Saturday, September 27, 2014

Greenock Marina

James Watt Dock Marina Greenock, Scotland- 55N 56' 392, -4W 44' 9.012 Tel +44 (0) 1475 729838

The west coast is the best coast. In Scotland for sailing anyway. As much as I love the little fishing villages along the east coast, the huge tidal swings and lack of deep water berthing options is pretty limiting. It's a long, long way from Peterhead to South Queensferry.

So what is a sailor who wants to check out inland Scotland to do? Well, you could do a lot worse than the James Watt Dock in Greenock. Actually, if I were sailing to Scotland and I wanted to leave my boat for a bit of inland exploration this would be my hands down, top pick.

Let's get the negatives out of the way. The marina is not in a lovely, coastal resort type setting. Greenock is a working man's town. You won't find many ice cream parlors, fish and chip shops or shops peddling tartan underwear and bumper stickers near by. It is not a tourist destination. In fact, a good friend who is from the area cautioned us  "oh, be careful Greenock can be a rough town". We did not find it to be quite as dire as that sentence would imply, but it does have a rather industrial feel and the negatives associated with it are in effect. Pay attention to your surroundings and don't borrow trouble. That being said...

The James Watt is a new marina and the docks themselves are in tip top shape. Access to the docks and boats is controlled and they have taken pains to have adequate security. They have diesel, petrol and Calor gas available. Waste disposal is available. Plenty of water even at low tide to keep your keel floating. Showers, toilets, power and water but no laundry facilities or wifi at this time.

Comfortably sized fairways
The big draw for this, aside from the security (which was just about the best we saw in Scotland) is it's location just over a mile from the train station. You could leave your boat here with confidence, then take a train or bus to just about anywhere you want to go in Scotland. The rail and bus system in Scotland is absolutely fantastic and there really is no need to hire a car which is good because driving in Scotland is well, nerve wracking to say the least and I am someone who loves to drive.

There is a McDonald's in spitting distance to the marina. No, no one wants to eat their food but they do have good wifi. There is also a new, clean and tidy Premiere Inn (best hotel value in the UK) right at the docks if you have landlubbers coming to visit. There are a couple of groceries a little over a mile away and the city center is just a bit farther which has a post office, cafes and shops in the mall for anything you might need. Not a lot of chandleries but we are talking about where to leave your boat safely for inland exploration and this has far more pluses than minuses.

If you want to do a bit more sailing in the area, the Inverclyde offers plenty of places to go all while being accessible to civilization. All in all, not a bad deal and the staff we met were courteous, helpful and friendly.

Spunky littleyellow boat going out for an evening sail

Kitty was taken by this cute little red boat. So much so that she said that would be her boat when she was very big, like 9 years old.

Drum- the maxi yacht formerly owned by Simon Le Bon, now owned by Arnold Clark, the car King of the UK

I admit it. Drum inspired a bit of winch envy in me.

See? Working man's docks.

In the distance, lot's of beautiful sailing to be had in the Inverclyde



  1. I don't know how I never ended up living on a boat. Such beautiful pictures Cid!!! And I never borrow trouble. I mean, who needs to when I have The Boonga?

  2. Going to take note of this. Maybe some day I'll need it.

  3. I love the inflatable in the tiny sailboat. Just proves the old adage, you can't have a singly too big.

  4. To even experience "winch envy" means you are well into the sailing mindset, I would venture...

    As for small boats, Kitty can start Opti sail training at six or 45 pounds*, whichever comes first. Red hulls are optional, or Opti-onal, I suppose.

    *Opti sailors are taught to right their dinghies from an inverted position, and 45 pounds is about the minimum to do this. Kitty make enjoy pictures of my son, Lucas, at age seven mucking about in an Opti:

    1. Oh she will love the pics! She will probably hit 6 before 45 pounds- though her spirit is huge her stature is wee!