Cruising the West Coast of Scotland, the Clyde area in particular has long been a major focus of Scottish cruising and sailing. With over 2,200 marina berths and numerous other boats on swinging moorings, fortunately there is plenty of sea to absorb all these craft once they get away from their home bases.
Starting in the Clyde itself Scotland offers an extensive and hugely varied cruising ground to suit all tastes. As well as the Firth itself and the River Clyde (navigable up to Glasgow with Clydeport permission) there are several sea lochs: Gareloch, Holy Loch, Loch Long, Loch Goll, Loch Striven, Loch Riddon and Loch Fyne. There are also the islands. Arran being the largest offering a superb natural harbour at Lamlash, together with mooring and anchoring possibilities at Brodick and Lochranza.
Further north, Bute is perhaps the most familiar island. Its capital, Rothesay, with limited pontoon berthing in the harbour and several visitors moorings in the bay, is a favorite stopping place. The Kyles of Bute, round the north of the island provide stunning scenery and, with tidal streams reaching 5 knots at springs, is one of the few places where sailors have to resort to serious calculations.
Tighnabrualch, on the Cowal shore of the West Kyle, offers numerous moorings and some great eating places. For relative solitude, the west coast of Bute provides attractive and secluded anchorages at St Ninlan’s Bay and Ardscalpsle Bay. Both are exposed to the south but sheltered from other directions.
Anchoring is a necessary skill on the Clyde. Across Loch Fyne, Tarbert is another much frequented venue for Clyde sailors. With perfect shelter, extensive visitor pontoons and a picturesque village with a good range of pubs and restaurants, its popularity is easily understood, however Tarbert can become uncomfortably busy on summer weekend evenings.
Sailors do not need to limit themselves to the Firth area. A long day’s cruise southwards brings you to Northern Ireland, where you have Bangor, Carrigfergus and Strangford Loch whose sailing community has enjoyed a two-way exchange with Scottish west-coast sailors. Round the Mull of Kintyre lies the vast West Highland and Hebridean cruising ground with almost limitless possibilities.