Passage: 102M, 3 new harbours visited, Max wind F6

Having completed a loop clockwise from Oban, cruising the islands and sea lochs of the NW Scottish Highlands, I reached the most northerly point of my cruise at Stromness, on Main Island, Orkneys and achieved my goal to round Cape Wrath and cross the notorious Pentland Firth (See earlier post of passage). Returning down the northeast coast of Scotland to Inverness where my friends Brian and Barbara joined me for the passage back through the Caledonian Canal to Oban on the west coast.

Loch Oich

Loch Oich

This was my second passage from east to west through the canal, but it was very different. We enjoyed better weather in general than the rest of the UK and experienced some lively sailing, surrounded by the lovely scenery of Loch Ness and Loch Lochy. I also discovered new places to moor on the lochs that are worthy of noting for other yachtsmen and women.

With the canal license, yachts are issued with a ‘Skipper’s Guide’ that gives basic navigation and other information on using the canal. The ‘chart’ shows moorings (generally at the locks and swing bridges) and the few anchorages in the lochs. Last year I anchored off Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, for the night and had lunch at anchor at the recommended anchorage at the western end of Loch Lochy. Both nice places to stop away from the crowds. I also stopped last year at Drumnadrochit Harbour, a small harbour and one of the few with water and electricity readily available along the canal.

This year we had decided to visit the private moorings of a couple of hotels, where mooring on private pontoons is available free for guests staying or eating at the hotels. Brian and Barbara would stay in the hotels and I would join them for meals.

Harbour at Clansman Hotel, Loch ness

Harbour at Clansman Hotel, Loch ness

Our first evening was spent at the small harbour adjacent to the Clansman Hotel on Loch Ness. There is a least depth of 2m in the harbour run by the ferry company that visit Urquhart Castle. Joining Brian and Barbara for an evening meal in the hotel, I then had the harbour and views across Loch Ness to myself for the evening and early morning until the two ferries moored there started their tours. 

During the evening I worked 14 amateur radio stations from the yacht including French station F4ECJ (Eric) and Dutch station PA3JD (Joop).  The friendly net was controlled efficiently by Steve and Graham operating the Yorkshire Radio Club call M3YRC.

Loch Ness from Urquhart Castle

Loch Ness from Urquhart Castle

 

 The following morning we visited Urquhart Castle, although it would have been easier to do so if we had moored at Drumnadrochit Harbour mentioned above.   We later anchored off the castle for lunch, having some great sailing in Loch Ness.

    

Fort Augustus from top of lock flight.

Fort Augustus from top of lock flight.

 

 

Continuing our passage we spent evenings on board moored at Fort Augustus and Laggan before entering Loch Lochy.

 

   

Laggan Avenue on the canal.

Laggan Avenue on the canal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

It was on the beautiful Loch Lochy that we discovered what must be the canals best kept secret! 🙂

Pontoon Corriegour lodge Hotel, Loch Lochy

Pontoon Corriegour Lodge Hotel, Loch Lochy

We had a lovely sail tacking up Loch Lochy in a brisk F5 from the SW. Surrounded by spectacular scenery Brian and I had some fun and exercise closing the shores before we tacked our way up the Loch to our overnight destination. Brian and Barbara had booked an evening at the Corriegour Lodge Hotel who welcome visiting yachts. Mooring is free on their private pontoon for those taking an evening meal in their restaurant.

Under sail, we approached the beach and pontoon we could see from the centre of the loch. Unsure of the depth, we dropped sails 50m from the pontoon and approached the shore alongside the pontoon under engine. The beach shoals quickly so there is plenty of depth, I had 0.7m under my 1.6m draft and the pontoon is long enough to take larger vessels.

Beach and view from Corriegour Hotel pontoon.

Beach and view from Corriegour Lodge Hotel pontoon.

 

Moored, we took in the isolated beach and stunning views across Loch Lochy that we had to ourselves for the evening. We had a warm welcome from Christian, Ian (the chef) and Julia Drew at the hotel. Brian and Barbara checked into their room after we had a drink in the bar and I returned to the yacht to enjoy the peace and view from the mooring. A private beach all to myself! 🙂

Later, I joined Brian and Barbara for a meal in the hotel restaurant. Our table overlooked the Loch and the meal and view were something to remember. Not cheap, but for that special meal ashore it is hard to beat. Along with the sailing, it was the highlight of our week and I shall certainly return by road to visit the hotel in the future.  (link below)

Later on board that evening, I worked Cliff (G4YHP) who was operating the special event callsign GX4BJC/A … the callsign of the International Short Wave League. The band was quiet with very little noise or QRM (interferience  from other stations), more like 21Mhz than 80m.   🙂    Cliff, based in Grimsby, has made contact with me throughout my cruise.  We had a long chat with both stations receiving strong, clear,  S9 signals from each other.

Brian and barbara on Corriegour Hotel Beach

Brian and Barbara on Corriegour Lodge Hotel Beach

The following morning after an equally enjoyable breakfast in the hotel, we set sail for Banavie where the decent of the 7-flight lock to Corpach commences. Once clear of the pontoon we set sails and tacked up Loch Lochy in an increasing SW wind. A mixture of squally showers, with winds of F6 gave us an exciting and fast sail up to Gairlochy where we entered the canal and continued under engine power to moor at the top of Neptune’s Staircase for the night.   

Barbara with her man at Oban :-)

Barbara with her man at Oban 🙂

  

We made our 2 hour decent down Neptune’s Staircase early next morning, through the swing bridges and locks to exit through the Corpach sea lock into Loch Linnhe. Passing Fort William and Ben Nevis we made the 30M passage to Oban in a mixture of heavy showers and sunshine, arriving by 1800. Time for a meal ashore in Oban, before getting an early night for Brian and Barbara to leave the yacht for home very early next morning.

My thanks to Brian and Barbara for helping me on this passage. New crew, Steve, joins me Sunday and Liz on the Tuesday when we set sail together from Oban to cruise south to visit the Firth of Clyde and its surrounding islands.

http://www.corriegour-lodge-hotel.com/accommodation.html

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Dawn at Seaport Marina, Inverness

Dawn at Seaport Marina, Inverness

 

Since arriving at Seaport Marina, Inverness, I have been getting the yacht cleaned, attending to minor repairs, updating my Blog and making a few contacts on Amateur Radio.

Its been a fine, but very windy and gusty week. As I write the wind is howling through the rigging, water is slapping the hull and Christine Marie is lurching on its mooring with the gusts.

The highlight of the week has been an interview tonight with Sir Robin Knox-Johnson on Radio Solent’s H2O boating show. It was great to talk to the man who was the first to sail singlehanded round the world without stopping.

My challenge does not compare with what he and many other adventurers have achieved, but to me, sailing round the UK is one of the biggest challenges of my life and one I am loving every minute.

I am determined to bring Christine Marie home safely at the end of the year and with everyones help, to beat the £3000 goal I set for the charities I am supporting.

The interview with Sir Robin can be heard on this link:

www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/h2oshow/

Please follow my adventure on my BLOG and help me meet my charity target.

Next update at Oban as I start my homeward passage. 🙂

Posted by: Ray | April 24, 2009

Talmine Bay to Inverness, visiting Orkney Islands

Passage:  200M, 6 Ports visited, Max wind F7

Cliffs on Hoy, Orkney Islands

Cliffs on Hoy, Orkney Islands

  

Now safely at Inverness and will take Christine Marie through the sea lock at Clachnaharry tomorrow.

We spent an interesting and sometimes challenging few days visiting the Orkney Islands before returning via the Pentland Firth to Wick, then visiting the attractive small port of Helmsdale on our passage to Inverness. 

   

Whilst in the Orkneys I reached the most Northerly point of my cruise round the UK, having now sailed 1523M and visited 54 harbours since leaving Lymington last year.

Passing Old Man of Hoy, Hoy, Orkney Islands

Passing Old Man of Hoy, Hoy, Orkney Islands

 

Our passage across from Talmine Bay to Stromness avoided the Pentland Firth tides and races, so was a pleasant sail in the sun.  We made good progress and had time to visit the Old Man of Hoy close in for photographs, whilst waiting for a fair tide into Hoy Sound on our approach to Stromness.

  

Approaching Stromness under Sail

Approaching Stromness under Sail

 

We timed our passage into Hoy Sound  carefully to arrive at the start of the flood (E going tide)   We sailed briskly into Stromness Harbour, Main Island, escorted by a ferry that overtook us as we made our approach into the buoyed channel marking the shallows on either side. 

 

Stromness harbour

Stromness harbour

 

Since leaving Oban we enjoyed sailing in sunshine on many days, but it had been very cold.  At Stromness we were able to connect to shore power and had the luxury of warmth on board!  🙂  We visited the town, took on supplies and Henry, Graham and myself enjoyed a meal ashore together. 

Henry and Graham enjoying the action

Henry and Graham enjoying the action

 

 

On Tuesday 22 April we set sail for Long Hope on Hoy.  It was a lively, short, fun sail and Graham, who has an Ocean Yacht Master, asked if he could practice ‘Man overboard’ under sail.  I threw the bucket with fender attached overboard and we had a very brisk time recovering it!!  Graham did a great job and I think the casualty only suffered minor hypothermia.   🙂

  

 

 

Long Hope Harbour from our mooring.

Long Hope Harbour from our mooring.

 

We spent Tuesday night on the visitors mooring buoy off Long Hope harbour, with winds increasing from the SE.  Not what we wanted for our passage across the Pentland Firth to Wick.  Wind over tide and with Spring tides five days away, potentially gave very dangerous conditions in the Firth.  The forecast did not look good, F5/6 occ F7 from the SE, seas slight to moderate.

 On Wednesday morning I telephoned the HM at Scrabster for advise on conditions in the Pentland Firth, we would have fair tides of up to 9KN, but with wind over tide.  He told me that the wind had not yet built up any swell and that we should be ok.  We decided to sail round to Aith Hope later in the day, a small bay to the North of the Firth where we could assess the situation. 

We set sail and on approach to Cantick Head lighthouse we could see broken water off the headland.  Our speed over the ground increased rapidly to 11Kn as the tide shot us out of the sound through large and confused seas.  With Graham on the helm we made an uncomfortable, lumpy and wet passage along the south coast of South Walls with winds F7 to enter into the shelter of Aith Hope Bay.  

We dropped anchor with the intention of staying for the night until conditions improved for passage across the Pentland Firth.  The yacht at anchor we started to get out of our wet gear, then the bearings we had taken of our position changed rapidly and we were dragging anchor towards a moored fishing vessel!   With me on the helm, Graham and Henry worked hard to recover 40m of anchor chain, with large amounts of kelp attached to it …… the reason it had not held!   🙂

Not wanting to stay awake all night on anchor watch, we returned back out to sea. With SE F6/7 blowing for most of the afternoon seas had built and conditions were increasingly getting worse.  We were not able to make much progress beating into the wind and waves and conditions mid-Firth in the stronger currents would be very uncomfortable (if not dangerous), so we made passage back to the shelter of Longhope for the night.

Christine Marie with the Long Hope lifeboat in the inner harbour

Christine Marie with the Long Hope lifeboat in the inner harbour

 

The next morning the conditions had improved and the forecast was for lighter winds, still from the S or SE.  Further delay in our passage took us closer to the stronger spring tides.  We decided to visit the Longhope harbour to take on supplies and the HM gave us permission to enter the inner harbour next to the life boat.

 

 

We had a very warm welcome from the villagers of Longhope, many had seen us out in the rough seas the day before.  The lady in the village stores told us she had seen us going out to sea and had thought …. ‘I’m glad I’m not on that yacht’ !!

Kevin, the coxswain of the Longhope life boat came to see us and took us into the lifeboat station for coffee and biscuits.  We were welcome to use the showers and facilities there.  He and the crew were very friendly.  Kevin lives with his wife in a house overlooking Aith Hope bay and had seen us struggling with our anchor the evening before ….. he told us we were unlucky and that the bay was generally sandy and good holding!    🙂

Looking across Pentland Firth to Duncansby Head on a calm day.

Looking across Pentland Firth to Duncansby Head on a calm day.

 

Kevin then drove us round Long Hope showing us the coastline.  We could look out over the Pentland Firth and the passage we had made the day before.  What a difference a day made, calmer seas and looking better for our passage to Wick later in the day. 

 

 

My crew with Kevin, Coxwain of Long Hope Lifeboat, in the museum.

My crew with Kevin (right), Coxwain of Long Hope Lifeboat, in the museum.

 

We visited the Longhope Lifeboat museum, well worth a visit as it houses the Thomas McCunn life boat used between 1933 -1950’s.  It is seaworthy and made passage in October 2006 to meet the arrival of the new Tamar Lifeboat to Longhope.

  

 

Long Hope Memorial, Hoy

Long Hope Memorial, Hoy

 

We also visited the village’s memorial to eight lifeboat crew who lost their lives when the lifeboat capsized whilst answering a call to a fishing vessel in distress. Close to the memorial the graves of those lost showed mostly young men in their 20’s or 30’s: we noticed that four came from the same family. 

Long Hope Tamar Lifeboat, Helen Crombie

Long Hope Tamar Lifeboat, Helen Crombie

 

Later we realised that Kevin’s surname was the same as those lost, they were his father and relatives.  Very brave of Kevin to give his service to the RNLI supporting  others like myself at sea.  I am full of admiration for these men and women who volunteer to serve on the lifeboats.

 

Ray at the controls of the Long Hope Lifeboat

Ray at the controls of the Long Hope Lifeboat

 

 

 

 

Kevin, Alec (the lifeboat mechanic) and other crew showed us around their new Tamar lifeboat, Helen Crombie, that came into sevice at Longhope in 2007.  Six are now in service around the UK. 

 

 

 

 

In the evening we made our way round to Aith Hope, said our farewells to Kevin with a blast on our foghorn and set off on our passage across the Pentland Firth when the tide had turned east in Middle Firth.  I had plotted a CTS to account for the strong tides and this kept us on track across to Duncansby Head between the Islands of Stroma and Swona. 

Confused seas in the Pentland Firth, light winds close to Spring tides.

Confused seas in the Pentland Firth, light winds close to Spring tides.

 

As we approached the Islands our speed over the ground increased rapidly and we recorded 14.1Kn, seas became a little rougher and confused with the light SE wind against the 9kn tide.  We can only imagine what it would have been like there the day before!!  It was a fantastic experience. 

 

 

 

It brings home the point that crossing should ideally be made with winds F4 or less, little swell and wind not opposing the tide, ideally at Neap tides.  With our very light winds and little swell, we had little problem with adverse wind close to Spring tides.

Sunset off Noss Head Lighthouse, Nr Wick.

Sunset off Noss Head Lighthouse, Nr Wick.

 

We made the passage to Wick, 32M, in 3.5 hours!!   A very fast time for my yacht helped by the strong tides!  🙂    

The sunset as we approched Wick past Noss Head lighthouse was spectactular and rounded off a great day.

 

 

We rounded into Wick Bay in the dark on the correct approach to the Commercial Harbour, but had difficulty picking out the white sector light.  We had sight of the sector light on the S pier and followed this, clearing the dangers on both sides of the bay.  Closer to the harbour we moved into the green sector to ensure we made our approach across and well clear of the pier until we had sight of the fixed red transit lights leading us into the outer harbour.  Keeping close to the south harbour wall we entered the outer harbour and berthed alongside the quay by the Fish Market for the night. 

Christine Marie alongside the Fish Market Quay, Wick.

Christine Marie alongside the Fish Market Quay, Wick.

It had been a long day, we relaxed with a late supper and retired.  Onward passage planning could wait until morning.   🙂

In the morning, Henry wanted to practice his passage planning.   Helmsdale is a shallow harbour, so a phone call was made to the HM to determine the conditions there and if a suitable berth was available.  

The HM told us they had a berth, but we would need to be there by 1500 with our 1.5m draft.  Henry had completed tidal height curves for Helmsdale ….we would be on a falling tide.  I was not happy with this, we could be late.  Henry gave me the time we could pass in over the bar with a rising tide, 2000, much better …..  I am very familiar with entering this type of harbour in the Solent and up the E coast last year.  Henry telephoned the HM to inform him of our plans and he offered to come down to meet us on arrival. The dissadvantage of our late departure was that we would have a foul tide until we cleared  the long headland south of Wick.

Henry completed passage planning and we had time for a brief lunch ashore before sailing.  We set sail at 1400 on the 32M passage south to Helmsdale on the west coast of the Moray Firth.  With wind F3/4 we had a great sail for the first 4 hours, then the wind ‘switched off’ suddenly. We had no option other than use the engine for the final 2 hour passage to Helmsdale.

The foul tide had slowed us initially, but once clear of the headland it reduced and we made good headway.  We approached the harbour on time at 2000, the HM was there to guide us into the final approach to the harbour pontoons using VHF.  I had to crab across the tide to hold course on the approach to the harbour and we passed through the shallow channel without problem once in sight of the channel buoys and transit beacons. The HM guided us to the pontoon where I had 0.2m under my keel on the final approach to the berth!   🙂 

Helmsdale, harbour pontoons far right.

Helmsdale, harbour pontoons far right.

 

Once moored we explored the village and local pub for refreshments.  Helmsdale is a pretty, fishing village … worth the visit.  Christine Marie was the only fin-keel yacht there and we sunk into the soft mud by 0.3m overnight at low water without problem.  

 

 

Leaving Hemsdale Harbour

Leaving Hemsdale Harbour

 

We left the harbour at 0900 the following morning when the tide had risen sufficiently for us to exit over the bar.  Once clear of the harbour we set sails and made course for Inverness, a nine hour passage  of 45M. 

 

 

 

Oil platform at anchor, Moray Firth.

Oil platform at anchor, Moray Firth.

 

The passage to Inverness was not very enjoyable.  With little wind and with mist reducing visibility to just over half a mile, we had little to see for much of the passage under engine power.  We did pass an oil platform at anchor, just visible through the mist.

 

 

Kessock Bridge through the mist. Lucky heather still on the bow.  :-)

Kessock Bridge through the mist. Lucky heather still on the bow. 🙂

 

The shoreline became more visible as we passed through the narrows off Chanonry Point, passing Fort George .  Several seals were seen following us and a group of them basking on the shallow sandbanks on our port side.  We soon had sight of the Kessock Bridge through the mist. 

 

 

 

Rounding the green Meikie Mee buoy we made passage under the bridge to the new Inverness Marina, now open.  🙂       (See Lossiemouth to Inverness 2008)   Its a new marina with good facilities and very friendly and helpful staff. Good for cruising the area or as a stop to/from the Caladonian Canal.

Ray and crew in charity T-shirts .... No 1 of 3   :-)

Henry (left), Ray and Graham in charity T-shirts .... No 1 of 3 🙂

 

Moored at Inverness Marina, we set about taking photos of myself and crew in the charity T-shirts.  I had been asked for these earlier, but it had been very cold.  We pursuaded a nearby mechanic at the marina to take the photos. 

It was still very cold and we were scruffy from a long days passage, but this was our last opportunity.  We had a laugh as we first posed in Rethink T-shirts, a quick change into Marie Curie and then RNLI.   Job done we retired to the warm cabin.  🙂

Henry left the yacht the following morning and Graham and myself took Christine Marie the short passage round to enter the Caledonian Canal via the Clachnaharry sea lock.  By 1100 we were safely moored on a pontoon at Seaport Marina.  Graham left the yacht to return home early Monday morning.

My thanks to Eddie, Henry and Graham for their support whilst making this passage.  Along with Eddie, who sailed with me from Oban to Ullapool, they helped me bring Christine Marie safely through a challenging passage at times.  My thanks also to Crewseekers who helped me find these experienced sailors as crew.

I will spend the week preparing Christine Marie for her passage back through the canal to Oban with my friend Brian in a couple of weeks time.  I will also get time to update my BLOG and to catch up with some amateur radio  …..and sleep!    🙂

This has been a fantastic passage with some great sailing, at times challenging.  We will all remember the friendly, warm welcome and support we received on our visit to the Orkney Islands, in particular from the villagers and lifeboat crew of Longhope, Hoy.  They made the visit one to be remembered, Thank you all.

Crewseekers

Crewseekers

Passage: 284M, 10 Ports visited, Max wind F7, F9 gusts.
 
Looking north from Kerrera Island

Looking north from Kerrera Island

 

Delayed by gale force winds, Eddie and I eventually set sail from Oban on Saturday 11 th April. I had decided to head North, making a clockwise loop to cruise the islands on the W coast of Scotland, then rounding Cape Wrath to visit the Orkney Islands. The loop allowed me to cruise coastal waters that I had not been able to sail during my passage up the E coast last year.

Returning to Oban from the Orkney Islands via the Pentland Firth, Wick, Inverness and the Caledonian Canal means I will circumnavigate the UK anti-clockwise making a figure of 8! 🙂 

Walking across Kerrera Island

Walking across Kerrera Island

 

 

On Saturday morning the strong winds were still blowing from the SW with gusts of up to 40kn forecast until later in the day. Eddie persuaded me to walk round the island of Kerrera, the leaflets said a 4 hour walk. We rose early and by 0700 were enjoying a brisk walk through the lovely farmland and hills of Kerrera.  

South Kerrera across to the castle.

South Kerrera across to the castle.

 

It’s an unspoilt, beautiful Island and I would recommend anyone to visit it. Inhabitants are about 40, mainly living in small farmsteads.

The walk was hard with several hills to climb and against the strong wind on our way to visit the castle and tearooms at the S of the island. We took lots of photographs. The walk took us 5 hours and boy did we both know it the next morning!! I told Eddie he should try it in 20 years at my age!! 🙂 

We left Oban after lunch. The wind was F4 from the SW, with gusts above this, but we would be in the lee of Mull once we crossed over the short passage entering Mull Sound between Lismore and Lady Islands.

The sail was brisk and we were soon approaching between the two lighthouses on the Islands. We could see turbulance ahead of us and passed through a mixture of choppy broken seas and pools of unaturally flat calm. Christine Marie slowed sharply in the turbulance that worried Eddie a little at the time (he had been reading about whirlpools up here in Scotland). I am used to this type of sea when passing the Needles and Hurst Castle, so soon reassured him.

Sailing Mull Sound

Sailing Mull Sound

Safely through, we enjoyed a great sail through the stunning scenery of Mull Sound. It was interesting to see the wind change as we progressed up the sound. The pilot books tell you it funnels through the mountains on Mull and can split direction when it enters the sound. We met this and were close hauled as we approached Tobermory.

1.6M from Tobermory the wind died suddenly and we motored the final distance to moor on a buoy in the attractive, picture-postcard harbour. 

Moored at Tobermory, Mull

Moored at Tobermory, Mull

 

  

We took the inflatable to visit the town the following morning and had a really good fish meal ashore in the white restaurant overlooking the harbour. 

 

Point of Ardnamurchan

Point of Ardnamurchan

 

In the late afternoon we set sail the short distance to Port Mor, Muck, one of the Small Islands. We rounded Ardnamurchan Pt at 1800. Now exposed to the Atlantic, but in light winds, we mounted the traditional lucky heather on Christine Marie’s bow. 🙂

  

Sunset Port Mor, Muck.  Rum mountains in background.

Sunset Port Mor, Muck. Rum mountains in background.

 

By 1930 we were approaching Port Mor, the wind was now increasing and rain clouds were gathering as forecast as we picked up the leading lines through the rocks on entrance to the harbour. It was going to be a windy night with swell entering the harbour, so we picked up a mooring buoy to allow us a restful evening. We were alone in the harbour as night set.

 

Muck looks good to walk around but having lost a few days due to the strong winds, I was keen to reach Mallaig the following day. 

Anchored Loch Scresort, Rum

Anchored Loch Scresort, Rum

 

With good winds we decided to make a detour and had fantastic days sailing, cruising round the small islands passing along the shores of Muck, Eigg and visiting Loch Scresort, Rum, where we anchored for lunch. We arrived in Mallaig at dusk, picking up a free mooring buoy for the night. 

 

Mallaig Harbour

Mallaig Harbour

 

 

In the morning we took on fuel at the quay and were able to make a brief visit into town for supplies and a fish-n-chips lunch before sailing on the fair tide to Kyleakin, Skye, where we would meet Henry the following morning.

 

 

We timed our passage carefully to pass through the strong tidal narrows (Sp tides 7Kn) at Kyle Rhea at slack water. By 1800 we were in sight of the bridge across to Skye and made our approach to enter and moor on pontoons in the small harbour at Kyleakin.

Kyleakin Harbour, Skye

Kyleakin Harbour, Skye

I had seen pictures of this harbour in magazines, drawing me to visit, it did not dissapoint. 🙂

Eddie and I relaxed in the evening with a walk round the harbour and a visit to a local pub. Henry joins Eddie and myself tomorrow when we set sail to Loch Garlochy. I hope to make the passage round Cape Wrath to Orkney Islands when tides and weather are favourable next week. 🙂

Skye Bridge.

Skye Bridge.

 

Wed 15 April: Henry joined Eddie and I on board early Wednesday morning. We needed to depart early to catch the tidal gate at Kyle Akin before it turned foul. A brief farewell to Henry’s wife Ruth and we left the harbour, passing under the Skye Bridge to set course for Loch Shieldaig, Gairloch.

 

Moored for the night at Loch Shieldaig

Moored for the night at Loch Shieldaig

 

Henry soon settled in and with light winds from the NE we had a pleasant sail for the 45M passage, plenty of tacking to keep us warm in the cold wind. 🙂 By 1800 we had entered Loch Gairloch and then made the passage through Loch Torridon into Loch Shieldaig. A nice sheltered mooring or anchorage.

 

Henry and Eddie on passage to Ullapool

Henry and Eddie on passage to Ullapool

 

The 41M passage the next morning to Ullapool was made in cold winds, still from the NE, that ranged from F6/7 to 0 suddenly.   A lively sail, we shook out reefs and put them back regularly! Weather conditions I have become to expect whilst cruising these waters! 🙂 We approached Ullapool in the evening passing Priest Island on our port side. We arrived at dusk to pick up a buoy in the harbour. The owner of the buoy rowed out in his small tender to welcome us and offered to come out in the morning to take Eddie ashore to catch an early bus. We had sailed 50M during the day, so relaxed with a meal and wine on board before retiring.

 

The following morning I prepared passage plans to Loch Inver where Graham would join Henry and myself for the cruise to Orkney and back to Inverness. We said our farewells to Eddie as he boarded the small rowing boat filling it with his gear and the yachts rubbish to dispose of! Gusty winds were blowing F5/6 from the NE as watched him depart and make it safely to the shore in experienced hands. 🙂

With the gusty winds, I decided to put 2 reefs in the main whilst on the mooring and to sail with this and a small headsail. It did cross my mind to sail on a small headsail alone, but we would be coming on the wind once out to sea past the Summer Islands. ( They always say reef down the first time you think of it!!).

Leaving Ullapool Harbour

Leaving Ullapool Harbour

 

Once clear of the harbour we set course to pass through a narrow rocky channel between the Summer Islands to the NW. Once away from the harbour the wind was on our quarter, funnelling down Loch Broom.

 

 

 

 

I set a preventer on the main and we clipped our safety harnesses on as Christine Marie picked up speed with increasing wind and rollers pushing us along at a pace. The wind and following breaking swell, whipped up by F9 gusts, continued to increase as we rapidly closed the narrow channel south of Tanera Beg, fringed with dangerous rocks. On the helm, Christine Marie was under control, but on the edge … we were surfing along on the following seas. I knew we needed to reduce the main with the 3rd reef whilst we had searoom.

Getting ready to reef, I made a mistake and gybed the yacht. The surprise was that the boom crashed across to starboard taking us sharply up on the wind. The shackle holding the preventer on the boom had snapped cleanly across releasing the main! My first thoughts were that we were now in big trouble, with damage to the rigging. But Henry and I worked calmly together drenched by the spray, to drop the main, check no damage had been done, before continuing under a small headsail. It was good teamwork in difficult conditions and we both ‘punched hands’ that we had come through safely.

Now under control we navigated the rocky passage through the Summer Isles out to sea where we made our course change towards Loch Inver, 20M further north. 

Lochinver

Lochinver

 

We arrived at 1730, sailing into Lochinver to meet Graham who was waiting to take our lines at 1740. We all enjoyed a pint and meal together ashore in the evening, recalling our experiences at Ullapool.

 

 

 

Sunday 19 April:

We left Lochinver at 1100 on engine to charge the batteries until we passed the green buoy marking the rocks to the NE of Soyea.

Henry up the mast.

Henry up the mast.

At 1130 we started to raise the main only to find we had a problem. The main halyard had wedged behind the radar reflector, nothing we did would shift it from the decks ….. there was only one solution … someone had to go aloft to free it. Henry volunteered 🙂

Fitted with the boson’s chair and two safety lines Graham and I winched Henry up the mast to free the line. Henry said it was a good view from up there! 🙂  

Continuing our passage under sail we had a lovely sail in the sunshine to complete the 30M passage to Kinlochbervie in 6 hours. Kinlochbervie is approached through several small creeks.

Approach to Kinlochbervie harbour

Approach to Kinlochbervie harbour

 

 

Tucked away, it’s a lovely fishing harbour nestling in between the rocks that surround it, just 14M south of Cape Wrath. I liked this harbour with its new pontoon and friendly sailors.

 

 

 

I had intended to stop off at Loch Erenbol on passage to Scrapster, but a local sailor suggested we anchor at Talmine Bay further along the coast. This anchorage is good except in strong northerlies. The wind was forecast to go to the SE the following day, so we decided to amend our passage plans.

Mon 20 April:  At anchor Talmine Bay, a sheltered anchorage on the north coast of Scotland between Cape Wrath and Scrabster.

Rounding Cape Wrath

Rounding Cape Wrath

 

Despite its reputation and our own apprehension, the passage round Cape Wrath gave us no problems …… conditions could have been very different. In sunshine, light winds and calm seas we rounded close to the cape and inshore of the dangerous Duslic Rocks just showing offshore of the cape.

 

 

We had time to take some good photos and sighted a dolphin and seal as we approached inshore 1M off the Cape lighthouse.

At anchor Talmine Bay

At anchor Talmine Bay

 

A fantastic weeks sailing through stunning scenery through the Scottish Highlands on the west coast of Scotland. As well as the scenery, the sailing was great and very challenging on some occasions! 🙂

Posted by: Ray | March 22, 2009

Oban – Preparation to sail on homeward passage.

Oban Marina at Dawn

Oban Marina at Dawn

 

Christine Marie is now back in the water at Oban Marina and ready to sail.

Brian and I travelled up to Oban by car on Sunday 15 March and the yacht was returned to the water early Monday morning during the first HW.

 

Brian on Christine Marie, Oban

Brian on Christine Marie, Oban

 

The engine burst into life when started and we were soon moored and getting down to prepare her for the season.

By Tuesday evening work was complete including fitting a new battery.

During the winter work had been completed on the engine and hull and a sea trial to check all was well was planned during our visit. From Tuesday we had been basking in sunshine with light winds and we set off after lunch on Wednesday, travelling towards our destination Puilladobhrain 7M south of the marina.

A local sailor had recommended this anchorage to us. Apparently, during the time of the Jacobite rebellion, the English had banned the wearing of kilts by the Scottish men. Puilladobhrain (the pool of the otter) is a small natural pool between the Islands of Seil and Eilean Duin linked to the mainland by Clachan Bridge on Seil. The Scotts would go across the bridge (known as the ‘Bridge over the Atlantic) into the pub (Tigh an Truish Inn – House of the Trousers)  and change into trousers! 🙂 This link gives the interesting history.

www.willowburn.co.uk/Willowburn%20Hotel/web-content/Walking%20on%20Seil.html

The passage down Kerrera Sound was straight forward. Rocks and shallows are well buoyed (although the use of G and R buoys to mark safe channels on each side, with Ferry Rocks between the two could be confusing if not planned ahead). Once past the narrow channel at Sgeirean Light the passage is clear until entering the narrow, rocky entrance to Puilladobhrain.

Approaching Puilladobhrain

Approaching Puilladobhrain

 

Within the hour we were approaching the entrance to our anchorage and could see the footbridge linking Seil Island to the mainland. I had entered WP into the GPS to guide us in past the dangerous Dun Horses rocks on our starboard side and through the narrow entrance.

 

Anchored Puilladobhrain

Anchored Puilladobhrain

 

We kept an eye on the cross-track error, but it was no problem keeping to the centre between the rocks surrounding us. It was a beautiful, unspoilt spot and we dropped anchor in 5m and settled back to enjoy the peace and views from on deck with a coffee and snack.

 

Approaching Oban from the South

Approaching Oban from the South

 

With a following SW wind we had planned to sail on our return passage to Oban. Once clear of the inlet there was little wind: we raised the main and checked the genoa furling … but then continued under engine. A seal was seen close by as we approached the Sgeirean narrows at the south of Kerrera Island, Oban then came into sight.

Shortly before dusk we were back on the mooring and completed preparations for our departure the next morning.

The weather had been kind to us and Christine Marie is now ready to set sail when I rejoin her around the 7 April. My first 400M passage will take me north, cruising the Scottish Highlands to Kinlockbervie. From there rounding Cape Wrath to visit the Orkney Islands before returning to Oban via Inverness and the Caledonian Canal. Crew from Crewseekers join me for this passage: Eddie joins at Oban on the 9 April until the 17th; Henry and Graham join at Kyleakin (Skye) on the 14th and will stay with me until we reach Inverness. Brian then joins me again for my passage back through the Caledonian Canal to Oban.

The sail to Puilladobhrain has given me a taste of cruising these waters in fine weather. Peaceful, unspoilt scenery …. I am looking forward to setting sail again. Visit my BLOG from time to time to see how I am progressing.

Posted by: Ray | January 14, 2009

Oban at Winter

This post covers my visit to Oban before Christmas to check on the yacht.

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Oban Marina, Kerrera Island

Oban in Winter

Oban in Winter

 

 

In December I travelled up by train to Oban to check on Christine Marie. I wanted to assure myself that she was dry and secure following several weeks of gales and snow I had seen on the weather forecasts. 

Across Oban Bay to Kerrera, Mull in background

Across Oban Bay to Kerrera, Mull in background

 

 

The forecasts predicted a spell of fine weather and I decided to go at short notice. I could not have picked a better three days to visit, the weather was fine (although very cold), the scenery fantastic with snow covering the mountains in the distance. 

Ferry to Oban Marina arriving Oban

Ferry to Oban Marina arriving Oban

 

 

I arrived in the dark at Oban, so stayed the night at the Oban Bay Hotel, catching the ferry to Oban Marina on Kerrera Island in the morning.

 

Oban Marina, Kerrera Island

Oban Marina, Kerrera Island

 

 

On arrival at the marina I was pleased to find Christine Marie secure and dry. The engine had been serviced & winterized and it was soon warm and cosy on-board with the heating turned up. 

  

Modified LED Light

Modified LED Light

 

I stayed on board for the following two days, replacing the gally taps and converting one of the cabin lights to LED. 

The masthead navigation and anchor light was replaced with a LED version before I set sail last year, but the cabin lights (There are four) each consume 20W, drawing 8A from the battery in total.  

Flexible LED Strips

Flexible LED Strips

 

 

 I used new flexible strips of LEDs that can be fixed with their tape backing.

I was very pleased with the result, the current was just 0.2A (one tenth of the original bulbs)and I plan to covert the rest of the lights on my next visit. 

Completed LED Light

Completed LED Light

 

 

Since converting the light I have found direct replacement LED bulbs that are brighter than the original filament festoon types, but one tenth of the power.  I have now replaced all remaining cabin lights with these and many other LED types are available from the supplier.    A link is below. 

Kerrera Island across to Mull

Kerrera Island across to Mull

 

 

 

During my stay at the marina I took the opportunity to walk round part of Kererra Island. It’s a lovely unspoilt Island with only 30 permanent inhabitants.

 

View to Oban Marina across Kerrera Island

View to Oban Marina across Kerrera Island

 

 

 

I passed small farmsteads with their free range chickens, pigs, and sheep grazing in the nearby fields. 

 

Kerrera

Kerrera

 

 

 

It was a lovely visit and I can’t wait to cruise these waters when I resume my passage in the spring. 🙂

 

 

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Cobbs Quay Poole at Sunrise
Cobbs Quay Poole at Sunrise

 

Last week I took the opportunity to sail as crew with Noel, my RYA instructor who runs Moonfleet Sailing School in Poole. 

Noel asked if I could join on a weeks course in the Solent to help crew; so with Christine Marie ashore for the winter in Scotland, I jumped at the chance to join him, John and Simon (who was doing his RYA Comp Crew) for a weeks sailing around the Solent.

We all met at Cobbs Quay, Poole, where Moonfleet is based early Monday morning. We boarded Moonfleet’s training yacht Ultra, a new Baveria 36, then following a safety and passage brief, made ready to get underway through the 1030 bridge.

Moonfleet's training Yacht, Ultra

Moonfleet's Training Yacht, Ultra

 

Simon’s training started from the start as he was introduced to handling mooring lines and fenders, plus how to start/stop and use Ultra’s engine.  We slipped our lines and once clear of the marina, Noel put Simon on the helm as we headed out through the lifting bridge past Poole Quay.

Setting off with Simon, Noel and John
Setting off with Simon, Noel and John

It was a bright, very cold day, with a brisk wind blowing from the NW as we set sails and made passage out through Middle Ship Channel towards Studland Bay.

 

In Studland Bay, John took the helm and we ‘headed up’ to wind tacking back and forward across the bay, giving Simon some good experience using the winches whilst the rest of us had some lively exercise in the fresh air 🙂 

Old Harry from Studland Bay

Old Harry from Studland Bay

 

 

With lunchtime approaching, Simon was shown how to prepare and deploy the anchor. Anchored in 4m of water in view of Old Harry, we enjoyed the warm lunch Noel had prepared for us as we waited for a fair tide East towards the Solent. 

  

Christchurch Bay towards Hurst Castle

Christchurch Bay looking towards Hurst Castle

 

Whilst Simon practiced his knots, I prepared passage plan from Studland to Cowes via the North Channel and we were soon enjoying a brisk sail across Christchurch Bay towards North  Head Buoy marking the safe approach past the Shingles Bank and into the Solent. 

Passing Needles, IOW

Passing Needles, IOW

 

 We took turns on the helm and soon left the green North Head buoy to starboard, passing the Needles and Hurst Castle as the sun was setting.

 Our tricolour masthead sailing light was turned on and Simon was able to gain 2 hours of experience sailing at night as we pointed out the lights of ferries crossing from Cowes to Lymington, navigation buoys and the large ships turning off Cowes on their approach to Southampton.

Hurst Castle at Sunset

Hurst Castle at Sunset

 

We arrived at East Cowes Marina and moored in the dark, enjoying a meal and a bottle of wine before retiring for the night.

It was a very cold night and we awoke to find ice on the pontoons outside.  With Ultra’s heating it was very warm and comfortable on board, with a bright sunny day to look forward to despite the cold northerly wind. 

 

Simon raising the mainsail leaving Cowes

Simon raising the mainsail leaving Cowes

 

 Following breakfast we left the marina and spent some time practicing mooring on various pontoons along the River Medina before raising our sails and setting course for Beaulieu River.

 

Noel continued Simon’s training, throwing ‘Harry’ – a bucket with a fender attached 🙂 – overboard to practice man overboard procedure as we approached the entrance to Beaulieu.

 

 

 

Leaving Cowes on route to Beaulieu

Leaving Cowes on route to Beaulieu

 

 

Our time at Beaulieu was limited by the depth of water over the bar at the entrance to the river, but we visited Bucklers Hard and picked up a mooring buoy under sail in the river for lunch. After lunch we sailed down the Beaulieu River and set passage to Hamble Point.

 

Beaulieu

Beaulieu

At  Hamble Point Marina Noel and I visited the Chandlers for supplies and we then set sail in darkness to Shamrock Quay Marina, Southampton to end the day’s cruising.

It had been a great days sailing and we rounded it off with a good meal on board, followed by a visit to the local pub.

Westerly Yachts at Anchor, Newtown

Westerly Yachts at Anchor, Newtown

 

We set off early the following morning towards Newtown, IOW.  Despite the forecast of F4/5, occasionally 6 northerly winds, there was little wind as we raised the mainsail. 

The motoring cone was deployed and we motor-sailed down Southampton Water, rounding Calshot Spit and across the Solent towards our waypoint, off the entrance to the river at Newtown, IOW.

In sight of the red buoy that marks the entrance to Newtown, we dropped our mainsail and followed the ‘leading line’ transit beacons marking the channel through the narrow, shallow entrance to the creek where we moored on a buoy for lunch.

One of the benefits of sailing in the Solent during the winter months is the ability to enjoy the scenery, nature and peace of the harbours and creeks without the summer crowds.  Something, incidentally, that I have experienced throughout the year on my cruise to Scotland once North of Dover.  

Seal seen at Newtown Creek, IOW

Seal seen at Newtown Creek, IOW

Newtown did not disappoint; there were only a few training school yachts, plus a group of Westerly yachts at anchor and on leaving our mooring a seal was seen basking in the sun on a sandbank.

As we navigated out of Newtown on course for Lymington, the wind freshened and we enjoyed a great sail past my home marina to berth at the Lymington Town Quay for the night, rafting with several other visiting yachts.

John left the yacht at Lymington and Noel, Simon and myself finished off the day with a meal at the Fisherman’s Rest, one of my favourite pubs in the area.

Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle

Our passage back to Poole the following day was more lively!  The inshore forecast was for winds F5, occ 6, NE veering SE, with seas slight to moderate.  We left our mooring at 1000 to pass Hurst into the North Channel at the start of the fair tide west.

Conditions in the morning were good and we made good progress, once past the North Head buoy we set a ‘preventer’ on the main and with a brisk following wind, set course ‘winging’ towards Poole.

As we approached Henglesbury Head the wind and swell increased sharply.  We reduced sail, first 2 reefs in the main, then a third as as the swell from the SE built to a rough sea as we crossed Poole Bay.

Simon demonstrated his learning through the week as we experienced the strongest winds and roughest seas of the week.  With Ultra heeling and being pushed by the swell, he worked well with Noel and myself getting Ultra’s sail area reduced and set as we ‘headed up’ to a safer ‘Beam Reach’.

Our original plan had been to enter Poole Harbour via the East Looe Channel, but with such a strong swell running on-shore it was not advisable to use the shallow, narrow channel.  We sailed down the Swash Channel, entering into the shelter of Poole Harbour.

 Following a brief stop on a mooring buoy off Brownsea Island for refreshments, we returned to Cobbs Quay in the dark via the 1830 bridge opening.  An invigorating days sailing to end our week in the Solent and following a debrief with Noel, Simon was awarded his RYA Comp. Crew Certificate.  Simon enjoyed his weeks training and was talking about joining one of Moonfleet’s 9-day combined Day Skipper Theory and Practical courses in the future.

My thanks to Noel for a very enjoyable weeks sailing.  Without Noel’s patience, help and support during my own RYA  training I would not have gained the confidence and skills to set off on my own adventure to sail round the UK in my yacht Christine Marie.  🙂

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Posted by: Ray | October 9, 2008

Oban

Oban looking NE from Kerrera

Oban looking NE from Kerrera

 

Christine Marie is now moored at Oban Marina on the Island of Kerrera and I returned early November with my friend Brian to prepare her for over-wintering there. I will resume my cruise in Spring 2009, hopefully visiting the Orkney Islands before returning back to Lymington via the West Coast of Scotland, then down the East Coast of Ireland.  

Oban Marina, Kerrera Island

Oban Marina, Kerrera Island

 

Oban Marina is in a fairly sheltered bay at the north of Kerrera Island.  The marina run a complimentary ferry to Oban every hour from 0800 to  2300 during the summer, but every 2 hours from 0800 to 1800 in the winter.

Brian and I arrived too late on the Monday for the last ferry, so we had the luxury of staying in a hotel near Oban Quay, joining the yacht the following morning.  

Oban Bay looking SW

Oban Bay looking SW

 

During the week, we scheduled our visits to Oban carefully, generally ‘sounding out’ the local restaurants with our main meal ashore at lunchtime, returning to work on the yacht with an evening snack and wine on board.

Oban has good road and public transport links to Glasgow and whilst working on the yacht, the seaplane was seen to regularly land and take off from the bay.  

When sailing in the bay, a good lookout has to be kept in the sky as well as all around.  🙂

Sea Plane at Oban, 20 min to Glasgow!

Sea Plane at Oban, 20 min to Glasgow!

 

During the week Brian and I prepared Christine Marie for the winter.  Sails and stackpack were removed to be sent away for inspection/cleaning, liferaft plus other equipment removed and the outboard engine winterised.

I held discussions with the marina engineer and shipwright on work to done during the winter season on engine and hull. 

 

Christine Marie Ashore for the Winter.

Christine Marie Ashore for the Winter.

 

The boatyard at the marina were very busy during the week, with several large sailing vessels lifted out for winter storage;  Christine Marie was scheduled to come out of the water early Friday morning. 

Thursday afternoon Brian and I took Christine Marie round to the fuel pontoon to fill the tank; so minimizing condensation in the tank during the winter. 

Early Friday morning, at high tide, we took Christine Marie round to the very large slipway where the hoist was waiting having been driven into the water.  We manoeuvred stern into the hoist and were lifted, pressure washed and taken to the allocated space ashore.

During the winter I find that my two small 500W heaters set to ‘frost’, plus a dehumidifier on a timer, keep the yacht very dry through the winter.

Having connected the shore power, Brian and I made sure everything was secure before making our return passage across to the mainland.  After lunch in Oban, we made our return journey home. 

Amateur Radio

The last time I managed to operate my amateur radio station GM3NDS/M, was on 80m from at anchor on Loch Ness near to Urquhart Castle with a very active group of contacts throughout the evening. 

I also operated GM3NDS/MM briefly from Kerrera Island, Oban during the week in very difficult conditions. Contact was made with amateurs in Sweden, Germany, Wales and England on 80m and 40m before conditions became too difficult. I have left the HF aerial rigged from the mast and provided the weather and wind do not bring it down! 🙂 , hope to operate from Kerrera Island during my visits to the yacht over the winter period.

Miles Completed:

997

Total Hours:

270

Night Hours:

9

Engine Hours:

110

Ave Speed (Kn):

3.7

Max Speed (Kn):

12.4

Ports Visited:

37

Nights at anchor  / mooring buoy:

10

 

GOOD NEWS, charity totals now over £1400.  Please help push it towards my goal of £3000.  Every little helps.

          Rethink                    Marie Curie                       RNLI

http://www.justgiving.com/roundukcruise-rethink    http://www.justgiving.com/roundukcruisemariecurie        
Posted by: Ray | September 19, 2008

Inverness to Oban via Caledonian Canal

I have now reached Oban on the West coast of Scotland after a fantastic weeks passage through stunning scenery along the Calendonian Canal.  The week was eventful, with further engine overheating on Loch Ness until the original cause was identified and fixed.  

A wet and misty week, although the beautiful scenery was still enjoyed as my crew, Jenni, and I made passage through the canal. Our rope throwing skills improved as we made passage through 60M of canal and lochs, 29 locks and 10 swing bridges. 

Postcard Photo of Oban showing current location at Oban Marina on the Island of Kerrera..

Postcard of Oban Bay showing current location at Oban Marina on the Island of Kerrera..

Jenni had not sailed with me before, so after arriving on Christine Marie at Seaport Marina, just into the Caledonian Canal at Inverness, we stowed supplies (including the replacement tender) and I carried out a briefing on the yacht, safety and our passage plan for the week.  We decided to eat on the yacht and commence our passage the next morning.

Yachts entering the canal are given a  ‘Skipper’s Guide’ that provides useful information on passage through the canal. I had expected to be able to buy a more detailed chart of the canal, but none is available.  In addition there is only one chandlers at Caley Marina that sells charts for the sea areas entering or departing the canal.  Very little information on depths in the Lochs is given in the guide provided and recommended anchorages shown have little information.  I found my Garmin GPS chart fairly accurate, when used with my depth sounder,  on depths when anchoring ….. the depth shoals rapidly and my chart gave me a reasonable indication of what to expect.

Next morning we contacted Muirtown Bridge to advise them we wished to pass through the swing bridge and flight of four locks. They advised us that a large dredger was scheduled through the locks and bridge and that the earliest we could pass would be after lunch. We used the time productively, practicing throwing our mooring lines across the pontoons, then doing some practice mooring and leaving pontoons. We then came alongside the fuel pontoon at Seaport Marina, took on fuel and enjoyed lunch on deck in the sun.

Passing through locks on passage

Passing through locks on passage

After lunch we were called by the Muirtown Bridge to standby to pass through.  We slipped our lines and stood off the bridge until the traffic was stopped, the bridge swung open and we passed through into the first lock that was open for us. Despite our practice throwing the mooring lines, it was not easy. There are no ropes or  ways to make fast to the walls of the lock on a temporary basis, so bow and stern lines have to be thrown up to the lock keeper or crew. Throwing the line 15 to 20 ft almost vertically is very difficult, especially in heavy wet gear. With several crew, one can be put ashore and assist, if necessary throwing a line down to the vessel.  The loch keepers are very patient and helpful …. very appreciated as we gained skills at getting the lines secured, even walking the yacht through several flights at times.

We made passage through the canal at 4 to 5 Kn passing through Tomnahurich Swing Bridge after a short wait and on through Dochgarroch Lock  and into Lochdochfour where the channel is marked by green buoys.

By evening we had passed into Loch Ness. With no wind we raised the main and motor sailed towards our over night anchorage just off Urquhart Castle.  It was a lovely evening as the sun started to set and we increased speed towards our destination.  We were soon approaching the castle and the anchor was made ready.  I made several slow approaches checking the depth that rapidly shoaled from 90m, to 20m, to 4m.  Once satisfied,  we dropped the anchor in 20m using the full 70m of chain plus rope.  Whilst setting the anchor the engine temperature alarm sounded, there was no cooling water from the exhaust so the engine was quickly turned off.  This continuing problem concerned me: the engine on Christine Marie had been very reliable in the 4 years I had owned her.  Clearly, the cause of the original overheating problem (see earlier post Lossiemouth to Inverness) had not been found and would need to be resolved before we could progress further.

In gentle winds the anchor was holding well and we sat on deck enjoying a glass of wine and the views until the sun set.  We enjoyed a meal on board and retired for the night.  In the morning the wind was very light but had changed direction swinging us into 6m depth closer to the shore. I shortened the anchor line to bring us back into 15m. 

Drumnadrochit Harbour, Loch Ness

Drumnadrochit Harbour, Loch Ness

After breakfast I contacted Caley Marina who had checked the engine cooling the week before and who had replaced the melted exhaust muffler.  They asked me to moor at Drumnadrochit Harbour, just across the bay, where engineers would come out to assist us.  We started the engine and weighed anchor setting course for the harbour, just half a mile away.  But the engine overheated very quickly and had to be shut down. 

There was very little wind, but full sails were set and with no tide we made 1 to 2 kn during the occasional ‘puffs’ of wind and sailed to anchor off the harbour.  🙂   Jenni loved the gentle sailing.  We had breakfast and later entered the buoyed channel to moor in the small harbour. Mooring and electricity were available here (one of the few places throughout the canal), paid for with tickets from a machine. 

Help Arrives to investigate the engine overheating

Help Arrives to investigate the engine overheating

Several other charter boats and sailing yachts were moored here and we chatted to their friendly crew whilst we waited for the engineers.

The engineers from Caley Marina arrived shortly after lunch and the cooling system was checked thoroughly.  Initial checks (as I had already made) found no problems. The two engineers then used a hose to trace through from the impeller to the exhaust outlet. On the exhaust side of the Vetus water syphon preventer the water was pouring from the exhaust, on the impeller side it blew back. The engineer cleared the blockage with a screwdriver and water was now flowing freely. Unfortunately, I was outside watching the water flow from the exhaust and do not know what had blocked the unit.

The engineers had done a great job and cooling water was gushing from the exhaust when the engine was started. The engine was put into gear and motored astern at cruising revs against the mooring lines for 20 minutes without overheating, all appeared well. 

Passing Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness
Passing Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness

 

We had wanted to take our time and sail on Loch Ness, but the wind was light and it would be a beat through the loch. We had lost time , so  Jenni and I decided we would press on and motor through Loch Ness to test out the engine.  We left the harbour, passing Urquhart Castle as we set course for St Augustus.

 

    

Jenni at helm, Loch Ness

Jenni at the helm, Loch Ness

It was a dull, overcast afternoon, but we still enjoyed the beauty of the scenery surrounding us.   The engine was pushing us along at 6Kn without problem and by early evening we passed Cherry Island on our starboard and were in sight of the buoys marking the entrance to Fort Augustus. 

It was a particularly reflective time for me as I had passed through these waters with my son and daughter, over 20 years earlier. We had cruised through in my 18 ft motor boat, also mooring off  Urquhart Castle that we visited.  I still have photos of Keith and Anne rowing the inflatable to visit Cherry Island, memories I treasure. 

Moored at Fort Augustus

Moored at Fort Augustus

We moored on the long pontoon leading up to the flight of five locks. There is no shore power here or through most of the canal, but other facilities are good. Showers and toilets throughout the canal can be visited using a key issued on entry to the canal. Feeling refreshed after a hot shower, we visited the town and had a traditional Scottish meal at the Bothy Bite before retiring.  

 

Flight of Locks at Fort Augustus

Looking down the flight of locks at Fort Augustus

 

The locks operate between 0800 and 1730 Spring/Autumn, so early the next morning I walked up to the lock flight and informed the lock keeper that we wished to pass through the next ‘lock up’. 

Traffic was being ‘locked down’, so we should be ready about 1030, time to explore the town and get in some supplies. It took 1.5 hours to pass through the 5 locks, watched by many tourists as at times we struggled to get our lines up to the lock keepers. After the first lock we stayed ashore and ‘walked’ the yacht from lock to lock.   

Approaching one of the swing bridges on the Caledonian Canal

Leaving one of the swing bridges on the Caledonian Canal

Once through the locks we stopped for lunch on the pontoon at the top of the flight overlooking Fort Augustus. Using the VHF we called ahead to Kytra Lock and informed them of our intention to pass through and that we intended to reach Laggan by evening.  The lock keepers are very helpful, letting the lock keepers ahead at Cullochy and Laggan know we were on passage to pass through their lock and swing bridges.

   

Sailing on Loch Oich

Sailing on Loch Oich

 

The speed limit on the canals is 5Kn, but  enjoying the scenery we cruised at 4Kn or less until we passed through Cullochy swing bridge into Loch Oich. There is a dangerous weir here, but it is well buoyed. Cruising slowly behind two motor boats and another yacht, a light breeze from the NE on our stern, we  let out the headsail and sailed gently through the wider section of the loch.  It was peaceful without the sound of the engine., the way to enjoy the lochs if time and wind permits …. but no other yachts were seen sailing during our passage through any of the lochs.  

View from Callen Lock

View from Laggan Lock

 

We moored for the evening on the east side of Laggan Loch where there are lovely unspoilt views ahead across Loch Locky.  After our evening meal on board we paid a visit to the local pub and restaurant.

 

 
Pub at Callen

Pub at Laggan Lock

  

The Eagle Barge Inn, run by Janet and Paul who gave us a warm welcome.  Inside the barge it is cosy and the decor is attractive.   We stayed late, enjoying the company and wished we had booked to eat there.

   

Entering Loch Locky

Entering Loch Lochy

 

 

The next morning we passed through the loch and into Loch Lochy.  There was no wind and the loch was like a mirror, reflecting the clouds that hung low down the sides of the mountains.  It was a strange stillness, but very scenic.

  

Loch Locky

Loch Locky

 

To me, this is the most attractive loch passed through on passage from the east to west coasts of Scotland linked by the Caledonian Canal.  It is surrounded by mountains and at times we caught glimses of Ben Nevis ahead and to the west of us.

We needed to reach Corpach by evening and had radiod Gairlocky where there are two locks separated by a swing bridge to pass through. We anchored for lunch at the west end of the loch, letting the lock keeper at Gairlochy know of our position.  Enjoying the views, we had just finished lunch when we heard the weak call on the VHF from Gairlochy.  They wanted us to proceed immediately to the lock to ensure we would make entry into the Corpach Basin before they closed. 

Moored Corpach Basin

Moored Corpach Basin

 

By dusk we had passed through the remaining locks and swing bridges to Banavie. The lock keepers were ready to help us down Neptune’s Staircase, a flight of eight of locks, then through a swing bridge and two further locks into the Corpach Basin. Moored for the evening we were ready to lock through the Corpach sea lock early next morning.

When I entered the canal I had expected to be able to purchase charts and pilots for the passage to Oban at Corpach. An error, as Admiralty charts are only available at chandlers at Calley Marina and at Oban.  I managed to borrow charts from a yacht that had entered the canal and during the evening I prepared the passage plan to Oban. The route was entered into the GPS and the WP, along with the GPS chart were checked against the borrowed Admiralty charts and my Almanac.  Important buoys, dangers and landmarks were entered into the log along with tides at Corpach and Oban. 

Ben Nevis from Corpach Lock

Ben Nevis from Corpach Lock

The next morning the  weather forecast was S/SW, F4/5 increasing 6 at times. Seas slight or moderate, occasionally rough later. Local sailors at Corpach told me the passage to Oban would be sheltered and should not be a problem. I noted the more exposed areas to the  SW on the passage, where we might meet rougher seas.

In a lively SW wind we left the mooring and made our departure through the Corpach sea lock shortly after opening at 0845.  Keeping in the buoyed channel we pased Fort William and set course westwards through Loch Linnhe towards Corran Narrows.  

Leaving Corran Narrows, Loch Linnhe

Leaving Corran Narrows, Loch Linnhe

 Despite the overcast skies, the passage back out to sea, through Loch Linnhe to Oban, was equally as enjoyable as through the fresh water lochs and canals.  Travelling in the shadow of Ben Nevis, we passed many small islands and inlets, with some stunning scenery.   I was pleased I had spent time preparing the detailed passage plan as I ticked off WPs, buoys and landmarks as we made and entered course changes into the log throughout the passage. 

Approaching Oban Marina, Kerrera Island

Approaching Oban Marina, Kerrera Island

 

 Passing through Corran Narrows and later to the east of Lismore, we passed Appin Port and were soon to the west of Maiden Island entering into Oban Bay. By 1530 we were moored at Oban Marina in Ardanthive Bay, Kerrera. 

My thanks to Jenni for her help on this passage and to the friendly, helpful lock keepers and staff throughout the canal. A great weeks cruising, completing a further 85M passage and achieving my first years goal. 

 

GOOD NEWS, charity totals now over £1300.  Please help push it towards my goal of £3000.  Every little helps.

Miles Completed:

997

Total Hours:

270

Night Hours:

9

Engine Hours:

110

Ave Speed (Kn):

3.7

Max Speed (Kn):

12.4

Ports Visited:

37

Nights at anchor  / mooring buoy:

9

            Rethink                   Marie Curie                   RNLI

http://www.justgiving.com/roundukcruise-rethink    http://www.justgiving.com/roundukcruisemariecurie        

 

This entry covers the final two legs of my passage to Inverness. It turned out to be a challenging second day for the crew and myself! 

Whitehills to Lossiemouth: 30M, 6 Hrs

We woke early to clear skies with very little wind. Whitehills is close to the borders of two forecast areas and light, variable winds were forecast with slight to moderate seas. Strong winds were forecast to the north and south of us, with much of the UK experiencing gale force winds for most of the week.

We had been lucky with our weather so far, but then we knew how quickly things can change on this coast with unsettled conditions. Using the mobile phone we obtained a SMS forecast for Whitehills that indicated wind NW 4 to 6Kn.

Refreshed after a good night’s sleep, showers and breakfast, we left our berth, took on fuel and made our exit to sea. Once clear of the harbour, full sails were deployed and we sailed close hauled making a course 260°M, that slowly closed the shore against our required 276°M.

Frances enjoying the sail

Frances enjoying the sail

Despite the light wind, we were sailing well and Frances who had sailed dinghies in the past was thoroughly enjoying her sail at the helm of Christine Marie. As we closed the shore we would put in a tack back out to sea, passing our charted ‘rhumb line’ by 1/2M before we tacked back towards our destination.

It was a lovely sail in the sun along scenic coastline and we decided to continue sailing and to anchor at Cullen for lunch. We had to arrive at Lossiemouth by 1830 with enough tide to clear the bar of 0.3m, but we had plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely sail today.

Coastline close to Cullen

Coastline close to Cullen

 

 

Our last long starboard tack took as towards Cullen Bay. Our course gave us a safe clearance from the rocky shore to the east of the bay and we maintained our course until we were safely past Caple Rock before changing course towards the Cullen viaduct to anchor in 5m off the shore.

 

At anchor off Cullen

At anchor off Cullen

 

 

On deck we enjoyed a short lunch in the sun, taking in the view and watched another yacht sail eastwards across the bay. Cullen Skink is a popular fish soup made with smoked haddock that I like, and I assume it originated from here. 

 

Yacht passing Cullen Bay

Yacht passing Cullen Bay

 

 

We still had 18M to Lossiemouth, so our stay was short and at 1400 we weighed anchor and headed back out to sea, continuing our course west along the coast. By now the wind was less than 5Kn, so we continued motor sailing and by 1630 were in sight of Lossiemouth. 

 

Approaching Lossiemouth

Approaching Lossiemouth

 

We approached the harbour from the east on a bearing 292°T keeping the entrance open. We had contacted the harbour master earlier who had asked us to berth in the west basin where there was a vacant berth starboard side to. The key ashore would be left in a box at the gate for us. Safely tied up we looked for the key but it was not there: we could not go ashore …..

Lossiemouth Harbour

Lossiemouth Harbour

 

 

 

We then realised that we were on the wrong berth! 🙂 Quickly casting off, we found another vacant berth further down the basin and this time found the key that had been left for us.

 

View from shore at Sunset, Lossiemouth

View from shore at Sunset, Lossiemouth

 

 

Later in the evening we walked along the coast into the town as the sun was setting. It was a lovely view to sea from the shore where we stopped and Frances treated Liz and me to a nice meal in a hotel overlooking the bay.

 

 

 Lossiemouth to Inverness: 35M, 7 Hrs

Our final passage would take us into the Moray Firth to Inverness, a 35M passage of 7 to 8 hours. Early on the 4 September Liz and I completed passage planning and checked weather, W F3/4, sea slight to moderate … thundery showers.

Not ideal as we would be beating for most of the passage. Without making a very early start, the earliest we had enough water to just get out over the bar at the entrance to Lossiemouth would be 1115. We decided to visit some shops close to the harbour and to enjoy a snack at a coffee shop on the quay before leaving. The sun was shining and we relaxed.  Little did we know the challenges ahead we were all about to face ….

At 1115 we slipped our lines and headed east out to sea until we cleared the rocks at Stotfield Head, north of the harbour entrance. With full main and headsail back to the shrouds we had a great sail as we headed north to clear Halliman Skerries, drying 1.5M NWN of Lossiemouth. By mid-day, off the Skerries, we set course west, keeping 1M off the coastline. This took us into the wind, so the engine was started and we motor sailed into the wind ahead.

By 1300 we were off Burghead and making passage towards Findhorn. Liz and Frances were on watch and taking turn on the helm as we continued our passage, whilst I made hourly log entries and plotted progress on the chart.

Storm clouds threaten, Moray Firth

Storm clouds threaten, Moray Firth

I prepared a warm lunch for us to eat on passage and made several attempts to contact Inverness Marina on my mobile phone, without success.

At 1400 I made the hourly log entry and marked our position on the chart. We were making good progress and had completed 15M of our passage. We were still headed into the F3/4 wind and the weather was fair, although storm clouds were in the distance around us, so an eye was kept on the barometer and weather.
Cromarty Firth

Cromarty Firth

 

At 1445 having tidied up below after lunch, I rejoined Frances and Liz on deck. The Moray Firth was now starting to narrow, with attractive scenery all around us towards Cromarty Firth that was now visible on our starboard bow.

Frances who was on the helm, alerted me to the engine control panel and asked if the red light should be showing! It was the engine temperature warning light and no water could be seen from the exhaust. I immediately shut down the engine, we let out the headsail, came off the wind and sailed close-hauled on starboard tack closing the coast.

Christine Marie’s engine is very reliable but Liz and Frances told me we had passed through a floating bank of weed whilst I was below. We had about 1M before we would approach shallow water and needed to tack back out to sea, so Liz and Frances took watch and sailed the yacht whilst I went below to check out the engine’s cooling system.

With one eye on the GPS display I set about checking the sea water cooling. The engine was very hot and I methodically checked the sea water inlet, through the filter that was clean and the impeller that was in good condition. As a precaution I changed the impeller and checked it was functioning, turning over the engine briefly with the starter with the stop lever engaged. All appeared ok.

By now we were closing the shore, so I came back on deck and we tacked back out to sea. We continued sailing and whilst the engine cooled, considered our options. At this point I considered the weed had probably caused the overheating, but was now free as the seawater inlet was clear. Now abeam of Cromarty we were enjoying our chance to sail, despite our uncertainty on the engine. I entered into the log: “1543, course 253°M, sailing, cooling checked ok, allowing engine to cool.”

I decided to try the engine again. It was started and cooling water could be seen from the exhaust over the stern. We resumed our passage motor sailing into the wind. Fifteen minutes later the three smoke alarms went off in the cabins below deck! I went below to find the cabin full of fumes. The engine was again shut down and we came off the wind sailing again.

By now we were off Nairn Harbour and discussed whether we should divert there to get assistance. In our passage plan we had Nairn as an alternative port, with tidal times noted in the log. The latest we could enter was 1700: we had less than an hour.

I called Nairn Harbour on VHF without response. Whilst we had pilotage plans I was not happy entering a shallow, unknown harbour under sail. We could not rely on the engine until I checked it through again. As a precaution Aberdeen Coastguard were contacted and advised of our situation. I told them we had no threat to the yacht or crew and were under sail continuing our passage as logged with them under CG66 scheme earlier in the morning. We would now be entering the shallow waters of the Inverness Firth and our final destination much later than planned, in the dark.

The Coastguard were brilliant and helpful. I assured them I was happy continuing to sail whilst I investigated the engine again, and we agreed I would keep them updated at half hourly intervals.

There was a lot of salt water now in the bilges and under the engine. Where had it come from? The engine was started briefly for a few minutes and the cause quickly identified: water and exhaust fumes were pouring from the exhaust pipe where it attached to the muffler. On inspection the exhaust hose joining the muffler was loose and slightly soft from the heat, loosening the jubilee clip. I made sure the hose was securely attached and tightened, cleaned the water from under the engine and restarted the engine. No water or fumes were coming into the engine compartment and water was coming from the exhaust outlet at the stern as required.

I reported in to the Coastguard that I was now underway motor-sailing and that I thought I had resolved the over-heating problem. It was now 1730. We had travelled 31M but still had 15M to go to Inverness. I noted details of navigation lights for our approach to Inverness and joined Liz and Frances on deck. The auto-helm was engaged and we settled back to relax and enjoy the evening views.

Is it a whale, submarine, or has Nessie escaped from loch Ness?  :-)

Is it a whale, submarine, or has Nessie escaped from loch Ness? 🙂

Looking across towards the attractive northern coastline of the Moray Firth, west of Cromarty Firth, I suddenly saw a fast moving bow wave off the cliffs. At first I thought it was a fast motor boat, but then a dark shape, like a long rock … but it was moving and fast. I pointed it out to the others and we all watched it, not sure what we were seeing. There was no sign of a boat or jet ski, we all thought it was either a whale or submarine. The object would disappear, then appear again moving fast along the opposite shoreline with a large bow wave in front of it. Liz grabbed her camera, zoomed in and took a few photos in its general direction.
 
Is it a whale?

Is it a whale?

It then disappeared, only to suddenly appear moving rapidly in the opposite direction towards Cromarty. We all thought we had seen our first whale at sea, or did we? Liz’s photo caught what we had seen, although at times the bow wave was much larger. Enhanced and enlarged we feel it was a whale, or was it a submarine? …. or perhaps Nessie had escaped from Loch Ness into the Moray Firth? 🙂
 
Update:  In March 2009 I came across an article in the Inverness Courier about a stranded Whale last year.  It was sad reading as the whale later died.  A link to the article follows.
 
Chanonry Narrows

Chanonry Narrows

 

By 1800 we were approaching the Chanonry Narrows into the Inverness Firth. Our passage would take us past the mid-channel Munlochy safe water buoy, course 220°M to pass close to starboard of the Meikle Mee green buoy marking the shallows on approach to Inverness.

South Cardinal marking Riff Bank with cruise liner anchored in background

South Cardinal marking Riff Bank with cruise liner anchored in background

 

 

This stretch of our passage needed careful pilotage. We would pass south of Riff Bank that dries in places and we could see the White Ness sand banks between us and the shore on our port side as we approached Fort George. 

 

Shallows, White Ness Sand

Shallows, White Ness Sand

 

 

 

Fort George, Inverness Firth

Fort George, Inverness Firth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow, Inverness Firth

Rainbow, Inverness Firth

 

 

 

By now the weather was clearing and we were rewarded with a lovely rainbow over the shore. At 1900 I made a log entry. We were passing Craignee red buoy, course 185M, log 36M, wind W F3. The sun was low in the sky and setting fast.

  

Passing ship at anchor, Inverness Firth

Passing ship at anchor, Inverness Firth

 

Three miles on we were approaching the ship at anchor that we had seen earlier, when the engine temperature alarm went off again. The headsail was unfurled, engine off and we continued again under sail. Winds were light, but we were able to sail our required course, passing the anchored ship into the Inverness Firth. 

We were now faced with the possibility of sailing into Inverness, past the very shallow Meikle Mee banks. I checked through the cooling system again and could find no problem. There must be a blockage downstream of the impeller; but I was not very familiar with the Vetus Syphon, heat exchanger or exhaust system. I had completed the RYA diesel course, but service of these was not covered.

We had still not made contact with the marina at Inverness, so I asked Liz to try and make contact again. No response from the marina, but she finally made contact with the Inverness Harbour Master, now off duty at home, who told her the marina was not yet open!! The marina was listed in the 2008 Almanac, but apparently opening had been delayed. He advised us that our best bet on arrival was to anchor alongside a barge in the River Ness, Inverness!

Our situation becoming more difficult, I decided I would let the engine cool further for our approach past Meikle Mee and under Kessock Bridge into the river to our mooring. If we had further problems I would look for somewhere to anchor off the main channel or contact the Coastguard for assistance. Our tricolour masthead navigation lights were turned on and a note made in the log at 1930.

Approaching Kessock Bridge Inverness in the dark

Approaching Kessock Bridge Inverness in the dark

Now getting dark, we could see the lights of the Kessock Bridge in the distance and before long saw the flashing green light every 3s on the Meikle Mee buoy ahead of us. As we neared the buoy the headsail was furled, the engine started and the lights changed to navigation and steaming.

The engine was kept at low revs as we passed close to the buoy on our starboard side and headed to pass under the Kessock Bridge. As we approached it looked like our mast would hit the bridge! Just the angle from the cockpit as it has 29m clearance! 🙂  Once under the bridge we picked out the quick red beacons marking the entrance to the River Ness, keeping 50m off the first and then closing to 10m of the second two to make sure we cleared the long shoal that extends NNW of the breakwater beacon on the west side.

We passed the marina with its piles visible, but no mooring pontoons! Keeping to the centre of the river we passed ships loading their cargo in their floodlights until we saw the barge ahead of us. Liz and Frances prepared fenders and lines and we came alongside the barge. It was very dark and I used the spotlight to help Liz and Frances pick out suitable points on the barge to make fast. It was difficult as the barge had large tyres hung as fenders and it was a long reach across to her railings. Liz made it across onto the barge and we tied off lines to secure points. She later discovered that her sailing suit was covered in grease.

Inflated at Inverness!  :-)

Inflated at Inverness! 🙂

Securely moored, Frances started to come back round the starboard side of the yacht. I cautioned her to be careful as she was not clipped on. Frances was somewhat bemused by my comment and when she was back it the cockpit the reason became evident. Whilst stretching over to secure to the barge, her life jacket manual pull handle had become caught in our guardrails and the lifejacket had inflated.

We all saw the funny side, but Frances was quite uncomfortable and it took us some while to deflate and remove it. (via the manual inflator valve). I had often tucked the red pull toggle that manually inflates my jacket up and away into the lifejacket and had thought how easy it would be to catch it whilst working around deck when it frequently hung down at the bottom of the jacket!

It was 2130 when I made up the log. We were now tired, although thankful that the engine had not failed again. There was a large amount of water still in the bilges from the earlier problem of the loose exhaust hose after the overheating that needed to be cleared. Liz and Frances offered to pump it away whilst I cooked an evening meal.

Alongside the barge at Inverness

Alongside the barge at Inverness

 

It had been a very challenging day. Despite this, the scenery and sighting of the whale made it enjoyable. We relaxed with our meal and a bottle of wine and retired for the night, safely secured alongside the barge.

 

   

 

Kessock Bridge, Inverness

Kessock Bridge, Inverness

 

The next morning we called the Clachnaharry sea lock on VHF to inform them of our intension to enter into the Caledonian Canal. Referring to tide tables and the guidance in the Almanac we expected this to be late morning. We were surprised when the lock keeper asked us to approach the lock as soon as possible as they would wait for us. We made a hasty departure from our mooring alongside the barge, back out of the river leaving the Kessock Bridge to stern as we made the short passage to the canal entrance.

Leaving Clachnaharry Sea Lock

Leaving Clachnaharry Sea Lock

The lock gates were open as we approached and entered the sea lock. The lock keeper was waiting to take our lines, but with the low tide this was not as easy as it might seem. The crew had to throw the lines almost 15 foot vertically and it took a few attempts to get our lines up to the lock keeper before we were securely tied up.  The lock keeper was very patient, friendly and helpful.  We paid our licence fees to pass through the canal and were soon ‘locked up’ and out into the canal.

Seaport marina, Inverness

Moored at Seaport Marina, Inverness

 

 

A short distance further we moored at Seaport Marina, also the location of the Caledonian Canal Office.

 

 

 

Melted exhaust silencer

Melted exhaust silencer

 

After lunch an engineer was called from Caley Marina to investigate the engine over-heating. Inial checks (as I had carried out) found no problem with the cooling system.  The engineer then checked the exhaust pipe and silencer, where the muffler was found to have melted, blocking half of the exhaust entry.  The engineer was confident this was the cause of the continued over-heating problem and the exhaust muffler and pipes were replaced. Checks running the engine on the mooring showed all was well ….. but was it??  (See later post Inverness to Oban).

Inverness

Inverness

 

We spent a lovely day visiting Inverness and had a nice meal ashore together in the evening. Tickets were booked to travel back to Arbroath where Frances had left her car.  I travelled back with Liz and Frances on the return journey for a short visit home,  rejoining the yacht the following weekend for my passage through the Caledonian Canal to Oban.

 

I have now completed nearly 1000M since leaving Lymington. My next passage will take me through some lovely Highlands scenery to Oban on the West Coast, where I plan to do a little local cruising before bringing Christine Marie ashore to over-winter. I still plan to visit the Orkney Islands and will make a loop clockwise next Spring, coming back through the Caledonian Canal, before starting my passage home down the West Coast of Scotland.

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