Wednesday, September 30, 2015

All calm in the Lunnock Cave at the Mull of Galloway.

The 16th dawned to be one of the few sunny, calm days in August. It was ideal for a trip to the Mull of Galloway.

Tony and I dropped a shuttle car at Port Logan on the west coast of the Rhins of Galloway then met Phil and Maurice at the East Tarbet. Inshore, the west going ebb starts at -1:30 HW Dover. HW Dover was at 13:10 so slack water was at 11:40 and we launched bang on time at 11:10.

The NE side of the Mull is a grassy slope and gives very little warning of the dramatic rock architecture beneath the lighthouse just 500m away on the other side of the peninsula.

The waters of Luce Bay to the NE were calm unlike a previous visit when we hit the Mull at maximum tidal flow!

 We rounded the critical point at Lagvag at slack water and entered the Lunnock Cave...

...for a celebratory exploration. If you do get caught out in the Mull of Galloway tide race, the Lunnock Cave would make a marvellous place to wait for calmer conditions as the...
...vicious eddylines at its mouth kill the swell.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Boatbags kayak cover review

During the spring, summer and autumn I leave a GRP kayak on the beach at the Solway Firth. It is normally left higher up the beach than this under an old oak tree for shade. Unfortunately the tree drips sap and green slime not to mention leaves in the later season. The birds that roost in the tree drop bird poo and the sand blows everywhere. Finally the occasional strong sun wrecks UV damage.

The ideal solution is a cover that is light to reflect heat, waterproof and breathable to keep it dry, easy to put on and off and a good fit. I have tried to find such a product for years and two companies that promised to make me one never did. This year I found a solution....

Boatbags make a variety of made to measure bags for kayaks and other watercraft. A quick email confirmed that they could make me a cover rather than a bag and it would be supplied with 4 underhull straps with locking buckles.

I filled in Boatbags' detailed measurement chart for my Aries 155 and for clarity pasted the measurements onto the above photos. I wanted to leave the Flat Earth kayak sail on the kayak and to leave a paddle over the cockpit to prevent water pooling. I placed an order on May13th 2015. For a custom cover in their breathable "fabric D",  I was given a price of £190 (delivered) and a manufacture date of 20th July 2015. It arrived on 22nd July. It has been in constant use since then.

The fit was just perfect. The material is great quality and to me seemed an excellent compromise between weight and robustness. In use it is obviously very breathable so you are unlikely to run into any problems with osmosis if you have a GRP kayak. The workmanship was excellent.

The open bottom cover I requested is exceptionally easy to fit over the kayak sitting on a trolley. Even when the kayak is put away wet, it is usually dry after a short dry spell. The material is easy to clean. A quick hose down soon gets rid of any bird poo or green slime.

You can order the cover as a bag with an open end and carry handles if you want to transport your kayak in a bag. A whole lot of other options are listed on the Boastbags website.

Boatbags make a first class bespoke product which I think represents excellent value for money. I recommend it to anyone who stores a kayak out of doors.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Return to Largs via the Midshipmen's Memorial, Great Cumbrae.

 The wind picked up again as we made our way up...

 ....the west coast of the Great Cumbrae.

At Tomont End at the north end of great Cumbrae we passed under the Midshipmen's Memorial. It's inscription reads:




Leaving Great Cumbrae we enjoyed a favourable wind as we crossed the channel to the AQyrshire mainland. In the distance, at Hunterston, we could see the coal terminal, the nuclear power station and the giant windmills. As is often the case when there is a wind, the windmills here and on the hills above Largs were not turning.

We landed at Largs marina almost exactly 24 hours after we had left. As always it seemed like we had been away several days. An overnight expedition to Inchmarnock is always a treat, especially when you have a tail wind all the way back!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Like a bat out of hell on the Clyde.

 We left Glencallum Bay on Bute with a view of four lighthouses. The nearest was Rubh' an Eun but we could also see three lighthouses on Little Cumbrae on the other side of the channel. The one on the summit is the oldest. Lower down, the one which is immediately to the right of the sail, is the eighteenth century Stevenson light and the one further to the right is the current 20th century light.

 Rubh' an Eun is effectively the Garroch Head lighthouse which guards the entrance to...

... the inner Firth of Clyde which stretched away northwards to the Arrochar Alps on the horizon.

On the crossing we kept clear of the prawn trawler Eilidh Ann GK2 was chugging down the channel while towing her trawl.

 Soon Garroch Head on Bute lay far behind us as we approached...

 ...the west coast of the Great Cumbrae. We were pleased to get across the main channel  before this...

 ...submarine and her three escort vessels came down the Clyde from the nuclear submarine base at Faslane. I think she is a Trafalgar class attack submarine.

Their escort duties over, the two RHIB's raced back to Faslane with Meatloaf's "Bat Out of Hell" blaring from their Tannoy system.

After all the excitement, it was a relief to land on Fintray Bay on the Great Cumbrae for a leisurely second luncheon.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Some glorious paddle sailing down Dunagoil way.

 From Scalpsie Bay we paddled down the east coast of Bute with the mountains of Arran on...

 ...our right pulling our eyes away from...

 ...the coast of Bute which was mostly rocky with a raised beach above. Beyond the beach there was now dry line of sea cliffs with occasional caves.

As we crossed Dunagoil Bay we came out of the lee of Ardscalpsie Point and the wind began to increase again.

 We fairly shot down the coast past St Blane's Hill with some glorious paddle sailing which...

Photo Ian Johnston.
...was pretty hard work as we tried to catch every wave! My GPS showed we were regularly hitting 14km/hr as we caught the waves. This photo by Ian shows me in the new P&H Scorpio MV mark 2 with sail and skudder. I have this out on a long term test and I hope it will be in a forthcoming issue of Ocean Paddler magazine. I really like it. The skudder (a combined skeg rudder) is incredibly well engineered and very effective. I did notice that when I was using it downwind in rudder mode that I was falling behind Ian and Mike who had similar sails and were paddling P&H Cetus MVs. So I raised it into skeg mode then I found I had no trouble keeping up even though they were in GRP kayaks and the Scorpio is made from roto moulded polyethylene.

 Rounding Dunagoil Hill and Garroch Head was great fun as the flood tide was now against the wind.

 Once in the lee of Garroch Head the wind dropped again and we leisurely paddled round to...

...Glencallum Bay where we unpacked our kayaks for first luncheon.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Seals and a fear of gliders in Scalpsie Bay.

We set off down the west coast of Inchmarnock with Holy Island on the horizon and a decent following wind.

At the south end of Inchmarnock we decided to cut across the Sound of Inchmarnock towards...

 ...Ardscalpsie Point on the island of Bute and then...

 ...follow the coast round into...

 Scalpsie Bay. This was Ian's first time out with his new Flat Earth sail and it was good to try several points of sailing.

 In the lee of the land the wind dropped a bit but Ian was already fully at home with his new rig.

 As we paddled deeper into the shelter of Scalpsie Bay the...

 ...wind steadily dropped away and our eyes turned to the shore where...

 ...the resident seal colony was pretty well camouflaged.

At the head of Scalpsie Bay there is a large expanse of reddish sand. A series of wooden posts in the sand were part of WW2 defences against landing gliders. Beyond the bay lie the fertile fields of Scalpsie farm.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Our spirits rose with the sun and the wind.

After a comfortable night's camp we rose before dawn to find clouds of midges swarming round the tent vents. Once down on the beach a gentle NW wind was just enough to keep the worst of the midges at bay.

 We quickly brewed some warming tea and...

 ...porridge but despite it being the height of the Scottish "summer" it was bitterly cold.

 Fortunately as the sun rose so did the temperature and our spirits.

The wind also began to rise as we carried our kaks through the narrow gap in the reef to the sea. As our eyes turned up the Sound of Bute to the NW.... looked like the forecast F4 wind might shortly arrive and it would be going our way. It was time for some paddle sailing!