From west to east across Scotland by sail and oar, along the Great Glen, is surely one of the world's great journeys. The stunning scenery, the magnificent engineering of the Caledonian Canal, and a superb opportunity to test oneself, and ones boat, is challenging conditions, while being supported by a professional team.
I did this voyage as part of Sail Caledonia, a 'raid' organised by the Great Glen Boating Club. This was the first time I've taken part, but I doubt it will be the last. I had a great time, gained valuable experience and enjoyed lots of time on the water. I'll be writing later about the experience and some of the lessons I've learnt, but for now, here's a few photos.
Launching, Lochaber Yacht Club, Fort William © Bart Muller
Auk and Scratch waiting to enter the sea lock at Corpach © John Macpherson
Coming into the sea lock at Corpach © John Macpherson
Scratch with tent © John Macpherson. It wasn't all hardship. Fingal of Caledonia, the barge in the background, provided supper and bar every night – as well as breakfast and packed lunches.
Lunch time, Loch Lochy
Lapsus at anchor
Rowing along the canal to Laggan Bridge © Bart Muller
Scratch and Storyteller, an Oughtred Whilly Boat
Enjoying a tow from Hurley, Drascombe Longboat
Bart Muller, Lapsus. Racing on Loch Ness, crewing for Bart in Lapsus. F4/5 and heavy rain. Learnt a few tricks from Bart.
Capsize practice: over we go © John Macpherson
Coming up © John Macpherson
Evidence of sun on Loch Ness in the morning.
Running up Loch Ness © Dimitris Prokakis. The wind had been light earlier, but had now risen F5. I hadn't reefed, I was doing well in the race and wanted to keep it that way.
Hurley arrives at Urquhart Castle © Steve Sim. No photo of Scratch arriving – we were already here having finished second. Ha!
Loch Oich © John Macpherson
Scratch and Storyteller © John Macpherson
Running on Loch Oich © John Macpherson
Running on Loch Ness © Dimitris Prokakis. Before setting off after lunch I'd reefed as far as I could. Reef in the main and the mizzen furled.
Surfing on Loch Ness © Dimitris Prokakis. Glad of those reefs. F5/6, 1m waves at this end of Loch Ness.
Resting after the hard sailing on Loch Ness. The flotilla gathered together before heading up Loch Dochfour and into the canal to Dochgarroch.
The swing bridge carrying the A862 opens for us at Muirton © Steve Sim
Waiting for the locks at Muirton © John Macpherson
Scratch at N Kessock by Chris Perkins
End of the voyage © Chris Perkins. On the slip way at North Kessock on the Beauly Firth.
One of the great side benefits of sailing in company, is that I at last have some good photos of Scratch sailing. Thanks to all the various photographers. Links to some of the original photos – and many more – on the Sail Caledonia Facebook page and the Sail Caledonia Galleries. All images here are © the photographer as noted. Those unattributed are either mine, or from someone else – and I forgot who – but can find out if you want to use the images.
I plan to write up different aspects of this wonderful week in the future, in particular focussing on what I learnt about my boat and my sailing skills.