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The President’s cup award prize.

 

Sceptre is an ex Americas Cup Challenger it was built in 1958 to the Twelve Metre class rules. It is 66 feet long overall, and it displaces 38 tonnes, it has a 93-foot tall mast and carries 2,300 square feet of sail area.  Its hull is of wood construction.

 

My adventure started on Tuesday evening 13th of August when I boarded the overnight sleeper to Glasgow on Euston station at 23:40 

 

Day one Wednesday 14th August; I arrive at Glasgow Central at 07:30 I then have to transfer to Queen Street Station where I catch the 08:40 service to Oban. On arrival in Oban, I was met by Maggie Cherry and one of the other crew they showed me to Sceptre, which was moored out in the harbour.

 

After about an hour of settling in and finding out where everything was, the two skippers Tom and Jim arrived. We then slipped the moorings and motored over to the quay where we moored again.  Then a short while later the rest of the group arrived, they all stowed their kit onboard.   After introductions our first task was to go shopping for supplies. We began lowering our 30 or so Tesco bags to the boat from the top of the harbour wall, to make life more interesting we encountered a spot of torrential rain whilst carrying out this task. We all then prepared for an early start tomorrow.

 

Day two Thursday 15th

Wind: SSW 25kts gusting 35kts

Weather: sunny with some showers

Start from: Oban

Destination: Tayvallich 17:30

 

Our first journey in Sceptre and this morning we faced a constant force six. The wind direction meant we would have to beat all the way out of the Firth of Lorne, and through the Sound of Jura. After a lunch break we continued our arduous beat until we reached the mouth of Loch Sween were we turned off the wind to run down to our destination Tayvallich. Our retreat for the evening was the local sailing club (which doubles as the local pub).

 

Day three Friday 16th

Wind: SW 3-6kts

Weather: sunny with a light haze.

Start from: Tayvallich 10:30

Destination: Port Ellen 16:30

 

After a late start we motored across the Sound of Jura followed very closely by several dolphins.  The tame weather conditions left us with a chance to relax and take in some of the breathtaking scenery. Once across Jura we arrived at port Ellen on Islay, a small island with more than its fair share of whiskey distilleries.

 

Day four Saturday 17th

Wind: Force 7-8

No sailing!

 

Unfortunately the Skipper decided that it is too windy, and so other arrangements were made. We hired a few very old bikes and made our way to the Ardbeg distillery where we all went on a tour and had a tasting session. The evening was spent attempting the karaoke machine in the local pub

Day five Sunday 18th

Wind: SSW 13-5kts

Weather: heavy cloud + light rain

Start from: port Ellen

Destination: Bangor Northern Ireland

 

We left port Ellen at 09:30 with only a gentle breeze, crossing the Irish Channel was interesting. Fishing vessels were storming towards us from the distant fog, as visibility was only a mile or so. But later on the sun came out and it became a pleasant day, as there was not a lot of wind I decided to try out the foot holds that lead to the first set of spreaders to find an amazing view.  Today it is my turn to navigate the boat into the marina. I thought I had worked out my plan but this was made difficult because I could not see the entrance until we were about 900 yards from it, fortunately the skipper was familiar with the marina.

 

Day six Monday 19th

Wind: N 10-13

Weather: sunny

Start from Bangor

Destination: Cambelltown

 

We motored most of the way as once again the wind had deserted us. The highlight of the day was watching one member of our crew swing from one end of the boat to the other using the boson’s chair connected to the topping lift! On the second attempt the skipper released the topping lift and we all watched as he dropped into the sea and was dragged behind the boat. Apparently the water was quite cold despite being the height of summer!

 

Day seven Tuesday 20th

Wind: NW 0-13kts

Weather: sunny

Start from: Cambelltown

Destination: Tarbert

 

No wind in the morning meant we had to motor most of the way to Tarbert.  Mackerel lines were trailed astern, but absolutely nothing was caught, such a surprise! A gentle breeze picked up later on in the afternoon, which meant for some good sailing. Tarbert has a tricky entrance to its harbor but nevertheless we were successful in our attempt, and berthed neatly at the quay

 

Day eight Wednesday 21st

Wind: NW backing West 2-8kts

Weather: sunny

Start from Tarbert

Destination: Troon

 

The last day of sailing and as usual there was very little wind. We took a very obscure route to Troon; we sailed up a very tiny creek, which involves sailing through the Kyles of Bute. These are two rocks very close to each other and very difficult to pass. We successfully found our way through and once on the other side all our begging paid off. We were allowed to fly the spinnaker! So we prepared to hoist the 3000 square foot parabolic spinnaker. What an amazing experience, then as we rounded Kames Hill the whole thing gybed; even in 5kts of breeze a spinnaker of that size is near impossible to control, but then all control is lost as the sheet is released and the spinnaker disappeared over the mast. The spinnaker was finally retrieved undamaged from the water at the stern of the boat to everyone’s relief.  The final comment from our skipper was “at least it wasn’t the big spinnaker!” (That’s 5,500sq foot).

 

The last night aboard Sceptre is spent outside under the stars. The next morning we all said our farewells and set off for home. The end of a most amazing week. All that remains is to thank all those who nominated me for the president’s cup.

 

Mike Payne.