Thursday, May 31, 2007

Isle of Man to Arran

From the Isle of Man we sailed almost due north on the 15th of May and finally sighted Scotland. The Mull of Galloway, as photographed below through the lens of the binoculars.

As has frequently been the case, the wind died down and we motored up the hammerhead coastline past Portpatrick and around into the shelter of Loch Ryan where we anchored overnight, again next to Waveney Harrier and Farida. Just around the entrance to Loch Ryan is a nice little anchorage, but it suffers heavily from the wash of passing ferries on their way between Stranraer, Dublin and Belfast. I was preparing to pan fry some sea bass filets when one went by and I discovered I was one hand short when trying to grab two pots of vegetables and a pan of hot oil to stop them sliding onto the floor. After that, a ferry watch was established until dinner was ready! So we weren't at all disappointed the following morning to weigh anchor and set a course due north, past the dome-shaped Ailsa Craig to the Isle of Arran. Rain showers and wet mist greeted us, presenting Holy Island in a ghostly shroud. We didn't step ashore on Holy Island, which is inhabited only by Buddhist monks, although there is a landing area provided for visitors.

Holy Island

Lamlash Harbour
We drifted into Lamlash harbour and dropped the hook amongst the moorings just off the town quay. Eager to set foot for the first time on Scottish soil, we jumped into the dinghy and rowed ashore in search of warm hospitality, which we found at the pub which has a tandoori restaurant attached. We hung our dripping wet weather gear in the adjoining hallway and happily made use of both. That evening was folk music night where local musicians get together for an open mike session. Guitars, violins, pipes and voices. The quality of music was somewhat variable but was definitely improved by several pints of ale as the evening progressed.
The next morning, despite unusually shifting and stalling winds, we decided to make use of the free mooring buoys provided a few miles up the Arran coast in Brodick harbour, in order to wait out the strong winds that were predicted over the following few days. Indeed, they were strong, up to F9 which made us glad not to have to keep an anchor watch. Fortunately in such areas there is not enough distance for much swell to develop, but the winds were hard and cruel, dislodging again one of the wind generator mounting brackets which was a weak point anyway, following an incident last year in the Solent with a lobster pot :) During the first night of howling winds the Arran lifeboat towed in an apparently disabled Bavaria yacht with at least four or five crew aboard to a nearby mooring. Couldn't work out what was wrong with it as they sailed off again the next day.
Brodick Harbour
Brodick Harbour
Goat Fell
The Isle of Arran provided some lovely walking areas, lush almost tropical low forest, and a long sandy beach around Brodick Bay with the tall mountain, Goat Fell, above, often obscured by cloud. After several days of rain and wind we finally awoke to sunshine and decided it was time to get a move on.