We are now sailing the much more open waters of the Firth of Clyde – it is rather like the Solent with no boats! With the long Mull of Kintyre (don’t sing the song!) on our left and the long coastline of Ayrshire, leading up to Glasgow, on our right, the tidy port of Girvan is our first stop and Tom Mckee our first Firth Harbour Master. The imposing island of Ailsa Craig is on the port beam as you approach Girvan, the home of the granite used to make most curling stones.
The pilot book and several other yachtsmen had told us that Girvan was difficult to enter due to indeterminent depths at the entrance. We found it very straightforward, but like all harbours entering close to high water is always the safest option! What I have learnt, is a call to the HM will give you both accurate information and is much appreciated by him. An unusal feature used by all the west facing harbours in Ayrshire is a sign used to show sailors if the port is “closed” (two horizontal or vertical black balls or two red lights). It is usually due to bad weather – not something you want to see as you seek shelter in a storm!
Girvan, like so many ports, was developed on the back of exporting coal, and typifies the British seaside town by remembering its history rather than enjoying any current boom. Golf courses, beaches and long “strands” sit alongside a small fishing fleet and one remaining ship builder. Like so much of the more recent development in harbours (marinas, leisure centres, swimming pools, dock re-generation etc) the investment money has come from the EU. Let’s not go there! .
Tom is quite a new HM, the previous one having served 30 years! However he could not have been more friendly and helpful. He told me the most unexpected occurance so far has been the phone going off at midnight with a call from a yachtsman checking the gate key code…. after some discussion the yachtsman then realised he had sailed into Stranraer harbour, not Girvan, which explained why the code had not worked. Say no more! Thanks Tom for all your help. #girvan#girvanlifeboat .