2007 (July) Forth & Clyde Canal Holidays Cont’d

11th July 2007

Bowling to Colintriave

Having left Bowling we set off to motor down the Clyde (something I have longed to do for a long time) heading for Colintraive. I cannot explain why I felt so elated at this straightforward part of the journey but sometimes that’s just the way life is !

We were motoring along in sunshine, and shortly after leaving Bowling we were passing Dumbarton Rock which has a whole shed load of history attached.

When approaching Gourock we saw The Waverley crossing Holy Loch entrance – a magnificent old boat and recognised as the World’s only remaining Ocean going paddle steamer. Once round the corner I relinquished the helm and Eilidh almost took my hands off – she had been waiting a while !! We headed for Toward Point and then across the bay to the East Kyle and from there straight up to Colintaive. Nothing much happened on the way down – the sun shone – the sea was calm and the Porpoise were in hiding. Arrived in Colintraive, picked up a mooring at around 17.00 – everyone was a bit jaded so we decided not to go to the Colintraive Hotel for a meal, but to dine onboard and enjoy and savour the fact that Sun Dog had made it from Ipswich up the east coast – through the Forth & Clyde canal and was now in the West of Scotland.

12th July 2007

Colintraive – Tarbert Loch Fyne

Beautiful morning when we awoke, had a lazy breakfast and then went over to Caladh Harbour went around this small yet delightful spot………..this ” island circumnavigation” took all of five minutes, but it is seriously pretty with a lovely (small) protected anchorage.

Caladh Harbour

In this photograph you can see the markers at both ends of the island.

From there we worked our way down the western side of the West Kyles to check out the mooring off the old Royal Hotel in Tighnabruich which has now changed it’s name to An Lochan, and it has a small landing pontoon for dingies – quite cool. A general meander in sunshine around Ardlamont Point with the sea like a millpond (we have seen it somewhat differently off Ardlamont before !!) and we had the odd glimpse of Porpoise and a Seal popped it’s head up to see who/what was disturbing the peace and quite!

Noticed on the way down the Loch that the wind instrument was reading diagonally opposite – realised we hadn’t moved this back (we had turned it around to go through the canal) before putting the mast back up – bosun’s chair job sometime soon – and slapped wrist for me!

Into Tarbert harbour and with us arriving early in the day we managed to get alongside the visitors pontoon. As the day progressed more and more yachts arrived and all ended up rafting. However, they either didn’t fancy our low freeboard or perhaps it was the black rubber moulding all round the hull, because we ended up with a raft of three astern and a raft of three forward.

Rafting Fore & Aft - Sun Dog left alone :-)

We had to reprovision the boat so off we went to the Co-Op – back to the boat – showers etc – then out for a walk up to Tarbert castle which sit’s just above the harbour.

Tarbert Castle

Tarbert entrance

Rafting from a distance

On the way down from the Castle the girls noticed an advert for massage therapy etc in the local Health Centre – quick phone call and they were booked between 19.00 & 21.00. They came back all enthused and it turns out it was only £10.00 per person for the therapy…………good value and they had a good old chuckle all evening.

13th July 2007

Tarbert – Portavadie

In the morning I borrowed a Bosuns’ Chair and Eilidh “volunteered” to go up the mast and turn around the wind indicator so that it would read correctly – her rock climbing experiences held her in good stead and she completed the task within a matter of minutes and was back down again energised and ready for breakfast.

Eilidh adjusting the wind indicator.

After breakfast it was back round to the Gallery where we made a purchase or two, and Eilidh bought me a present of Neil Munro’s book “Para Handy” – really sweetly inscribed. Sara bought a print of Scotland from a different perspective entitled “The Big Picture” and the gallery are arranging this to be delivered to home. We then visitited the local ironmongery shop for some bit’s and pieces and then back onboard. We were thinking about staying another night due to the forecast, but Sara fancied visiting Portavadie just across the Loch – it seemed fair enough and would provide shelter from the forecasted F8. The rain started as we set off, but with the wheelhouse on Sun Dog it’s not an issue – still a strange experience, but one that I am getting more and more accustomed to 😉

We had heard that there was to be a new Marina in Portavadie, and when we went through the breakwater we were met with a “Marie Celeste” type situation – brand new marina/pontoons – all lit up with power…….and nobody on them!! We went down to the bottom end of the marina and went alongisde facing west – the direction of the forecasted gale. I was so taken aback that I never took a photo – bugger !!

Sara and Eilidh went off to check things out – and came back saying there were portacabin offices but these were all locked up and there was no sign of anyone.

Just then the Irish couple who had been moored behind us in Tarbet also arrived and took up a berth in front of us, with Sara and Eilidh taking their lines to avoid them having to get off the boat ( I was still in the wheelhouse, but to be fair I had put the gas heater on for them coming back onboard – thoughtful of me or what ?). We reckoned that they were not officially opened but were confident the pontoons etc were finished and secure, especially as there was electricity and water operational on all of the pontoons.

We were ready for a night with a bit of a blow, but it must have missed us or we slept right through it, but we awoke in the morning to another lovely day. This time I went off for a wander to see if I could find anyone, but returned only having found out that the marina was part of Portavadie Estates. Just after breakfast when we were having another cuppa, two people (one being Elspeth the marina manager) arrived to explain that the official opening was not for a couple of weeks.

They went and got all the drawings, marina prices etc and explained how the area was to be developed……….but my initial thoughts are they are overpriced for where this is, and the travelling time from the mainland will be increased for anyone taking a permanant berth when compared to the marina’s at Inverkip, Largs, Holy Loch, Rhu and perhaps even Troon. As we have nowhere yet booked for Sun Dog I asked that she get back to me with any special deals even if this meant a three/five year deal. It would mean keeping the boat on a building site whilst they build the office block and the flats to rent complex – but it is a well sheltered marina – and if the deal is right?

(Update) Elspeth got back to me a week or so later to inform me there are no “deals” available other than those on their brochure/web site..c’est la vie. Personally I think they are making a mistake as it’s all about occupancy ratio’s, and it would be better for the marina to have say 80% occupancy at a reduced price than say 15% occupancy at their published price. It will be interesting to see how this develops, but I wish them every success given the level of investment and it would also be good to have another successful marina available.

Time to go; and we decided to head over and pick up a mooring at one of Sara and I’s favourite hotels Stonefield Castle Hotel just north of Tarbert on the west coast of the loch. We picked up one of the hotels moorings and went ashore in the dingy to have a coffee or perhaps lunch in the hotel.

You can get a glimpse of the hotel in this photo’

The hotel might not suit everyone but we like it. From there we decided to carry on and head up and take a mooring of the hotel just past Otter Spit on the eastern side of the Upper Loch (Fyne). As we were approaching the Spit we noticed a yacht with a French Ensign heading for the hotel/moorings area and when we went down they had picked up the last available mooring. Fair enough we all thought, as they are visiting and we can come here almost anytime – so we headed a bit further north to Largimore where the almanac had mentioned possible moorings. There was only one that seemed suitable for a yacht and it had a a Moody 37 on it. They were waiting on a couple of the crew coming back from the holiday park – and we hung around until they were ready to leave – and subsequently picked up the mooring.

I couldn’t really settle here so phoned the Creggans Inn further up the Loch, as they were listed in the almanac as having 5 moorings. They owner said they only had two and were both available this evening – so off we went again. I decided to take the narrow channel through the Minard narrows – lot’s of jaggy rocks at low tide! There is also a submerged rock that needs to be avoided when through the other side – when we passed it had a small marker on the surface – but vigilance is required.

The mooring off the Creggans Inn (which is diagonally across the loch from Inverary) are pretty close inshore – so we picked the one nearest the shore (still in 15 mtrs) got into the dingy and across to the Creggans for an excellent evening meal – albeit the bar sounded a bit boisterous after having been on the boat for so long. It’s well worth a stop and they are very friendly helpful people keen on attracting yachties. We also had a bit of fun skimming stones on the beach before returning to Sun Dog, childish I know – but fun non the less.

Crew ready to return to Sun Dog

15th July 2007

To the head of Loch Fyne & Back to Tarbert

We left the mooring at the Creggans Inn, once again in beautiful sunshine and decided to go to the head of the Loch and check out the availability of moorings – there are a reasonable number on the western side of the Loch opposite Cairndow with others belonging to Loch Fyne Oysters on the same side right at the head of the Loch. They are pretty much in a line north of this lovely property situated on the west side of the loch.

Lovely Property

Guess this house must be owner by a sculptor or an art lover as there are a number of sculptures visible in the grounds.

From here we went over to Inverary but decided not to stop despite it being bathed in lovely sunshine.

Inverary bathed in morning sunshine

From Inverary we again went close inshore on the western side of the loch with everyone enjoying the sunshine – crew were basking in the sun and they had no intention of taking the helm 🙂

Loch Fyne Calm as !!

Sara enjoying the UV's

Once again we went through the inner channel of Minard narrows and then down to Otter Spit – into lower Loch Fyne, and back over to Tarbert to get some provisions/showers – and a visit to the local launderette was also required.

Tarbert with Castle in the Background

Seagull on mooring protection duty !!

Tarbert was particularly busy with boats all rafting together – however there was a spare mooring available in the middle of the harbour so we picked this up – dingy was still inflated so no issue in getting ashore.

16th July 2007

Tarbert to Loch Ranza – Arran

Visit to the shops again for some provisions and picked up the laundry at 11.30. We left Tarbert at 12.30 and hoped to get a nice beam reach down to Loch Ranza – however Murphy’s Law struck again and we had once again to motor sail again. With the main up it does steady the boat quite well – albeit we still haven’t sailed her properly during the entire holiday !!

We entered Loch Ranza, but the wind direction was creating squalls off the hills which made picking up a the mooring (no pick up buoys) a bit of a lottery as I would be lined up going into the wind when sudden squalls made the wind change direction before we could get the line through the mooring. These were pretty powerful squalls and at the third attempt we managed to get a calm enough spell to get the rope through the mooring and settle down for lunch. Well done Sara & Eilidh as this was not easy.

This reminder me of the palaver I had at St Mary’s pool in the Scilly Isles whilst crewing for Marcus on his yacht Csardas !! We never really appreciate pick up buoys when the weather is good – but sure as hell miss them when the wind in strong & flukey! The agility of Marcus saved the day in the Scilly Isles.

Loch Ranza - Island of Arran

It wasn’t just us who had an issue getting a mooring picked up as a “Fisher” came in and it took them about 15 mins and half a dozen attempts before they finally got a mooring picked up and managed to get settled down. I was also very surprised at the amount of “hunting” around their mooring a Bavaria 38 was doing when compared to the other yachts in the Loch – guess it was either a bilge keel or the skipper handn’t locked the wheel/rudder !

When we left Loch Ranza we initially planned to go to Millport, but if the forecast was proved to be right, it would have been an uncomfortable night – so we decided to head back up through the Kyles and get some real sailing in as the wind was perfect for a beam reach!!

Just out of Loch Ranza – all sail up – engine off – lovely. Within 5 mins all change – wind back on the nose and the rain started again…aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Passing Ardlamont point back into the Kyles the sun came back out again and the West Kyle was lovely. As it was low tide we had another look at Caladh Harbour – looks a lot different at low water! Back through the channel at Burnt Isles and back onto a mooring a Colintraive around 20.00.

Yet another lovely day with a dramatic change to the scenery as the sun started to fade.

Colintraive sun dropping

17th July 2007

Colintaraive to Troon

Set off at 09.20 for Troon with a quick nip into Millport so that Eilidh could have a look at this popular resort on Big Cumbrae. We were once again motorsailing as there was precious little wind – enjoyable none the less.

Going between the Cumbraes I decided to take the inside channel into Millport bay, bobbed around for five mins to have a good look around, and then exited by the conventional route and off towards Portencross then a heading to clear Horse Island, Ardrossan etc. Wind was building to around F4 and as soon as we cleared Ardrossan we would be able to sail……….yippee.

Genny out, full main and we were trotting along nicely settled at between 5.5 & 6.0 kts and holding off another yacht heading in the same direction as us. Great sailing for an hour and a half and then the wind started to get get a bit lighter. The other yacht turned out to be a Legend 36 which eventually passed us with only their Genny out……….we had everything up but couldn’t get enough breeze to move ol’ Sun Dog along properly – c’est la vie. After all Sun Dog is around 8.8 tonnes displacement – a wee bit heavier than the Legend !

During this time both Sara and Eilidh were like me, hoping for a F5/6 to get her creaming along – but it never materialised – real pity as everyone was up for a cracking sail.

Arrived in Troon at 16.00 to take a visitors berth but not before we had a visit ourselves in the outer harbour from Sammy the Seal (well three of them to be accurate) one of them sure is a big ol’ boy.

Anyhow into the visitors berths and the one we had been allocated meant we were going to be blown away from the pontoon – we had a quick crew discussion – and we got in perfectly with Sara and Eilidh getting lines on pronto………really neat job in front of a gathered audience.

Another yacht tried to reverse in and naturally lost his nose to the wind ending up across other boats…….thankfully not ours.

18th July 2007

Troon to Lamlash Arran

Departed Troon at 12.35 – “calm as” all the way over with hardly even a zephyr on the surface. Altered course to check out a white object floating on the surface – no one could make out even with the binoculars. At times it looked like a dingy – other times like an old ships lifeboat. When we finally got close enough it turned out to be a big lump of white polystyrene !!………….but it had to be checked out, and didn’t take us too far off course.

Back on course, and it’s many a year since I crossed to Arran in conditions as flat as this – from the photo below you can see the sea state looking towards Ailsa Craig, famous for top quality curling stones.

Ailsa Craig in the distance - sea flat as!!

However when we looked back to the mainland it was covered in black thunderous looking clouds, but thankfully they stayed well away from Arran. Turns out there were thunderstorms and torrential rain but we only had sunshine!!

We picked up a mooring in the bay watching the kids jumping in off the pier – yes it was that warm, and went for a walk along the front and also to pick up information on the Holy Isle for Eilidh, and do a bit of shopping.

Had a bit of banter with the folks on Bolero IV a Hanse 411 out of Largs as their crew was trying out their rowing skills whilst onboard Bolero they were trying to get the outboard fired up – with a bit of difficulty despite the fact one of them was a mechanic ! On the way back to Sun Dog in our dingy they rammed us with theirs (well a gentle nudge really ) they were only having a bit of fun as they had finally managed to get their outboard running.

We rowed back onto Sun Dog for delicious evening meal prepared by Sara & Eilidh and set off for Troon at 19.30.

The wind gods must have been happy with us, as we had a great beam reach for all of 45 mins again getting 6kts, before it all went light again, we kept trying to sail until the speed dropped – and then sadly it was case of firing up the engine and motorsailing back to Troon arriving at 22.30, but not before enjoying a terrific sunset – couple of photo’s below, but they don’t do it justice.

Sunset looking back at Arran

Sunsetting in our wake

Onwards into Troon where Sammy (as we have Christened him/her /them) was once again there to welcome us into Troon – or possibly to check if we were a fishing boat with perhaps supper on board !!

Sammy the seal

That pretty much ended the holiday with the following day spent refuelling/cleaning and organising a permanent berth. I had tried to arrange a trip to Ailsa Craig on the Kintyre Express, but they have had such little demand they are now focussing mainly on golfing runs to Campbeltown – a real pity as it would have been neat to go ashore on Ailsa Craig. I have sailed past it before and been scuba diving at the side of it – but have never landed……oh well sometime later perhaps.

We had a fun competition on how many litres of fuel it would take to refill the tanks – all we had to go on was that we had spent a total of 37 engine hours since the last refill at Bowling and we had kept to around 1200 revs on the engine. My guess was around 140 ltrs which would have been an average of 4 ltrs per hour.

Anyhow, the upshot being that we were all pleasantly surprised as she only took 95 ltrs; which divided by 37 engine hours equates to 2.57 ltrs per hour……………..in my book excellent considering she runs with a 92 hp Perkins.

In summing up the holiday Sara gave it a 9 out of 10 as we could have done with more wind. Eilidh gave it 10 out of 10 and really enjoyed her first boating trip. Me; well as I was happy as a sand bunny and just wished it didn’t have to end. Still all adventures must end to allow others to begin.

2007 (July) Forth & Clyde Canal Transit (East to West)

7th July 2007

Having clarified with the staff of British Waterways that the maximum air draft to facilitate a transit through the canal was 3 metres we prepared Sun Dog and carefully measured the air draft as being slightly under the maximum at around 2.9 metres.

Sun Dog at Port Edgar

We set out from Port Edgar to arrive off the Carron River entrance around 18.15 as previously arranged with the guys from British Waterways.

En Route from Port Edgar to Carron River

On board was myself, my partner Sara and her good friend Eilidh who had not been on a yacht before and also had never been through canal locks either. Eilidh was keen to take the helm so once clear of Port Edgar she took the helm in a F3/4 wind against tide situation with the associated short choppy waves.

Eilidh's first go on the helm.

I’m delighted to state that she was as happy as a sand bunny riding through the waves. As for me; I was pleased that I had taken the time to lash the mast and boom securely to Sun Dog as this would not have been the time to try and re-adjust !!

We had pre-booked our slot to get into the first lock (currently numbered Lock 2) but first we had to get up the Carron River with enough water underneath us whilst having sufficient air draft to get under the Kerse Road Bridge. Given the fact that the river level (impact on height) can fluctuate, we had arranged to give the lads at the Lock a call when we were approaching the river as they agreed to come out and allow us to follow them up the river to the first lock. This was the start of what can only be described as first class service from all the staff of British Waterways (BW) who were involved in our transit of the canal.

They asked us to follow them up the river (keep in our wake) while they were taking depth measurements with a stick all the way up the river.

Following British Waterways staff into the Carron River.

To be honest I think this would be advisable for anyone transitting the canal with similar air draft, because at times we were pretty close to the banks of the river – local knowledge is a wonderful thing! I’m pleased to say that we slid under the Kerse Road bridge easily enough and entered the first lock and into the Forth & Clyde Canal proper to berth for the evening, mightily relieved and looking forward to the rest of the trip.

Tied up alongside

8th July 2007

The next morning we had been asked to be ready for around 08.00 to ensure we completed all the paperwork and provide a copy of insurance certificate ( a “must have” document) and were informed that we would be locking through with a 60ft barge that would eventually be cutting off to join the Union Canal at the Falkirk Wheel (as they were heading for the centre of Edinburgh) . Going through the locks with the barge crewed by Charles & Hamish was a lot of fun – nice guys.

Following Charles & Hamish on the 60ft Barge

I have to say that the BW staff were exemplary in taking lines and working all the lock gates etc. Also Sara had given Eilidh some instruction on handling the ropes while going through the locks and she stuck to her task well, so well in fact it never once looked like this was her first experience of rope handling – well done Eilidh.

Eilidh in control

Our plan was to get through to the Stables at Glasgow Road Bridge and spend the night tied alongside, all through the locks Sara and Eilidh worked as a great team and made the whole process really easy and straightforward – not once did they miss a throw or end up with a rope in the water – really neat teamwork.

Sara & Eilidh - great teamwork

We said goodbye to Charles & Hamish at the Falkirk Wheel and wished them well on their return journey. We waited and waited for an operator to come down and open the bridge, so the girls had gone up to the Falkirk Wheel offices to find said operator. While they were away the person arrived Sod’s Law but it had to happen. I just cast off the lines and took Sun Dog through the bridge and picked the girls up on the other side amid much laughing and banter – so good for the soul.

Charles & Hamish cut off for the Union Canal

We were to pick up another boat at the road bridge further down river and accompany them to the Stables.

There were some really lovely parts of the canal, and given the fact the sun was shining, really enhanced the experience. I really never thought it would be so pretty.

Swans on the Canal

Delightful part of the Canal

When we arrived at the hydraulic road bridge we had to wait while two other boats came through first, this was to be the first of a number of different solutions to the road crossings now in place since the canal was closed and subsequently re-opened. This bridge being hydraulic with some others being basic and others can only be described as somewhat ingenious – like the Falkirk Wheel linking the Forth & Clyde canal with the Union canal.

Hydraulic Road Bridge -neat !!

We duly arrived at the Stables and had a lovely quiet night alonside the pontoon. Chap next to us was not so fortunate as he had picked up a lump of plastic sheeting around his prop. However as luck would have it, he has a dry suit onboard and nipped over the stern to cut this away and disposed of it safely so that no other boat would have trouble with this particular piece of plastic.

9th July 2007

We set off from the Stables (Glasgow Road Bridge) at 07.00, as we had a reasonable run to get to the next set of locks at Maryhill in Glasgow and start our descent towards Bowling. En route to Maryhill we reached Stockingfield Junction ( a “T” Junction) where to go left ,would take one towards Port Dundas whereas we branched right for Maryhill and arrived at the top of the locks around 08.30.

At the top of Maryhill Locks

Maryhill Locks

Once again the BW staff were already there preparing the locks, and lo and behold another 60ft barge was joining us for the descent. They were heading for the penultimate lock gate before Bowling, therefore we would be in company all day. When we were going “up the locks” with Charles and Hamish and their 60 ft barge, they always went in first and were properly tied alonside before we entered. This time as we were going “down the locks” we had to enter the lock first and then watch a mass of steel heading towards our fibreglass boat. All I can say is 10 out of 10 for the chap at the helm of this barge and he was inch perfect in every lock – a mighty relief to me I can assure you.

After going down the initial batch of locks at Maryhill we tied up to a rest area where there were BW shower blocks and toilets – everyone took full use of the facilities and also took time to enjoy a cuppa and feed the swans.

Rest Stop after Maryhill Locks

After this we had only another lock to negotiate before arriving at the worlds only sail through Chippie – right in the centre of Clydebank. As we were approaching we could see that McMonagles restuarant was shaped like a boat. We had been told by the BW staff earlier that we could tie alongside the pontoons and walk back to the restuarant, or tie up at the “take away” window and get our Fish N’ Chips prior to going onto the pontoons. Well what would you do ? – Correct we did the same and pulled up the take away hatch……………really neat and a “must do” if transitting the Canal for the first time – a real novelty.

We had to stay tied alongside the pontoons while the walkway to the shopping centre was closed to pedestrians and the bridge raised enough for us to get under – a fairly substantial number of people stood around watching all this happen – again I think pretty neat and different thing to happen whilst out shopping!

Only sail through Chippie in the World

Tying up to order Fish n'  Chips

Three Fish n' Chips to go please !!

Barge pulling into the take away hatch at McMonagles

On Pontoon enjoying Fish n' Chips

Family on the barge enjoying their Fish n' Chips

With everyone suitably rested we once again set off heading for what was for me, going to be one of the highlights of the trip – going through the Dalmuir Drop Lock – which is one on the ingenious solutions on the canal. Boats arrive in the canal at the same height as the road and then they drop the water level down so that boats are below the level of the road – boats then motor underneath and them reverse the process once across on the other side……..really neat solution.

Approaching Dalmuir Drop Lock

In the Drop Lock at road height.

Down we go - to get underneath the road.

Across underneath the road.

Up we go!

Back up to canal height.

Off we go

Exiting the Dalmuir Drop Lock we were asked to take our time getting down to the next bridge, which was one of the Bascule Bridges, and a neat fit for Sun Dog given the height and width of the wheelhouse – however we had been under others previously so no drama.

Bascule Bridge

Onwards from here we had another type of crossing ahead, this time stopping the vehicle traffic as it was a swing bridge – but prior to reaching this we had a our first glimpse of the Erskine bridge which spans the Clyde and proved we were nearing the end of the transit.

First glimpse of the Erskine Bridge

Approaching the Swing Bridge

Traffic Stopped :-)

Once through the swing bridge we had the penultimate lock before entering Bowling. The barges are not allowed to go any further once through this lock. If you look closely you can see the swing bridge only a few hundred yards astern.

Final Lock into Bowling 1

Within another few hundred yards we were at the final lock into Bowling and as the barge was not allowed through this lock it felt quite spacious 🙂

Eilidh Controlling the Stern in Final Lock

Exiting the Final Lock into Bowling

Once through this lock we had only to get under the footbridge and old rail bridge, neither of which needs to be opened – and we were into Bowling Basin where we would get the mast back up and all the rigging adjusted. Incidentally this re-stepping of the mast is included within the transit fee – which makes it even better value.

Looking back at the final lock

Last couple of bridges before Bowling Basin

Under the last bridges & entering Bowling Basin

Few hundred yards before end of transit

Looking back towards the final bridges

10th July 2007

Decided on a rest day after getting the mast up the previous evening, but with all the wee jobs that needed doing- it wasn’t too much of a rest day! However we did get the chance to see a small fishing boat coming in through the sea lock, and we went for a walk to look at the wrecks that are in the outer harbour. These are no real navigational issue for entering or leaving the canal, and I guess in the fullness of time they will be removed and this area will be developed.

Bowling Sea Lock

Wrecks in outer harbour 1

Wrecks in outer harbour 2

Outer harbour must have been bustling in the past.

With the stick back up.

Sun Dog all ready to go.

11th July 2007

All jobs done, topped up with water and fuel – the first refuelling since Marcus & I topped her up in Sunderland.

Total fuel 114 ltrs which equated to under 3 ltrs per hour since Sunderland – I reckon in the 16 hours the engine had been running in the canal (albeit barely above tickover) fuel consumption must have been around 1-1.5 ltrs per hour, as the overall fuel consumption when bringing her up from Ipswich was around 5 ltrs per hour at around 1600 revs. It will be interesting to see the consumption figures over the balance of the holiday.

Entered the sea lock at 11.00 in company with another yacht – once again BW staff were on hand to assist and hat’s off to Alex and all the guys from BW who made this transit so enjoyable and trouble free.

Alex  - BW Harbour Master at Bowling very helpful & friendly

When the lock gates opened the skipper of the other yacht opened his trottle as if the Devil himself was trying jump onboard and the poor guy at the stern almost lost the lifebuoy and possibly could have got himself caught up whilst trying to get the line off……………….not good……………but thankfully no one injured and no damage done…that is good. But the Lord himself only knows why this skipper wanted to exit at warp factor 5 !!

Anyhow, out we went exiting the lock and into the harbour then into the River Clyde for the balance of our holiday. A wonderful few days with good weather, excellent company, and exemplary service from British Waterways staff.

Looking back to Bowling Harbour

Any fellow Rogger owners who are considering this transit through the Forth & Clyde canal can do this happy in the knowledge that at least one (perhaps a lot more) has/have already done so – it could save a fair amount of time if travelling to the West of Scotland /Ireland from Holland etc – an alternative to having to go up to the Caledonian Canal and transit from Inverness to Fort William. Currently the charges are £6.00 per metre for a transit and less than half that price for a return journey, and bear in mind this also includes the re-stepping/dropping of the mast in Bowling. We ourselves had dropped our mast in Port Edgar before setting off for the canal, but my undertanding is there are facilities for dropping/re-stepping the mast around Grangemouth Yacht Club – but if you have any doubts, simply call either Carron or Bowling Sea Locks as the guys are very helpful and a credit to British Waterways.

One final point to end this part of the blog – and as a general observation for anyone planning to transit the canal. My engine overheat alarm went off once when going through the canal, and when I checked the raw water filter basket it had a fair amount of weed restricting the flow of cooling water to the engine. An easy fix and no damage done, but in my honest opinion it would be advisable to check the raw water filter basket at each stop – only takes minutes! Just glad that I had an audible alarm as I might not have noticed the engine temperature climbing on the gauge.