Caledonian: Crew Changeovers and Canals
Kat Law and Diane Reid
By Kat Law – Deckhand
Our final run of eXXpedition Round Britain Leg 1- from Belfast into Arran was definitely the most enjoyable and rewarding of the first Leg of the expedition so far. We eventually had some nice off the beam/down wind sailing, and it was incredible to see how well the Leg 1 crew had grown particularly in their helming abilities. The pinnacle moment for me was when Sky News Hannah helmed in over 40 knots and hit 16 knots boat speed! The approach to Arran was stunning and the island of Ailsa Craig loomed out of the rain clouds as we made our way to our anchorage. After a very ‘fruity’ main drop, we had the anchor set and launched straight into anchor watch.
The next morning we said good bye to Leg 1 crew and prepared to get the boat ready for the incoming Leg 2 crew. It was lovely to see what personal bonds had been made on the first Leg, but then also the new enthusiasm of the joining crew. After a brief orientation the quietly excited Leg 2 crew went ashore to join the leaving crew for story time, which meant I got a rare moment alone, babysitting the boat on its anchor. It was a very peaceful evening and very much had the air of the quiet before the storm, which was confirmed when the crew returned, very wet from the rib ride out, bonded by stories and excited to get everything stowed and to begin their adventure.
The first trip of this Leg was slightly reminiscent of the infamous ‘Lands End’ and with lumpy seas and moderate winds, the gremlin of seasickness returned. However, we powered on through and got some epic sailing done in big swells and gusty winds. There was a bout of what I call ‘needle rain’ where the rain is so harsh it feels like you are having an aggressive round of electrolysis. But the sun came up and the wind and waves started to die and we were floored by the beauty of the Scottish coastline.
When we made it to the sea lock on the west side of the Caledonian Canal I think the whole crew was ready for some R and R. Anchored, again, at the foot of Ben Nevis we were all looking forward to the change of pace that the canal would bring. In particular was looking forward to practicing my line throwing as this is one of my weak points!
The beauty of the canal was staggering and also allowed us to get some science done. Sediment samples, air samples, and 2 manta trawls gave a wealth of data. In Loch Ness, there were no sightings of the mythical monster, but the trawl unearthed another kind of villain, lots of plastic! I have to say this trip has made me fall in love with this stretch of water, and I most certainly plan to come back, perhaps transiting on a kayak.
We are now waiting to go through the last couple of locks to continue our journey on to Edinburgh. The weather appears to not be breaking with tradition and more rain, and wind on the nose is forecast. However, despite this, I think everyone is excited to get cracking again!