We had carefully moved our way around the southern corner of Norway avoiding the storms that kept moving across the North Sea. When we finally navigated the oil platform jungle, we were actually looking for wind.
After inch size hail we were happy to reach Inverness, get some of the engine problems fixed and navigate the Caledonian Canal.
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Below a few more photos of our group that sailed across the North Sea:
We sailed about 470nm, crossed the North Sea and motoring down the Caledonian Canal. Stop-overs in Mandel, Sogndalstrand, Inverness etc provided very different experienced.
We left Banavie at 9:00 and entered the first lock of Neptun’s Staircase (the engineering marvel of 8 consecutive locks). All was good – until the engine stopped running in the second lock!
By the third lock we determined that the terminal of the cable from the battery to the starter had broken and were scrambling to find a repair option. With Corinna pulling the boat along from ashore and Philip having to adjust the docking lines to the water level frequently, getting anything done in between was a challenge.
The captain of the large trawler ahead of us gave us a spare cable, but the terminals were too small. The power to port had a terminal but it was too small as well. By the fifth lock a new solution was needed as drilling holes into either of these pieces did not work out.
As with all the other things we carry with us, we know that we have them somewhere on the boat but usually not where.
Entering the sixth lock, the captain finally found a relatively large terminal (somewhere deep under Corinna’s bunk). Trimming the wires and lots of tape ensured we had a working cable.
Instead of being manually pulled into the next lock, we were able to do it under engine into lock number seven!
What a relief as pulling past the two bridges after the locks would have been impossible, never mind the remainder of the canal to Corpach.
We are now tied up in Corpach, got groceries and laundry done for the next leg and got work/internet sorted out.
With Ben Nevis in the back, it is easy to enjoy a nice glass of wine…and forget about the other items that still need to be addressed.
Ernst, Don and the kids helped us through a couple of the locks before leaving by bus (and then train) to Edinburgh.
We already miss them quite a bit (although it is nice to have the boat all to ourselves…;-) ).
We are expecting Dan on Monday evening and the girls, Linda, Ellen and Cathy, on Tuesday. Anyways,
We moved on and motored with our usual group of four (an Irish boat, Hercia, a Scottish boat, A J Wunderlust, (under US flag) and a charter boat (with Frenchies)) through the locks and bridges. Hercia took care of giving advance notices to the lock keepers and we therefore moved relatively swiftly towards the SW.
At lock Laggan we started going downhill again. Loch Lochy was quite impressive with larger mountains on either side.
Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, became visible at the end, marking the first time we saw snow from the water.
We tied up just before Neptun’s Staircase and finished the day with a typical Scottish meal in the pub, Lochy.
As arranged with the lock keepers the night before, we were lined up for a 9:30 start through the swinging bridge and then four locks.
Together with a handful of other boats we were guided through the process by the very helpful lock keepers.
Apart from some drizzle in the morning, we enjoyed a nice and sunny day, motoring past fields, houses, marinas more locks and bridges.
At about 13:00 we reached famous Loch Ness, the approximately 20nm long body of water where Nessi lives. Motoring past Urqhart castle was a beautiful experience.
A few hours later, we reached Fort Augustus and although it was only 16:00, there was no option to proceed up the next five locks anymore. We tied to the pontoon and took a walk through the beautiful small town.
While we fell into a pretty deep low yesterday with Diesel everywhere, we caught a brake today and recovered just as fast.
The harbor master was extremely supportive and had a mechanic on the boat within two hours! While he took the system apart and organized new washers (the old ones were in pretty bad shape and the reason for our problem) another friendly helper organized canisters and recycled the diesel/water mixture.
By 16:00 we were ready to roll again. Groceries were stored away, conference calls finished and the diesel refilled.
We motored against a strong current (4kn) and due to a backup at the first lock of the Caledonian Canal we caught up with the other boats that had left the marina hours earlier.
One of the boats in the lock and now at the dock with us is the young Norwegian team that left Kristiansand ahead of us trying to make the crossing before the gale. They had not made it and just arrived shortly before us. Small world…
After a nice recovery and very good weather we are back in business and lined up for the first bridge opening tomorrow morning.
PS: Another highlight were the dolphins in the harbor last night. Their loud breathing could easily be heard throughout the harbor.
We made it through the oil platform jungle in time for sunrise and sailed further toward the Moray Firth. With lightning on the horizon, we expected some action, but were still surprised by 2-3cm sized hail – a little painful on heads and hands but beautiful to see splashing into the water.
After we made it through a handful of thunderstorms, the wind started to calm down and we ended up motoring to Inverness. In addition to beautiful green, rolling hills and the typical granite houses, we were welcomed by a whale, a couple of seals and lots of dolphins.
Apparently, the Murray Firth dolphins are quite famous. Check out Charlie Phillips’ book, On a Rising Tide, about them.
Unfortunately, our diesel injector leak has become quite bad. So bad, that we cannot continue without getting it repaired first (we had the entire bilge filled with diesel last night – and the captain almost losing his mind 😉 ).
We filled a couple of our water jugs to get the diesel out, but they were not even close to the volume we needed to handle.
More to come.