Number 139 / November 2002

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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some three years ago on a trip in these parts. The flora results in sea, wading and woodland birds living side by side.

I was in the harbour at Tayvallich just after high water - well, the first high water, the port has two high and low points of the tide some time apart. I could digress and explain why, but basically this is due to the shape of the loch and its inlets. I tied up outside the inn, had a very good pub meal, phoned in to HQ, and then had a brainwave about where to camp. I hadn't brought a trolley, not possessing a small strong one at present, and the campsite, although next door to the pub, meant a trip of 300 metres or so. The evening was perfect and still, the wind dropping off at 6.00 p.m., and so I paddled off around the corner some mile and a half to the Fairy Islands in Loch Sween. I had never made them before, but they offered sandy little beaches in great shelter, with midges still, but I bivvied down for a peaceful night under the boat with a sleeping mat, and a tarp for shelter.

Day 2 - Tayvallich to Crinan via Lussa Bay, Jura - 21 miles
This was my long day - at the end of this it was obvious that it would be sheer exhaustion that would limit my mileage, even with the feeling that I could go on forever. The day dawned as expected, heavy dew early on, then hot sun by 10.00 a.m. I was out at the mouth of Loch Sween by 9.30 a.m., with the tide under me, and a helpful ENE breeze. It was a little slower rounding Danna and Loch na Cille, and I landed on Rubha na Cille for a break and a drink.

Jura looked so near and enticing - could I do it? The Sound of Jura is only two and a half miles across at this point, and it looked like I was in for an easy sail up a straight coast to Crinan today. I pondered for only a few minutes, and then was off. I could also see that I would have several yachts for company, and this boosted my confidence. Porpoises appeared to help me on my way, two or three always around my bow. Landfall for Noggin was at Inverlussa, a lush little bay with a small burn, nearly dry now. I didn't stay long, having a primeval urge to gain the 'safety' of the mainland. On the way back over, heading close-hauled for Carsaig Bay (nearly back overland to Tayvallich!) I was really feeling the pangs of hunger. I needed something more substantial in the middle of the day, and started to dream of pasta, and wishing I had brought more food. Chocolate and crunchy bars weren't really enough. The sun was also very hot, even more out to sea, and I seriously wondered if I'd run out of sunscreen! What a problem for late September!

I couldn't quite make Carsaig Bay, but did hole up on the north side of Carsaig Island, a neat little anchorage when there is a strong blow outside. It was only 1.30 - felt like I'd been going for 12 hours! It was also only some 5 miles at most around the corner to Crinan, and I knew that I'd have to sort out where to camp for the night. The wind died, and was a bit more northerly when it came up, so I plodded on, dreaming of the teashop in Crinan Basin, the start of the canal. After a couple of hours, I made Crinan Harbour, which is a separate anchorage on the west side of the peninsula, and flopped down for a sleep on the grass ashore. No obvious campsite here. A yacht had been dawdling behind me during the afternoon, and a German couple, Fritz and Connie, then came ashore to chat to me, intrigued by the canoe. We agreed on a joint expedition to the teashop, and I duly filled up on carbohydrate, and we had a pleasant wander around to look at the boats in the basin.

I was soon interested in food again, but decided against the Crinan Hotel, with its dinner menu at 42.50! There were undoubtedly cheaper meals along the canal at Cairnbaan, but how to get there? I had checked in by phone, unsure of my plans, and was just dreaming in the early evening sun, when my two new German friends, who also wanted to eat ashore, came back with the solution. This trip was really full of serendipity. They had got talking to other German tourists, and arranged a lift to the food! We spent a great evening talking about touring in Scotland, which they knew very well, canoeing in Bavaria, and their first charter in Scottish waters. They were going back through the canal the next day to Inverkip, so at dark I was back at my canoe, next door to a shed at the harbour, after a welcome whisky on board their boat. [Read Part 2.]


Jibs (PeterF)

When he invented the sliding seat I doubt that Paul Butler had any idea of the consequences, but here we are stuck with an exhilarating, demanding, esoteric, expensive machine - the IC 10. In all its hundred years or so of development, it has earned respect but not popularity. I don't pretend to know why, but all the successful single-handers are una-rigged. Serious canoe racing is obviously a single-handed sport; no one wants a tub of lard in the boat. Before we allow jibs, and given we want more people sailing, we should think about the possible consequences.

As JohnB says, the race officer cannot control what happens on the water and jibs will be flown in higher winds. Inevitably we shall have roller reefing, stayed rigs, bendy masts to control the slot, Morrison struts, mast rams and what all. Not inevitable perhaps but that's the way things always go in a development class. You might maintain some control by only allowing jibs in two-up racing - it would even the score a bit - but I don't think that's where the pressure's coming from. I'm suspicious of figures when I don't know the basis for calculation but obviously a jib helps. I have one, don't use it much, it spoils me rhythm.

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