Speedwell of Rhu Ship's Log

6 th of July 2010 - Calledonian Canal - Day 3 - Loch Ness

Crew : Helen and Andy
Destinations : Loch Ness.
Distance : 14 miles

We had a leisurely start today. When we opened the hatch all the other boats had left already. We prepared ourselves and the boat and Andy went to look for the lock keeper. He wasn't very happy with us as he had been expecting 4 boats through the lock at 0800 and we were still in bed! Anyway, he did let us through for the third time and we waved him goodbye. We motored through Loch Dochfour and passed the lateral buoys into Loch Ness. We tacked down the loch in a Force 6 with one reef in the mainsail and the occasional wave over the bow. There was the occasional clanging sound when we tacked, but we couldn't see any loose halyards or other obvious cause at this point. Speedwell did very well and we managed to anchor just of Urquhart Castle for lunch in 30 metres of water. Our depth sounder, on the whole, had a bit of a paddy, as it didn't like to measure depths of 200 metres or more, which is what it is in the middle of Loch Ness.

Nearby a visitors mooring buoy had just become vacant and we thought it might be a nice place to spend the night. So after lunch Andy tried to get the anchor up. The windlass seemed to be struggling so Andy was heaving it up by hand. At the same time, I was on the helm. The wheel seemed quite stiff and suddenly there was another clang. The wheel was moving very easily and I didn't think I had steerage. However, I had my doubts. When I checked the autohelm it didn't seem to be registering any movement of the rudder when I moved the wheel. I thought that perhaps I should stop Andy pulling up the anchor at this point and ask him to to check. Andy confirmed that we indeed, did not have any steerage and got the emergency tiller connected straight away. Unfortunately you can't operate the throttle and steer the tiller at the same time. However, the autohelm still worked, so Andy prepared to pick up the mooring and I steered by autohelm. Oh yes we also had the anchor dangling in the water as we couldn't get that up fully.

Fortunately, Andy knew exactly what was required and our mooring was beautifully sheltered for us to carry out repairs. After a cup of tea, Andy disappeared into the lazarette and discovered the steering cables had come undone. Once this was repaired we still had no steerage so we then started to take the binnacle apart. After removing the compass we were able to see that the chain had come off it's cog because of the loosening of the cables.






This was an easy fix. We put it all back together, along with new sealant and we had no pieces left over at the end. We spent the afternoon watching a few trip boats and then listening to bag pipes from the castle in the rain. By 1700, we were the only ones left on the Loch.

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