2018’s Meanderings, part 3
This is a final, short, post to wrap up my summer’s Meanderings. Having got through the canal with Olly’s assistance, and therefore got within spitting distance of home, I was in no particular rush to finish. However, I had set off with the intention of being back by around the 10th July, to allow myself a couple of weeks to unwind and rest before getting back to work on the 24th for a fairly intensive six weeks or so at sea. I was in fact only a (long) day’s run from Kilmelford, but I wanted just a few days more enjoying Meander on my own.
After Olly left the boat, I did not need to leave Corpach until the tide was fair, which was around midday, so I pottered around a bit until 1100, and then went to speak to the lock-keeper. As it happened, there was a group of boats coming down through the double lock into the basin, so I suggested I join them in the sealock. We agreed that I would come in stbd side-to as this was easier for me to manage on my own, and off I went to get Meander under way.
I was surprised therefore as I approached the lock, almost past the point of no return, to be greeted by a different lock keeper waving me across to the port side. Fortunately with no wind and nobody behind me, I was able to stop the boat and move all the fenders and lines across to the port side before entering. I then gave him a piece of my mind. This would be something else for my complaint to the canal in due course…
We locked out without further incident, and I drifted in the offing whilst I converted the boat back into a seagoing vessel, and then started making way down Loch Linnhe. There was absolutely no wind to start with, but as we progressed a light SW’ly picked up – no use for sailing of course, so the engine kept earning its keep. I was heading towards Port Ramsay, a natural harbour at the north end of the isle of Lismore, where I had never been before. It was an uneventful passage, and we brought up to the anchor in a very pretty spot at around 1625. For once I was the only boat in the anchorage! The SW’ly was now fresh, but the harbour sheltered, and I just had to hope that it would moderate overnight.
It did, and I had a nice lazy morning to await some fair tide before I set off down the Lynn of Lorn, bound for the Black Isles, which lie between the Garvellachs and Lunga. Again there was not very much wind at all, but I did get a couple of hours’ sailing during the passage. I brought up in what the pilot book described as a “secluded anchorage” at 1800 – there were already 2 other boats anchored there, and there would be one more soon afterwards, so it started to feel a wee bit crowded.
Fortuitously I had been hailed en route by a RIB, which turned out to be tending a scallop diver. The chap offered me a bucket full of fresh scallops, so how could I refuse? All I had to do then was work out how to extract them from their homes. Luckily there was sufficient mobile signal for me to be able to google it, and soon had a rough idea. Once you have prised the shell open it is fairly straightforward, although I couldn’t work out how to keep the roe attached to the muscle – it seemed
to want to detach itself with the rest of the bits you don’t want to eat. Answers on a postcard, but I suspect it requires a bit of nifty knife work. I did not miss the roe, a there was plenty of meat, which I fried up with a little chorizo I happened to have left over. Yum.
My final day then was to take me through Corryvreckan, so timing was crucial to ensure I went through around slack water. Again it was flat calm, so I motored out of the anchorage with main and mizzen set, and controlled my speed so I didn’t arrive too early. Conditions couldn’t have been better for going through. Slack water at neaps with no wind – the race was non-existant and only the merest eddy disturbed the surface of the Gulf. Once through, I aimed straight in
towards home, and whilst approaching the south end of Luing I spotted the west country trading ketch Irene motoring south through the Sound of Luing. As it happened there was also a bit of a breeze picking up, so I set headsails and the topsail and headed back out towards the middle of the Sound, and gave them a call to ask if they could take some photos. Again there were a couple of folk on board whom I know, and they were more than happy to oblige. We got some really good photos which they shared with me almost instantly – the marvels of modern mobile commmunications! After we went our separate ways again, I managed to sail for a little longer but lost the wind just east of Shuna, and had to motor the remaining few miles into Loch Melfort. I finally got alongside at Kilmelford at 1700, and got some of the sails packed away or covered before I ran out of energy.
The following day I finished off squaring away the boat, destoring and having a bit of a clean, and then got her back out to her mooring mid afternoon before heading home after what I felt had been another successful cruise, covering 770 miles in all, in just over a month. With Olly on board I had managed to acheive more overnight and longer passages than I probably would have done myself. Although we hadn’t acheived the primary goal of reaching Faroe and maybe Iceland, we visited some new places and had some good sailing. It is just a shame that a few isolated periods of poor weather in an otherwise beautiful spell of summer weather held us up so we couldn’t fully explore Shetland, which in particular merits several weeks on its own!