It took about an hour to negotiate the flight of locks at Fort Augustus and all the time cameras clicked and videos rolled as we provided the entertainment for umpteen tourists ranged along the lock sides. Fortunately we didn’t crash or commit too many sailing sins so the resulting footage should all be fairly benign and free from embarrassment. Thank goodness for the light winds!
Loch Oich, a lovely wooded Loch strewn with islets, formed the 30 metre summit of our traverse and then we descended to Loch Lochy. Here we were 10 metres INSIDE the channel when we touched the muddy bottom of Loch Lochy which was a bit disconcerting. Fortunately we didn’t stick and continued along our way bemused rather than bashful about this latest encounter between keel and contour.
By 4 pm we were within a few miles of Fort William and the massive North Face of Ben Nevis loomed above us out of the afternoon murk. Neptune’s Staircase was, however, barring our way and so we docked on a pontoon for the night and put up the cockpit tent to keep the evening’s deluge at bay. The crew of Songlines disappeared but that of Bold Explorer came over to finish off our Polish Vodka. Geoff Evans of Devon Sailing http://www.devonsailing.co.uk was heading south after an extended cruise of the West Coast of Britain and Orkney with a crew of trainee Yachtmasters. Geoff is planning on spending a few summers doing skippered charter work in the North West Passage aboard his very solid steel Bruce Roberts 45. We enjoyed their company and still managed to be up and off by 8am when the Lock Keeper opened the first gate to begin our lengthy descent to the sea.
We left Bold Explorer at the foot of Neptune’s Staircase but I am sure our paths will cross again. Unfortunately we heard, a few days later, that they ran into some difficulties with an engine fire in the Sound of Luing and were towed into Craobh Haven by the Oban lifeboat.