Piracy in Millport

The RNYC RYA Easter Training Cruise 1998

Steve Overs

Saturday PM

We left Largs in a Moody 31 `Flamingo’, one of four boats. Snowflakes warned of the cold weather to come. Two hours and two tacks later we motored into a Rothesay harbour brimming with boats. It was low water so we couldn’t reach a vacant pontoon. We motored up the East Kyle up to Colintraive.

Corned beef hash arrived, then three score strokes on the foot pump, we stole ashore under cover of the night. Oars lapped at the water like a rabid rhino. Sheep became very afraid but we ignored them and headed for the warm hotel and real ale. On our return the sheep became even more afraid and while we perambulated back through the village nervous bleats filled the air. The moon was full. A stampede began.

Sunday Morning


Kiwi at Colinatrive

We took the south channel, past Buttock Point, through Caladh Harbour, into the West Kyle. The Maids of Bute were a sight for sore and bloodshot eyes.

We moored at Tighnabruaich for lunch. In the afternoon we saw our first seals on the way to anchor practice in Skate Hole. We battered across to Tarbert in a northerly 6/7, everyone clipped on via our trainer bras.

Kostas the Greek contingent of the crew was responsible for our supper: meatballs a la secret (burnt bits off the bottom of the pan). Last orders at the Victoria.

Monday Morning


East Loch Tarbert

This morning Kostas was dispatched on a mission to find some wine. He duly purchased a box of Rougemont from the local fishmonger. What a fine bouquet and a delicate pedigree this ruddy snifter had – just like Ribena.

I managed to locate a loo brush in the pork butchers, while the skipper (P. Q. Mitchell) bought a spare pair of trousers with flares of cosmic proportion; they could only be worn on a very calm day, as they had a tendency to luff in any kind of a breeze. Yes, when it came to shopping excellence, could Tarbert possibly rival Hong Kong?

Once again we beat north for five miles into a force 5, then decided to motor. At Ardrishaig we had a look at the Crinan Canal. In the afternoon we used the jib to sail away from the jetty on our way to the sheltered anchorage at Glac Mhor. Further north east up Loch Fyne we rounded Glas Eileann from the north into Port Ann bay, then set our course for Tarbert and clocked up some night hours, just making last orders at the Victoria.


We ran from Tarbert, 2 reefs in the main, wind still NNE force 5/6. We were heading for Campbeltown hoping we wouldn’t be marooned there by the continual northerlies. In Kilbrennan Sound a huge cloud overtook us on the port side, depositing snow on Arran down to sea level, but mercifully missing us.

Meanwhile the wind veered to a gentle southerly. While we were dropping the anchor in Carradale Bay the prevailing wind came back at us; another 150º change in a matter of seconds to northerly 5/6. We had a night entrance into Campbeltown at about 10:30 p.m., a long, cold day.



Overture sails towards Lamlash, Holy Island in background

Headed for Lamlash, wind northerly force 5, just for a change, and ‘Overture’ just ahead. Rounding Pladda Light, the wind shifted to the north east – we decided to beat up the Cumbrae islands, to Millport at 8 p.m.

During supper, the boat was rocked by a sudden swell – we assumed that Dando was performing his ablutions on the Westerly `Overture’ anchored 100m away. How wrong we were. Our outboard was being stolen.

In the pub, later that evening, we fell in with some ruffiansand managed to recover our outboard, and £18.73 mysteriously left in an ashtray. These ruffians were obviously big tippers.


We sailed up the Clyde in a gentle breeze, intending to go to Holy Loch. Saw two porpoises, one coming right up to the stern. Unfortunately the skipper’s trousers started to luff and frightened them off.

We rounded Toward Point but the wind had picked up and was soon N 7. After twenty minutes we took a vote and decided to turn back to shelter.

Shortly after, a drama unfolds on the VHF. “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday” the radio crackled. “This is yacht Analise, Analise, Analise, we are 200m south of Farland Point, no engine, drifting, over.” Several offers of help came in, one from H.M.S. Deluge, a destroyer 15 miles away. Clyde Coastguard coordinated the rescue using a pilot vessel which requested a description of the stricken yacht. The reply came back: “This is yacht Analise. We are a white 23ft yacht with plush leather upholstery, two furry dice up front, Ethel and Vernie emblazoned across the fixed windscreen… [That’s enough. – ED] A successful tow ensued.

We moored at the Kames Hotel, 8 p.m. Three score strokes on the foot pump, then pool and real ale.


We beat up a squally West Kyle until the Burnt Isles, then gybed to Rothesay wind N 4. Lunch in Rothesay at 5 p.m. Then a chance for a quick photo opportunity in the Victorian loos – the spiritual centre of excellence of George Michael. [This does not reflect the views of the RNYC News! – ED.]  Man overboard practice , then motor to Largs for a celebratory supper.


Log reading 180 miles, all the crew got their certificates, much wildlife had been observed: porpoises, seals, shags and two or three evolutionary missing links. The weather cold all week.

We left the yacht as the wind dropped and the sun came out.

Believed to be Dave Dando, Nick Smith, and Bruce Grant.
[What proof is there both sets of ruffians were the same? – ABG]