LN897 23/06/2016 We began the voyage on 21 June at the Custom Quay Greenock, a short train journey from Glasgow.
The voyage crew were all aboard before 2pm. After some safety training we cast off at 5pm and were soon steaming down the river Clyde headed for Brodick Bay on the Isle of Arran. It was to be engines all the way as the wind was unfavourably from the South. Dinner was a delicious cottage pie and vegetables followed by apricots and homemade rice pudding. A good start to the voyage. We anchored soon after 9pm initiating anchor watches. Our Captain, Richard, had arranged for a visit to the whiskey distillery in Lochranza. After a full English breakfast the Doti boat ran 20 of us (but not all at once!) to Brodick where a small bus met us to take us to the distillery, a journey of some 40 minutes in superb scenery partly along the coast and partly into the hills across the North end of Arran. The distillery visit guide was enthusiastic and informative and we now know how to make whiskey when we get home – just a small matter of huge vats and stills stand in the way. Bags after the distillery visit were considerably heavier than before due to essential purchases in the distillery shop. A very accommodating bus driver diverted to Lochcranza Castle on the way back.
Arran is a delightful island very reminiscent of Mull – very green and neat and tidy. Sighting of a seal and great sheep bollards but not enough time to spot eagles. Excellent pub lunch for most of us and then back to Nellie for some quiet time for most of us not on watch.
A delicious dinner of roast pork, apple sauce, cauliflower cheese, potatoes and spicy vegetables followed by sticky toffee pudding and ice-cream. Seconds of pudding was in great demand.
At about 8.30pm we were treated to a close up of Ailsa Craig – dotted by birds and guano – although only a couple of gannets decided to investigate the ship. The rock reminiscent of Boreray, St Kilda, although cliffs not as sheer. (Ailsa Craig granite used for making curling pucks, so quarry on the E side.)
A couple of hours of sleep before getting up for the 12 – 4 watch. Five layers of clothing + oilskin in anticipation of a cold and wet watch, and taking over from the previous watch it looked as though that would be the case. Au contraire – we were treated to a tranquil 4 hours of motoring, needing to slow down at one stage to prevent us arriving at our destination too soon. The Irish coastline was dotted with pools of orange light pollution sometimes making it difficult to pick out ferries coming and going, lighthouses, turbine lights and other vessels. We moved out of the cloud and the sky cleared to reveal a nearly full moon and starry sky. The sky retained the colour of the sunset and this merged seamlessly into the light of dawn. Hot chocolate at 2.30am was welcome and kept the cold at bay, but with very little wind it was a joy to be out there. The final 45 minutes or so of the watch we were accompanied by a yacht under sail which appeared from the E, with a couple more setting out from the Irish coast. So a perfect moonlit watch alongside Rory the second mate. A couple of hours sleep before the call for breakfast and so it continues … AFT PORT