Raptor UK canoe sailing

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16 - 21 May 2010

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Andy and I decided to leave the beach after 20 minutes, as the tide was starting to ebb rapidly and we didn't want to be stranded. We sailed back and forth at the mouth of the Leven, and John joined us another 20

Entering the Clyde at Dumbarton Castle.

Sailing down the Firth of Clyde.

Rougher water in the Clyde's main channel.

minutes later. It was now more than two hours since high water and the ebb tide was flowing strongly, with the (predicted) result that there was a steep swell in the deeper water of the buoyed main channel of the Firth. Initially we were able to avoid this main channel and the worst of the swell but, as we approached Port Glasgow, the rapidly drying mud and sand banks on the north of the Firth forced us into it. By this time the Spring tide was flowing at maximum strength against the fresh northwesterly breeze, so sailing conditions became marginal. However, with no easy egress either to the drying northern shore or to the built-up southern shore, we decided to press on. After struggling initially, John was by now making good progress and Andy was handling the conditions well. We kept a close eye on each other and eventually conditions eased as we passed Greenock, where the water deepened and we were able to turn northwest towards our destination. The radio mast on top of Gallow Hill, near Meikleross Bay, gave us a clear aiming point.

I arrived at Rosneath Peninsula shortly before 9 p.m., 5 hours later than planned, so the sail from Dumbarton had taken over 3 hours, rather than the 2 hours I had expected. Andy was close behind me and John arrived a short while later. Low water had passed (at 8:10 p.m.) but the Spring tide had exposed a line of rocks across the entrance to Meikleross Bay, which made access difficult. Fortunately there was a small gap towards the western end of this natural barrier, and the slowly flooding tide increased this gap by the minute. After landing and offloading our boats, we helped each other drag them 100 metres or so up the beach to the high water mark and just had time to

pitch our tents before nightfall. I had reconnoitred this beach before the start of the expedition so knew there was a small headland to the east of the bay where we could pitch our tents. This proved to be an ideal campsite. It had been a long, tiring day but we all felt pleased to have made it despite the testing conditions. After a meal we settled down for our first night of wild camping.

The first day's track.

Video clip: Large/small

Monday, 17 May
Daily journey distance (approx.): 23 km (14 miles)

I woke early (before 6 a.m.). It was a clear morning and the view across the benign-looking Firth of Clyde towards a sun-bathed Greenock was beautiful, so I took a few photos before the others started to stir.

Meikleross Bay and Gallow Hill mast.

View of Greenock across Firth of Clyde.

Rosneath Peninsula campsite for 3 nights.

Meikleross Bay is fairly steep near the high water mark but then deepens more gradually to the rock barrier at its entrance. As a result there was still plenty of water in the bay 2 hours before high water but it all drained over the next 2 hours, drying to a distance of 100 metres or so from the high water mark. The mussel and boulder-strewn beach makes for a difficult low water launch.

6:10 a.m. (LW-2.5).

7:50 a.m. (LW-0.5)

7:50 a.m. (LW-0.5)

Rock barrier at LW.

Nearest neighbour.

Breakfast time.

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