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Season 3 - lets begin! Largs to Tarbert.

Timeline: 1st of May - leaving Largs and arriving at Millport on Great Cumbrae. 2nd of May - leaving Millport without making a landing and sailing to Tarbert. 4th of May - leaving Tarbert and entering Crinan Canal at


There are situations along the way, mostly to do with the weather, when the boat is rocking and I'm getting sick hanging out of the cockpit and thinking"never again"! Then I quickly correct the course of my thinking by asking some valid questions "Where would I rather be - in an office or maybe some house somewhere with the same view all the time? Or maybe on the boat, where I can count on the view to change all the time and never having to battle my way through traffic to some office in some concrete jungle of a town?" The answer is always the same and here I am, happily setting off into the unknown of the third season of adventuring with Mark and Altor.


Season 3 begins in Largs, and rightly so, as we have spent our winter there. This town, and indeed Largs Yacht Haven have been a great winter oasis and a home to us and we have met some awesome people here.


On the day of our departure we walked to the town and had a "good bye" lunch with our friend, Helen Gould, and her lovely friends from Glasgow - Mary and John. It did't feel like we were leaving at all. If felt like we are going for a day sail around the Clyde and we'd be back later, or the next day after spending a night at anchor, but that wasn't the case. We had a clear agenda for 2022 - get to the Faroe Island by mid-May, quick catch up with our friends there, then get to Norway, hop up the coast, and get to Svalbard.


When we shared our plans, some people asked "Where on Earth is Svalbard??". To be honest, I didn't fully know where is Svalbard either, but the realisation that it is somewhere 77 degrees north and up, while the Artic Circle begins at 66.33 degrees north put it a bit into perspective for me. Another realisation is delivered by learning the formulae on how to calculate distances between latitudes. Calculating the distance between latitude lines is easy because this distance never varies. If you treat the Earth as a sphere with a circumference of 25,000 miles, then one degree of latitude is 25,000/360 = 69.44 miles. A minute is thus 69.44/60 = 1.157 miles, and a second is 1.15/60 = 0.0193 miles, or about 101 feet. So thanks to that I calculated that if we want to cross the latitude of 80 degrees north, which is just north of Svalbard, we would be approximately 972 miles, or 844.6 nautical miles, further north than ever before, and this is not inclusive of the journey we had to make to the east. It felt so far fetched at the time.


Anyway, every journey begins we the first step so for the warm up we left at 4pm on the 1st of May, motored across the Clyde and anchored at Millport on the island of Great Cumbrae, our last anchorage of the second season. On the way up we had swung by the mooring field at Fairlie, found a cute little boat called Zefer, sailed really, really close and I had awkwardly chalked into the cockpit a bag with some drink for the owner, Craig, who kindly left some drink for us on Altor. We did't want to drink alone!


We got to Millport at sunset and settled quickly into our normal evening routine of dinner, weather checking, route planning, and celebrating the awesome day gone by! It was a calm evening and delivered a very different experience to the last time we anchored Altor in these waters, when I was getting seasick just making dinner!


The following morning we've raised the anchored and motored to Tarbert in force 1 wind. We prefer to sail, but having to motor a short distance in force one is better than beating in force 7! Tarbert is cool little town arranged in a U-shape around the bay. It seemed very quiet during our visit but we spotted a few decent looking eating houses, which appropriately to their location in a fishing harbour offered seafood. We didn't venture to any because we had different plans, to be revealed soon!


In the afternoon Helen arrived with her friends on her beautiful Nicholson 32, named Becca Boo, and gave us instructions on where to find fresh scallops in Tarbert! No, we didn't have to dive for the scallops ourselves, we just had to find the ones who did. At the first attempt the shop was closed, well open, but no scallop or shop owner could be found. Later in the evening, however, Mark spotted a fishing boat coming into the harbour and figured this must be the fresh scallops delivery! Soon we walked back to that shop, and sure enough it was open and full of fresh seafood so that evening we had an amazing feast of scallops and mash potatoes! The following morning we left bound for Ardrishaig, as we booked a passage through the Crinan Canal!

Anchored at Millport for the first night of Season 3!

Anchored at Millport for the first night of Season 3!

Anchored at Millport for the first night of Season 3!

Farewell lunch with Helen Goul and her friends - John and Mary in Scotts, Largs Yacht Haven.

Anchored at Millport for the first night of Season 3!

Anchored at Millport for the first night of Season 3!

Leaving the anchorage at Millport on Great Cumbrae and heading on to Tarbert, down Loch Fyne, where we had a very memorable last sail of Season 2.

Leaving the anchorage at Millport on Great Cumbrae.

Leaving the anchorage at Millport on Great Cumbrae.

Leaving the anchorage at Millport on Great Cumbrae and heading on to Tarbert,.

Anchored at Millport for the first night of Season 3!

Leaving the anchorage at Millport on Great Cumbrae and heading on to Tarbert.

Leaving the anchorage at Millport on Great Cumbrae and heading on to Tarbert.

With Helen Gould - I look forward to seeing you again!

Farewell lunch in Scotts, Largs Yacht Haven.

Last walk along Largs sea front before we head of on our adventures (1st of May 2022).

Last walk along Largs sea front before we head of on our adventures (1st of May 2022).

Last walk along Largs sea front before we head of on our adventures (1st of May 2022).

Last walk along Largs sea front before we head of on our adventures (1st of May 2022).

Last walk along Largs sea front before we head of on our adventures (1st of May 2022).


A bit of Largs' history:


The Battle of Largs took place between King Haacon Haaconson of Norway III of Scotland in 1263 when King Alexander was only 23 years of age. Poor dude, didn't have anything better to do fight with the Vikings... Google didn't reveal any other source of the problem other than the Norwegians were attempting to claim sovereignty and a fleet of about 160 Viking vessels were moored off the Cumbraes. On the 30th of September, during particularly stormy weather, sever of these boats were driven ashore just south of Largs. On the 2nd of October when the Norwegians were trying to salvage their boats, the Scottish army, let by King Alexander III arrived. For several hours fierce fighting took place resulting in the Norwegians returning to their moored vessels and the Scots withdrawing.

At the time this battle was not considered of much significance and later historians transformed it into international importance. There you go, a bit of PR/spin-doctor job and instantly we have international conflict out of a Viking raid. Apparently the current stance is back to the "not so important" viewpoint. Not claiming a know-it-all but seems like some immediate family problems escalated by in-laws, always the case.... just saying...


The Pencil Monument


Initial plan plan envisaged a bronze statue but thankfully someone put a stop to this kind of frivolous spending of the public kitty, and eventually a stone construction was erected. The tower is 17.3m (57 feet) in height with a diameter of 3m (10') at its base and 2.4m (8') at its top. To strengthen the structure wooden flooring on iron beams span the interior 10' apart. The stone used for th tower is whinstone, but the door and window surrounds are dressed ashlar from Blackshaw Quarry, West Kilbride. These have cared into them, Celtic mouldings of humans and crouched animals and a cross is placed above the door. A pinnacle of circular hewn red sandstone caps the top. The wooden door is made of oak.


Famous for its Viking connections Largs has an interactive exhibition called the Viking Experience open all year round the Vikingar at Barrfields. Keeping on the Viking theme several street names in Largs are named after these times: Alexander Avenue, Alexander Walk & Alexander Court - after Alexander III; Danefiled Avenue - reputedly where the Vikings were held prisoners; Haco Street - after King Haacon Haaconson; Viking Way and of course, Pencil View.


Each year Largs hosts a Viking Festival at the end of which a boat burning and firework display takes place at Broomfields.

Tarbert, Scotland

Tarbert, Scotland

Tarbert, Scotland

Fishing port and marina in Tarbert, Scotland

Seafront of Tarbert, Scotland

Tarbert, Scotland

Tarbert, Scotland

Tarbert, Scotland

Tarbert, Scotland

Tarbert, Scotland

Tarbert, Scotland

Now some of Tarbert's ancient history:


From earliest times the strategic site on the narrow neck of land between East and West Lochs Tarbert was probably a simple hill fort until it was handed over to Bailiol in 1292 when it became a Royal castle. I personally love the fact that encounters with royalty are so wide spread to say the least.

In 1306 Rober the Bruce passed through Kintyre in his flight to Rathlin, and his appointment with a spider.


Realising the importance of this isthmus and the necessity to defend it, Bruce set work in hand in 1325 to repair and extend an existing castle, standing on the hiss above Tarbert harbour.

The extension to the original castle was a large outer bailey or courtyard area to the east bounded by a defensive or curtain wall. On the east side facing the sea, two drum towers are incorporated in the wall probably with an access the loch below. Within this larger courtyard the new works included a Hall, built on piers, and a dwelling house. Other works were the building of a chapel, a new kitchen, a wine house (badly needed), a bake house (also badly needed), goldsmiths' house, malt house (God, they new what the essentials were), brew house (didn't I say they knew how to keep their life mellow) with a new val, a mill with millpond and a lade, a moat and a lime kiln.


Well, according to history, which we know is "his-story", and not necessarily the truth, Bruce didn't enjoy all this good stuff throughout his life as he didn't stay in the castle all the time, just throughout the year proceeding his death in 1329.


In 1494 James IV resided at Tarbert on two occasions. During his first visit he repaired the fort built by Bruce. It is probable that the keep or tower house was built at this time. Facilities were established for his shipping, to transport artillery and a stock of gunpowder. People were always too sad to have a better entertainment than killing each other... On his second visit, parliament was summoned to meet at Tarbert on the 5th of July 1949 for the purpose of deciding ways of pacifying the still turbulent area of Kintyre and he Islands.


In 1705 the McAlister family of Tarbert tenanted the castle under charter from the Campbells but by 1760 Tarbert Castle fell into disrepair leading to most of the useful stone being removed to build the harbour and the village as Tarbert became a major fishing port. There is time for creation and time for distraction, no point crying over spilt milk...

This street is where you can find the shop with fresh scallops and other amazing sea food. It is in the courtyard of the stone house on the left.

Church in Tarbert.

Marina in Tarbert.

Nice...

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