Saturday, 17 July 2010

Loch Goil ... revisited

After my heart stopping moment when the two stroke out board engine stopped mid stroke in the "fresh northerly" wind, I realised just how quickly an inflatable could get blown out to sea. I decided that in the interest of my safety, it would be wise to have a back up engine as my journeys were getting longer and there was no way I could hope to row against a fresh wind. I purchase a Suzuki 2.5HP four stroke outboard to use as the main engine and will carry the two stroke on the transom as a backup.

I returned to Loch Goil the following weekend to run the new engine in and to further explore the loch. This time, the tide was full in and the water flat calm.

The new engine gurgled happily as I rounded the large MOD(Ministry Of Defence) buoy at the head of the loch. There is a MOD presence in the loch because submarines still enter and moor at the pens, although I didn’t see any on either visit.

I did see a patrol boat and saw that it saw me too, but I guess I was not considered a major threat to security as it passed after giving me the once over with a pair of binoculars.

There are some lovely houses along the west bank, this tree house look as though it would cost more than my house. Its in the grounds of the “Lodge” where visitors can stay assuming they are willing to pay 300 USD per person per night. Some people must live in a different world from me and my inflatable inheritance.

I pulled over and landed at this little bay for some breakfast and to set up my trawling line ready for some free fishing.

Loch Goil is used by the MOD as a noise test range for naval craft. Being a clever fellow, I think this has something to do with measuring how much noise a submarine or naval ship will make as it makes it way across the ocean? The loch is very deep, approx 85 meters in the centre of the test area. This marker must have something to do with the test range so I kept very quiet as I steared well clear of it.

The castle at Carrick looked far more welcoming on such a calm day. There was no need to worry about the four stroke missing a beat, it gurgled away quite happily on tick over.

I decided to go to the entrance of Loch Goil where it joins with Loch Long, to see if there were any signs of the porpoise that are sometimes sighted in the area. The field in front of the caravan park near the entrance looked lovely, covered in wild buttercups.

I had been towing a mackerel spinner behind the boat but without a bite, so I stopped by No3 marker buoy and dropped a set of lures to the seabed below. I drifted slowly thumping the bottom with the 6oz weight but not a single nibble was felt.

I then headed round the lighthouse into Loch Long to see if I could see any sea life there, but there was not a single sardine to be seen anywhere.

Loch Long looked very long and flat as I looked towards the dockyard at Coulport. I didn’t fancy getting caught in the wake of that big tanker so turned back into Loch Goil. The porpoise sightings would have to wait another day if they wanted to see me.

A little breeze now broke the surface of the water as I headed back to Lochgoilhead. I was still trawling a line but still no luck with the fish. I guess the mackerel, which are migratory, had not arrived yet.

I heard a lot of flapping and whooohooo’ing noises behind me and turned just in time to see four Eider ducks flying low across the water.

They are the heaviest and fastest flying ducks in the UK. Easy to identify by their wedge shaped faces.

After a very pleasant day on the water, I arrived back at the launch point to find the tide fully out and a hundred yards of beach to carry the heavy inflatable and outboard motors across.

Another lesson learned…. I need to get myself a little trolley.

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