Sugar Boat

A trip to the Sugar Boat should really start and finish off with something sweet and handily we met at, and departed from, Kidston Park in Helensburgh where a newly opened cafe provided yummy snacks before and after our paddle.

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It was a gray day throughout but thankfully it remained rain free and the mist which had been forecast stayed well above the water level so we never had to change our planned route of a loop from Helensburgh, taking in the Sugar Boat, Greenock and Kilcreggan along the way. All in, we paddled 21km at a leisurely pace, never being made to work hard with us being in one of the few lulls in the seemingly endless cycle of strong, windy periods of late.

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Though there were some interesting sights throughout the day other than the Sugar Boat, this was the main attraction and something I’ve been curious about for years, what with it being on view from all directions from the coast in the local vicinity. The wreck lies on its side and despite our visit coinciding with high water, we still got to see part of the upper deck and the various bits of the structure above (now to the side of) this in various states of erosion.

What was a white ship, is now a dark and gloomy structure, the only colours being the rusty reds of the metal alongside patches of green algae and various shades of bird mess. Lovely!

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Some easy clambering, albeit on very rickety and fragile looking railings gave access to the side (now the top) of the wreck where with some precarious scrambling, clutching the rim of the deck to prevent a slip down the angled bow in to the Clyde, I managed to get up on top to take in the views from this island of sorts. The ship’s large side provides a flat area in a very central location from which to take in the views which on a sunnier day / evening must be very pleasant, I will be back with that in mind but I’m not sure I’ll stay there the evening like Robin Lloyd-Jones did as described in his book Argonauts of the Western Isles. Actually, having just re-read the author’s descriptions of the wreck in a lower state of tide, I am even keener to return and see more of the upper ship revealed.

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