Antipole cruises

Tarbert and the Crinan Canal

IMG_1362Tarbert proved to be a lovely harbour – beautifully sheltered behind an islet and a very ‘boaty’ place.  The harbour has a fleet of fishing boats, traditional boat yard and a sail maker, and there is a large marina now.  The weekend after we left they were expecting 130 visiting yachts for the Scottish Series race meetings.

On Tuesday we sailed for Adrishaig 9nm north which holds the entrance to the Crinan Canal.  The wind failed and we were becalmed for several hours.  At least it was not raining this time and when a light air eventually appears it is a magical moment as the boat stirs and comes alive again.

At Adrishaig we locked into the Crinan Canal and passed up the first four locks before stopping for the night at a very pleasant spot.  It was strange be moored looking down over the town – Lochgilphead, which we explored the next morning.  It has been a pleasant change to be on the canal and a very different experience from the sea.  At times we were gliding through acres of blue bells and primroses.

On the Wednesday we sailed and motored a short distance to Cairnbaan, where there are many rocks bearing ancient marks.  We walked to see some which are like concentric circular patterns believed to have been made 4500-5000 years ago.  Their purpose is not known.  When a storm blew down some trees in 2008 more were revealed under their roots, so there may be quite a lot in the area.  Were they of religious significance, tribal, an art form or was there just a craze for making them?

The next day we ascended four more locks before descending through a flight of five.  These locks are still manually worked, so there is much to be done getting the level right for entry, opening the gates, filling or emptying and opening to leave.  You can see Ynskje putting her back into the work.  We finally came to Crinan itself.

IMG_1426Crinan is a tiny place with a lock basin, hotel, boat yard and less than a dozen houses, noted for its sunsets over the Western Isles – it did not disappoint.  We will emerge here into the sea north of the Kintyre peninsula. This land mass, which creates the narrow North Passage between Scotland and Ireland is hugely significant for tides. There is a four hour difference in tide times in Crinan compared with Loch Fyne from where we entered the canal. You can perhaps see why the Mull of Kintyre (the tip) is tricky to round in a yacht and why we chose to use the canal to skip that. The canal was built for that very reason.

Corryvreckan WhirlpoolThe Sound of Jura presents its own challenges. At the northern tip of the island of Jura lies the Gulf of Corrivreckan. Here very strong tides flow over an under water sea mount, which causes standing waves of white water and a large whirl pool. It is one of the largest permanent whirlpools on earth. It is said that at certain times the roar is so loud that it can be heard ten miles away. At full strength the currents can reach over 10 knots and produce waves over 9 m high. Although it is said to be possible to pass at slack water,  we plan to side-step it by passing clock-wise round Jura.

More news in due course.
love to all…
Tony & Ynskje

2 thoughts on “Tarbert and the Crinan Canal

  1. Alison Naisby

    Good to hear news of you, glad you are having such an interesting time. we are settling in here at the Finca.
    Love from us both, Alison XX

  2. Susan Bloom

    Hi Tony & Ynskje, Sounds really interesting. I loved the ancient rocks bearing ancient marks which no one knows their meaning. I didn’t know that the British Isles boasted the large whirlpool in the whole world – why haven’t I heard of it before if it’s that impressive. I think that you should write to the BBC and suggest that you and Ynskje do a programme on your journey at their expense so that we can all share your adventures. I can’t believe that I don’t know about these Scottish wonders. It all sounds very exciting as well as interesting. I look forward to reading your next blog.
    Go well, love Sue

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