27. We Didn’t Go To Sea!

Unlike the Walkers in the Arthur Ransome book We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea, we had to think about mundane things such as insurance. Although to be fair I think fog had a large influence on their trip.

Straight from Crew Allocation Day we drove up to Heathrow and caught the plane to Glasgow where John’s brother picked us up for a week’s sailing around the Clyde. The week before, John had spent a day slicing what was left of the birthday cake featured in post 24 (the large bit at the bottom) into wedges and packing it up for this voyage. What the security made of triangular chunks of aluminium foil surrounding soft material I don’t know but it arrived with us!

Our sailing area

We had a 40 footer for six of us (I could have stolen another Arthur Ransome title and called this post The Big Six). What was confusing was that four of us have the same surname and three the same first name (which meant we kept thinking there were seven of us). This boat was very spacious compared to what MBB will face from September.

Seating as well!

Sunday night we had a good meal at Scotts on Largs Marina, just in case we were marooned during the week and never saw land again. We set off on Monday morning once all the food was aboard. If this is what six people need for five days (for two of which we ate ashore) then I cannot imagine how Clipper stocks up for each leg. I found out that you need constant infusions of tea or coffee and cake during the day, lunch on the move and something after dinner each night, even if you’ve been on land and had a good restaurant meal.

Largs Marina

We headed towards Little Cumbrae and practiced mooring alongside a pontoon, tacking and gybing. I learn to sail in Grimsby docks as a teenager, then many years later went to Poole harbour. My speciality is capsizing boats so I nobly decided that we could do without a dipping and the two Clipper sailors needed to practice things more than I did. Not sure how many pontoons they’ll find in the ocean though. After this we headed to Holy Loch then did a bit of night sailing up to Gareloch (Faslane). We’d seen porpoises and eider ducks along the way which was pretty exciting plus a number of naval craft but nothing big.

Moored up.

The next morning we set off for the Kyles of Bute and practiced some man overboard (MOB) with a couple of fenders tied together. I can now send a Mayday signal if necessary as well as spot the casualty in the water. A little while after, we had a real emergency HOB (hat overboard). Lucky we’d practiced! The hat was rescued but needed to dry out so the hat you first saw on post 14 came in useful.

Keeping the sun off

During the day I’d had a go at navigating (under supervision), I think that could be my forte with a bit of training. We’d had light winds most of the week so had to use the engine to make sure we arrived on time each evening (that is, on time to settle down for the night and have a meal). We headed to Portavadie for the night and had a great meal, so good that the only photo I have of us all is out of focus (hic!)

The Big Six

We then headed to Lamlash, inside Holy Island and moored up on a buoy rather than in a marina, so we didn’t go ashore that night. I had a little taste of going without a shower for a day or two. For a month? No thank you! As previously mentioned, after saying hello to my two at each port it’ll be straight into the showers.

John at the helm

On the final day we sailed into Largs to have a shower (thanks) then off to Rothesay for our final night, eating at Harry Haws, more casual than the photo above from Portavadie but just as enjoyable. We learnt from our amazingly informative waiter that the castle had been on the waterside but the Victorians had infilled such that now you can’t see the water from it. Next visit we’ll have more time there as it all sounded very interesting. I missed going into it, but there is a famous Victorian listed gentlemen’s toilet block (see the photo below).

Rothesay Gents
George at the helm (wondering what’s ahead)

Friday we sailed back to Largs, had a big fry-up on the boat to finish off the leftovers, handed the boat back and flew home. Great excitement on the way back to the Marina, we had to keep tacking around as a submarine appeared on the surface! (I have a photo but you’d not know what it is due to the distance, looks like a stick in the water).

Me reading!

Next time, more information about the Teams that George and John are in.

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