An active family holiday in Scotland: Day 5


Last Summer our eldest son did his RYA Day Skipper qualification (which you can do once you turn 16) with Go West Sailing and our plan this year had been for him to do the next step up – his RYA Coastal Skipper. You do need to quite a bit of study for this but, in the lead-up to the holiday, he had so many other pressures – his Maths A-level which he was taking a year early, the mock exams for his other A-levels that would determine his predictions for University applications, his driving test theory, some work experience and more, that we decided it would be best if we just treated it as more of a holiday. We could use this year as an experience builder, without any pressure – after all, there would always be future opportunities to do the RYA-recognised qualifications.

So, with this pressure aside, we started the day with a safety briefing, checked the oil levels and set off out of Largs Yacht Haven – first under motor as there was little wind, but later the wind came in and we were able to reach speeds of 5 or 6 knots comfortably under sail.

We hadn’t been on the move for long before we spotted a seal, before later enjoying a number of dolphin sightings as we passed between the islands of Great Cumbrae and Little Cumbrae and on towards the southern end of Bute. As we emerged from between the islands, we could see Arran ahead of us and, in the distance to the south, could make out Ailsa Craig, a granite outcrop famous as a source of curling stones.

We anchored at Scalpsie Bay off Bute to have lunch before continuing on, sometimes under motor, but more often under sail, and for the final stretch goose-winging our way downwind towards Tarbert (with the mainsail going one way, and the jib the other, with the wind behind us).

We arrived at Tarbert harbour, went for a run up to the castle, freshened up and rewarded ourselves with fish and chips from the Loch Fyne Fish Bar.

Tarbert is a lovely village and has a maritime history that goes back many centuries; it has a bustling community with a ferry link to Portavadie, as well as the nearby Kennacraig ferry to Islay, and serves as the headquarters for the Loch Fyne fishing fleet.

An active family holiday in Scotland:

You can read the full trip by clicking on any of the links below:

Day 1: Mossyard
Day 2: Mossyard – Kirroughtree – Glentrool
Day 3: Glentrool
Day 4: Glentrool – Largs
Day 5: Largs – Scalpsie Bay – Tarbert
Day 6: Tarbert – Ardishaig – Otter Ferry
Day 7: Otter Ferry – Ardmarnoch Bay – Portavadie
Day 8: Otter Ferry – Ardmarnoch Bay – Portavadie
Day 9: Portavadie – Largs
Day 10: Largs – Glasgow

Diclosure: Our sailing holiday was sponsored by Go West Sailing.


Comments (5)

  1. Jeff G says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading these day by day accounts of your holiday, in years to come, when your sons have flown the nest, you’ll be able to look back on these posts. It’s made me realise that I ought to make more of an effort to record my travels.

    • Paul Johnson says:

      Yes, it is nice to have a record to remember past trips, certainly. I think it also important to not let the pandemic get in the way of having family experiences. Whilst we might not (as easily) be able to travel internationally right now, the UK has plenty to offer. And the time goes by far too fast, as you say – before we know it, they’ll have left home and holidaying with their parents could be the last thing on their minds!!

  2. Nick Dougill says:

    A pity that your son couldn’t do his skipper course. It’s a very worthwhile course. He’s young and has got time on his side, much better to do it with more experience under his belt.

    • Paul Johnson says:

      Hi Nick – thanks for dropping by. He could have done it – we (and he) just felt a more restful holiday would be more rewarding under the circumstances. He is still young (in fact, only just old enough to do the coastal skipper course) so has plenty of time, and the added experience will certainly do no harm.

  3. Cal says:

    Never heard of goose-winging before, but I can see how it gets its name! Looks quite beautiful when the sails are like that also.

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