Raptor UK canoe sailing

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August 2009

the island towards Balmaha. Andy tried out a one-handed paddle, which had been given to him by the previous owner of his boat when he bought it, and that allowed him to keep one hand on his tiller. The pier on the north of Inchcailloch was completely submerged. Neither Andy nor I knew where the LLSC was located so luckily we had met Keith and he'd described its location near Milarrochy. The race support crew had told us to arrive before 5 p.m. if we wanted to visit as the club-house would be locked at that time, and we arrived with about 15 minutes to spare, only to find that they were still out on the loch, as was the majority of the becalmed fleet. We were offered a cup of tea and chatted with other members for a while before being shown one or two canoes in the storage area. Roger Hancock is the principal LLSC member responsible for the vintage canoe collection, much of which is still being restored, and we stopped briefly at his sloop as he was mooring, to pay our respects on leaving the club, before paddling back to Cashell. We hadn't spotted any of the current LLSC members sailing canoes.

Monday was calm and most members started to pack up and leave. AndyW had been hoping for a final outing before leaving but was disappointed by the lack of wind. I had managed to run my car battery down by connected too many electronic gadgets to the cigarette lighter outlet: laptop, GPS, video camera etc. This happened at Bala also, so I had bought booster cables and Andy helped me start my car before he left. I thought it best to give it a run to charge the battery, so drove down to Balloch and then up to Tarbet and across to Arrochar, looking at the feasibility of portaging my boat across from Loch Long to Loch Lomond: part of the famous Three Lochs circuit. Maybe next year...

MikeW had been keen to sail on Monday as he also planned to remain at Cashell an additional day, but, although the wind picked up in the afternoon, heavy rain also arrived and somehow I couldn't get motivated to leave my tent and so finished my book instead. Although forecast wet, luckily Tuesday morning stayed dry as I packed away my tent and boat. MikeW was heading out onto the loch as I was disassembling my Raptor on the beach in the best sailing conditions I had seen all week, with a moderate breeze and sunny skies.

Loch Lomond is an interesting venue, certainly more varied than Loch Tummel, where we have had the Scottish Summer Meet in 2007 and 2008. The facilities at Tummel Sailing Club are much better than Cashell though, with changing rooms and communal cooking and eating areas, making it a more sociable get-together in inclement weather. We could have had some sociable outdoor evening gatherings at Cashell if the weather had been kind but it wasn't so we didn't, although we did get together for drinks at the nearby Rowardennan Hotel on Sunday night, with PaulL providing a taxi service in his van for the drinkers amongst us. I would like to return to Loch Lomond as there is so much still to see. The conditions weren't ideal, particularly over the weekend, but I enjoyed my outings. I did feel sorry for other members, who only really had half a day's sailing during the meet, which seems very little reward for a four day stay and a long drive north. The upside was that there were few midges. I was only aware of them when pitching my tent on the first evening.

My final spate of failures only became apparent when I returned home. My travel recorder's database became corrupted on my computer so I lost all my track data for the meet. My POV video recorder's microphone hadn't liked being dunked when I capsized and didn't record any sound for the remainder of the meet (it's OK now that it's dried out). Finally my McMurdo PLB failed it's self-test after I returned and I've had to return it to McMurdo for the second time for investigation. I feel this is an important piece of safety equipment and I want to be sure it'll work if I ever need to use it.

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