Category Archives: Life Onboard

Boat Galley’s Gallery!

Welcome to Shadowfax’s Galley, where Kara cooks up some scrumptious treats using the limited cooking tools available. You may want to check out the Shadowfax Provision List, which may be slightly unusual compared to regular provision lists.

Click on each photo to get the recipes! Most of these are not really measured, so we will do our best to give you the authentic stuff.

More to come…

Thank you, Rhu & Helensbrugh!

We would just like to especially thank The Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club (RNCYC) and all the staff and members we met over the couple of weeks that we made the moorings by the club our home.

Thank you for your invitations to come and sail with you, join committee boats during club races, and for letting us join you for drinks and food.

Club Racing!
Racing the classic 92-year old Gareloch One Design – one of a fleet of only 16 ever made in 1924!

For anyone cruising in the Clyde, Rhu and Helensbrugh are found on the Gareloch. It is a great stop to re-provision (lots of cafes and local shops in Helensbrugh as well as a couple of groceries), explore Glasgow (40 minutes by direct train from Helensbrugh Central), see Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House, go on mini cycling adventures to Loch Lomond, or just go hill walking.

The RNCYC currently offers moorings at a good price, with a free launch service to take you from your boat to the pier. Rhu Marina is just around the corner but the fees are quite dear, although if you just want a quick stop, you can ask for a pontoon for an hour or so and they give it to you if you eat in the cafe. They serve great meals from breakfast through to 5pm and Friday fish n’ chips are worth a try!

View tooking towards Gareloch Head

Helensbrugh is about 10 minutes’ bus ride from Rhu (where the Club is currently located), and the town has a laundrette that can do a couple of big loads within 2-3 hours, enough time to grab a meal in one of the local restaurants or cafes or do some shopping. Rhu itslef has a small post office less than 5 minutes’ walk from the Club.

If you stay long enough, you will also see the submarines coming in and out of the Clyde, escorted by other Navy boats and the police.

Moo-ring in Scotland!

The relatively brief crossing from Ireland to the southwestern isles of Scotland was quite smooth sailing, with the wind behind us, putting Shadowfax on a dead run all the way through Kilbranan Sound.

Dead runs are great as long as the wind is consistent and not gusty; the boat stays relatively level, and we are actually able to relax, or do work on the boat without the things flying off when it heels over.

Tim busied himself with polishing the cockpit’s gelcoat, restoring it from a dirty, smudgy surface to one that was clean, creamy, and almost lick-able. I busied myself with making Japanese-style ‘sushi’, answering to a very persistent craving. With the sun out, sushi seemed like an appropriate lunchtime choice!

Setting foot on Scottish Soil

We landed for first time on Scottish soil by sail! Sanda Island is a privately owned island, but the ‘right to roam’ laws in Scotland allow visitors to come and walk along the paths. Ideally, visitors should check-in with the caretaker if someone is in. We needed to stretch our legs, so a quick hike up to the summit on the island was on the cards.

As we motored in using Dinglehopper, our outboard dinghy, little brown globes-like shapes popped up through the water and we were greeted by curious, round eyes. We were surrounded by seals! They peered out of the water a few meters from us, staring. Isn’t it funny how, if another human stares at us, we think it is rude…but if a seal stares at us, it is curiously cute!?

View of Elephant Rock
View of Elephant Rock

The hike had its own surprises along the way. We were crossing a small valley, and when I looked up, a red stag stood there, less than 15 meters away, with his glorious antlers. Our eyes locked for a split second and then, he was gone in a heartbeat – galloping down the valley. We heared his powerful hooves echo as we climbed the hill. As we reached the summit, we spotted a doe and her fawn in the plain below. We watched the drama unfold as she became aware of our presence and started to run, jumping over a fence and leaving her fawn behind. We saw the little one struggle to get past, we held our breath as we saw it try and try again…fearing its injury from the wire. Thankfully, it got past and was reunited with its mother.

Sanda Island mini wildlife
Sanda Island mini wildlife

We hiked back down and lost the path briefly in the bracken. We headed back to Shadowfax and set sail for Campbeltown. We passed by some small islands overgrown with rhododendron and inhabited by grey heron, perched on top of the pine trees and anchored in a quiet bay just to the west of Bute.

We love the way the Scots say ‘mooring’ – rather than the English ‘more-ring’ pronunciation, the Scots actually say MOO!


Irish sun, Rum and Cola…

It’s been a while since our last blog post, mainly because we had a few weeks of some necessary distractions which unfortunately did not really involve much sailing or exploring.

But, woven into our first full month of sailing were a combination of very wonderful things. From a cheeky seal stealing our fish dinner, to getting a replacement anchor delivered, to putting together Elsie and Gyro to explore some of the Game of Thrones series sets 😛 (we couldn’t resist!)

Upon leaving Dublin, we had the great sunshine follow us north, up the east coast of Ireland as we tracked our way up towards Ardglass, Carlingford Lough, then to mystical Strangford Lough (‘loch’ in Scottish, both pronounced to rhyme with ‘lock’). We only anchored a couple of times in light winds using our spare Fortress anchor (it performed really well for a lightweight anchor, given that loaded Shadowfax is 18-tonnes!)

Carlingford Lough and Strangford Lough were both pretty magical. Strangford Lough, with its narrow mouth, is known to have some of the fastest currents in Northern Ireland – woe to those who are caught in it. Watch your tide tables and plan well! The disturbed water eases out on to a long, wide, and calm lough  peppered with small islands, where time seems to stand still.

Tim swinging off Shadowfax into the cool waters of Strangford Lough!
Kara and Tim enjoyed a little bike ride around Strangford, visiting a few of the Game of Thrones film sets.
Our fish dinner (Whiting)…we had 3 fish but a cheeky seal stole one of them! Haha!
Kara went out for a short ride along the coast and discovered some great circular routes around Castle Ward, Strangford.

We met some really great people at Ringhaddy Cruising Club, who invited us to join them for an impromptu club barbecue. Little did we know that this was going to end up in a crazy, boozy, sing-along and mini party on board Commodore Gibby’s sailboat, where the rum and cola were flowing freely (as far as supplies lasted, at which time we got new supplies from our boat). ‘Auntie’ Lynn was completely head-over-heels with Tim, and Pat couldn’t resist showing off to her friends on Facebook that she was with ‘Captain Jack Sparrow’.

At about 2am, we staggered across the pontoon back to Shadowfax – and I can’t really remember how I managed to get into bed, but surprisingly woke up without a headache the next day.

With good winds ahead, we decided to make the jump for Scotland, having said our good-byes to our new Irish friends, and apologising for missing out on the big party the following week – but there were waters to cruise and some miles to make.