The pleasures of sailing together again

Our nominated excursion to Brodick was supported by about 25 members and friends — not all of whom were present for this group photo on the pedestrianised causeway of the old Brodick linkspan. The atmosphere was convivial and the chat plentiful. It was a pity that Caledonian Isles’ top deck was closed off, but there was still plentiful space from which to enjoy the sea air

In past years, when it came to organising CRSC outings, our Cruising Coordinator Neil Guthrie carried a fair bit of luck: the storms abated, the sun appeared, ships stopped breaking down and Covid was hiding in the closet. On Sunday 10 April, when CRSC had its first ferry excursion in over two years, all these parameters lined up favourably for him once again, writes Stuart Craig.

The availability of MV Isle of Arran for Easter traffic on the Ardrossan-Brodick route meant we could do the outward crossing on one vessel and return on another

A crossing from Ardrossan to Brodick and back didn’t seem the most exciting of itineraries, but Neil didn’t have a lot of options in his aim of getting members to ‘sail together’ again. In the event, it worked a treat!

The 25-odd members and friends who embraced the cool April breeze had a smashing day out. Some brought their wives, one chap had his dog with him, another took along his bike — and Club President Andy Anderson wore a silly hat. Soon we were all mingling and chatting.

This early burst of camaraderie was entirely due to our Magazine Editor Andrew Clark who, before we had even set sail, was fussing over us like a teacher on a school trip, trying to secure a group photo. After hanging over the ship’s rail at an alarming angle, he finally secured the picture he wanted — with us all smiling.

The highlight of our return trip to Arran was that CalMac, just by chance, decided to let ‘The Auld Trooper’ Isle of Arran out to play; so it was Caley Isles out to Brodick and the ‘Arran’ back — two ships for the price of one. It was the 1230 out from Ardrossan and the 1515 back.

This being the Easter holidays Caledonian Isles was busy. The port side deck seemed the most popular spot for our group as we re-established old friendships with the type of ferry chit-chat that has been missing these last two long years.

Once ashore it was time for more photos — excluding the chap on his bike who set off for Corrie. Apparently he did make it back for the return sailing, despite some hopeful bets having been made that he wouldn’t manage it!

It was the turn of Isle of Arran now to host our little group. Despite no catering facilities being offered, it was fun to sail on CalMac’s oldest ‘big’ ship once again.

The weather held up during the course of the day and those taking part seemed to thoroughly enjoy meeting up again; after all, this is what we do. With the return of meetings at Jurys Inn in Glasgow, enhanced by the continuing use of Zoom and the prospect of future excursions like this, the Club seems to have a bright future. So, well done Neil – I believe you have another date in the diary for us….

Join us on Saturday 7 May for a reduced-price group sailing on beautiful Loch Katrine, followed by lunch in The Steamship Cafe at Trossachs Pier. The all-in price is £28.50 (under 16s £18.50), for which you will have to book in advance here.

Photographing Isle of Arran’s departure from Ardrossan at 1105 was the prelude to a day of camaraderie

Conditions were set fair for our excursion as Caledonian Isles arrived from Brodick at noon

Allan Smith and Neil Guthrie were among the CRSC group who watched ‘Caley Isles’ manoeuvre into the linkspan at Ardrossan

Stuart Craig (right) brought his bike for the trip and cycled to Corrie and back during our time ashore on Arran. He is pictured at Ardrossan with (left to right) Roddy MacLeod, Lawrence Macduff and Roy Paterson

‘Soon we were all mingling and chatting’ — members of the CRSC group on Caledonian Isles as we cast off from Ardrossan

There was enough time at Brodick for a leisurely walk along the front to buy an ice cream — followed by this photo opportunity as Isle of Arran arrived for the 1515 sailing to Ardrossan

Boarding at Brodick along the airport-style walkway

Passing Caledonian Isles mid firth. Unlike many successors in the CalMac fleet, ‘Caley Isles’ and Isle of Arran have ample deck space forward of the bridge, though large sections of the after deck were closed off to passengers on both vessels on the day of our trip, due to maintenance problems

Thanks to Roy Paterson and Andrew Clark for photographs.

Published on 14 April 2022