Raptor UK canoe sailing

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August 2010

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Loch Lomond proved once again how ferocious conditions can become in a short space of time. During the 2010 OCSG Scottish Summer meet at the loch, over the August English Bank holiday weekend, I encountered sailing conditions as challenging as any that I have experienced previously during my Raptor ownership. It was with a sense of déjà vu that I read EddieP's (the meet organiser's) email, two days before I was due to travel to Cashel, saying that an OCSG member, who had attempted to make a late booking, had been informed that the site was flooded and that no further bookings were being accepted. This wasn't a great surprise, as we had just endured several days of heavy rain in Scotland, the site is poorly drained and the burn that runs through the site often overflows. I had booked for five nights (GBP96) and planned to drive up to Cashel on Thursday, 26 August, whereas most of the other members were expected to arrive the next day. I wanted to explore the northern end of the loch and this year was prepared for a two day mini-

expedition, with one night's wild camping near Ardlui planned. I had attempted this journey as a day trip on a couple of occasions in August 2009 but had never made it further than Tarbet, due firstly to unfavourable conditions and then equipment failure. I also planned a detour to north Loch Lomond during the Five Lochs expedition in May 2010, but again had been foiled, this time due to damage to my Raptor's hull during the portage from Arrochar. So I was hoping that it would be fourth time lucky.

When I arrived at Cashel on Thursday evening I was surprised to find that the site seemed quite dry (and with plenty of empty spaces), and the level of Cashell Burn low. I asked the check-in assistant about the apparently conflicting information but she pleaded ignorance. This was the start of some strange experiences at Cashel during the 2010 meet. I emailed Eddie to let him know about the actual conditions but this proved to be too late for him to relay to other members, who might have been discouraged from attending by his earlier email. I rigged up my

boat and left in on the beach, ready for the start of my trip on Friday.

The site manager came by my tent the next morning and asked if that was my boat on the beach. When I confirmed that it was, he told me that it was not permitted for boats to be left there overnight. I said that this must be a new restriction since it had been permitted in 2009. He agreed and said the reason was that the loch authorities were starting to clamp down on illegal (unlicensed) moorings throughout the loch and had also started enforcing the 'no overnight beaching' rule. He said that I would need to stow my boat in the designated area near the entrance to the site. I told him that I planned to head off for an overnight trip so this wouldn't be an issue for me until Saturday night but that many other group members would be arriving later on Friday. He was clearly alarmed at the prospect of more boats arriving as he said the yard was almost full so finding space for many more boats was going to be a problem for the site staff. I wasn't keen on the idea of using the yard each night anyway, since this would require rigging down the mast at the end of each day and a 200 m portage each way. Another staff member came by later and suggested we leave our boats on the beach beyond the campsite boundary fence, as this would absolve the site of responsibility. This seemed a reasonable compromise to me and I thanked him for the suggestion. As I was packing, Julie and WayneD came by the tent with their son Thomas. They told me that they had been refused entry to Cashel with their van, despite having made a reservation, so had been obliged to book into the nearby Milarrochy Bay (Caravan Club) campsite. It seems that Cashel

does not allow commercial vans into the site, and side windows are required in the back of all vans. I phoned Eddie before setting off, letting him know about the new restrictions and the whereabouts of Wayne's family.

I took a spare tent and sleeping bag with me so did not need to rig down my tent at Cashel

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