The Gossip October 2011 Number 235
In search of seafood and other delights The Tighnabruaich meet was a great success with a high turnout, in spite of high winds and the venueâ€™s relative remoteness. We started out from home on Thursday afternoon intending to stay somewhere on the way and finished up at a campsite handily located next to the West Coast Mainline and within easy earshot of the M74, not the most restful way to start a holiday. We had decided to take the ferry from Gourock to Dunoon and were surprised, as were others also, to find that the CalMac ferry was no longer transporting cars; it appears that this is something to do with the way that subsidies are being calculated by the Scottish government. Jan told me that the CalMac website still showed that it was still operating when they left home! We arrived at the site, having spent some time exploring and lunching in Dunoon, to find Ann and Keith already in residence. We were camping on an area right on the end of Carry Point, a rather exposed position for camping, but one with excellent views across to Bute, up and down the Kyles of Bute and down to Arran. The magnificence of the site amply compensated for the rather limited facilities and their remoteness from us, and we had the whole area to ourselves. Unfortunately the weather forecast was not too promising with a fair amount of wind predicted for Saturday, but stronger winds for Sunday. Keith had prepared a little map with useful hints about suitable destinations for sailing expeditions. The main group opted for sailing down to the end of the peninsular and back up the eastern side to Kilbride Bay at the mouth of Loch Fyne. We decided to 1
go with Keith, Ann, Peter and Penny initially in the same direction, but to head west to Skipness Point where Keith’s map promised a castle and a seafood kiosk. I am interested in exploring castles, but seafood – Now you’re talking! The wind was in the NW and we easily made the point in one tack from Ardlamont Point and passed a family sitting on the rocks of the point staring intently out to sea, seemingly birds, which we scared away, but in reality they had been watching a basking shark, which unfortunately had disappeared below the surface before our arrival. Just around the corner was a beautiful sandy beach where we landed and ate lunch before setting off for the castle and the famous seafood kiosk. The castle was interesting; a fairly intact keep and curtain wall, but with the extensive barracks and other buildings demolished. I suspect that the Scottish authorities tend to be a bit less obsessed by authenticity than they are in England and seem to make more effort to give people better access to what remains, an approach I definitely approve of. Consequently the roof of the keep presented fine views across to the peaks of Arran, which were highlighted by dramatic clouds. However, in Scotland there are so many castles, one tends to get a bit blasé about them and so Keith was dispatched to investigate the seafood kiosk, which looked strangely deserted. Sure enough – closed on Saturdays! After having drifted around for a while clearing the wind shadow around Skipness Point, a brisk northerly got us back to Ardlamont Point in fine style. Unfortunately Peter and Penny were so intent on watching a seal watching them, that they ran aground and bent their very cunning rudder arrangement and it was necessary to land in order to extract the whole mechanism. An initial attempt at towing was not successful and so they
paddled back from there into the teeth of the wind without the slightest complaint or signs of fatigue. Attempts to straighten the rudder stock were unsuccessful, but some skilful whittling by Dave S got them back on the water for the Sunday, which proved to be as windy as forecast. As a result the cycling chapter of the OCSG opted for land based activities which involved a trip to an excellent café in Millhouse, instead of a seaborne trip to a reportedly indifferent one in Tighnabruaich. After the café we proceeded to the marina at Portavadie, which had the air of a doomed, partially complete business park. This would seem to be appropriate as it seems it is based on the remains of a doomed, partially complete oil rig construction yard, built at enormous expense to the public purse and where precisely zero oil rigs where launched. See http://urbanglasgow.co.uk/archive/polphail-the-ghost-village-at-portavadie-argyll__o_t__t_1500.html for very atmospheric photos of the derelict housing associated with the original development. At the suggestion of the nice man at the nice café we spent a short time exploring the nature reserve at Glenan Bay just north of the marina and then set off back via a circuitous route over forestry tracks as proposed by Stuart. A number of problems were encountered which included the roads not bearing any resemblance to the map, confusing roadworks in progress and that Dave P and Oliver had trouble on the unmade roads due to a lack of traction on their recumbent bikes. We all made it back safely though and ride was very interesting and scenic, if exhausting. Monday proved to be almost as windy as Sunday had been, even though the forecast was a bit more optimistic. While most of the group decided to sail close to the camp, the same gang of six set off for the Burnt Islands at the northern tip of Bute. Conditions on the beat up to Tighnabruaich were said to be a little
less extreme than on Sunday, but Ellen described it as being more like swimming than sailing. We made steady progress as far as Tighnabruaich, but were then in the wind shadow of the hills with fickle winds until we reached the tip of Bute where the winds funnelling down Loch Riddon made the last few hundred metres a more straightforward proposition. We landed at about high tide so continuing any further would have meant an adverse current and so after lunch we immediately set off back towards Carry Point. Again we had very variable winds as far as Tighnabruaich and beyond. While Ellen and I were drifting along examining the attractions of the town, a massive gust of wind had propelled the others miles down the loch where they waited patiently for us as we slowly made our erratic way trying to get the most out of each puff of wind. As we approached the campsite the wind started to strengthen and was quite boisterous by the time we arrived and I took the opportunity for a solo dash across to the Bute shore and back on a wild reach. When the main group returned from their eventful trip to Ettrick Bay, there was brisk traffic at the ‘facilities’ while everybody made themselves presentable for dinner at the posh hotel in Tighnabruaich that Jan had organized. Despite the short notice and size of the group, the service was a masterpiece of organisation with orders taken, arrangements made for dividing up the bill (including groupings with people sitting at different tables), the food served, coffees and sweets ordered and consumed without a moment’s confusion. The manager put this down to a background in the building industry, which is a bit of a surprise to me as my professional experience of that sector is more of chaos than organisation. Although they were served with all sorts of pretentious nonsense, my scallops were excellent. Seafood at last! We left for the East Coast the following morning having packed up in the pouring rain, sorry to be leaving such a marvellous place and good company, but looking forward to spending time with family and friends on the shores of Lunan Bay. The Poskitts are to be congratulated on finding such an excellent venue and for organising a very successful meet, despite the weather. Jeff Broome
Why we have safety procedures
The “eventful” trip to Ettrick Bay mentioned in Jeff’s article above refers to an outing across from the campsite near Tighnabruaich across to a bay on the Bute shore. It started innocently enough but weather conditions deteriorated on the way back and there was concern about how the party had spread out, with one boat ending up a fair way distant from the others. The details of how this happened and so on are not the key thing in this (more detail in a thread on the discussion forum – link below) but what is really important is for us all to realise that we have a pairing up system (three boats even better) so that we can look out for each other in case of incident, such as a minor but potentially serious gear failure as happened there. Signing out with an agreement about who is with who - and then sticking to it, whatever the conditions is the essential. Any use of phones or VHF radios for communication must be regarded as in addition to the “buddy” system and definitely no substitute for it. Keith Morris http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?31821Tighnabruaich-OCSG-meet
Handheld Marine VHF – Christmas list?
About £100 +
Song of the Paddle meet - Ullswater Dave S commented on Facebook “The weather forecast of strong wind and rain probably put a few people off but we had seven sailing canoes out on the water on the Saturday in strong and gusty winds. We all went out reefed and all but one had outriggers, but we coped quite well with the force 4 to 5 gusting 6 to7 with quite big steep waves. The Group has come on a long way in the last few years as at one time no-one would have been sailing. Good practice in difficult conditions.” This meet happened on a rather wet and windy weekend in September where not all that many canoe paddlers actually went on the water, but the OCSG contingent were out on the water and thriving. This was the second year of the meet and it seems to mostly serve the social needs of members of the canoeing online-discussion-forum from which it takes its name. The venue is a good one but whether we as a group continue to have a presence at any future event is up for discussion. What do you think??
Nice weather for camping A total of seven people turned up for the camping meet on Ullswater, considerably down on past years, but understandable given the weather forecast. Not only was it forecast to be wet and windy, the wind direction was promised to be against us on both Saturday and Sunday. Ellen and I got up early and managed to pack up the remaining stuff into our courtesy car – courtesy of some idiot that drove into the back of me at a roundabout. This had required a certain amount of messing about to find a suitable way of supporting and securing the boat, but we have had quite a bit of practice in the past when we relied entirely on hire cars. We did get them from a very tolerant and understanding local firm, very different from the national chain that supplied our transport on this occasion.
The drive up was hideous with torrential rain and gusty winds on the motorway and flooded roads between Penrith and the campsite. We arrived to find the rest of the team debating whether to: pack up and go home; go to Pooley Bridge and check out a cafe and then go home; or to wait a while before deciding what to do. While we assembled our boat, Steve took a prospective member, Kat (?) for a sail, Graham and Andy W packed up their boats, intent on joining us on the camping expedition, but with the proviso that we might decide it was all too awful and retreat back to base. By the time we were nearly ready, the Tea Party had resolved to sail to Pooley Bridge, so as we set off, Keith, Dave S and Steve departed in the opposite direction with Kat, who apparently seemed to have enjoyed her first experience of canoe sailing, despite the weather. As the campers beat up the lake in the direction of the cafe at Aira Force, conditions gradually improved and the rain had more-or-less stopped by the time we got there. After our lunch we elected to go for a tour of the falls in the expectation of a spectacular show given the huge torrent of water emerging into the lake by the landing spot. We weren't disappointed; the falls were magnificent, although I suspect they may be a bit underwhelming at times of low flow. However, I suspect that better weather would have the compensation of heightening one's appreciation of the arboretum. After a relatively relaxed sail up to Glenridding despite horrendous looking squalls that fortunately missed us, we landed to find a very soggy campsite at Side Farm. While we wandered about looking for a suitable place that was not too wet or too steep to plonk our tents, I noticed a sail approaching and was amazed to see the Tea Party just arriving. Apparently on their return from Pooley Bridge, they decided that the weather had become acceptable and would now join the fun. They had left at quarter past one and had
obviously made good time to arrive so soon after us, but they had missed out on the waterfalls.
As we were erecting our tent, one of the poles snapped in half. Obviously I should not have ignored, apart from putting on a whipping, the minor split that was the result of a wild, wet and dismally unsuccessful climbing trip to North Wales, and at least packed the repair sleeve provided, if not replaced the pole. Fortunately Steve came to the rescue with a repair sleeve that he sensibly carries with him. The evening then calmed down to the extent that we had a bit of a midge problem. Keith and Dave S had a barbecue on the beach and later all of us, except for Steve who abandoned camping for the comfort of the Fell and Rock hut at Brothers Water, joined them to be alternately frozen, smoked and rained on. Sunday morning was absolutely still without a breath of wind so we set off paddling in the direction of the
inevitable cafe stop. There was still no wind as we arrived at Aira Force, but after our elevenses, we noticed from the warmth of the cafe some signs of wind in the trees. This prompted us to make our way back down to the boats and set sail with the aid of a fitful breeze that gradually strengthened as we made our way north. Back at the campsite we stopped to look at the boats and discuss Aleut and Greenland style paddles with participants at the Traditional Kayak Meeting. I was particularly interested in the skin on frame kayaks, as I have plans to build a superlightweight sailing canoe using this technique. In discussion with a German guy who had sawn his paddle in half to bring it on the plane and then scarfed it back together when he arrived, I found out about some useful lines of inquiry and sources of materials. I really must get around to getting on with the boat, as research seems to be taking totally over from action. I would vote the expedition a success, despite the select turn out. The weather is bound to be rather hit and miss at this time of year, but at a time of year when the weather may be a bit more conducive, arranging a trip like this would be far more difficult as it would likely be during school holidays. Last year the trip was cancelled and one previous one on Windermere started out in a gale, with one boat virtually sinking, nevertheless I think we should continue to include it in the calendar. Either only a few masochists will brave the weather, if bad, and will feel a sense of achievement (or insufferable superiority), or if the weather forecast is more promising, then we can expect a larger quota of members. Either way at least some members will benefit. Jeff Broome
North Yorkshire Local Meet Castle Howard - September 24th - 25th For those of you who donâ€™t know the area, this is a splendid location: The city of York, and Scarborough on the coast are both a short drive away. Castle Howard stands on the hills named after it, and is truly grand, but very visitor friendly, with good places to eat and shop, and extensive grounds. Paul had arranged for us to sail on the Great Lake - where normally boating etc is not allowed. The lake is home to a very large flock of swans, and several flocks of geese. Five boats attended, launching from the bank by the camp site. The camp site has excellent facilities, and the Saturday tea time visit by the travelling Fish and Chip shop was much appreciated too. Activities centred around a gentle beat upwind to the Old Boathouse, which provided mooring and a rather good teashop, a certain amount of boatswapping and general messing about in boats in rather variable winds. Many thanks to Paul for organising a friendly, fun weekend. Sue Brighouse
An email from a member Thanks to those responsible for Gossip 234. VG and a big tick. Regarding what is a canoe, photo 1 NO, photo 2 Yes, photos 3+4 NoNO. A canoe in Europe in the 21st century has come to imply a portable craft, propelled by manual paddles, and more recently by the addition of sails. You know it when you see it. It is a generic name consisting of many varieties, including kayaks. It is subservient to, (evolved from) much earlier worldwide craft, some of which are very large. Although these originals are also referred to as canoes, I suspect the Europeans gave them that name as they probably could not pronounce the original, but they do not belong to the present generally accepted term.( If I am wrong, one might as well say my canoe is a ship). Referring to "is it a canoe 2, (Broads Museum?),I would love to know it's vital statistics as it looks reminiscent of "Tishoo", narrow and deep at the prow, wide and shallow at mid to stern, ie slightly pear shaped. Can anyone provide me with details or its name? Regards to you all, Hamish "87".
Southampton Water Meet - Netley Here’s a photo – article to follow next time
We had a visitor to the Southampton meet – interested in our little boats. Here are a couple of the emails from Roger, who was with us for just a couple of hours having travelled from Exmouth!
Dear Dave, Thanks very much for your prompt and detailed reply - I have to travel some distance, but as you can tell I would like to meet up with you guys - sounds like you're having good times! By the way, I've sailed/owned a number of sailboats over many years, mostly dinghies (but also a catamaran cruiser [coastal and cross-channel]). Always sail, plus an auxiliary means of propulsion. I reckon, small, light craft give one more sailing time - and they are definitely a good idea when being pulled out of the water! Best wishes, Roger Hi Dave, Keith, Gavin and team, I hope you folks continued to have good sailing conditions on Sunday to complete your Solent weekend. It was good to meet up, see the crafts, and the talk to the people! Thank you for sharing many thoughts, ideas, whys and wherefores, and also for tea, and flapjack! I hope to meet up again. Meantime, fair winds and modest seas to all. Regards, Roger