rallies and regattas, trip logs

Cape Cutter 19 rally 2018 – day 7 – Return to Largs

The final day of the Cape Cutter week was to have been a good sail across open water around the back of Bute to Largs. However the weather had other ideas. Just like our regatta, the warm settled weather was coming to an end, but in the meantime, there was no wind.

We passed the day under motor and were able to get a little help from our sails as we traveled south, but they were no use at all once we rounded Garroch Head at the southern end of Bute.

The motor was very pleasant in the sun with plenty of wildlife to spot- porpoise, dolphin, gannets, razorbills and guillemots.

Many of the fleet hauled out today, whilst a number are staying on to enjoy some sailing.

Official proceedings were brought to a close with a celebratory meal as guests of Largs Sailing Club, where we were treated to another wonderful meal. Organisers Gary and Malcolm presented prizes and were thanked by one and all for their stirling efforts in organising this most enjoyable rally.

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rallies and regattas, trip logs

Cape Cutter 19 rally – day 6 – Loch Fyne

Thursday was race day for the Cape Cutter fleet. We awoke to grey misty weather and the light wind was forecast to drop during the day, so an earlier start was called for. The race was to be from Portavadie, some 8nm up Loch Fyne to Otter Ferry.

Andrew, skipper of Ladybird acted as race officer, with young Josh blowing the countdown hooter.

The fleet divided in two, with some choosing to sail off the shore to the deeper water, on the hope of cleaner air as well as fair tide; the rest, meanwhile chose the short distance closer to the shore, dodging the fish farms.

As the race drew on, the wind dropped away and the prize position would go to the skipper that could find the gusts.

First to round the starboard buoy marking the finish was Dennis, solo skipper of Mary Ann. The next three years places were closely taught and went to Ladybird, Cape Whisper and Sapphire.

Racing done, we repaired to the excellent pub at Otter Ferry, which has convenient moorings and a jetty for visiting boats.

By the time we had begun the homeward leg, the wind had died to the faintest whisper, so it was motorsailing to our overnight berth at East Loch Tarbert.

rallies and regattas, trip logs

Cape Cutter 19 rally – day 5 – Portavadie

We were greeted by the most glorious morning on our mornings at Kame. We had passed a most peaceful night and the water was glassy smooth.

We all made a leisurely start, waiting for the wind to fill in, rowing ashore, swimming or just sunbathing.

The boats departed one by one. Some left as soon as a zephyr of a breeze appeared and other waited for the breeze to fill in further. Those that left early got the best of it and slowly rounded Ardlamont Point into Loch Fyne.

Later boats ended up in very light airs, motoring between puffs to find some wind.

Having passed into Koch Fyne, the fleet had a very pleasing reach for about three quarters of the way to Portavadie; however the wind just stopped like a fan had been switched off. Perhaps the wind farms could turn electricity into wind for the benefit of sailors in such situations?

Portavadie is a new marina, sitting in a basin carved out of the granite. The facilities are very good and we enjoyed some well earned cool beers and a lovely meal to round off the day.

rallies and regattas, trip logs

Cape Cutter 19 rally 2018 – day 4 – Kyles of Bute

Lively conditions looked certain after our departure from Rothesay, timed around the departure of the ferry. However, as we reached the edge of Rothesay bay, the breeze had become light and very variable. Tystie had left first and was loitering, hoping for a photograph of the fleet together, but the boats were very spread out by the time the fleet reached the bottom of loch Striven.

A naval ship making for the pier at the base of Striven had us all reaching for our pull cords. By the time we entered the East Kyle of Bute, the narrow winding strip of water separating Bute from the mainland, there was a steady breeze and we made good progress towards the narrows at the northern extreme of Bute.

The blustery conditions challenged a number of the fleet. Several boats had minor rigging issues to rectify, but Aurora suffered from an engine which would not re-start and Moneypenny experienced a snapped mast head. The break was above the hounds, so skipper Gary continued on staysail and engine, with neither main nor foresail now available.

Mary Ann and Irene came to Aurora’s aid, the former to provide a tow and the latter, astoundingly, to lend a spare outboard.

At the northern tip of Bute, the Burnt Isles separate the East Kyle from the West. Dodging the ferry and winding through the buoyed channel, the fleet emerged into very light airs. Some anchored in a peaceful bay, whilst most of the fleet explored Loch Riddon before heading south to our destination, the Kames Hotel just south of Tighnabruaich.

A strong wind provided an exciting run almost dead downwind to the moorings which were to be our overnight stop. Conditions were choppy as we arrived, but gradually the wind died away. Not all boats had a tender, so a certain amount of entertainment was had shuttling all the crews ashore.

Small tenders are easier to store in the restricted space inside a Cape Cutter, but those with larger tenders had a much easier row ashore. An outboard can be a mixed blessing for a small tender too, and Ladybird’s inflatable canoe seemed to fare best of all.

The sight of twelve Cape Cutters moored in the golden evening light made a splendid view during our well-earned dinner, before we returned to our boats by the light of the full moon.

rallies and regattas, trip logs

Cape Cutter rally 2018 – day 3 – Rothesay

Today was an exceptional day, hot and sunny, though with (in contrast to the previous two days) light winds. The plan was to sail up the Firth to Holy Loch for lunch and then back south to end at Rothesay on the Isle of Bute.

The fleet set out from Inverkip in ones and twos. Early departers discovered the winds were pretty much non existent at Holy Loch, so the plan was changed and we all ran south, turning past the light at Toward Point and rounding into Loch Striven.

It was a day to have all the canvas up and the fleet made a lovely sight in the glorious sun. However, as the afternoon wore on, the winds became lighter and more variable, forcing our return to Rothesay.

The harbour at Rothesay is small and welcoming. It is dominated on the outside by the ferry terminal and one must adhere to the traffic lights when entering and leaving.

Rothesay is a town of faded grandeur, with large confident Victorian buildings, many of which (like many seaside towns of old) have sadly fallen into disrepair. However civic pride remains and the gardens are marvellous with meticulously pruned fruit trees and lawns like a billiard table. A key tourist attraction is the Victorian Toilets- a marvellously ornate tiled affair.

Dining choices were limited and we had a comedy meal at the local Indian restaurant. It described itself as Rothesay’s premier Indian restaurant, but was in fact its only Indian restaurant. The waiter was very new, but no one had explained the concept of a restaurant to him. The food was good, but something of a lottery as to whether it was the dish ordered!

rallies and regattas, trip logs

Cape Cutter rally 2018 – day 2 – Largs to Inverkip

Today was a day of waiting, with a very gusty easterly hurtling down from the hills. The weather was otherwise lovely, so we climbed Castle Hill, to admire the view, which was indeed stunning.

The wind has been forecast to abate during the afternoon, but the gusts were still quite wild, although when the wind is in this direction, it’s much worse at Largs than the rest of that stretch of coast.

So it was a few boats set out north to Kip Marina, watched by those ashore. We could see that conditions were very choppy with big gusts just by the marina, but once the boats passed the town things calmed down considerably.

The rest of the party set out late in the afternoon on staysail and engine only, to arrive at Kip in light winds, followed by a lovely meal in the Chart Room, overlooking the marina.

rallies and regattas, trip logs

Cape Cutter 19 rally 2018 – day 1 – Largs

Saturday was arrival day at Largs Yacht Haven on the beautiful Firth of Clyde. We were treated to glorious sun as we rigged the boats and a team effort got 11 boats launched and on the pontoons in good time.

It’s great to see so many Cape Cutters travelling; I had brought Aurora just over 300 miles from the Midlands and there are several other boats from central England, but a number of boats had traveled much more impressive distances, notably Sapphire from Weymouth, Wadudu from Exmouth, Never Budge from Rosguill in Donegal.

A very gusty F6/7 kept in the harbour in the afternoon, but there was plenty of boat fettling, making new acquaintances and renewing old ones to be done.

We spent a marvellous evening as guests of Largs Sailing Club in their smart clubhouse and watched the most amazing sunset as we ate our meal. Gary and Malcolm opened the formal proceedings and we were briefed for tomorrow.