Preparing for the Caledonian Canal (Operation CC)

We decided last year that rather than go north round the top of Scotland and Cape Wrath we would take the cheeky short cut through the Caledonian Canal which runs from Inverness to Fort William. We needed to get the GSB to Oban anyway for the Scottish Peaks Race so the canal was a really useful shortcut. So Easter for us was Inverness to Fort William via the Caledonian Canal (Loch Ness, Loch Oich and Loch Lochy) and then on to Oban.

Easter Passage was from Inverness through the Caledonian Canal
to Fort William and then onto Oban


Inevitably we spent the first couple of days putting the good ship back together, servicing the engine, putting sails on, painting the radar reflector, checking rigging and lights, general cleaning up, victualing and scraping off damaged varnish .. 2 years in the Arctic has taken its toll on the good ship so there was plenty to do.


The good ship always look like a bombs hit her for the first day
of the season

We were lucky enough to enjoy the passage in the company of good friends Tim, Alex, Megan and Hamish in their 35 ft Ed Burnett cutter Thembi. More of these top chaps in a while.

Thembi and her Captain and crew, Tim, Alex, Megan and Hamish

On Sunday Thembi and Brimble went for a little sail up the Beauly Firth in search of seals and Dolphins. Our efforts were soon rewarded by a couple of seals popping up to say hello and we spent a few hours enjoying our first sail of the season in the most pleasant company. It was bright sunshine and a crisp 6 or 7 degrees. Great to be out.

Seal pops up to say hello

The Bridge over the narrows with thousands of Guillemots in their winter plumage (thank you Megan)

The sail back into the marina was an interesting reminder of how to ferry glide! The entrance channel to the marina is off a narrow stretch of the river where spring tides race by at up to 6 knots. As we approached the cardinal bouy marking the turning point for the marina the current took hold of us and our speed accelerated from 4 to 8 knots in just a few seconds. Our 90 degree turn to starboard ended up more like 180 degrees as we threw the boat round to counter the tide dragging us onto shallows and the bridge beyond. With full throttle and black smoke coming out of the diesel we clawed our way sideways up the channel to the marina. Great fun and an exciting start to the year. Seals and a pinch of drama.

Thembi approaching the turn with 4 knots of tide behind her
On Sunday we headed  up the Beauly Firth to the Clachnaharry Sea Lock and the beginning of the Caledonian Canal.

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