We were more than ready to leave Belfast. After a week of cold rain Blue Dove was blessed with sunny skies and a steady northerly for a 7 knot reach across the Irish Sea. She is sedate and well behaved, although the Autohelm found the beam swells a bit taxing.
Guillemots were upset by our intrusion into their ocean, but we were ignored by the squadrons of purposeful gannets highlighted in bright sunlight.
Blue Dove is a good little ship, but oh so little. Maxine, Pasha and Tatiana do what Russians do so well – chatter, laugh, eat and take up space. It is good to have them back aboard, although we all miss Tainui. I have trouble keeping comparisons at bay.
At Stranraer the rain began. Maxine and I took refuge in Northwest Castle, now a Fawlty Towers hotel but once the stately home of Arctic explorer Sir John Ross. It has a curliing rink of international renown but unfortunately this was closed for the summer. We had to make do with the sauna and spa.
The following day, under a tepid sun with a light headwind we motor-sailed north past Ailsa Craig, whose granite is highly prized for the world’s curling stones.
Tied up in Campbeltown we tipple in the cockpit, warmed by the evening sun. It all feels very Scottish – RNLI lifeboat, rusty prawn trawlers, an aged Fife gaffer and, sadly, the usual collection of Eurovision song contest boats.
With wet northerlies forecast an early start for the 25 mile leg up Kilbrannan Sound to Tarbert was managed by all. Glassy water and a favourable current are a welcome change. Prawn trawlers, rafts of anxious, irritable guillemots. The softly folded hills of Arran to starboard and wooded shores of Kintyre to port.