I will be the first to admit that this year was a very poor year for me and my inflatable boat journeys. After a great start to the season, when I rounded the Ailsa Craig in glorious weather, things rapidly blew into a storm with an illness in the family. Then the winds and rain of summer came, coupled with a return working, and everything seemed to eat into my free time and kept me from seeing the sea.
However, at the end of July, I managed to get a couple of days down at the Solway Firth, staying with my mother at her caravan which overlooks beautiful Fleet Bay.
It was only a flying visit, so I took my smallest inflatable boat and 2HP Yamaha two stroke outboard. They take up little space when packed in the boot of my car and allow easy launching on any beach, assuming the winds are fair. Im glad to say that they were very fair during my short stay. Fleet bay is extremely tidal as can be seen from this photo taken when the tide is out.
However it is a lovely area to explore in a small boat when the tide is in. You just have to remember that the tide will go out again, so unless you want a long portage back to the beach..its best to return a couple of hours after high tide turns. I inflated my boat a couple of hours before high tide and had ample time to explore the area.
Although I had not used the little outboard engine for two years, I had serviced and winterised it myself. A fresh tank of two stroke mix and two pulls at the starter cord had it purring nicely and I was off for another adventure.
The inflatable is a small Avon Redstart and is a very seaworthy boat but it can be a rather wet journey. Its seaworthy in the fact that it cant sink because of the inflated tubes, but the sea has a habit of washing over the low sides, so even in a little chop, I find that I have to bail out water as I go. Soon I was on the other side of Fleet Bay and off the shore of Sand Green caravan park.
I was heading for the Fleet Islands by following the sheltered side of the coast line.
I had planned in going through the narrow channel that separates Ardwell Island ( the biggest of the Fleet Islands) from the mainland, but a steady breeze against the tide made the chop a little choppier so I opted for the dryer option of landing on the island to have lunch. The sun was out and I was thoroughly enjoying my day, which was only my second outing of the year.
I was getting myself ready for a serious mackeral fishing session as it was also my first time fishing this year.
To be continued...