Getting the Job Done - Arrival in Fort William

Slipstream Web Diary
Bill Cuthbert
Fri 1 Jul 2011 15:58
Paul and Nick enjoyed a well deserved beer on deck whilst that days racing crew set up the rig for a fast passage to Fort William. Our route was to take us directly Eastb towards the Isle of Man before we picked up the northerly tidal flow that would assist us up to the islands. We passed the Mull of Galloway in daylight then caught up with Beeline of Topsham who were struggling with an adverse tide inshore. Passing them with No2 spinnaker was a joy. Less so was the bodged spinnaker recovery as the wind died 5 mins later. We ploughed on into the night passing the Mull of Kintyre in the deep pre-dawn dark. Try passing that headland without the whole crew singing or whistling under their breath!
After a spectacular dawn saw us whizz past Team Rogan Josh and leave them MILES astern, we moved on to the Sound of Jura between the mainland and the isles of Jura and Islay. Amazing stuff. We were greatly cheered to hear from Nia at base that we now lay 21st and had moved up strongly on the leading boats.. Here the wind died again and required the dinghy paddles to be broken out as we proceeded to drift in the tide towards some rocky hazards by the Maccormack Islands. This spooked the skipper who was not keen to enter the Sound of Luing with no wind and risk being caught in the famous whirlpools of the Gulf of Corryvrechan.
The wind blew fair again and we wiggled our way through numerous channels and finally reached Loch Linnhe, at the end of which stands Fort William.
With Bill and Chris now being "sleep protected" to ensure freshness for the Ben, Nick and Paul managed some very long hours at the helm performing some taxing pilotage. The wind was very variable and required numerous spinnaker hoists and recoveries. George, who had determined to accompany the runners onto the Ben was also trying to sleep but kept being call to assist in foredeck works - all three were tireless inn their efforts to keep us ahead of Rogan Josh. This boat could now be seen clearly behind us.
We slipped through the Corran Narrows against very fierce counter flow by finding back eddies. How we sailed at 0.3knts in 2.5 knts of wind through a counter current of 4 knts is the stuff of legend. We came close but did not hit the bottom!
We arrived at the Corpach pontoon at 03.00 and our runners, Bill and Chris (+ George for fun) ran off into the dark. They encountered rain and snow on the top of the Ben. Sadly they were overtaken by runners from Rogan Josh (landed at 03.30) on the ascent. Paul and Nick had a much more daunting task - moving Slipstream round the corner and into the lock without her skipper. Bill pronounced their manoeuvering expertly done when they returned. They then went down for a few hours kip before the Finish.
At approx 09.17 the runners all returned and collapsed on the Finish Line into the welcoming arms of the TPYR volunteer ladies. They solemnly gave us our completion medals. We had 22nd of 33 boats.
After the finish, the kind chaps on Rogan Josh - to whom we rafted - invited us over for a taste of brand new Islay malt "Rocks". This 46% proof nectar soon made us firm friends after the competition of the previous days. They had had this bottle ribbed out to them from Islay earlier in the day!
We washed and scrubbed and went into Fort William for an upscale meal. We settled for Behaven bitter and a hearty one. Sleep followed for all. In the evening we attended the end of Race bash at the Caol Lochaber community centre. It was good to shake the hands of so many fellow competitors that we had crossed on trails or waved at on the water. We all received plenty of comments in respect of our "its lilac not pink" SLAM shorts and team kit. If their was a cup for best dressed crew, which there is not, then we would have won it. We have Nick to thank for that.
Next morning saw the breaking of the fellowship as we all burst off south. We parted at Glasgow Queen Street. A good crew who had shared a great and memorable adventure.
As we travelled slowly south through the Highlands, we all agreed that, although we had borne the brunt of the sleeplessness and physical effort, we had many people to thank "ashore". The delivery crews who worked Slipstream to Barmouth (Julie, Sarah, Richard, Halz, Shumps, Anna, Alison, Vicky and Nic, and Nia) and our fantastic support team (Alison, Shazza in Teignmouth) and especially Julie and Sarah (Caernarfon and Whitehaven). Without them the trip just would not have happened. We also appreciated the encouragement and help received from callers/texters during the Race.
Our thanks to all who assisted and supported our effort.