Monday, 1 July 2013

Onward Into Loch Linnhe


Approaching Fort William
Lord of the Glens
Day Trippers on Loch Linnhe
The Corran Narrows
Kevin’s chart perusals had come up with three potential spots to drop the hook on Saturday evening and after some further consideration we agreed on a sheltered bay on the south side of Loch Linnhe inside of the isle of Shuna (not to be confused with an island of the same name just a few miles further south near Jura and Croabh).  A tiny horseshoe shaped bay, it looked ideal to sit out the forecast 5-7, perhaps gale 8 later south westerly winds for the night or possibly two.

We left the Caledonian Canal behind us turning first left and then south west past Fort William and some rather drab looking hotels on the main road that runs along the loch side. The hills above draped in grey cloud that was ever changing in shape as the wind pushed it north eastwards. We had the ebbing tide with us but were motoring directly into the misty wind whistling up Loch Linnhe. The conflict of wind against tide over such a distance was kicking up a bit of a chop, the short waves were white capped and the occasional one sent spray skittering down the side decks towards us.  Our AIS was working again, it spotted the Lord of the Glens, a small cruise ship heading our way before we did, though we knew from the Corpach lock keepers that it was on its way north, back to Inverness from its weekly cruise round the Western Isles. It's 47 metres length and beamy width would be a snug fit through the locks, we were glad we hadn’t had to pass it in the canal itself.

It began to rain, a fine mizzle as the weather closed in, or rather as the cloud did, we may now be at sea level but soon so was the cloud! So much for magnificent views of the Highlands! The radar was fired up so we could “see” the land which was also closing in on either side as we rapidly approached the Corran Narrows with its light house and more importantly car ferry crossing. We wouldn’t want to end up colliding with the oddly shaped Corran ro-ro ferry whose on and off ramps are angled out at 45 degrees like open arms off its port hand corners. The tide was running out through this dogleg in the loch as down a plughole. The other side would be rough with the much longer fetch, the shallower water and the stronger wind and it was, waves breaking over the bow and the sea’s surface boiling up. Nine knots or more over the ground, the Narrows spat us out into the slightly calmer waters beyond. Still little scenery to view, just misty dark shapes to our left and right.

The headland of Rubha Mor was quickly passed, we left the low island of Eilean Balnagowan to port and then altered course for Dallens Bay. The cloud lifted a little and the drizzle eased. Ahead we could see lots of sailing boats on moorings – wrong choice of anchorage? In a word yes, despite what the 2013 Almanac and our pilot guide claimed there was little space for a yacht to anchor especially one of our size who’d need plenty chain out and hence lots of swinging room in the bad weather forecast. As we got among the moorings we were hailed from the pontoon. There was a mooring free that would take our length and weight on the outer edge of the moorings almost in the Sound of Shuna just north of Knapp Point, £10 per night. Well we were here, the forecast was for five to sevens (the “perhaps gale eight” had mysteriously disappeared) it seemed like a bargain so we took it. The moorings owner came over in an aluminum dory to assist and cheerily relieve us of a tenner, the tenant of this particular buoy is not due back until July 5th so we can decide in the morning whether or not to linger.

Corpach - Dallens Bay 18 nautical miles logged, 661nm total

The crab-like Corran Ferry

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