Hello from Troon
Jan & I have just enjoyed a wonderful week aboard Kasara, sailing her first to Appin where we actually spent a night ashore at the delightful Pierhouse Hotel (& fish restaurant!) This was a real treat - I was able to keep an eye on Kasara from the luxury of our hotel room, whilst availing ourselves of chef’s amazing offerings. Consequently our “Best Eat Out” vote goes to the Pierhouse.
Back aboard we now headed south for a family rendezvous in Arran. To do this we had decided to run the gauntlet of the Crinan Canal.
Now for those unaccustomed to canals Jan can assure you that it is a whole new ball game to sailing. Our lack of preparation provided more than a little at first ”shock” & then “anxiety” before we eventually tamed the beast that was “negotiating our passage through 15 manually operated locks”. For anyone considering going through the canal in the future, we would recommend a crew of 4 people rather than 2, but we managed successfully with the help of some lovely lock keepers.
Confronted with walls of water plunging at us from great heights our rope handling skills improved rapidly and immeasurably - thank goodness! And we eventually emerged unscathed into the relative calm of upper Loch Fyne. The scenery along the canal was absolutely beautiful, calm and serine ( between locks and bridges!).
Arran, now only 20 miles away was in our grasp.
Weather Report: Once again (it is a recurring theme) Week 9 of this awesome adventure has brought us fabulous warm, mainly sunny & calm weather. The greatest opportunity ever to enjoy the magnificent scenery these Scottish Isles have to offer.
Our stopovers this week have been: Appin, Crinan, Craig Barn (Crinan Canal), Tarbert (Kintyre), Lochranza (Arran 2 nights), Troon.
Best Landfall: so many highlights - all exceptional but this legs prize goes to the gorgeous anchorage of Lochranza on Arran - not least because we had dreamed of arriving here with pirate flags flying & the excitement of seeing some of our grandkids - it was indeed the first time I had met 11 week old Ollie. Glad to say his mum & dad had furnished him with a stout pair of “pirate pants”
Best Eat In: Tarbert has to get a mention. This is a lovely harbour town on the East coast of Kintyre. It has an excellent marina (which in Jan’s words “has the best showers on the trip so far”).
Not only that but some cunning research flushed out the local fishmonger where we were able to buy some hot smoked salmon and “squat lobster“ which contributed to the most delicious wraps accompanied by a stray bottle of Prosecco.
It was the first time that we had come across “Squat Lobster”, which is not a true lobster at all and is closer in species to a small crab. However, it looks like a baby lobster and hence it’s name. We put it in a wrap with some fresh mango, and Mayo - delicious!
Two castles & a canal. All have significant roles on our history. The 8.5 mile long Crinan Canal is an 18th/early 19th century feat of engineering made to work after a series of disasters by the involvement of the maestro himself, Thomas Telford. The once busy transport “cut” is now primarily given over to leisure traffic cutting out the need to venture North or South the long way around the Mull of Kintyre. Once one has mastered the locks the scenery is stunning.
Lochranza Castle was our view from Kasara in Arran. It is a rare Hall-House from the 12th Century. In 1306 it claims to have been the spot at which the ever present Robert the Bruce landed on his return from Ireland on route for his successful bid for the Scottish Crown.
Tarbert Castle - what is it about Robert the Bruce! He tipped up here as well in that in 1325 he rebuilt this 11th century castle overlooking Loch Fyne as part of his mission to unify Scotland. Once again a lovely setting with far reaching views.
The highlight of this week was the very large Lion’s Mane jellyfish. We came across these on Arran and again in Troon. The bell can be up to 50cm across and the tentacles are up to 3 metres long. Apparently they can give you a very powerful sting, so we didn’t get too close.
And so to Troon, 24 miles SE of Arran on the Ayrshire coast. The sail down here has been the best yet with up to 20 knots of sunshine breeze, a gentle F5. Troon, not unnaturally, is home to the Royal Troon Golf Club - much to Jan’s delight - I left my clubs at home!
Our main reason for being here though is twofold. Firstly to leave Kasara for a few days whilst we head to Edinburgh for Archie & Ollie’s naming ceremony carried out by “Grandma Jan” in her capacity as a Humanist Celebrant.
And secondly to welcome the “Canal Team“ who join Kasara on Tuesday for the next instalment of this great adventure. Jan jumps ship at this stage, but I’m pleased to say her health is almost fully restored after 6 weeks in the Scottish sunshine aboard the fabulous pirate ship Kasara.
PS. Today we have seen some rain - we were not sure what it was at first but after 12 weeks without any the Scots are going wild!