Sailing the Great Glen
Sun 20 Jul 2014 18:08
We all managed a night’s sleep despite Mingara being fully occupied with four aboard. Porridge and after a call from the lock keeper at Fort Augustus we started the stairway of locks up to the NE end of Loch Oich. Lots of tourists were photographing us taking Mingara through (along with other vessels of course), which added to the culture shock of civilisation and bustle after the trip from further north.
The locks along the Caledonian Canal were hand-winched until 1962. Since they have been moved hydraulically, up to 12 passages through the series of locks in Fort Augustus have been possible each day instead of four.
I thought the locks would be a doddle after the adventures at sea but Mingara was the leading vessel, closest to the forward gates. When the million plus litres of water came into the second lock our bow was pushed away from the side and I needed the help of several strong men to hold the rope to the bow from the lockside while the lock-keepers (a team of three on this series of four locks) closed the sluice and put an extra turn of rope around the cleat which was failing to hold it. TT was glad not to be launched into the maelstrom below. For the next locks, two turns of rope were judiciously applied.
We had a bit of fun tacking into the wind along Loch Oich, which was a joy for Nick and myself, before mooring at the SW end of the loch.
Over the mountains on the southeast side of the loch, a Golden Eagle put in a brief and distant appearance.
After lunch, we said goodbye to Nick who went back to Inverness by bus or hitching. The remaining three relaxed at the Great Glen activities and holiday complex, went for a short amble along the Great Glen way (a section recently walked by Steve and Maryse) and are about to eat out (for the third night in a row!) at the restaurant here.
This more relaxed and serene part of the adventure will continue tomorrow to Fort William.
Another great day.
The photo is of Nick holding the stern rope on the course of locks in Fort Augustus.
Steve, Maryse and Trevor