Speedwell of Rhu Ship's Log

12 th to 18 th of June 2012 - Caledonian Canal

Crew : Helen and Andy
Destinations : Seaport Marina, Dochgarroch, Fort Augustus, Laggan Locks, Banavie Top Basin and Corpach Basin.
Distance : 51 miles

Tuesday 12 th June

After our long journey, we had a good rest. I telephoned Clachnaharry Sea Lock at lunch time and was told that they could let us through into the Caledonian canal at around 1330, half an hour later.

We quickly got ourselves ready and were through the sea lock, Works lock and the swing bridge by 1430, having picked up a berth in Seaport Marina. We took our new bikes for their first outing of the trip to the Co-op for provisions. (2 minutes away by bike)

Wednesday 13 th June

We were up and ready for the Muirtown swing bridge and locks by 1030 am. We rang Ardfern Marina first (several times) and ordered a new autopilot ram, arranging to pick it up from them in a week or so.

Helen and Andy take it in turns to do the ropes through Muirtown Locks

By 1210 we were on a pontoon waiting for the bridge to open after the lunch time rush hour. We made ourselves a bacon sandwich and cup of tea (getting into the swing of things!). At 1310 exactly the traffic was stopped, the bridge opened and we were off. After a hard day, by 1415, we were berthed at Dochgarroch lock, where we spent the night.

In the evening we went for a walk to the river for a paddle and a bit of bird watching with the midges.

Thursday 14 th June

We were up early, around 0900. We waited for a big boat to pass with some anxiety before leaving our berth.

Heading for us Just passing us Sigh of relie f

As soon as we entered Loch Ness we got the genoa out and were able to turn off the engine. The wind gradually filled. We started sailing at around 4 knots and by the time we neared Fort Augustus we were making 7-8 knots under genoa, having passed one smaller yacht on the way. Apart from the odd short sharp shower, the rain held off and the sun occasionally appeared.

When we arrived at the bottom of the locks at Fort Augustus it was quite choppy and the pontoon was squeaking badly, so we decided to go straight up the flight of locks. We were told they didn't need us for an hour so we found the butchers and bought black pudding for breakfast and lamb for a stew. When we got back to the boat the locks had already been opened . However, they let us go in the next lock and we were advised to moor against the wall in the top basin which was nice and sheltered from the wind.

Friday 15 th June

From our berth we headed along the canal and, by 1145 had got to Kytra Lock, where we were both awarded gold stars by the lock keeper for wearing our life jackets. ( I was later informed that she started doing this after falling in herself). She also told us that 1.4 million litres of water had been moved just for us.

Helen with her gold star

There were very few other boats on the canal in comparison with 2010. We only had to share a lock with one other boat on two occasions.

Between Laggan Bridge and Laggan Lock

We got to Cullochy Lock just in time for lunch, but, eventually the lock keeper turned up to let us through and we were berthed just above Laggan Locks by 1430 for the night. We paid another visit to the Eagle Pub in the rain. This pub is on a barge and serves very nice ale.

Saturday 16 th June

We were up through the lock by 1030 and able to sail under genoa in the rain for the full length of Loch Lochy at around 7 knots. We were berthed for lunch at Gairlochy by 1300 and the lock keeper eventually had us through the lock by 1445.

Loch Lochy

Moy Swing Bridge

We passed Moy and Loy and by 1600 were berthed at Banavie, above Neptune's Staircase for the night. It was very wet!

Sunday 17 th June

We had a late start and took the bikes for an airing. After talking to a man walking his dog we were told about a tunnel that runs under the canal 300 metres away. Of course we had to go exploring and found it where we were told. We managed to get through it with our bikes and ride back on the other side.

We then cycled into Fort William and back to Corpach before settling on the boat in the rain with the radio. Andy planned our trip for when we leave the canal and I did my homework, before cooking supper.

Monday 18 th June

We discovered on waking that we had missed the first trip down the Banavie staircase (8 locks). However, the weather had made a turn for the better so we sat in the sun waiting for our entry to the locks. The shorts were found at the back of the wardrobe and donned for the first time. The swinging railway bridge at the bottom appeared to have got stuck so there was a delay whilst this was fixed with a big hammer. Two hours later, at 1100 am we were on our way and by 1400 we were berthed in Corpach basin ready to leave the canal the next day. We had travelled less than one nautical mile in 3 hours.

We managed to do the whole of the canal and it's lochs being starboard to. This meant that our warps and fenders were easy to sort out and the lockkeepers had an easier time as they didn't have to run around to the other side of the locks to take our ropes!

Loch Linnhe from the top of Banavie Locks

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