Raptor UK canoe sailing

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16 - 21 May 2010

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The next problem proved to be my video recording equipment. I wore this throughout the expedition and had restarted recording when I left Garelochhead, only stopping the recorder as I boarded the launch. The Police were concerned that I might have recorded some sensitive installations so asked to look at what I had filmed. Unfortunately the clip was 50 minutes long and my video equipment only has a 2x fast forward speed, so it took over 20 minutes to arrive at the part of the clip that was of interest to them. My video camera has a wide-angle lens so the clip showed little detail of the base installations but I soon realised that if I wanted to be on my way quickly the best thing would be just to delete the entire clip. Once I had done this, we were free to proceed with our journey after having a mug shot taken of each of us. Luckily I'd shaved and washed my hair that morning.

We cast off from the launch at 4:50 p.m., so the entire saga had taken less than 1 hours. We'd drifted a long way north, so had to resume beating to windward from the northern end of Faslane, this time taking care to keep well away from the base (and the launch, which was back on station). We'd been told that John would meet us back at the campsite and I assumed he was well ahead, as I could see no sign of him. At 5:30 p.m. I beached my boat near the spot we'd stopped for lunch and, as I waited for Andy, I also spotted John to the north. He must have been waiting for us on

the shore near Faslane and I hadn't noticed him as I sailed past. I joined them as they drew close but forgot to restart my GPS recorder, so have no track of my route back to the campsite. I beached my Raptor to wait once more, this time at Castle Point by some holiday chalets, and we headed back down the eastern side of Rosneath Peninsula together. I arrived at Meikleross Bay at about 7:30 p.m. so the trip had taken almost nine hours. A farmer was

Castle Point beach.

Andy at Rhu Marina.

spreading manure on the nearby fields so we were glad that we'd pitched our tent some distance away. While Scotland's Outdoor Access Code gives the public certain rights of access, we'd probably have had to move our tents while he treated his fields, or risked an unpleasant shower. John and Andy built another bonfire that evening with the plentiful supplies of driftwood on the beach and we sat around it discussing the interesting day. We enjoyed our stay at Meikleross Bay, which is an

attractive spot, with few people passing by (just an occasional dog-walker) but with a view across to the highly populated southern side of the Firth. We didn't see a better spot to camp on Rosneath Peninsula.

Tuesday's bonfire.

The third day's track.

Video clip: Large/small

Wednesday, 19 May
Daily journey distance (approx.): 23 km (14 miles)
We were again slow at striking camp, eventually setting off just before midday. Andy wasn't helped by a local dog-walker who stopped and chatted with him for 40 minutes while he was trying to get ready, but he deserves credit for his PR duties with the local community. It allowed John and I to get on with our own packing, which worked out best since Andy was usually the quickest of the three of us at striking camp. We all wheeled our boats down to the water's edge before loading them. The others found it much easier to wheel their boats since their carts have pneumatic tyres. The hard plastic wheels on my Molly carts were not great on the soft sand at the head of the beach. My main hull cart slipped around the hull while I was trying to turn my Raptor and I suspect that my rough handling damaged the cart's plastic body, although I only became aware of this damage on Friday. Low water was at 10:12 a.m. so we had to fight the start of the incoming tide as well as

the westerly wind when beating up to Kilcreggan, where we stopped for lunch. The forecast was again for F3-4 wind but while it was supposed to be from the southeast (which would have been ideal), it always

Kilcreggan lunch stop.

Andy's water refill.

Leaving Kilcreggan.

seemed to be directly into our faces, firstly from the west while we were in the Firth of Clyde and then from the north when we arrived in Loch Long. We set off from Kilcreggan at 1:30 p.m., Andy and John having replenished their water supplies and all of us dumping our trash in the bins there. Like Gareloch, Loch Long is also a Dockyard Port under the jurisdiction of the Queen's Harbour Master and with both Restricted and Protected Areas, which are marked on charts. I decided to play

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