High water was at 8am (ish) and so we wanted to lock out then (just as the staff start work) and take the tide down to Oban and on to Tobermory. The latter idea was binned when we saw how wet the forecast was and how difficult it would be to get Andrew and Linda back to a train in time. The former was binned when the captain got up at 7am to make tea for one and all to discover thick fog. No big desire to travel in that when we didn’t have to.
So, we let the sun burn it off first. The lock staff asked when we wanted to escape as there was no other traffic planned – the “back of 9” was agreed. As the “back of 9” approached, we got ready to leave and Andrew took the facilities key back to the lock office. Guess what, he vanished for half an hour. We wondered if he had been kidnapped, adopted or needed rescuing from a particularly friendly local. Actually it was because a couple of people were paying their lock dues. The first one was given all the info on what to do and what to see in the canal. The second lady, who heard all the spiel first time around, then wanted it repeated for her benefit. Slow old pace of life luckily.
Leaving the Caly canal seemed quite sad in a way but here is the sea lock for you to enjoy:
Our somewhat late lock out completed, we enjoyed a sunny and calm run back down Loch Linnhe:
There was little other traffic bar an elderly trip boat which seemed to like showing the visitors the local fish farms. NOT the prettiest things around. Through the Corran narrows, going with the tide, all 4 of us were fixed on the plotter screen and cheered when it got to 10.0 knots through the water. Funny how little things please you in this life.
Andrew seemed to have a very relaxed approach to the helmsman role today, frequently abandoning his post for picture taking, coffee etc. Patrick was, luckily, in the pilothouse and couldn’t see this to add to his already sky high stress levels (see the earlier post re his love child for the cause of his dismay):
Despite this gross dereliction of duty, we still made it safely through Shuna sound and down to Oban. Our changed plan, owing to the forecast, was to stay in Oban, rent a car and see some of the area from there. Contacting Dunstaffnage to see if they had a space for us was tricky too. Their phone system was down for some reason and they only use VHF channel 37. Of course, our nice big international Icom radios don’t have this antique marina channel on them so we have to use the handheld radio with a range just further than you can shout. Despite all this stress (yes, we had to find something to make you feel sorry for us) we cuddled up onto a nice hammerhead berth with (party time) 32A power supply. Washing machine time. Here is the view across to the Connel bridge and Ben Cruachan mountain:
Even better, the fresh water in the canal had killed all the weed and gunge that had grown on our hull since the lift out earlier in the year. The salt water was now killing off any freshwater gunge that we gained in our 8 days so we had a pretty clean boat again (and the canal licence is way way cheaper than a lift out!)