A week on the Clyde wasn’t enough! Join Elaine Cameron who chartered with Sailaway Scotland Yacht Charter:
Saturday (10 nm)
Arriving at Largs Yacht Haven on a sunny Saturday afternoon, it was hard to believe that only an hour after collecting our bags at the airport we were aboard our home for the week - Avocet, a very comfortable Bavaria 37. A friendly handover briefing covered all key aspects of the yacht and also gave us some great ideas for lunchtime anchorages and overnight stops.
Our gear and food stowed, we ventured out from the marina and set course for Port Bannatyne on the Isle of Bute.
We were amazed and delighted to see porpoises, guillemots, and diving gannets so soon after leaving Largs marina!
Later, we berthed at Port Bannatyne marina in time to watch the sun set behind the low hills of the island, before retreating into Avocet’s saloon for dinner.
Sunday (18 nm)
Bacon rolls all round, before heading north into the Kyles of Bute.
Once in the East Kyle we were astounded by the sheer beauty of the place and at how narrow the Kyle was in comparison to the river - a stark and beautiful contrast.
As we approached the Burnt Isles narrows, the paddle steamer Waverley overtook us, her paddles beating a steady rhythm as she thundered her way past and through the main narrows channel – only just fitting between the buoys!
We anchored behind the little island at the idyllic anchorage of Caladh, - the only yacht there - soaking up the tranquility of the place and watching the seals and herons.
After lunch we set course for Portavadie on Loch Fyne, reaching down the West Kyle towards the stunning backdrop of the Isle of Arran.
Turning west out of the Kyle we punched our way up Loch Fyne, an exhilarating sail which provided the ultimate feel good factor, arriving at Portavadie feeling refreshed and energised!
Once berthed, we appreciated the marina’s piping hot showers before relaxing in its contemporary, very comfortable bar and restaurant.
Monday (23 nm)
We awoke to a still morning, not a breath of wind, and motored out onto a glassy Loch Fyne, so unlike the lively conditions we’d encountered the previous day! Hoping to explore the upper reaches of the Loch, we were delighted when a light breeze from the south appeared and built up to a lovely steady wind to push Avocet further up the loch. We were on the look-out for the Otter Spit Beacon which we were to pass to starboard; just beyond that, we headed in towards the Oystercatcher pub and restaurant at Otter Ferry. We picked up one of their visitors moorings and rowed ashore to enjoy a beer and delicious lunch outside on the lawn - bare feet and all! All agreed we could easily have spent another week exploring Loch Fyne – and hopefully we will, another time...
An hour or so later it was time to tack our way back down the loch heading for our overnight stop which was the traditional fishing village of Tarbert, Loch Fyne. We berthed Avocet at the visitors pontoon, then meandered around the harbour and into the town, where we enjoyed a bar meal and a bottle of wine, or two.
Tuesday (18 nm)
Another bright morning and after breakfast ashore, we headed out of Loch Fyne and over to Ettrick Bay on the west side of Bute. Anchored there temporarily - and well off its shelving, mile long sandy beach - we had the whole bay to ourselves.
A few of the crew celebrated that achievement with a run ashore in the dinghy for coffee & cakes at a little beachside cafe.
That afternoon we sailed over to Lochranza, a dramatic loch on Arran’s northwest coast. As we neared its entrance, we drifted really close to a basking shark, weaving its way past us without a backward glance. Both we and it were open-mouthed! Once in Lochranza we picked up a visitor’s mooring, then relaxed in the cockpit marvelling at the high Arran peaks and the sunset glowing red over Kintyre. Next time, we plan to visit the local distillery…
Wednesday (20 nm)
A great sail down the Kilbrannan Sound to Campbeltown, pausing only for lunch on a visitors mooring off the tiny fishing village of Carradale. Then we continued south, identifying the lighthouse on the island of Davaar and passing north of that into Campbeltown Loch itself, berthing alongside the town pontoon. After dinner aboard we wandered up to the Royal Hotel for a dram, meeting up with some further-travelled sailors from Norway and Sweden, en route around the Mull of Kintyre.
Thursday (24 nm)
A brisk west wind brought us back down the loch in no time and on towards Lamlash, a beautiful natural harbour on the east coast of Arran. Once safely past Pladda lighthouse, we were able to head north and soon the striking outline of the Holy Isle came in to view.
Passing that to starboard, we entered Lamlash bay and picked up a visitors mooring for the night.
Friday (18 nm)
With the breeze building, we hoisted sail in Lamlash bay and left Arran behind, looking back at Goatfell, its highest peak. After passing between the Lesser and Greater Cumbrae islands we anchored at Millport, a pretty town on Great Cumbrae, enjoying lunch and ice-creams ashore before making our final short passage back to Largs.
With Avocet safely berthed, we strolled along the coastal path that runs from the marina into the town of Largs, later enjoying a delicious meal at Lounge restaurant, whose chef (we were told...) is regularly to be seen walking down to Largs pier to pick the best of the day’s catch!
Up early to clean the boat, pack up our belongings, hand the yacht back and enjoy a final crew breakfast ashore, before heading home to plan our next cruise…
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