« Reply #1 on: Jul 04, 2010, 6:34 pm »
Ardgartan II – the sequel!
… the missing three days!

The only correction I would make to the excellent articles by Ian and Jenny published in the July Mag is that the Ardgartan event was actually eight days not five!  While Ian left on the Saturday and Martin, Chris and Jenny (And Malc and Barry) on the Sunday the rest of us were still there!

Sunday was a bit of a wash out as it rained heavily for the whole day – that didn’t stop the hover-fishermen (Trev and Matt) from trying their luck again though!

It also didn’t stop Steve either – his brand new Vanguard craft worked so well that a little rain wasn’t going to stop him – he donned his waterproofs and gradually extended his range and confidence and even ventured solo part way up Loch Goil.

Trev packed up his (wet) Osprey5 and left for home in the evening.

That’s what’s called low cloud!

On the Monday the rain had finally stopped so we set out on a proper cruise down the Loch (with the Prospector, UH18, and Vanguard).  As we passed the armaments depot the police patrol launch started to take more than a passing interest in us.  After circling our craft a few times we were “pulled over” (not the correct nautical term I’m sure!).  The police, they were armed – arguing wasn’t an option, were intrigued by the “boats” coming down the Loch without generating a wake.
The previous week we had been largely ignored but these guys had just come on duty and hadn’t seen us before.  After some friendly discussion we were also informed that there was a 12mph speed limit on the Loch (apparently it’s a Queens Harbour area).  I was told to apply to the Queen’s Harbour Master for dispensation to operate at higher speed (after I explained the “hump” issue!). 

We went on our way and re-visited Ardentinney beach and had a good look around the commando memorial.

On the return journey we travelled up to the head of Loch Goil - to the village unoriginally named Lochgoilhead!  We had a long conversation with one of the locals who told us the purpose of the strange ”traffic lights” at the entrance to the Loch.  We had noticed these lights during the week but the colours kept changing – sometimes red, green or white.  Apparently they are automatic and radar controlled (there were mini radar stations amongst the trees at the loch edge).  They detect ships (and even small hovercraft!) and change colour to indicate which direction to turn to stay in the deep-water channel.  They are mainly used by big oil tankers as they execute a three-point turn into the entrance to Loch Goil (they are too large to turn around in Loch Long itself as it’s narrow at that point).  The return journey was very rough around the entrance to Loch Goil – three-foot chop on top of a swell – all the craft handled it with no problem (even the UH18 with it’s feeble 6” hover height had no problems).  Steve very reluctantly packed up his Vanguard and left in the evening.  Matt and I also packed up the Prospector and Scout and left for home.

On the Tuesday, I returned to collect the UH18 and return the site keys.  The weather conditions were perfect – flat calm, 21C and no wind.  I couldn’t resist a 10-mile solo cruise down the Loch – it seemed a shame to waste such a nice day!

I really enjoyed meeting everyone and hopefully, the style of cruising (and craft) I’m used to (not knowing any different!) seems to have struck a chord with those who attended.  My hope is that, once the club regulation “difficulties” are sorted people will come to appreciate that a cruising hovercraft should be no different to a boat or car – you should be able to hop in and comfortably and safely use it to visit nice places any time you feel like it.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to use this excellent site again (it was pretty near perfect apart from the uninvited evening appearance of the infamous Scottish midge!) as a big hotel is being built there in July.  The good news, however, is that the site owner (who visited us) has kindly offered us the free use of another site at a different location – so... see you next year?

John Robertson
23rd June 2007

« Last Edit: Jul 09, 2010, 8:04 pm by John Robertson »