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Erm? They're Clive and Les aren't they?

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Campbeltown 17th August

Yacht Quintet
at Anchor
Campbeltown Loch

17th August, 2005

<-Bangor 16th August Tarbert 18th August->

Poor Clive was not good this morning. Not 'mal de Guinness' this time. Clive has a serious cold. He's barking like a whole pack of hounds, poor wretch. But will he take anything for it? No, of course not.

'Medicines never do any good.' he grunted when I offered to pick him up something soothing while I went for the fresh bread and milk this morning.

I got back from the supermarket and we sat down to eggs, bacon and tomato and the usual freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee and discussed plans for the day. We decided that we should go for Scotland as winds were probably going north pretty soon and we might be stuck here for days. So at just before noon, all chores complete, we left the comforting walls of Bangor Harbour and headed out into Belfast Lough.

Click for a larger imageIt was dull and overcast and presaged rain as we motored north. We decided to run the engine to charge the batteries for a full hour even though we had a moderate sailing wind. So it was nearly 1.00 pm when we finally raised sail and switched of the motor. Soon after that, we rounded the Black Head Light, which guards the northern headland of Belfast Lough, and headed for the Mull of Kintyre.

Then began a long, damp passage to Scotland, with a roiling sea and a following wind the boat was yawing back and forth and pulling my arm out of its socket. I should point out that on most passages which are within the period of a day, I prance around the deck a bit, putting away mooring gear at the start of the day, hoisting sails as appropriate and dropping them at the end of the day before getting the mooring kit out again.

Clive steers. He likes steering, I think. I've never actually asked him.

I get bored very quickly when steering and, of course, I have this daily report to compose, edit, illustrate and transmit to the web manager (and with GPRS that is usually the longest and most frustrating part of the job). So Clive steers.

Well, this morning Clive, as I have already said, was sick as a parrot, rough, ropey, hacking, crook as Rookwood, so I agreed to steer.

After eight hours on the same tack, downwind with massive weather helm, I was really bored, and cold and I think that I will need to have all my suits altered. I'm sure my left arm is longer than the right by two inches after today.

And it has been so boring. Visibility has been about fifteen miles so Ireland finally disappeared into the mist behind me at soon after 4.30 this afternoon. The Islands off the Mull of Kintyre appeared around 6.00o'clock and it was 8.00 before I spotted Ailsa Craig and by then it was directly behind us too. Apart from two ferries and a yacht there has been nothing to see and I was going cross eyed steering to a compass for eight hours.

I couldn't even leave the helm to update our position. If I let go the tiller, Quintet either rounded up or ran off towards a horrendous gybe. So poor old Clive had to be called from his deathbed to sit and choke and splutter over the chart every hour.

We did have a good ride though. The tide carried us northwards as planned and at the point that it turned it, was pushing us up into the Clyde. It would have been much better had the wind gone a little west as forecast. My left arm would certainly be shorter. But we stayed on the starboard tack until 8.00 pm when we were a little north of the Mull. Then we tacked for the eastern shore of the Kintyre Peninsula and I got so excited to have something to steer at. Then the rain arrived and I was back to steering to the bloody compass and getting cold to boot.

As we approached the coast, the promised windshift finally arrived. Where I had been sailing ten or more degrees off the course to Campbeltown, I was suddenly able to turn to the north and head, at respectable speed, towards Davar Island and haven for the night. It didn't stop raining though.

It was 10.20 at night by the time we had the anchor down and our anchor light glowing in our little corner of Campbeltown Loch. We were cold and tired and getty crabby with each other. Things were not going perfectly. The anchor ball wouldn't go together properly, not that it often does. The anchor chain was fouling in the hawse pipe. Water was soaking through oilskins. We sniped at each other through our discomfort.

We finally got below and stripped off wet clothing. We decided it was too late to cook. Clive had an apple. I had a Scotch, or two!

We read for a little while, in silence. Then lights were doused and we slept.

But we're in Scotland at last. That is exciting.

And in spite of the discomfort we made Bangor to Campbeltown in a little elderly boat in just over ten hours at an average speed of five knots. It can't be bad.

Les Sutcliffe

<-Bangor 16th August Tarbert 18th August->