On Tuesday we set off in ideal conditions and had a fabulous sail up to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute where we moored. Rothesay is another interesting little place, previously a resort town for holidaymakers from Glasgow in Victorian times, it now seems to be rediscovering its identity and cleaning up its small harbour and developing a marina there. Found a great fishmonger, bought supplies and disappeared again, after purchasing a couple of new leisure batteries that the friendly local Ford garage managed to get in for me overnight. While there we spent an afternoon sailing up and down Loch Striven, which has some interesting views. Sailing in lochs is something we will just have to get used to. The surrounding mountains cause frequent unexpected wind shifts, as well as shelter, meaning that we are constantly retrimming sails, sometimes seeing shifts of 180 degrees within a matter of seconds, and speeds rising from nothing to 20 knots just as quickly. No wonder we rarely see other boats here with any sails up!
Over the following few days we sailed up and down the Kyles of Bute, spending an evening anchored off the Burnt Islands at the northern tip of Bute. Then took a local mooring buoy at Port Driseach, just near Tighnabruaich for several nights. We were fortunate to speak to a fellow on another boat who told us that the buoy we'd been thinking about tying up to was not in use as the owner was away. This was great news since most of the areas marked on Admiralty charts as possible anchorages turn out to be completely covered by private moorings. Very annoying, especially as the shores of lochs are usually rocky and steep, making anchoring either impossible or dangerous. We stayed two nights and spent Saturday exploring the NW part of the island, across rugged windswept hills of heather, fields of wild yellow irises, ancient stone cairns surrounded by steep mossy forests and spectacular views back down to the jagged mountains of Arran.
Sunday saw us having a late breakfast then heading south in greyish weather down West Kyle, around the Island Inchmarnock, and Northwest back up to Lower Loch Fyne. We decided to anchor in Asgog Bay which is on a remote bit of the mainland just across the water from Tarbert. We stayed a couple of nights to do a bit of (unsuccessful) fishing, reading and to explore some of the headland, where we were told there were standing stones, of which we found one, and saw what could have been another in the distance, though it may have been a treestump... After another night a few miles further north in the Glenan Bay anchorage, we finally approached the sealock at Ardrishaig, the entrance to the Crinan Canal, the shortcut to the Sound of Jura and our passage further North.