Yesterday morning I announced to the world, or at least to you, dear reader, that I would shortly be heading off on a wet and windy adventure in Scotland. For the land lubbers amongst you, for whom the idea of spending six days afloat is enough to send you reaching for the sickness tablets, you may have already heard enough. But, for everyone else I thought I would fill you in on some of the trip details, and on how I intend to chart it.
First up, where am I going and with whom?
The Visually impaired Sailing Association of Great Britain, or VISA GB for short, far from being a regional offshoot of a well known financial transaction processing organisation, exists to enable blind and partially sighted sailors to gain self confidence and worth by sailing in as independently and empoweringly as possible. Participants on its trips are not simply along for the ride, but are fully fledged members of the crew, as integral to making the boat move, preferably in the right direction, as anybody else aboard.
VISA GB almost certainly have a more succinct way of saying the above, and I would heartily recommend visiting their website at:
And, as for where we'll be sailing...
Those who can should take a look at the following map, which I painstakingly created in Google's MapEngine. I have marked the general vicinity of all the places we are meant to be visiting, starting and finishing in Largs in North Ayrshire.
For the geographically challenged amongst you, or those who are still waiting for Google to produce tactile versions of its cartographical applications, I am copying the relevant bits of the programme below, with a few of my own comments thrown in for good measure:
Saturday 12th April:
Skippers, Mates and crew arrive in sunny Largs, familiarize themselves with their allocated yachts and enjoy a meal at Largs Sailing Club.
Sunday 13th April:
Breakfast in the sailing club before setting course for the north, and reaching Loch Goil Head in the late afternoon. Pray for clement weather before spending night on swinging moorings.
Monday 14th April:
Set sail for Rothesay on the lovely island of Bute, with a stop for lunch at Inverkip. A pub has apparently been earmarked for dinner.
Tuesday 15th April:
Leave Rothesay and head for Portavadie, with another en-route lunch break, this time at Kames Bay.
Wednesday 16th April:
Sail from Portavadie to Loch Ranzer where we will anchor for lunch, before heading for Campbeltown, a leg of around five hours. Fish and chips will apparently be the order of the evening.
Thursday 17th April:
Another long leg, this time sailing over 30 nautical miles from Campbeltown to Troon in one go, taking about eight hours.
Friday 18th April:
Heading north once more to return to whence we came... Largs marina. Dinner will be in the sailing club, and much packing up and cleaning will presumably be done.
Saturday 19th April:
We head our separate ways. In my case a morning taxi ride to the airport for a lunchtime flight to Gatwick.
So there you have it, around the Clyde in nine passages. But what, I hear you cry, will we be sailing?
Well, it is worth pointing out up front that there will be quite a few of us - mostly visually impaired, with a smattering of sighted people thrown in (metaphorically ) for good measure. So, rather than cramming onto one super-yacht, climbing over one another to reach the pool, and overwhelming the bar (more's the pity ) we'll be chartering six 37' - or thereabouts - yachts, each sleeping around eight, to act as our loyal steeds for the duration of the week.
To save you wearing out your imagination picturing the swanky vessel I'll be cruising the Clyde I've done a bit of digging and found out that "Avacet" is a thirty seven foot "Bavaria" yacht (lederhosen optional ) whose vital statistics, along with some promising testimonials, can be found here:
Now you can put a name to the organisation I'll be sailing with, pinpoint the places I'll be visiting, and picture the yacht that will carry me between them, you have my upcoming trip in a proverbial nutshell. All I need to tell you now is how to follow my travels.
The best way, assuming I manage to keep it updated, will be the very blog you are reading now, on which I intend to post links to any other content I publish.
It would however be worth keeping a beady eye on my Audioboo ( http://www.audioboo.fm/rjnet ) and Twitter ( http://twitter.com/GuideDogVance ) streams, as well as TripColour, an iOS travel blogging app that I have recently come across. My page there can be accessed at:
And that is about it. I hope to write again very soon.
A note on photographs.
The image at the top of this article is borrowed from the VISA GB website, a link to which can be found above. It shows a yacht standing stranded on its keel... and in no way represents the standard of seamanship of its crews today... I hope!
The other two photographs are both taken from the Wikimedia Commons and show some of the views we, or at least those with better sight amongst us, may see along the way. The first shows a view looking north from Largs and the second is of the seafront in Rothesay, Bute.
All photographs remain the property of their respective copyright owners.