Well, we had to start the blog somewhere and though it should perhaps have been last year we failed miserably – so I will try to make up for it now in one article covering our time since buying “Siga Siga”. Firstly, we bought her as “Rogue” when she was lying at Glasson Dock. How do you say “thank you” to someone for selling you their pride and joy – not enough “thank you’s” in it really – but many, many thanks to Richard.
Anyway, having bought her we decided that we wanted to test her – and ourselves – so sailed on the first Bank Holiday last May  up to Ardrossan to spend a year sailing around the Clyde and beyond. Now, anyone who knows me will wonder why I would agree to the Clyde because I really am a Mediterranean weather kinda woman. But I have to admit to being very pleasantly surprised by the weather we got. Ok – it wasn’t exactly an overall tan – but the face, arms and legs did fairly well! What was even better is that for some reason, the midges I have endured on other trips to Scotland in the summer – which was ONE because they were so bad, didn’t actually appear – so perhaps there is something to be said for lots of snow and an icy winter.
So, we spent nearly every summer weekend visiting various anchorages on Arran, up Loch Fyne, around the Kyles etc and we had a great week at the end of August when we sailed to the top of Loch Fyne [to the Brewery of course]. The highlight of the year, apart from meeting some lovely people [Hi there Steve, Gill, Nikki and Malc] was our two week sail late May/early June round the Mull of Kintyre, to Gigha, Kerrera, Tobermory, round Ardnamurchan and into Arisaig – whacky experience- up to Syke [Portree and Isle Ornsay], and then Canna [most fantastic place] via the much visited “Forge” at Inverie [where we found the only midges of the year], Coll, Lismore Island, Puilladobhrain [see photo], Jura and Islay. Of course we had to visit all three Whisky Distilleries having berthed at Port Ellen. A great day. The overwhelming memories of the two weeks are superb sunsets, basking sharks, and a boat sailing at 8 knots and going absolutely nowhere against the tides through the Sound of Luing.
We didn’t stop sailing until New Year, spending New Years Eve on Arran – though it was by motor there and back I’m afraid. Talking of motors – when we came to leave the Marina on 3 January there were no car keys. All luggage, tool box, every part of the boat overturned – certainly no car keys. Couldn’t believe it – when we phoned the Pier Head at Lamlash to find that they had them. To fall out of Mike’s pocket in such a safe place, given the tender journey too and from pub and various meanderings around Lamlash for New Year celebrations we were very lucky. Therefore, unfortunately [ha!] we had to extend our stay for a day and make best use of the Calmac service to Arran and back to pick them up.
And so to the title of this entry – our journey from Ardrossan to Liverpool which I guess is the start of our trip. It doesn’t exactly feel like it at the moment because we have a house to clear, and parents to sort out and opticians/doctors etc to visit [is that a sign of age?] and also our wedding to arrange. But, I digress again – and won’t bore you with all the details of those things.
We set sail at 6.30 am on Tuesday 3rd May [having had two great weeks with fab sis Chris and partner John over Easter, and smashing mates Dave and Mag over the Bank Holiday] as we had worked out all the tides and timings for getting us to Peel on the Isle of Man for lock opening time the following morning. Anyway, all went really well to start with – in fact we were in advance of ourselves – so we slowed down a bit once we were through the North Channel as with sails in good order we were probably heading for Arklow – which is supposed to be our first destination in June and we were therefore a bit early! Mike retired below and all was well though the wind was getting up a little.
Having brewed the required cuppa prior to waking him we were set for a “handover” and sharing the aforesaid brew when a certain shake and rattle announced our anchor deploying itself in the middle of the Irish Sea at 3.30am. We stopped. We both stared at the depth gauge so long that it probably near melted under the gaze because we really thought we had managed to anchor ourselves – such was the lack of any movement at all. We had the engine on but couldn’t go forwards or backwards – all we did was go round and round. Oh – I forgot to mention – we also went up and down and side to side. This was perhaps best demonstrated by the cup of coffee which left the cockpit and made a fabulous arc down onto the chart table. The log book will never look the same again! But – what to do – and what would you do? In total, the anchor and chain weigh about 100kg and it had played out to the rope which doesn’t, obviously, fit the windlass. Cut it loose? But its Mike’s new toy – [Xmas pressie] – a brand new sparkling, never used, Rocna 25. Basically, the answer seemed to be – its 3.30 am, and dark, and blowing a hoolie, and though uncomfortable with the up and down and side to side and round and round actually we aren’t in any danger – so do nothing. Whatever was going to happen I was clear that Mike’s limbs and digits were far more important but, come the dawn at around 5.00am we managed to get our joint thinking power in order and, using the genoa winches and lots of grit and determination [Mike’s] we brought the anchor back on board and tied it down like a trussed chicken. And so……on to the Isle of Man.
Why, when we live in Lancashire, have we never before visited the Isle of Man. Splendid place. Really friendly folk, great beer [see next sentence!], super pubs and brilliant transport options for seeing the whole of the island. The beer – well Mike is a bit of a “Landlord” fan [not quite as much as Dave – but anyway it’s a standard that so many beers have, happily in Dave’s view, come to emulate]. But – there are two brews we tried on the Island – Old Laxey and Okells which were different to Landlord but equally excellent and which Mike was really delighted to sample – several times of course. On the issue of transport, a day “rover” each meant we could travel by bus from Peel to Port Erin, with time for a coffee in the Old Station café [think 1930’s] before getting the steam train to Douglas followed by the tramway to Laxey and back and then a bus back to Peel. The walk from steam train to tramway along the promenade – at 2 miles, was more than it looked on the map and, fortunately for us was about the only time during the whole day when the rain stopped. So it wasn’t the greatest day weather wise to see the island, but if we enjoyed it so much – just think what it could be like on a sunny day. We did go to Ramsey on the day we arrived, again by bus, and we did traverse all of Peel, particularly sampling, and taking away, the most excellent kippers. Finally, before reporting on our leg from Peel to Liverpool, I couldn’t fail to mention Mike’s jeans. Obviously they were pretty wet when we arrived in Peel – given his heroics with the anchor – and so he decided to put them over the guard rail. “Is that a good idea” says I as we were leaving the boat for our trip to Ramsey. “It will be Ok” says he. Well, they are now somewhere in the Irish Sea. I could mention the salvage job we tried to do as we could see them on the Marina floor on our return – but unfortunately fishing hooks and grapnel hook only caused mud to rise, rather than jeans – so out to sea they sailed – probably!
And now…. across to Liverpool. Again, as with the Ardrossan to Peel leg we had made our plans to accommodate the lock gates at both Peel and Brunswick Dock which meant leaving Peel at 14.40. We had to motor down to the Calf of Man – all the while hoping that once round Chicken Rock we might be able to sail but unfortunately not and the whole of our journey was into wind, into mist and then into rain! Just an aside about Chicken Rock – well its lighthouse anyway. The last lighthouse keeper, who had previously been the postman for the whole of the south of the island, then went on to be the first station master at Port Erin. Obviously a man who thought he looked good in uniform… Given the rather unpleasant weather the evening drew in rather sooner than we had hoped and we were in thermals and wet weather gear for most of the journey but, in comparison to the Ardrossan/Peel journey, there isn’t much to report really. We both managed to get some sleep and the watches were uneventful. We enjoyed the company of a fishing fleet – though, as dawn finally broke, one of the vessels with a seemingly bright light turned into a gas rig with a huge orange flame! Having been overtaken by a range of tankers on our approach to Liverpool Bay we then passed them all as they waited for the tide to take them into Rock Channel. We had planned for the Queens Channel – and stuck with those plans. The sandbanks are really quite amazing but it’s a shame that the channel isn’t closer to Crosby to get a real feel for Anthony Gormley’s Iron Men. They are worth seeing from the shore if you ever get the chance.
Having worked in Merseyside for the past five and a half years, making the journey every day from the Rossendale Valley, I would very regularly go home and say “It’s much warmer and sunnier in Liverpool”. So, Mike and I had visions of the Three Graces with the sun glinting off them and a pleasant morning gliding up the Mersey. Ha! Not only did it rain all that day, it seems to have rained most days since. I still think Liverpool is a fantastic place to be moored not least because of the pubs, beer and the brilliant colleagues and friends I have had here but on that Saturday morning I was not impressed by the murky wet gloom. The locks were due to open at about 11.00am. They actually opened at 11.30ish which wasn’t too bad except that there were around ten boats looking for a lock out and, as a result, we had to wait for their entry, descent and exit before we could leave a very wet and cold experience going up and down about a quarter of a mile of the river. And then, into the lock. Our previous experience of locks [Crinan Canal and Glasson] is that there are folk there waiting to be tossed warps which they helpfully attach so that one can guide the boat up/down. So, we entered the lock and, not only was no-one there but we realised we had to berth. Yikes! However, several quick scurries around by yours truly and some fancy steering by Mike seemed to secure the boat and up we went. At least we know what to expect when we leave, which is now actually now only three days away.
In the month that we have been moored here we completed the aforesaid and have cleared our house [mammoth task], assisted in a move for Mike’s dad, taken my mum to various appointments and visited dentists, opticians and everyone else we could think of in preparation for leaving and planned our wedding which takes place on Thursday before we leave on Friday [weather permitting]. Mike has become expert on e.bay and we have both become quite adept at fitting far too much stuff into limited boat space. We are still working on that bit – but will surely get there as the next weeks unfold and we determine what we do and don’t actually need. We have also had the pleasure of the company of good friends, joining us for leaving do’s or any other excuse any of us could think of to imbibe and engage in fun, food and good conversation. Great, great pubs to visit across the city – and Mike’s new favourite “Wapping Summer Ale”
Its now definitely time to post this first entry and I have just asked Mike how I should close. He said – well its time for a G&T – so that seems like a good exit to me. Until next time…..