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
We left Tarbert under sunny skies. The day was uneventful for the most part, except for the dark ominous clouds in the distance. We covered 35 miles sailing the Firth of Lorne and Kilbrannan Sound. We sailed close hauled along the Sound with periodic, startling wind blasts, where the air was channeled through the mountains. We tacked our way to Campbeltown Harbour in moderate drizzle and misty fog. We were met by a jolly Scot, who assisted us with a very tight pontoon docking.
The Kuchenbude was set up, since the rain continued. We noticed that one of the hatches was not closed properly in the v-berth, so clothes, sleeping bags and mattresses got a wee bit wet, as one would term it in Scotland. This German/American crew would refer to this as “soaked”, so Corinna and Linda went to the launderette to dry the gear. We ended the day with a hearty, warm dinner of chili, dressed with shredded cheese, chives and sour cream that was warmly welcomed by captain and crew and took the raw out of our chilly bones. Aye!
What a place!
We had arrived in Tarbert in the evening (after sailing from the Crinan canal for about 2hrs) and tied up in the large and relatively empty marina (right next to our friends, Terry and Sharon, from North Ireland).
The way into the cove very picturesque and the floats were new and relatively large.
Showers were free and internet very fast.
The crew enjoyed the fantastic weather, went shopping in town, replenished food for the next 5 days etc.
Dan spent some time cleaning the outboard (with vinegear and water and a large trash can) and we said good-bye to Terry and Sharon.
The scenery of this old and very protected fishing harbor was impressive and we were glad we stopped for a visit.
A very nice meal at Starfish rounded of the day.
The plan is to leave Tarbert in the morning before the wind turns south and make it to Campbeltown (our jump-off point to Ireland).
Studying the weather for a while, it looks very likely that we will cross over to Ireland on Thursday – keep your fingers crossed that the weather will indeed provide NW winds then.
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)