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Old 09 October 2014, 11:40   #1
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Confessions of a SIB'oholic by The Gurnard

Copied here from the original thread to separate from the general discussion

I have a confession to make ... Im a SIB addict... and even although I try to give myself to higher power, I cannot break this life long habit. Perhaps that is the reason I find myself here today... telling about my boating adventures.

I am also a human being ... and like many people .. when things are not going so well ..I tend to go into denial and run to the first stretch of salt water that comes to my mind.

It was the month on June.. and after a particularly stressful week on land .. I cracked and gave into the addiction yet again. The SIB was quickly loaded with camping gear, the trailer attached to the car, tanks filled with fuel.. and I off for yet another fix.

The destination was the Kyles of Bute ... for no other reason than it looked sunny and calm over there from the weather forecast. It was a spur of the moment lapse into addiction and a look on Easytide also indicated the tide at Tighnabruaich would favour my expected time of arrival. I badly needed a bit of variety too..and it had been a year or so since I last circumnavigated the Island of Bute.

Soon the noise of the city grew faint in my head as I reversed down “The Tank” ( The local name for Kames slipway on the outskirts of Tighnabruaich).. and was pleased to note that both the weather and tidal forecast were as predicted. The Isle of Bute looked pleasantly green on the other side of the Kyles, a far richer and fertile land that the remote places I was used to visiting.




It took me less than fifteen minutes to slip the SIB off the trailer... Attach the outboards to the transom .. and pin the boat to terra firma by jamming the small grapnel anchor into a crack in the concrete. As I went to park the car .. I felt the tight feeling in my head start to ease. The smell of the salt sea was starting to seep into my veins again.



Moments later ... I was like another person. Now in my element ... the sea.. I was about to get a fix of new adventure. The main engine burst into life on first pull. I tried my best to give it a moment or two to warm and allow the salt water to circulate its veins ... but I needed the rush badly. The throttle was fully opened ...and I was off on a new trip. The slipway slipped far behind .. along with my troubles.



Euphoria flowed in my brain as the SIB flew over the sea. I was heading south down the Kyles of Bute as fast as the 25HP engine would allow. A fresh but steady tail wind assisted the performance.



Only then did I started to settle and eased the speed to have a quick look in Ettrick Bay.




To be continued...
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Old 09 October 2014, 13:52   #2
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Thanks for looking in guys.... I appreciate it...and I also appreciate the great scenery around the areas that I live in


I only glanced into Ettrick Bay on the Island of Bute. I had not long left land and even the beautiful sand of the bay couldn’t entice me to land again so soon. Besides .. I saw quite a few people walking and playing on the beach .. I wanted away from people .. to give me time to digest the bad news that I had received. I wanted silence and solitude on this adventure.

I turned the Quicksilver’s bow back towards the south and the sea. The mountains on the Island of Arran dominated the horizon ahead on me. The small island of Inchmarnock shimmered in the mid foreground off the west coast of Bute. The shallow sandy coloured water started to deepen and turn blue as I continued on my way. It matched the colour of my blue mood.



Like any addict.. I had no hard and fast plans for this trip. I was open to suggestions from wind , wave, time and tide. Somewhere in the back of my mind .. I thought of this journey being like a pilgrimage. I wondered about landing on the southern tip of Bute to pay homage at the ruined monastery of St Blaine’s. The walk would do me good too.



I tried to keep my mind off the news by admiring the stunning scenery that surrounded me. I watched the yachts sailing by and recalled long summer days with my father on his yacht. That was many years ago. Both yacht and my father are now long distant, but fond memories.



As I crossed the sound of Bute to the Island of Inchmarnock.. I noticed both SIB and my mind had slowed to cruising speed.



The uninhabited Island of Inchmarnoch was not surprisingly... deserted. I felt more comfortable landing here for a leg stretch. There are the remains of a bronze age woman’s skeleton, known as the Queen of the Inch, in a cist near where I landed. Because of my mood.. I couldn’t face visiting her this time round.



I headed back to the boat and soon left Queen Inch behind too.



To be continued ...
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Old 10 October 2014, 10:35   #3
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Hope you get somewhere sorted paddlers..I don't have much room at my pad..or I would have offered.


As I left the shelter of Inchmarnock, and eased around Ardscalpsie point into Scalpsie Bay, the wind shifted to the Sou’west and freshened a little. Time was getting on and it was now early evening. I needed to start thinking about looking for a suitable place to wild camp.



The freshening wind started a nice swell so I decided to continue the journey for a little longer. I enjoy surfing the bigger waves, adjusting the outboard throttle so that the SIB sits on top of the bigger ones until they break or dissipate.





All notions to walk to the ruined monastery left my head as I passed the landing bay. I didn’t fancy leaving the SIB on the rocky shore with a receding tide and in this swell. Besides I was enjoying the journey too much to stop yet.





I felt the adrenalin rush through my veins as the bigger waves picked up the SIB and accelerated it ever onwards towards Garroch head. The outboard was on tick over but I was still doing around 15 knots.





There is an old local saying that there is “No tide in the Clyde”..but every time I go around Garroch head.. I seem to meet a wind against tide and always think how wrong that saying is ? This photo is looking back at the confused water caused by wind and tide on the southern tip of Bute.. on a nice calm day. Its murder on a grey windy day





Surfing fun over..it was now time to think of landing and setting up camp. Glencallum Bay in the shelter of Garroch Head looked an ideal spot.. especially as I had the place to myself.




Moments later.. I was stretching my legs on the shingle shore, searching for a flat spot to pitch the tent.




To be continued ....
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Old 11 October 2014, 05:21   #4
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Thanks again to everyone reading this thread and also to those commenting. It is appreciated as I know I can babble a bit :-D

It didn’t take long to pitch my Tesco Extra value tent which I got in an end of season sale for £10. This is its third season of wild camping and has stood up well to my abuse..the only niggle I have with it is the floor space is 5.5ft long and I am 6ft long so I will replace it soon. Im hunting the end of season bargains as I write this.




I suddenly realised that I was starving as I had not eaten a thing since lunch time. My stomach couldn’t wait until I lit a camp fire .. so I broke out the emergency gas stove and cooked a beef burger soaked in black gravy. I find the gravy gives Tesco value burgers a delicious flavour.. and hides the odd piece of horse meat flavouring. I don’t waste left over gravy either..I drink it neat.




Suitably refreshed, I wandered over to have a look at the Lighthouse at the entrance to Glencallum Bay. It marks the entrance to the Clyde shipping channel between Bute and Little Cumbrae Island.





The doors had been vandalised but they left the rest of the lighthouse intact... presumably because they thought the rusting oil tank which would have lit the lamp many years ago.. was a bomb ?





Of course the lighthouse still works because it has long been converted to solar power and the ladder to the beacon removed..making it vandal proof.





I headed back to tie the boat down for the night. The falling tide had left it high and dry.. which suited me. I calculated that it would refloat again around four in the morning so double anchored it, with both anchors secured above high tide.. in case I slept in..which could be possible if had had too much gravy before bed. The week’s bad news was still very much in my mind.




To be continued ....
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Old 12 October 2014, 04:30   #5
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Although the sun had disappeared behind the hills at the back of Glencallum bay .. it was still a warm evening. June is a great month for wild camping in Scotland as the midges are only starting to appear ... and this night, there was a fresh breeze to keep any early ones away.

Rather than sit thinking about the last week.. I decided to get some more sun by clambering to the top of the hills behind the campsite. I always like to survey the surrounding area before sleeping alone in the wild... just to reassure myself that there are no signs of werewolves or other mythical beasts that could come visiting when darkness fell. Not surprisingly...my imagination can run away with me at times.

At was a very peaceful scene looking south over the Firth of Clyde to the hills of Arran. I recalled long forgotten summer days walking those hills as a youngster on holidays with my parents.



I looked east over Glencallum bay from the eagles perch ..and recalled long forgotten summer days drinking in Nicol’s Bar..at Adrossan on the mainland ... as a young man .. waiting for the ferry to take myself and friends to Arran for wild weekends of camping.



Looking northwards ..up the Clyde ..and across the southern end of Bute .. I then relaxed as there was no sign of other humans.. never mind hairy wolves. I should sleep ok when darkness fell ?



I returned to the campsite and lit the fire. Normally I wont make stone rings around a fire as I think it marks the wilderness. Instead I build them on the sand or shingle.. where it is easy to scoop up the ashes and put them in the sea when finished. However.. as there was an existing stone ring at this site . I used it. I enjoyed a couple more tins of black gravy as I collected burnable rubbish left discarded by others.. to supplement my own carried in firewood.. and to help clean the area.



Then I settled down to second dinner. Greed perhaps .. but there are two burgers in a Tesco value pack..and I don’t believe in wasting anything. Then I washed the snack down with some more gravy .. before getting ready for bed... and preparing for the dark.




To be continued ....
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Old 12 October 2014, 11:41   #6
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My thanks again to everyone who is following my adventure..and hope you find it interesting



Perhaps it was because I had eaten too many beef burgers.. or perhaps it was because I had not had enough black gravy..(there are only six tins in a Tesco value pack) But I confess .. I didn’t sleep well that night.

When darkness fell.. the shipping channel came to life. Huge container ships clunked heavy metal hulls as they left Glasgow on the start of their long journeys south towards open seas. Several trawlers also thumped large inboard engines closer to shore.. dredging up prawns..or anything else that dared to live on the sea beds of the Clyde.



There was a full moon too.. but no werewolves appeared ..it never turned black.. like it often does in the country .. far from city lights.



My mind was racing .. listening to the tapes running in my head. I was thinking about the news from the start of the week. I dozed momentarily, and had visions of the first boat that I ever owned. It is not the yellow Seafly dinghy in the picture...that was my father’s boat. I had the little green tug boat. I also thought of my mother. As kids ..we were brought up with the sea in our blood.



I then thought of the meeting with mother at the start of the week. I visited her twice a week as she had not been keeping well. I heard her voice again in my head as she said ... I have to go into hospital again.. and this time.. I don’t think I will get out.

That was the reason I needed a fix of SIBing by going round Bute in June. It was my way of coming to terms with the thought that very soon I was going to be an adult orphan. I knew that within a month.. my parents would be little more than a bunch of photographs .. memories... and perhaps one day ..have a story to tell.



I was very glad to see the sunrise that morning ... I had started to accept the outcome of the bad news ... realise how precious a gift life really is... and I was also very thankful that I had inherited my parent’s love of small boats ... the sea... and the land around me.



To be continued ....
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Old 13 October 2014, 12:53   #7
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Hey.. many thanks everyone for your kind comments. I was a bit wary posting this type of stuff as it is not the normal Ribnet postings. Im pleased you enjoy it.

Radio would destroy it though.. its the photographs that tell the tale ..I only link each photo to the next .. with my prattle.

On with the show ....

With the dawn.. and my acceptance of the inevitable .. came a new day ... and a whole new mood. A far calmer mood.. with a softer light that edged everything with gold. Before continuing my adventure, I stood back to look at the big picture.

From a distance I looked back at Glencallum bay and the hills that I had clambered over.. looking for mythical beasts that existed only in my own imagination .. I accepted that my thoughts and fears of loosing my mother existed only in my imagination too. Her passing would be but a continuation... she would live on in my advenutures.. the sea ..and the land around me.





My mood warmed to that thought.. in the same way the rising sun started to warm the colder land. I turned my SIB northwards to continued my adventure. I was at peace with the world.. myself and the higher power that keeps me addicted to Sibbing.





I could now face civilisation again any wanted to get back to the city.. the company of others and of course.. my old mother. I slowly turned into Kilchattan Bay for a nosey around.. but saw no one .. then it dawned on me ..it was still 5am in the morning.





I waited until I was a couple of hundred yards off shore... then ... with a flick of my wrist.. the SIB was on cruise speed. I watched happily, as Kilchattan fell back to silence as the village grew smaller and smaller.





I confess ... I love the quiet rattle noise of the rooster tail wake as it folds back in on itself.. on a flat calm and sunny morning. I think It is the most relaxing sound in the world...even after a bucket full of black gravy.




It was such a beautiful morning that I could easily have been in heaven. The smooth sea reflected my calm mood.



Then the rooster tail rattle was disturbed by the harsh crackle of the VHF radio. The forecast was announced ... calm winds in the morning.. turning to force 5- 6 in the afternoon.

Yup..I was happy I was heading back to the city ...


To be continued....
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Old 14 October 2014, 14:40   #8
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I confess .. I really enjoy going up the East coast of the Island of Bute. It is very different to the rocky and sparsely populated Islands off the West of Scotland, that I normally explore.

IMO .. Some of the villages have a very “English feel” to them. Some of the houses looked like buildings more suited to Stratford upon Avon.. with their black wooden beams on white washed walls. Certainly not the normal stone walled crofts of the north.



Other homes seemed to be built of money.. I doubt the owner of this mansion would ever wild camp in a Tesco Extra value tent in their leisure time.



Other buildings.. although they looked lovely.. proved to be a bit false on closer inspection.
I though this impressive round structure on a point at the start of Rothesay Bay must be a famous monument commemorating something important.



However .. on closer inspection ..I found it was nothing more impressive than the town water treatment plant.



I do have a soft spot for the main town on Bute. I have enjoyed a few good nights in the bars of Rothesay. .. it is a bustling wee Toon in the summer.



I was hoping to see another old Lady..

before heading home to my dear old mom...

To be continued ....
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Old 15 October 2014, 14:16   #9
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Thanks for that info Jambo..I need to visit the Mount Stuart Estate sometime..sadly.. I cant see the house from the water.. only the boat house


Im not ashamed to say that I was a little disappointed ... not to see my old lady friend in Rothesay. She normally hangs around the harbour area when in town.. but I fully realise she gets herself around a bit. She is a beautiful old girl.

Leaving town, I headed across Kames bay towards the entrance of Loch Striven and the narrow Kyles of Bute. I was on my way to visit the two Maids of Bute ..to ask after my friend.




Entering the Low Wake section of the narrow Kyles of Bute ..I dropped to a steady cruising speed. A fast displacement speed on my SIB causes more wake than staying on the plane. I presume the low wake enforcement is in place because larger boat’s wake can erode the shoreline.



Then I dropped to slow displacement speed as I entered the No Wake Zone in the Kyles. It starts at the ferry which feeds the Island traffic from Colintraive. It only makes sense to follow this speed limit as it gives plenty of time to work out if the ferry is going to cross in your path. I tend to think that Commercial Ferries care little about other vessels on the water.. and they always think they have right of way .. so I always give them a wide berth



The No Wake Zone continues through the narrowest section of the Kyles. The deep channel is marked by buoys. Again..I play safe and if there are other boats in the narrows..I give way regardless. I know which side to pass other boats.. but have found a lot of other boats don’t. Im not there to teach them or to argue.. so I play safe and wait until all are out the road.

The tide does not obey the No Wake Rule either as it can cause quite a wash on the buoys.. when it is running at springs.



The No Wake Zone then goes back to a Low Wake Zone at Buttock Point and it is here that you can see the Maids of Bute.

Legend has it that these garish painted stones were two local fisherwives that went to Buttock Point to wait their husbands come home from sea. They never came home and the wives waited that long.. they turned to stone. They certainly seemed stone deaf as they never answered when I asked if they had seen the old Lady I was looking for.



The wind started to ripple the water as I headed back to Tighnabruaich. Then my day was made when paddles started to beat the ripples on the water. The Old Lady I was hoping to see.. came into view.

Yup..she is the P.S. Waverley ..the last of the great sea going paddle steamers in the world.. and what a magnificent old girl she is.



I watched in silent admiration as she headed for the pier. I recalled many trips on these old paddle steamers of the Clyde ..accompanied by my mother and father. The Dutchess of Hamilton was another paddle steamer I remember being on ..but sadly ... she is long gone.



To be continued ...
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Old 16 October 2014, 09:31   #10
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To end this tale.. I have attached a map of The Isle of Bute..showing the slipway that I used and where I camped. It is only 45 miles round the Island..so it can be done by boat trip in a few hours.. but its best to take longer and turn it into a real adventure :-D




This is a photo looking down the West Kyles of Bute.. towards Inchmarnock Island and the Hills of Arran beyond that.



This is a photo looking towards the narrow northern Kyles of Bute. It really is a lovely area to go boating in..but it is also a busy area because of this.



Shortly after watching the PS Waverly land at Tighnabruaich pier ..I landed at Kames slipway then made my way home.

I took my mother into hospital a couple of days later.. and she was right ... she never got home again.

A month later ..on the day after her 84th birthday.. she passed away as I held her hand.

It wasn’t a tragedy ..in fact it was a miracle. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer 35 years earlier. A year of surgery and chemotherapy back in 79 let her lead a normal and very happy life up until a year before she died. Both the treatment and palliative care she got from the NHS and the voluntary hospice service was 100% first class.

I would therefore like to dedicate this true tale ... not only to the memory of my mother.. but also to you .. the RIBNET community who gave time and / or donations to the MacMillan Charity appeal.

Selfless acts like the MacMillan RIB .. means the charity can help many people.. of all walks of life .. come to terms with cancer.


My thanks to you all .. and I know my mother would thank you all too



I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
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