Ailsa Craig: 76 km and 4 hours from home.^

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Douglas Wilcox
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Ailsa Craig: 76 km and 4 hours from home.^

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun May 07, 2006 11:03 pm

We left Glasgow in pouring rain at 0630 and left the car at the public car park and picnic site at the south edge of Lendalfoot. No sooner had we left the Ayrshire coast than the WWW opened and the sun came out!

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We knew that in the summer the high speed ferry leaves Larne at 0715 and 1730 and leaves Troon at 1005 and 2020. We could see the 1005 fast on the horizon as we still had 2km to go to Ailsa Craig. I had the radio ready in case it came to the east of the Craig but as we landed, it passed well to the west. We had intended paddling round the island straight away but decided to have first luncheon and let its wake pass. This was a series of minor tsunamis which nearly sucked our boats away. You have been warned!

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An old railway carriage that was used to transport granite for curling stones from the quarry to the workshop to the jetty.

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Tony in one of the two disused foghorns

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Jennifer under the huge overhanging cliffs of the NW side.

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A great blackbacked gull caused all these guilliemots to flee in terror.

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Razorbills. I also saw 5 puffins here. They are breeding again on the Craig since the rats (introduced by man) have been exterminated.

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I think it is the second biggest gannet colony in the world after St Kilda. I am going there in June but though I did not mind a 14.5 km paddle out to the Craig, I am too frightened to paddle 69 km out to St Kilda so am going on Hebridean Pursuits chartered fishing boat.

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The Water Cave, near Stranny point.

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We then climbed to the top. Tony explored all 4 surviving floors of the Hamilton's castle.

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A great black backed gull's nest on the summit.

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In the early 70's I was marooned on the island for 6 days because the weather was so bad, the boat could not land. I spent 5 nights in this old quarryman's cottage which belonged to a lawer from Girvan. His son and I were working as seasonal rangers for the National Trust at Culzean Country Park.


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Douglas :o)
Last edited by Douglas Wilcox on Mon May 08, 2006 11:53 am, edited 2 times in total.

CaileanMac
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Post by CaileanMac » Sun May 07, 2006 11:10 pm

Alisa Craig?

CaileanMac

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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun May 07, 2006 11:23 pm

Hi Cailean, spot on, marvellous day, Tony Page is now convinced that the WWW really exists.

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Half way across!

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A brief shower of rain on the way back gave a nice tailwind then the sun came out again until we landed and it rained all the way back up the road.


Douglas :o)
Last edited by Douglas Wilcox on Mon May 08, 2006 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by CaileanMac » Sun May 07, 2006 11:36 pm

Douglas,

The WWW will soon be listed in weather forecasting terminlogy for sea kayakers paddling in Scotland ;-)

Perhaps you should have a paddler's online forecast every Thursday night live here on the guidebook - OK I'm getting carried away now..........

CaileanMac

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Mon May 08, 2006 12:34 am

Yep, Saturday was the better day to be sure!

Unfortunately I spent most of it getting the internal part of the repair to my kayak done (4 layers of heavy woven rovings over the split with the last layer running right under my seat).

This involved a scraper to find out how much of the gel was breaking away externally first, a bit of prodding to see how much of the gelcoat damage corresponded to an actual hole, judicious use of the electric spokeshave to try and clean up the inside ready to laminate, but obviously it couldn't reach under the seat so I had to use the scraper, and knife and sanding blocks and skinned knuckles to get rid of the ridges of resin and old glue from the foam seat support (that I had to remove - it split but I have spare foam to replace it). Finally I had finsihed smoothing and abrading and realsied I had not vacuum cleaner so had to clean up inside with a dustpan and brush - I was tempted to fire up the compressor and blow the dust away but in the first place I know that that doesn't work, and in the second place I was trying to minimise the mess as I was working in a shed full of classic cars, that whilst covered in dust blankets, I daren't mess up!

I then wiped the area to be laminated with a rag soaked in thinners to degrease it and stuck the fan heater in the cockpit to evaporate it ASAP.

To lay up the "patch" I first parcel taped the outside of the hole (about 8" not 12 as I thought from the gelcoat damage) to stop the resin running away, then cut 4 bits of glass cloth. The first about 3" wide and 8" long, the next about 4" by 10", the next about 6" by 12" the last about 10" by 18"for good measure. I wet the area out first with epoxyt and a foam roller, then I laid the 3" strip overthe hole and wet it out with the roller and a brush, repeat for each of the other layers. The top layer was a nightmare because it went right under the seat where I couldn't look and stipple at the same time so it took ages to wet the glass out thoroughly, and I ended up having to do a lot of smoothing out by hand (3 layers of barrier cream 2 pairs of gloves). I really hope I have got the glass wet thoroughly - despite the amount of resin I used to wet out the old laminate it still seemed awfully dry when I laid the cloth on and tried to draw some up through.

Next installment (hopefully next weekend) I will peel the tape off, abrade the new laminate to key it and investigate the keel line some more before putting a keel strip on. Just looking for opinions from other repairers - should I chip/peel the gel coat off in way of the keel strip or just key it up and apply the strip over the top. Probably 15% or more of the gel is missing thanks to my exploratory scraper work although most of that is not associated with the patch. it will be tricky stripping just the right amount of gel for the tape I will be using, but I reckon some of the already chipped areas will need filling before I can put a strip on top.

Today? I took my glide over to Belhaven and had a bit of a blast in the surf (the sun almost came out near the end). It actually started OK, there were definite sets so you could paddle out and good waves forming well out for some nice runs, then as one might expect from a beach break, as the ebb progressed it closed out a bit more and became more dumping but there were still good sets as long as I could paddle out between them. Height - I guess the big ones were about overhead in surfer terms, one did manage to backloop me so it wsn't as small as it looked :)

JIM

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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Mon May 08, 2006 7:41 am

Hi Jim,

Glad your repair is progressing.


Amazing though it may seem, given the amount of sunshine on a day when nearly everywhere in Scotland was under a thick blanket of cloud and rain, like you we went on Sunday!


Douglas :o)

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applejack
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Post by applejack » Mon May 08, 2006 8:36 am

Jim wrote:Yep, Saturday was the better day to be sure!

Unfortunately I spent most of it getting the internal part of the repair to my kayak done (4 layers of heavy woven rovings over the split with the last layer running right under my seat).

This involved a scraper to find out how much of the gel was breaking away externally first, a bit of prodding to see how much of the gelcoat damage corresponded to an actual hole, judicious use of the electric spokeshave to try and clean up the inside ready to laminate, but obviously it couldn't reach under the seat so I had to use the scraper, and knife and sanding blocks and skinned knuckles to get rid of the ridges of resin and old glue from the foam seat support (that I had to remove - it split but I have spare foam to replace it). Finally I had finsihed smoothing and abrading and realsied I had not vacuum cleaner so had to clean up inside with a dustpan and brush - I was tempted to fire up the compressor and blow the dust away but in the first place I know that that doesn't work, and in the second place I was trying to minimise the mess as I was working in a shed full of classic cars, that whilst covered in dust blankets, I daren't mess up!

I then wiped the area to be laminated with a rag soaked in thinners to degrease it and stuck the fan heater in the cockpit to evaporate it ASAP.

To lay up the "patch" I first parcel taped the outside of the hole (about 8" not 12 as I thought from the gelcoat damage) to stop the resin running away, then cut 4 bits of glass cloth. The first about 3" wide and 8" long, the next about 4" by 10", the next about 6" by 12" the last about 10" by 18"for good measure. I wet the area out first with epoxyt and a foam roller, then I laid the 3" strip overthe hole and wet it out with the roller and a brush, repeat for each of the other layers. The top layer was a nightmare because it went right under the seat where I couldn't look and stipple at the same time so it took ages to wet the glass out thoroughly, and I ended up having to do a lot of smoothing out by hand (3 layers of barrier cream 2 pairs of gloves). I really hope I have got the glass wet thoroughly - despite the amount of resin I used to wet out the old laminate it still seemed awfully dry when I laid the cloth on and tried to draw some up through.

Next installment (hopefully next weekend) I will peel the tape off, abrade the new laminate to key it and investigate the keel line some more before putting a keel strip on. Just looking for opinions from other repairers - should I chip/peel the gel coat off in way of the keel strip or just key it up and apply the strip over the top. Probably 15% or more of the gel is missing thanks to my exploratory scraper work although most of that is not associated with the patch. it will be tricky stripping just the right amount of gel for the tape I will be using, but I reckon some of the already chipped areas will need filling before I can put a strip on top.

Phew !!!.....Glad I'm still in the wonderful world of plastic after reading that !

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tpage
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Post by tpage » Mon May 08, 2006 10:47 am

What a day...Sunshine, light variable winds and birds galore!

On the drive home in the rain, I was convinced that I had imagined the weather window.

As well as controlling local light and sun levels, Douglas also managed to organise a gentle tail wind for the return crossing to the mainland.

Tony

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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Mon May 08, 2006 9:00 pm

Cailean>
The WWW will soon be listed in weather forecasting terminlogy for sea kayakers paddling in Scotland ;-)

Perhaps you should have a paddler's online forecast every Thursday night live here on the guidebook - OK I'm getting carried away now..........
Hi Cailean, unfortunately it does not work like that! I was working all day on Saturday and did not get home till 8pm. That's when we decided to go, leaving Glasgow at 0630 the next day.

I used a wind forecast from Theyr to discover that although there was wind about, it would be cyclonic over Ailsa Craig. Looking at wind readouts afterwards (from weatheronline) there was about force 4 blowing all day at Prestwick, Macrihanish and West Freugh which are all about 45km to, respectively, the NE, NW and S of Ailsa Craig.

We had been planning a trip to the Craig for about 3 years, just waiting for the best opportunity.

In other words, the WWW operates by not making long term plans but by siezing the opportunity! Anyone can do it, really!

Douglas :o)

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Mon May 08, 2006 9:56 pm

Yes, interesting charts for Sunday, I particularly liked Metchecks explanation about a Quasi-static front!

Unfortunately we were trying to get a kitesurfing session in. The fools refused to beleive me when I explained that Carradale would have been ideal on Saturday (post analysis proved I was right) since the current easterly trend put troon out of the picture and the originally wanted to go somehwere flat. So they decided to go for Sunday (with no wind forecast for any place in regular forecasts, although the shipping forecast was more promising) and take surf stuff in case there was no wind - hence I never even checked the west coast weather. One day I might get them to think like kayakers and accept that we need to be more optimistic with the forecasts and think further afield for trips to make the most of them! As it happens I didn't even take any kites because I could see the plan was flawed, but I did get a reasonable surf session in!

JIM

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Tue May 09, 2006 10:55 pm

Ailsa Craig looks awesome...from the maps I had imagined it as a rather uniform/ bland lump of rock.

If all goes to plan, I should hopefully be using it as a 'stepping stone' this August, I will certainly take time to stop and look around, now I've seen the pics.

I did hear once that there is some kind of access issue with the place, is this true? How about camping?

Thanks,
Mark Rainsley
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tpage
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Post by tpage » Wed May 10, 2006 10:23 am

MarkR wrote:Ailsa Craig looks awesome...from the maps I had imagined it as a rather uniform/ bland lump of rock.

If all goes to plan, I should hopefully be using it as a 'stepping stone' this August, I will certainly take time to stop and look around, now I've seen the pics.

I did hear once that there is some kind of access issue with the place, is this true? How about camping?

Thanks,
Hi Mark,

Ailsa is an amazing place- I named my daughter after the Island.

Well worth a vist for the geology, scenery and history- not to mention the bird life.

The first time I kayaked there was in the month of August several years ago. I was bombarded by juvenile gannets dropping from the cliffs into the water around my kayak- it was stunning. Do try to visit.

Camping is not allowed as it is a nature reserve- but there will not be any one there to enforce this- its is uninhabited.
Think about using it as a stepping stone and paddle North to Pladda or the South Coast of Arran before heading over to Kintyre. _Tony

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Post by Mark R » Wed May 10, 2006 10:32 am

tpage wrote:Think about using it as a stepping stone and paddle North to Pladda or the South Coast of Arran before heading over to Kintyre.
I had in mind to go direct across to Kintyre from Ailsa Craig, but obviously it's all weather dependent.
Mark Rainsley
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