Raptor UK canoe sailing

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16 - 21 May 2010

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was a moderate northwesterly, which gave us an easy broad reach southwards. I achieved my top speed for the day (7.8 knots) shortly after sailing through the gap between Inchcruin and Inchfad islands. Continuing to follow, as far as possible, a straight line course from Cashel to Balloch took us between the small island of Creinch and Loch Lomond's largest island, Inchmurrin. This proved to be a mistake, as there was a large wind shadow behind the large island, so we had to paddle for a while to escape it. We would have been better keeping to the west of Inchmurrin, which although a slightly longer route, would have avoided the wind shadow and so been faster.

As we approached the entrance to the River Leven, I spotted an open area near Balloch Castle where we beached our boats to rig down our masts. As I stepped off my Raptor I saw someone running towards me and was surprised when he asked if we were from the Open Canoe Sailing Group. He introduced himself as RolandD, a founding and long-time member of the group who lives in the area and had spotted us as he walked his dog. Neither

Approaching the Maid of the Loch.

Roland with John and Andy.

Balloch Castle beach.

Balloch Castle group.

Rigging down masts.

Paddling to Balloch.

Paddling to Balloch.

Paddling to Balloch.

First section of Leven.

Paddling to Balloch.

Andy nor I had met Roland previously but John knew him well, so we decided to eat our packed lunches, allowing them time to chat. We arrived at the beach at 1 p.m. and left at 1:50 p.m., so were now running almost 2 hours late. We had hoped to be at Dumbarton by this time. It took us a further hour to paddle the short distance to the barrage, portage our boats around and set off down the Leven, by which time we were almost 3 hours behind schedule.

Passing steamer quay.

Raptor egress point.

First egress option.

Ready for portage.

Second egress option.

Top of slipway.

John starts portage.

Floating barrier.

The water level in the river was much lower than in August 2009, which made the journey downstream slower and made egress at the barrage more difficult, since the grassy bank that I had spotted last year was now three feet above the river. However, I unloaded my sidecar and was able to easily drag my Raptor up onto the grass, where I installed the carts before reloading the sidecar. Andy and John preferred to use the concrete slipway but the lower river level also made this egress more complicated. We could now see that the main (central) slipway was stepped, making it unsuitable for their trolleys, but they were able to use the narrower slipways either side to wheel their boats up, with all three of us helping. There is another wide slipway giving access back onto

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