Raptor UK canoe sailing

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16 - 21 May 2010

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it safe and, after leaving Kilcreggan, steered immediately for Blairmore, on the western shore of the loch, across from Knockderry Castle. Winds were light so my maximum speed of the day, achieved as I approached the western shore of Loch Long, was only 5.6 knots. I beached my boat at 2:45

p.m. and waited for the others. I saw Andy heading my way but John continued to sail up the west of Rosneath Peninsula, keeping to the eastern shore of Loch Long. He didn't appear to notice that he was becoming separated from Andy. I assumed he would cut across once he reached Cove Bay but he continued sailing north. He told me later that he didn't realise that there were any restrictions in Loch Long. Lesson learned: never assume people have read

Blairmore beach.

South Coulport.

(or remember) information you have posted! I should have briefed everyone before we set off from Kilcreggan. I radioed QHM and advised them that two of us were proceeding up Loch Long to Loch Goil and was asked to keep to the western side of the loch. I didn't include John in the report since we were no longer sailing together. Andy and I set off from Blairmore at 3:20 p.m., tracking John's progress from the western side of Loch Long, and eventually spotted two RIBs speeding John's way as he approached Coulport, the site of the Royal Naval Armaments Depot and the Navy's Trident missile storage. We passed a harbour radar installation on the western shore, which is probably what detected John. The RIBs only remained with him for a short time before heading our way, while John continued on the same course past Coulport. Each RIB was manned by a single crew (helmsman), unlike the two-man RIB crew in Gareloch. The Coulport Police seemed more friendly and informal than their Gareloch colleagues, remarking on the weather and relaying a message from John, who told them that he'd lost sight of us. I was surprised that they'd allowed him to continue sailing past Coulport and he crossed over to the western side of Loch Long once he was half-way up the Coulport enclave. He had by this time (about 3:40 p.m.) drawn a long way ahead of Andy and I.

The wind then died so we had to try and close the gap by paddle power alone. We passed a group of children learning how to canoe at Ardentinny. It seems there are several outdoor activity centres in the area, which might explain why the MoD Police adopt a different approach to the public in Loch Long compared to Gareloch. Coulport is a large military base, measuring almost 3 km from north to south, with three main groups of buildings on the coast. The most northerly building is a covered floating dock, which seems to be the most sensitive area, as a Police launch was on duty nearby. Andy and I both spotted fins in the calm waters of Loch Long, which we assume was a school of porpoises. I eventually caught up with John at the entrance to Loch Goil. The Coulport Police had suggested camping on the southern shore, near the entrance, but we planned to visit Carrick Castle first and then look for a camping site further north up Loch Goil. It was almost 6 p.m. when I beached my boat near the castle.

A small fishing boat drew near as I approached the castle, and the skipper asked if I was OK. I'm not sure why he thought I might not be, but I thanked him and said "Yes". His boat contained half a dozen smiling tourists, who were maybe setting off on a porpoise-watching tour. He was impressed when I told him about our expedition. I asked him about possible camping sites further up Loch Goil but he said most tourers stayed at the entrance to the loch, as mentioned by the Coulport policeman. When planning the expedition I thought we'd be able to find a suitable spot to camp half way up on the eastern shore of Loch Goil, but I now saw that this shore was too steep. The tour guide agreed, as did a local resident living near the castle, who said there was a flat area further up on the western shore where people camped sometimes. I got the impression that no one really wanted people camping close to their homes, which is understandable. It only takes a few inconsiderate campers to sour things for future visitors. It's probably not a great idea, therefore, to ask locals for advice on possible camping spots.

Carrick Castle.

Carrick Castle sign.

Carrick Castle arrival.

Carrick Castle beach.

After we had all taken photos of the privately-owned castle, we headed on up the western shore of Loch Goil. I had spotted a headland that looked a promising camping area. On the way there, I saw the small platform mentioned by the Carrick Castle resident, but it had nowhere nearby to beach our boats, so was unsuitable. The headland near Cormonachan however proved to be a good spot. There were three houses 3-400 metres away but we were shielded from them by trees near the houses, so didn't invade their privacy. High water at Lochgoilhead was at 5:21 p.m. so the tide was starting to ebb as we beached shortly after 7 p.m. The headland was obviously used at times for cattle grazing, judging by the numerous cowpats, but there were none in the area when we

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