Raptor UK canoe sailing

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August 2010

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before setting off on the trip north. I was a little delayed by all of the administrative issues that arose on Friday morning so didn't get under way until after 11:30 a.m. but it was a perfect day for

the start of the expedition with clear sunny skies and a decent breeze from the north. I stopped for a 40-minute lunch break at a beach on the western shore, south of Inverbeg, at 1 p.m. and then headed on, passing Tarbet, where I reached my maximum speed for the day (10.1 knots), at 3 p.m. A front was moving in from the west and the wind died ahead of it,

forcing me to resort to paddle-power for a short time. I passed within 200 m of Tarbet Isle, which lies 110 m off the western shore of the loch, without noticing it. When planning the trip I had always intended to visit the castles on Inveruglas Isle and Island I Vow, the latter being the most northerly of Loch Lomond's islands, but hadn't noticed the small Tarbet Isle on the map. It was only 3 weeks later that I read WalterG's trip reports, which were published in two issues of The Gossip (in July & August 2000), where he mentions landing on Tarbet Isle during a similar trip to north Loch Lomond. Tarbet Isle has no castle and is, according to Walter, a gull mortuary, so I don't think I missed much. The wind picked up for a short time then died again as I passed Inveruglas hour later, requiring further paddling. The bank of clouds had now moved east, bringing with it the rain and fickle winds. I find these conditions the most frustrating while trying to paddle-sail my Raptor as the boom and mainsheet constantly cross from side to side, impeding paddling and forcing me to duck. I prefer to reef my sail and tether my boom with the starboard shock-cord to keep it well clear of the cockpit, so that I can paddle more comfortably. Of course, having done this, the wind invariably picks up again shortly afterwards. My video record of the trip stopped at 4:30 p.m., shortly after I passed Island I Vow, due to my equipment's 4GB file limit (3 hours' continuous recording) but sailing conditions remained difficult in the last section of the loch up to Ardlui, due to the fickle winds.

I began looking for likely camping spots as I approached Ardlui and saw a few possible sites but nothing ideal. I ruled out the western shore, as it is too busy, due to the close proximity of the A82. The West Highland Way footpath runs along the eastern shore so this is also quite busy and hikers occupied one of the more promising camping areas, at the top of the loch. I therefore decided to continue up River Falloch and to look for a camping site on the banks of the river. This proved to be a good decision. I reefed my sail, as the wind was blowing straight down Glen Falloch,

and after about 20 minutes paddling I spotted a small, grassy platform near the eastern riverbank. This was raised above the marshy flood plain so was a dry spot for me to pitch my tent. Most of the eastern river bank is tree-lined, with a 2 - 3 foot drop-off, so is not ideal for landing my (wide) boat, while the area I eventually came across was open and provided

easy egress. I arrived at my destination at 5:40 p.m., which was ideal, giving me plenty of time to cook my meal and wash up before nightfall. My total passage time


Video clip: Large/small

from Cashel was 5 hours and the distance travelled was 38.7 km

(20.9 nm). The West Highland Way deviates away from the area where I camped, so the only "traffic" that I heard was on the other side of the river (on the A82) and I had a peaceful night.

On Saturday morning I managed to get under way an hour earlier than the previous day, setting off shortly after 10:30 a.m. in drizzly, overcast conditions. I wanted to see how far it was possible to navigate up the river so headed north initially towards Inverarnan. After 10 minutes paddling, at a point where the river meanders sharply from east to west, further progress was halted by a wire and cable slung across the river at a height of about 15 ft. I decided not to rig down my mast to pass underneath, so instead turned back and started my return journey

south. Walter's report pointed out another feature that I missed: the Inverarnan Canal. I actually paddled past the entrance to this short canal without knowing of its existence, as it is completely overhung by trees. I would have liked to explore it a little (on foot). The point in the river where I was forced to turn back was about 25 m beyond the canal entrance. I couldn't see any reason for the cable crossing the river, since there was no sign of any human presence on the southern bank. It is possible that it was placed there to prevent sailors continuing, as high-

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