Red Ruth, the early days
In April 2007 we saw a Rustler 42 in Haslar marina in Gosport, it was then that we decided that we had to have a Rustler yacht. At that time they had only made about 16 hulls, the first being commissioned in 1999. You would rarely see one on the second hand market.
So we approached the Rustler yard with a view to buying new although that would certainly have stretched the bank balance! Nick Offord and Adrian Jones couldn't have been more accommodating.
However, serendipity took a hand in affairs and in November Red Ruth appeared on the market on the Red Ensign brokerage catalogue. Although Simon Carter was working for the seller, he was most helpful. What was even more encouraging was that she was for sale in Ardfern, less than 4 hours drive from home, surely we were meant to be her next owners?
We went down to see her almost before she was advertised and knew she was for us. Despite stiff competition from 3 other potential buyers and with the support of our surveyor (Murray Cormack in Oban) and Simon, we agreed a deal. The only major hold up being the lack of an RCD certificate which was soon remedied.
Finally we took ownership of her on Hogmanay 2007, and celebrated the bells with champagne and christened the bow at the same time. It was cold, dark and strange but we hardly noticed. We had our dream boat for our adventure, mind you the bank balance was looking rather shaky and would do so for a while to come as we paid off our maritime mortgage.
We kept Red Ruth on the pontoon at Ardfern until we finally departed in April 2008, we can strongly recommend the marina and its boat yard as a professional but friendly set up, which inspires confidence.
December 31st 2007 – hand over of Red Ruth.
We arrived in Ardfern Marina feeling quite apprehensive of what was ahead. It had been a long slow process to purchase Red Ruth and now we were to receive the keys.
The previous owners were just finalising their packing. They gave us a quick tour and handed over the keys. There we were – standing on the pontoon with the keys. Behind us Red Ruth sat gracefully in the water waiting to meet us properly.
As it was New Years Eve, and therefore a double celebration, we opened a bottle of champagne on deck to toast Red Ruth and the New Year. We discovered that the deck light didn’t work but we were not to be hindered, out we went with the camera, the bottle and our glasses. A toast to Neptune to keep us safe; a toast to Red Ruth our future; a toast to the New Year with some wonderful times and a toast to ourselves for achieving the next step in our Dream.
Back below decks we enjoyed our first meal on board, made up the beds and dreamt of sailing.
Over the next three months we spent alternate weekends between Cromarty and Ardfern. We wanted to learn about Red Ruth, inside and out. Some problems arose which meant repairs and attention. The weather required some improvement – every weekend we spent in Ardfern was accompanied by Force 4 – 6 winds, rain and cold. A test of the central heating proved that it was working and we were snug and warm below decks.
We met our Ardfern neighbours late March – Margo and Alistair on Iona. A lovely couple who, in the spirit of sailing, were all that you would wish to meet in your neighbours. Friendly, helpful, informative and fun. They were our first dinner guests on board Red Ruth.
On Saturday 12th April 2008 we awoke to more rain beating down on the cockpit roof. Our sails had been returned and reinstalled following repair and valet. We desperately wanted to haul them up and get a feel for their size, checking the rigging and lines at the same time. We even felt brave enough to take Red Ruth off the pontoon. Our spirits were dampened on waking to the rain again but we lined up some chores below decks that we still needed to attend to.
By 10am the sun was burning off the cloud, the rain had stopped and the temperature was rising. There was no wind at all and we felt that this was a good time to try out the main sail. Off came the sail cover and muscles not used for some months were put to the test. I must admit that the winch handle gave a lot of help to my muscle power and up went the main sail – only to stop ¾ the way up the mast! After some chewing of the fat and stiff necks from looking upward we decided that the reefing lines were incorrectly attached. These were swapped over and a further winch of my helpful handle pulled the sail to the top of the mast. On further scrutiny of the sail we discovered some small holes which had been missed during the repairs so a call went in to Owen Sails to rectify this.
By 11am Saturday morning we were dropping our lines. Peter had the engine going and we were ready to leave the pontoon in Red Ruth for the first time. Our neighbour Alistair was on hand to assist should we require any help. Into reverse we slowly backed off the pontoon into the fairway, bow thruster on for a short spell and round came the bow to line us up to leave the marina.
What a sense of achievement when we found ourselves on Loch Craignish, motoring along at 5 knots (1500 rpm for those who like the technical stuff). Not a breath of wind to be felt but we didn’t mind. We motored to the end of the Loch, round Doris Mor from the West to East and back up Loch Craignish to Ardfern Marina. The lumps of rocks and small islands scattered across the area proved to be quite disorienting for me on the return journey, with the chart coming up on deck numerous times to identify the islands.
Coming alongside the pontoon was simple. I stepped off mid ships with a line (knowledge courtesy of my over-the-shoulder reading of Yachting Monthly over the years) which was quickly secured. I had taken the bow line with me so a quick turn of that then run back 42 feet down the pontoon for the stern line. A 9 ½ from Margo next door – we felt good.
Friends arrived late afternoon to spend some time with us. We ate in the Galley of Lorne Hotel (fish and chips) which was satisfactory, and then back to Red Ruth for the night. Sunday morning was bright, sunny and frosty. A sojourn by the men folks to the ablution block confirmed that the pontoon was slippy and covered with frost. A good fry up for breakfast was required followed by weather inspection. A gentle breeze was perhaps to arrive later in the morning and current conditions were ‘dead flat calm’. Once more we ventured off the pontoon, leaving about 9.15 am. As we motored down Loch Craignish away from the marina there wasn’t a movement on the water. Red Ruth’s wake rippled out towards the Loch banks on both sides uninterrupted. Geese and ducks were awake and diving for food at the top end of the Loch. As we passed by they would fly off towards the banks, cross that we had disturbed them.
At Doris Mor we passed through the channel on the east side, heading for Jura and the Corryvrekkan. Conditions were so calm but a light breeze was stirring so we took out the foresail and the baby stay sails. An extra knot of speed, so off went the engine, and we sailed through Corryvrekkan with the tide and wind carrying us forward at almost 7 knots over the ground. The island of Scarba sheltered us from the breeze as we passed through the narrows so we felt justified in putting the engine back on. The whirlpools were easily identified in the calm conditions and we could still feel the pull of them on the wheel as we moved over them. We turned and headed back with a little extra power on the engine (1800 rpm) to push us through the tide and back towards Doris Mor. The sun was warm, the skies blue but the clouds were gathering in the North.
As we entered Loch Craignish we saw some splashes next to a fisherman’s pot. As we drew closer we saw that it was a pod of dolphins (10 – 15 dolphins all together). We put the engine in neutral. As we still had the sails up we had forward propulsion and we watched the dolphins perform. They gave us quite a show with 5 or 6 synchronised swimming. A younger dolphin was the jester of the show with some wonderful out of water flips and turns. We were surrounded on all sides by these wonderful creatures for 20 minutes. They dove under the bow and rose at the stern, they swam alongside us coming up to draw air and give us a wink. Their finale was a large dolphin that came out from under the keel, leapt well into the air about 2 feet from the side of the yacht and then swam off to investigate two Kayakers who had paddled over to watch the show. (welcome to Loch Craignish)
We all felt quite privileged to have been welcomed in such a way. It was a wonderful end to a lovely morning sailing. As we rolled in the sails, putting the engine back in gear, the clouds rolled over hiding our warm sun and marking the end of our morning sail. We had been out for 3 hours and enjoyed every minute.
As we came round the head of Loch Craignish the wind was in our stern. Peter once again motored us perfectly on to the pontoon and again I stepped off with my mid ships line and secured it. However I didn’t take cognisance of the stern wind and ran forward to tie off the bow instead of the stern first. Of course the stern blew out from the pontoon leaving us well secured at the bow and at 45 degrees to the pontoon. A few blasts of the bow thruster and some adjusting of lines and we were soon tied up correctly. Margo wasn’t about (thank goodness) but I’m sure our score would have dropped drastically and I reckon she would have rated us at a dismal 4!