Trolling across to Troon

Passage from Bangor to Troon: 64.3 miles in 10 hours and 35 minutes. A good fast passage. Wind very variable and light to start off with, but gradually rose to around a F5 just aft of the beam – lovely sailing with speeds often around 7-9 knots.

With the forecast looking OK for today, but fairly flaky in the coming days, we decided, after much deliberation to head straight in one passage to Troon rather than the long way round via Glenarm and Campbeltown. So, we set off at 05.15 to try and catch a fair tide setting us north up the coast. the tide is fairly strong in the North Channel and then weakens significantly on the Scottish Coast, so the first 5 hours or so of fair tide were the most crucial. Winds were fairly light to start off with and we managed to broad reach at around 5.5kts, but the wind was very variable and kept going directly aft and doing so by 07.45 the engine went on again.

From there, the engine was on and off every so often, but after around 11.00 it came back and shifted slightly to the NW, gradually increasing over the coming hours to around 20-22kts. This gave us speeds of 7-8.5kts – lovely sailing.

Ailsa Craig – dominating the entry to the Firth of Clyde

At midday we were level with Ailsa Craig. Ailsa Craig is around 220 acres and is now uninhabited. It is formed from a volcanic plug of an extinct volcano and was used for many years to quarry blue hone granite for curling stones. It is owned by the 8th Marquess of Ailsa (appropriately named) and she put it on the market in May 2011 for an asking price of something over £2,500,000. The price has apparently been recently reduced to a bargain £1,500,000.

Ailsa Craig is 2 miles across and rises spectacularly to 1,110 feet (340m). As a result, it is visible from many miles away. When it was still 18 miles away, I felt we were getting close! The island has a ruined keep on the east side which was built in the 1500s by the Hamilton family to protect the island from King Felipe of Spain. At the time the island was a haven for Catholics during the Scottish Reformation.

The island is now simply a haven for gannets and increasing numbers of puffins, so if you are interested in buying the island, you may have to put up with noisy neighbours! The island is leased by the RSPB until 2050 and they undertook a project to rid the island of imported rats. Now that the rats are gone, the puffins are coming back.

The wind dropped off as we got close to Lady Isle off Troon, so we took the sails down and motored the last few miles, arriving at Troon at 15.50.

Entering Troon