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.