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Weather Windows to Mama Mia

Hello “predict wind departure planner”… After duly paying the $140 to get a raft of weather models, tables and graphs – we left Ardfern ( West Coast Scotland) , in a bit of a weather window predicted by our new “departure planner””, to enable us to round the Mull of Kintyre in reasonable weather. It required us to leave at 10pm at night and entailed some good Scottish mist, the usual varied winds, little visible horizon and to CJs delight (not), some good compass steering practice, but it also got the weather window fairly spot on. To keep us on our toes, just as we were approaching the Largs channel, the strong southerly blew up two hours earlier than predicted and provided us with prompt reefing practice when the wind veerred 90 degrees and went from 18kts to 40 knots +. Saorsa took it in her stride and we flew down the Largs Channel with only a tiny main at 8.5kts, and landed rather ungracefully on the hammer head at Largs Yacht Haven. After our overnight adventure we headed straight for Scotts, had a few beers, wine some good food and took no rocking to sleep.

We were lucky, Malcolm & Helen on Lady Q (Beneteau 423), were rejected from the Crinan Canal due to lack of water, and spent the next week trying to find a weather window to make the same journey. Thanks to their rejection from Crinan, we met up in Ardfern the day before we left and had a lovely evening on board. It took them 10 days to find weather window as those southerly winds persisted all week.

Back in Largs - Saturn sails were replacing our UV strip on the Main Sail which was to take a week to complete so we had time for some maintenance. It also was time to go through all the ARC requirements and make sure we had everything we needed. I set about winches, - they were grease hell, and the large ones were a lot bigger than I have tackled before – so I was very pleased when they went back together ok, although I still have one O ring left over!. Chris did a great job of sorting our grab bags and checking the arc safety equipment requirements, and after a few trips up the mast we were feeling rather pleased with progress on our preparations.

Back to our “predict wind departure planner” and Saturday was looking a great day to set off for Cork, however, we had a slight issue with the watermaker. It had a leak and we had been waiting 10 weeks for a new part. Now time had run out and we needed to fit a new one. Not an easy task by all accounts, especially when the new one is no where near the same dimensions as the old one. What I thought would take a day perhaps a couple at most, is now on day three and will not be completed until next week!!! So a weekend in Largs – tapas (deep friend of course!),

fab Ice creams at Nardines and time for some over due hair cuts. Also a fun night out with my very dear friends in Ayr, dinner and Mama Mia 2 – what a hoot, just laughed all night.

So that’s the Scotland phase completed – Eight glorious weeks and I have loved it, with time to speak to folk and make new friends, time to explore new anchorages, to revisit places with great memories and see Scotland at its best. Years ago I yearned to spend longer than a week sailing up the west coast. Now I have and leave wanting more. The weather has delivered extremes, from blazing sunbaked days to a few good "Scottish Hoolies", the tidal streams and whirl pools demand respect, the scenery is stunning, and there are anchorages across the spectrum from beautiful isolated shelters, fab beaches, the dramatic panoramic sunsets, with quiet villages and the occasional bustling fishing town to ensure variety. There have also been culinary delights both on and off the boat, those fresh langoustines - yum.

As for getting to know the boat and each other, Scotland has exceeded expectations. I now "feel" SAORSA, know her noises, can hear where when she is humming along, when something isn’t sounding wright, and I am starting to appreciate her competence and strength. CJ has shaped up too. I think Scotland was a huge learning curve, but now we understand each others capabilities, know what they are, what we have to work on and most importantly - seem to be able to rub along just fine.

Apart from the sunsets and great sailing the strongest memory will be that of the people we met and the way in which they made us feel so welcome. THANK YOU SCOTLAND.