Ice Patrol

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There is no doubt about it, snatching an hour’s sailing from the jaws of winter is the most satisfying thing a yottie can do between October and March.

A visit to Crunluath on Sunday in between gales and ice ostensibly to repair possible damage was too good a chance to miss; clear blue skies, a gentle breeze and views of snowcovered mountains from Arran to Arrocher. Only the windsurfers and me were out to witness the Clyde at its best.

Peel Ports pilot boat Gantock headed down channel from its tempoary berth at Largs Yacht Haven to take off a pilot  on a collier leaving Hunterston coaling jetty. Not a bad way to go to work even if you are having to work on Sunday, it certainly beats an afternoon on the tills at Tesco.

Just a genoa, initially only partly unfurled, was enough to see 2 knots on the log but on the return trip from the Cumbrae shore we hit 5.1kn. I seem to remember reading an article in a yachting magazine some years ago about winter wind feeling stronger despite recording the same speed as summer winds, something to do with air density at lower temperatures being higher. It certainly felt like it as I struggled to furl the foresail as we approached the marina.

A twitchy few gusts conspired to make my approach to the pontoon unreasonably difficult, perhaps the absence of many boats from their regular berths owing to dredging operations, meant a less than sheltered approach. After a bit of manual warping I got Crunluath safely alongside. Meanwhile the dredging barge was making its way through the marina using a strange coracle like action. The digger doing the dredging used its shovel to pull the barge along with an auxiliary tender at the stern for additional steering. It all looked rather weird. Largs marina has not been dredged since it was built 30 years ago, aparently increasing affluence has led to ever larger and deeper draught boats which are touching bottom at times. Serves em right, they shouldn’t carry so much gin!

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The only ice I encountered was on the sidedeck.Casting off was a delicate balletic operation but disaster was narrowly averted.

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