This summer has been utterly dreadful here in mid Argyll. As we head into the second half of the season I'm wondering if I should believe optimistic locals here assuring us that there will be an Indian Summer, starting any day now.
After another couple of weeks of extremely unsettled conditions, the forecasts a few days ago promised a couple of days of sunshine and light westerlies, so I headed off on Monday with three plastic boxes containing lunch, dinner and breakfast.
Long term readers of this blog will know that Toberonochy is one of my favourite places, sheltered from anything with west in it and excellent holding ground. So, off I went in the late morning, tacking into a light westerly, but there was not too much of the promised sun. By the time I was half way down the loch the wind was really getting up, with some dirty black clouds bringing nasty puffs, but I figured that as I got closer to Shuna and then Luing there would be a bit of a lee, so decided not to reef and pressed on. Mariota is actually a much tougher wee boat than she might appear and there were no scary moments.
Outside the bay I hove too and got anchor, chain, warp and tripping line nicely rigged and flaked, then sheeted in and tacked up inshore of Mariota's older sister Minna. When I started sailing I tended not to use a tripping line and was perhaps lucky never to lose an anchor, although fifty years ago the seabed wasn't littered so much with discarded fishing gear and debris from abandoned fish farms. Another problem in recent years is the growth of kelp, which seems to be taking over everywhere, perhaps also a bi-product of fish farming, via the excess nutrients dumped in the water column. This can mean that the anchor never actually reaches the seabed, an issue if you're using a wee Bruce or similar type of hook. Even if it makes its way through, it will likely come up with a load of heavy material, giving the foredeck hand a nasty job and maybe rendering the boat difficult to steer until it's cleared. And working alone, it's essential to get back to the helm sharpish, once you're clear. A problem with a tripping line can arise when some lazy fellow comes in after you and mistakes it for a mooring, which traditionally caused some to paint some strong language on the float. With a long line it's possible to keep it on the foredeck.
There was no real reason to go ashore, but having brought the tender I went for a walk up to the old Kilchattan church. Over the years I've tried unsuccessfully to get a good photograph of the ancient graffiti, which is as interesting as the church itself. This time the light was perfect and it worked!
You can read more about the history behind this here: From Toberonochy to the Battle of Largs
And since writing that earlier post a kind friend has donated an authentic image of the battle.
When I turned in, the forecast was for a day of beautiful sunshine and a gentle westerly breeze, so it was a surprise when, just after I had taken down the cockpit tent, black clouds came over with quarter of an hour of a strong, very cold northwesterly and a downpour. Then, all was calm. The anchor came up loaded with mud, no kelp at all. I rigged the electric outboard and used about 0.5% of the battery storage travelling at about two knots across to the mouth of Loch Melfort.
Off Kilchoan, the wind arrived, providing a dead run back to base. I was lucky to be hooked up before it strengthened to a fierce, cold blow that lasted until night time.