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Bye bye Bridge (low)

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Bridge leading to Loch Leven in the background

Woke up at about 06:00 to an light easterly. Magic. Decide to take advantage straight away and lifted the anchor at about 06:55. Ghosting along now in Loch Linnhe at about 4 kts on a light North-easterly! Neither Windhuru, nor XC predict such a favourable direction. Cloud not as low as yesterday, but still dull and raining. No need for G to be on deck in the rain, so she’s below in the warm😊.

And now we’ve wandered into the favorable ebb tide. Light winds, dull and rainy reminds me of Hafren, although I’m sure it would be more pleasant on a Wayfarer😉 (serious irony!!)

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A bridge too far

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What a day of contrasts! We have spent the whole trip motoring in almost no wind, low cloud and almost continuous rain. Worth it, even so! We arrived at the approach to Loch Leven to see a lowish bridimagege. The charts gave it 16m HAT. (NB LLs: HAT is the acronym for “highest astronomical tide”. Thus, 16m is the very least clearance that one could expect under the bridge.) (NB kiddiwinks: you may need to look up “acronym”! Further NB: I suppose the modern interpretation of “look up” is “Google”!) Anyway, where was I? Oh, yus! Consternation! This boat is 11.5m long and the mast is always longer. Fortunately have 3G coverage. Search suggests a mast height of about 16m, but there is 2m of tide rise yet to come. So, should be 2m clearance. For prudence, decide to reverse towards the centre of the bridge so that I have maximum umph if I change my mind. The tide is flooding and the channel, which is relatively shallow, is very narrow and, so, very soon, we have 3 kts of tide carrying us backwards, as well as our reversing speed, towards the bridge. Clearly, I am no longer totally in control and, at the very least, a number of instruments at the masthead are at risk.😳  Time to chicken out with about 100 yards to go! Full revs forward and move away from the bridge against about 4 kts of tide. Probably could have got through, but I still have a mast!!!!! Anyway, we have dropped anchor in the NE corner of Ballachulish Bay in a flat calm, no rain and a rising cloud level. Bliss😄. The cloud base is rising and we are beginning to get a full appreciation of the mountains. We are unusually close to the shore, but in 20m of water. Gradually getting used to it!PS: 20:00 on a beautiful, tranquil evening (see above). G, on a whim, saying she’s bored, gets out the bucket and brush and starts scrubbing the decks!!!! Ye, gods! Peace broken! I don’t like to disabuse her, but she is probably not using 100% fresh water out of the loch😷.

At anchor looking towards Glen Coe
At anchor looking towards Glen Coe

Off to Glen Coe

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A dull day today, but with light winds from the South, will see us sailing to Loch Leven, near Fort William, as soon as the tide turns in our favour (circa 13.00). Luckily, we did not want to start early because this marina (Dunstaffnage) provides an  electronic key for pontoon and showers etc for which they charge a £20 deposit!! You wouldn’t want to leave before handing it back!! And what a name😚image You try starting a vhf call with “Dunstaffnage Marina” three times. Especially when you don’t really know how to pronounce it! Anyway, all is well and boat is performing magnificently in all respects (especially the heating😄)  That’s a view of the marina looking north-east over the loch.

The intention is to go up Loch Linnhe today, late on the flood, and come back tomorrow. early on the ebb, but using the Oban marina on Thursday night to sit out a day of forecast high winds on Friday.

I had hoped to visit Fort William and walk up Ben Nevis, but there is never much point in low cloud when as much as the exercise, it is the views that you look forward to.

How many noticed my west country mistake yesterday where I spelt Dorus Mor, Doris Mor!!!!

Another beautiful day (at last)

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Up at about 05.30 and showered. Excited for a day with a good forecast. Moved Tiftie close to the lock to make sure we were first out. Locks start at 08.30 and we were out by 09.10. Went up Loch Craignish to wait for the tide to turn.  Passed through Dorus Mor when tide turned taking photos of three 80 year old dayboats making their way to Mull. Detoured into Loch Shuna, then back through Shuna Sound into Sound of Luing where we touched 12.4 kts over the ground. Through the Sound of Insh followed by Kerrera Sound, running (how easy is that) past Oban. Out of the Sound and round to Dunstaffnage Marina for the night. Fantastic day either reaching or running with few waves of consequence and frequent sunshine. No rain😀. Marina disappointing because expensive, no wifi and, despite shopping trolley icon, little more than chocolate and pot noodles (yuk). Wind suddenly blew about 18 kts just when we were trying to berth!! Short period of tension between us!!😈 All better now😃 beautiful evening with views of snowy mountains. In pub now, tapping away like crazy😏

Cruise to Croove postponed

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No point looking for Croove on your map because you won’t find it. It’s spelt Craobh!!! We intended to go, but the wind stayed at 20 kts and it continued to rain. So, we waited for a change in the weather (due soon!), but in vain before the tide turned foul. Eventually, we stayed and read, but not before I tried G’s patience by making preparations to go and imagethen, seeing another gust pass through, changed my mind. Hardly had the words “we won’t go” passed my lips than she was down below, with a blanket over her, reading her book! Happy bunny😊. Tomorrow promises to be a good day so we’ll be away at last. What weather?! 😞🔫
The image shows my new offshore gear bought jointly for my birthday by G and our six children (that’s three each!!) I look the part now!! It’s so much better than my old gear which got heavier when it rained and damper. Thanks all.

Just had a nice meal in the Crinan Hotel with John & Erica. Tomorrow is the best forecast for over a week. We’ll be making up for lost time with a good long sight-seeing sail. Cheers til tomorrow when, hopefully, we’ll have reception again 😄

Reward for return of escaped yacht

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Yacht “Samba” and its crew, with whom we ate at the hotel yesterday evening, escaped from here as soon as the lock opened this morning, despite the dire forecast, leaving the rest of us to endure continuous rain and winds which are forecast to become gale force (F8) if not storm force (F10)😳😟. It looks as if we’re stuck here until Wednesday, which is a shame. When it rains so much, we can’t even go walking. Not time wasted, though. Using it to understand DSC features on the VHF radio, correct the autohelm and understand more of the features of the chartplotter. Becoming a bit of an anorak!!! Our stay here is not helped by the absence of a phone signal, or wifi! On the plus side, we are meeting some very nice, not to say interesting, people on other yachts. This morning, we had coffee on “Kiloran”, a beautiful wooden boat, where we met the husband & wife crew of “Norman Janes” who are also travelling around the UK, but started in 2012! G is having some major rest time.
I’ve only managed to post this because, of a sudden, the wind stopped and the sun came out. And I’ve 1/4 mile up the canal!!  Is this the calm before the storm????

Cringing in Crinan

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The forecast is appalling with winds into F8, F9 & even gusts of F10!!!! Naturally, we’re fine and safe out of it in the basin at Crinan, ie about 3m above sea level behind lock gates. Today, we walked about 5 miles along the canal and back, there being no buses on a Sunday! Despite a showery forecast, it was dry & sunny, although chilly. So, my birthday has been memorable and thank you for the messages. Tonight, we will eat again at the hotel. Incidentally, Gina and our children all contributed to buy me new offshore gear for my birthday. Very, very nice and welcome. In fact, so welcome that, given the generally poor weather conditions, I have been wearing it since Largs. A big improvement on my 20 year old kit which I will keep for RO duties! Back to the sailing. I’m not sure where we will go next because there is never any need to go very far. But, it has to be said that navigation here can be a lot more challenging than on the south coast. For example, we will probably go to Arisaig and, on the way there, we might go through the Cuan Sound. Check them out!!! Back tomorrow 😄