The Caledonian Canal and Operation CC (Clachnaharry Sea Lock to Invermoriston, Loch Ness)

The passage over Easter was:

Day 1 Clachnaharry Sea Lock to anchorage at Invermoriston
Day 2 Invermoriston to Laggan Locks
Day 3 Laggan Locks to Fort William
Day 4 Fort William to Oban

Day 1

No expedition would be complete without an operational codename. After a quick huddle the collective Thembi and Brimble Teams arrived at Operation CC which rather cleverly stands for Operation .. Caledonian Canal. Oh Yeah.

Thembi entering the Sea Lock. We were instructed by the Lock Keeper to moor up
 alongside her.This is the arrangement we followed for the whole of the canal. It was great
 and meant little Brimble didn't have to fend off from the slimy walls and could nestle
alongside her friend

Looking backwards out of Clachnaharry Lock onto the Beauly Firth

As you sail out of the Sea Lock you are welcomed into the canal. Its in the Sea Lock that
your papers are checked and you hand the money over. The staff are really
 helpful and explain everything. It was a grand welcome. Don't forget your
insurance documents.
After the Sea Lock came the first two lift locks starting the 106ft journey upwards to Loch Lochy


Taking the concept of shrink wrapping to the ultimate extreme
although you think they might have taken the foresails off?
We celebrated our successful entrance into fresh water
 in the obvious waywith a few rounds of sausage
 sandwiches. Lincolnshire sausages I imagine.

A short stretch of canal took us past the excellent Caley Marina

One of four locks in the Muirtown Flight. This photo shows the arrangement that we adopted for the whole trip
through with Brim sitting next to Thembi. For the flights, two people then walk the boats (still connected) from
lock to lock.

The lads were pleased to get out in the fresh air, Chirpy Chick (left and waving) struck up a close bond
with young Hamish.

We soon entered the canal proper where excess water weirs out into the River Ness that then runs through
Inverness. It's a strange feeling and a little unnerving.

.. and then the famous Loch Ness. 16 metres above sea level, 23 miles long and about a mile wide. Loch Ness
contains more water than all of the lakes and rivers of England and Wales combined. It is exceptionally deep
 almost everywhere except for the small section of the Loch where Brimble went aground.

As soon as we entered Loch Ness we were able to put the sails up. Thembi looks great here.
Urquhart Castle on the edge of the Loch has a long and bloody history dating back to the 13th Century. Looks a bit drafty by modern standards?

It was March so we had little expectation for good weather. But it was often bright and felt good to be outside
even if we never quite got temperatures up to double figures

Many views were spectacular although Loch Lochy and Loch Oich proved even more beautiful

Loch Ness has a reputation for a fairly choppy sea and it wasn't long before the wind picked up and Thembi and
Brimble were both sailing along under full sail. Thembi, shown above was built by Tim who is a boatbuilder based
 out of Ullapool. If you would like your own version of Thembi then Tim will happily make you one.

Rain squalls were visible well before they struck as we were sailing through the Loch

Loch Ness is extraordinarily deep, however, as we were finding a spot to anchor I did manage to 'feel out' a shallow
 spot and we went aground. I have a natural ability in this area .. sort of the reverse of water divining. We were going
at a reasonable pace and so lifted the boat up in the air a little. We managed to get her off by running from
one-side of the boat to the other and rocking her off with the engine in full reverse.

Thembi anchoring for the evening in Invermoriston.

Thembi anchored and we snuggled up alongside. Dinner and a few beers followed. The end to a perfect day.


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