Shayne has been adventuring in scotland. He sent me some great pix of his adventures so I asked for a few words to go with them.
I have owned a couple of yachts in the past, the first one being Rowan V a clinker built 19ft trailer sailor which was built by John Swinburn on the Tyne back in the 1960’s as KELPIE. She was owned by the Carlslaws who were a well know family and it was Dr Neil Carslaw that owned her initially. I bought her from an old man in Aberfeldy, covered in Owl droppings as she has sat for years drying out in an old barn.
I sailed Rowan V for two seasons out of Mallaig until she got caught on the pontoon and burst her gunnel top rail as she got trapped unter the pontoon one poor day.
I sold her and bought a few others, all trailer sailors over the years, but none very exciting nor big.
I was browsing youtube one day and came across a remarkable bunch of videos about an old man who bought an old yacht to do up along the way as he sailed to Shetland from England. I watched almost all of his KTl videos which contained the Westerly Centaur and thought that looked like the ideal yacht for me. She looked big and stable, and as I have a young son I thought this would be a great yacht to look for.
I never thought I could afford a Centaur, and all the ones I viewed were in England, way too far for me to go and collect.
One day after browsing through the internet sites, apolloduck, gumtree, boatshed etc I just decided to type in WESERLY CENTAUR in SCOTLAND in the browser.
To my surprise SALTIRE came up on Findafishingboat.com….a site I never thought would have yachts on it.
I noticed it was in Kyleakin in Scotland, but the asking price was way above what I could afford.
After a few weeks of drooling on the yacht, I plucked up the courage to offer the seller all I had, which was almost just over half of what he wanted.
I got a prompt reply of NO THANKS.
The weeks went on, Summer sifted away and Winter wad rapidly approaching.
The Saltire was still on Findafishingboat.com, so I thought i’d chance it again……
To my surprise I got a YES go on then I will accept your offer.
DELIGHTED I was.
His reasoning was by the time he took it round to Inverness and store it over the Winter it was going to cost him just too much.
I ended up getting her, and much due to the harbour master in Kyle/ Kyleakin being such an awesome man, I managed to get to her in March the following season.
She had obviously been used just for the odd jolly out to fish from as she was in need of a lot of repair/ tidying up, and to my dismay she had no interior seats cushions ?
The seller promised me he had the interior, but when it came to handing over the keys, he said “I couldn’t find them in my shed”.
His shed must have been HUGE I guess. Anyway, it scunnered me a wee bit, but she had just not long had a new Yanmar 15hp inboard fitted which to me was all I wanted to hear. They are great engines and I was thrilled.
I went up to collect her and sail her south, but when I arrived I found three creel boats moored alongside, and there was no way I could shift them myself.
I had to abandon this attempt, and arrived the next day with an old friend who helped me shift the yacht whilst I pulled the boats apart.
We sailed her to Mallaig at the right time for the tide roaring down through the Kyle narrows.
It took us six hours, with no faults at all, until we were approaching Mallaig…..the battery light came on and she was alarming.
I panicked, nearly switched the engine off, but something in me said just keep going.
Luckily I never switched her off as the battery was low and it was due to a slack alternator belt. If I had stopped her I don’t think I would have gotten her started again.
I then spent the first season sailing doing little work to her just to make the most of the weather and sail.
I spent the Winter making seats myself for her….absolutely fantastic they are too.
All hand made by me.
This year I am slowly doing her up, painting and varnishing inside.
The Centaur is performing great. She is very slow under sail and engine, but manages 5kts ok under engine and under sail if it’s fresh enough.
She handles well in a choppy enough sea…I avoid going out if it’s too rough being a solo sailor.
I keep her in Mallaig marina because it is a fantastic marina, very modern and the services are lovely. My mother lives in Mallaig, so it means I can go an visit her too as well as the rest of my family. I also think the West Coast offers much better sailing than the east coast with more places to venture to and to shelter in if it’s fresh.
I manage to get sailing in my time off as I work at sea and get leave often enough.
The most remarkable place I have sailed to is Canna. The scenery is spectacular, great friendly people and a fantastic café called Canna Café which serves the most amazing food. Great atmosphere too.
Inverie is a fantastic place, the Inverie Pottery café is fantastic, but the Old Forge which used to be popular has gone down hill with it’s new owners.
Rhum is a magical place, the café there offers great food, fine coffee and free wifi which is always great.
I am hoping to sail to Iona sometime this year.
I would love to go to Barra but as a solo sailor I just don’t feel safe doing this adventure myself.
The Westerly offers plenty space inside, sleeps six in two double beds and two full size singles.
I went sailing last September with three other big burly lads and she managed us fine enough.
We had many great adventures as all three of them were musical and they were singing in all the pubs an hotels we ventured into.
I intend keeping the Saltire until she is tidied up enough for someone else to buy her.
There seems to be a shortage of money these days due to the North Sea Oil crisis, not as many folk with spare cash these days.
Saltire sails well, but she is a slug. Very slow. Another sail may increase her speed, but again I am limited if I am by myself.