe in some more challenging conditions which has left me hungry for more.
Here's some video footage that I got on Monday while we were sailing towards Inchmarnock.

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