Mooring in and around the Kyles of Bute

Ken Coley sailed the waters around Tighnabruaich for many years before moving here with his family in 2002. With the start of the sailing season just around the corner, he shares some of his favourite places to moor and anchor in the Kyles of Bute.

Why anchor in Cowal 

The Kyles of Bute offers some of the best protection for boats in the Clyde Estuary. It offers some of the most scenic and peaceful spots too.

Sailing up the East Kyle: Port Bannatyne and Colintraive

If you’re sailing up the East Kyle there are few sheltered anchorages between Port Bannatyne and Colintraive. But at Colintraive there are some excellent places to spend a night. Colintraive Hotel has a number of clearly marked moorings for residents and restaurant visitors.

There are also some good anchorages north of Colintraive, although they require care as there are many rocks and strong currents near the “Narrows”. Loch Riddon again offers anchorages and good protection. Do watch your depth though, as the head of the loch dries out a long way.

Visit the Isle of Bute 

Opposite the moorings there are two excellent bays on the Bute side: Wood Farm Rock Bay and Wreck Bay. They’re both great places to anchor and there’s room for many boats. Anchor out of the channel and avoiding the marked Wood Farm Rock. Wreck Bay is so called because in the war the area was set up as a mock village to attract enemy bombers to unload their bombs. It’s an amazingly peaceful place now.

Anchor at Caladh Harbour 

Caladh Harbour is by far the most impressive and cosy place to anchor in the Clyde Estuary. It’s a natural harbour with a lovely island and great shelter. There’s a limit to the number of boats that can fit in here, so in high-season you need to arrive reasonably early. The south entrance is the best one to enter by as the north entrance is narrow and has a couple of rocks. Although marked, they can catch you out at low water.

Just to the south west of Caladh Harbour is a small bay where you can anchor. There is only room for one boat. It’s just to the front of Caladh Castle. Although the castle was destroyed after the war, you can see its wall and jetty.

Make a halt in Tighnabruaich

As you head west you come to the villages of Tighnabruaich and Kames. Round the red buoy and you’ll see many moorings. They belong, in the main, to Maramarine, the Tighnabruaich boat yard. These can be used with permission.

Further down there are hotel moorings at the Royal Hotel and the Kames Hotel. Both are well maintained. Opposite the Royal Hotel and Kames Hotel moorings, there are a couple of lovely quiet anchorages on the north and north-west corner of Bute.

Sail down the West Kyles

Heading towards Ardlamont down the West Kyles, you’ll find a couple of occasional anchorages that make a nice lunch stop. My favourite is on the Bute shore (55° 52.895N 5° 12.473W), but there are power lines which you need to ensure you don’t catch. Another is on the Ardlamont shore about 1.2NM north of the Ardlamont buoy.

Sailing to Argyll? Discover more stops along the way.