Dolphins, seals, crabs and a frog named Gilbert

Leg 5 / Day 4 & 5 (Tuesday 26th & Wednesday 27th June)

Caledonian Canal – Lynn of Lorne – Oban – Crinan Canal – Ardmarnoch Bay

Saskia . .It was hard beginning this morning setting up the sails and allowing the wind to guide us forwardWe sailed south past the Lynn of Lorne passing scenery so devastatingly beautiful.. So enigmatic it was hard to look away!

The weather brightened up around noon and we all enjoyed a much deserved lunch of lasagne and chips.

Levels of excitement reached a crescendo when we witnessed a pod of dolphins swimming by the boat. It was magical. Watching the animals leaping out of the water was truly a sight to behold.

.It was a mad start to the day when leaving Oban. Trying to haul up the 60m anchor chain before breakfast was not easy. Fitness has definitely improved.

I have now decided how I feel about sailing. It is literally methadone . . .all consuming. No greater feeling in the world than when the boat is cutting through the  icy water.. . .smooth . . . free.

Hilda . . .It’s just a few days after midsummer and we are way up north and west so it gets dark really late. At midnight you could almost read a newspaper. Then it is light again by 3am.

On Saturday and Sunday it rained often but the sun came out on Monday and we had two glorious days of sunshine with just enough wind to sail but not so much that the sea was rough.

After sailing south from our anchorage we sailed past the Isle of Seil – we didn’t see any seals except for a brief glimpse of a seals head checking us out. But we did sea the ‘bridge over the Atlantic’ which connects the Isle of Seil to the mainland over a narrow stretch of sea at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

For nearly an hour we were accompanied by about twenty dolphins which swam by the boat. One of them rolled over and stared at us from underwater with it’s beady eye.

We continued south past the Gulf of Corriwreckan and the famous whirlpool north of Jura where the Atlantic is squeezed through a narrow underwater chasm.

We could see a strange stillness on the sea’s surface which could lure underwater sailors but we kept at a safe distance

Saskia . . .Get up. Eat. Pass through a lock. Rest. Pass through a lock. It rains. Pass through a lock. Navigate. Pass through a lock. This was the perpetual motion of the morning. It was exhausting work manually move the 15 lock gates going along the Crinan Canal. However when we got out into the open sea things got better. We passed endless islands and uninhabited coastline. In my peripheral vision I could see the horizon stretching for miles around, mist shrouding much of the land. We docked up near Loch Fyne and lowered the anchor for the night. As a special treat we wre allowed to go ashore in a small dinghy to explore and have a treasure hunt.

Shelly . . . Today was a hard day as we had to pull the boat through  the locks as it weighs 27 tonnes. We also had a fun day as we saw loads of dolphins.

Kayleigh . . .Today we have seen amazing mammals in the Lynn of Lorne. We saw dolphins and the head of a seal. And we went past a whirlpool near the Atlantic Ocean.

Hilda . . . Gavin has been busy throughout the day making repairs to the boat. He never asks for thanks but whenever he disappears you can find him beavering away somewhere onboard, for example tying elaborate knots to fix the guardrails around the deck.

Francis showed us how to draw our position on the chart by putting a cross on the latitude and longitude reading. This apparently would be useful in case we got lost.

The Crinan Canal is completely different from the Caledonian Canal. It is much narrower but fortunately we didn’t meet any oncoming vessels. There wasn’t much room to pass. It’s much shorter but their are lots of locks – and unlike the Caledonian Canal where the lock gates are machine operated, these are manual – you have to push them open. It’s very slow.

The lock keepers have been friendly. Almost all like to chat and passing tourists enjoy watching the boats going in and out of the locks. We talked to many international visitors doing our bit for international exchange. We went through the Caledocian Canal together with a big Swedish yacht in tandem, motoring across the locks and lochs.

Although the Crinan Canal is only 12 miles long it seemed to last a long time. It felt like being trapped in Groundhog Day. That we’d never get out of the canal.

Heather . . .The trip up to now has been amazing. We saw dolphins and they came right up to the boat. We also found a frog and called it Gilbert. We went through lots of locks that we had to push open ourselves. It was hard work and a really back breaking task.

We anchored up at Ardmarnock Bay and pumped up the dinghy and went ashore. We had to find four things. It was hard to find them as we left it to the last minutes when the boat was coming back to get us.. We made a fire but it didn’t work for long.

When I was tying the fenders to the side of the boat, my glasses fell off into the water and they sunk.

On the island we found a crab and called it Gavin.

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