After Corinna and Philip made it to Oban where the new crew, Cathy, Dan, Ellen and Linda, came on board, the quite creative epoxy job on the diesel return line finally put an end to our engine problems. From Tobermory on we had quite nice weather and enjoyed the amazing landscapes of Western-Scotland. Highlights of this roughly 550nm long leg, include Loch Moidart (with the old castle ruin at the end of a tricky to navigate body of water), Loch Scavaig (impressive views at the southern shore of the Isle of Skye) and the Crinan Canal (where the locks are operated manually by the crew), as well as many beautiful towns, distilleries, breweries, Irish pubs etc.
All this combined with numerous overnight sails and weather changes when we needed them made this a very memorable trip.
In case YouTube does not play this video in your country, try this link instead: https://goo.gl/photos/ehFWP1V58ErUbbUo9
As promised, the lock keepers started operations at 8:30 in the morning and finally closed the lock behind us. We made it through the basin in Crinan and entered lock 14.
The next 12 locks were to be operated by us. We teamed up with our friends from Bangor, Northern Ireland, Terry & Sharon, and motored down a very narrow canal through very green pastures and with amazing views to inspect the next lock (the first one we had to operate ourselves).
We worked out the routine, assigned jobs and went to work:
1. Open the lower lock to allow us to get in
2. Find the handle to move the sluices (holes inside lock – gates to let water in/out)
3. Close the sluices in the open locks
4. Get the boats into the lock and tie them up
5. close the lock (by putting your back into the very large wodden levers
6. Open sluice on port carefully and flush the lock
7. Open both sluices gradually to fill locks faster
8. Open upper lock
9. Move boats out of lock
10. Close lock
11. Close sluices
Run ahead and prepare next lock before the boats get there…
Repeat, repeat, repeat,…
We moved through 5 locks to reach the highest point, had lunch (waiting for other boats to come up hill from the other side) and started our journey downwards.
While it took us a lock or two to figure out and optimize the process, the team looked like a Formula 1 pitstop team quite quickly into our journey – a very memorable and fun experience in an amazing setting.
All’n all, the Crinan canal is 8 miles long, has 15 locks (of which we had to operate 11 ourselves) and a number of bridges.
Because the basin on the southern side did not have much to offer, we decided to move on and sail the roughly 10 nm to Tarbert.
We caught up with Terry and Sharon again and enjoyed a nice Indian meal (with way too much food and bring your own alcohol) – another memorable experience.
The evening was rounded off by an impromtu stop at pub at the corner where our crew showed their dance moves and enjoyed a nice glass of whiskey (with 1 ice cube).
By the way:
– we updated the tracker locations (on the top right hand side of the wordpress blog)
– lots of photos were added to the previous posts (no that we have high speed internet)
– there are usually lots of other photos on the second page (you can easily reach them by clicking on the photos on page 1, ie this page)
If you can imagine the perfect sailing day…we had it. We left Coll at 10am with a north westerly wind. Sailing 60 miles, passing the Treshnish Isles at a good pace. Today was the type of day where the winds complimented our sails, and we were able to enjoy the entire voyage. At one point we had playful (giant) dolphins swimming beside us while we headed south towards the Crinan Canal. If you have ever seen a dolphin…….these beautiful creatures were bigger than that. But alas, they were ordinary dolphins — Not the spotted dolphin that has eluded the Tioga crew for thousands of miles. Yet, we approached the dolphin pod, and got close, closer still, hoping for that spotted dolphin sighting. Yet no joy.
When we arrived at the Gulf of Corryvrechan where depths ranged from 30 feet to 686 feet, we witnessed the standing waves and swirling whirlpools that resembled boiling water. With Linda at the helm, we passed through with ease and awe, as current and wind pushed us out at record speed of 11.6 knots! Needless to say, we cheered on our helmsman to push the speed higher. Relative to ordinary sailboat speeds, Tioga was a rocket sled on rails. At the end of this interesting hot spot, we exited to see 9 sailboats! In the distance, we saw 20 or so more. So in the course of this half hour period, we saw more boats under sail than we did during our 5 day journey from Oban. It was quite nice to see those white triangles in the light of the sun.
Our final destination for today, after a 9 hour sail, is the Crinan Canal. We arrived at 7:01 pm, an hour ahead of estimated schedule!!! Whoop whoop! Unfortunately the canal closed at 6:45pm, contrary to the published 9pm time that was listed in the cruising guide. Hence, here we sit at lock #15 waiting patiently to enter the lock system tomorrow at 8:30 am.
The saying “you are where you are supposed to be” hit home tonight. We enjoyed the company of a cruising Irish couple who had met Tioga in Inverness.