Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Loch Fyne and the launch point survey

I have been kept very busy lately and am preparing for all the changes that are happening in my life at present. I finished working for the company today after handing the works car, keys and phone back, then Im flying to New Orleans tomorrow until the end of the month. I can’t wait as Im meeting up with my friend again and we hope to get lost in the solitude of a little log cabin in the Mississippi delta before taking in the start of Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans. I will post my adventures on my return.

I have also been making preparations for future boat journeys on my return. As mentioned earlier I am going to be the proud owner of my father’s last boat. Its a 12ft Highland Family Fisher powered by a 4HP outboard. The boat weighs 150kg and requires the use of a trailer to get it around. I have now got a tow bar fitted to the car and have been making space for the boat to sit beside the house.

This brings the problem of where to launch the boat so I went to Loch Fyne to survey for possible launch points. Once I find a suitable place, I hope that by making use of a hand winch to assist, I can get the boat and trailer up and down to the water’s edge on my own. Im certain its just a matter of technique rather than strength, but time will tell.

For the launch point, I was looking for a place with plenty parking room, an easy angle to the sea and a beach with a solid base. I was pleased to find a few places that looked suitable at first glance.

The pier at St Catherine’s has good parking and my car can easily get on the concrete. By clearing the winter seaweed away from the shore beside the ramp..it looked a solid enough base to get the trailer down to the water without the wheels digging in. There are also a few iron rings embedded in the pier where I could anchor the winch to pull it back up the beach, or perhaps just tie a long rope to the trailer and attach it to the car to pull it up. All worthy of a try.

There were two places at Strachur that looked suitable for beach access too. This one didn’t have much parking room but was an obvious launch point. The signs warn fishermen to keep their rods low as there is a low slung high voltage cable just over head. The other place looked a little further to drag the trailer over the sand but there were a few boats there so it is a local launch point.

I liked the look of the access point at Lachlan Castle. It was by far the most scenic spot with a large car park and great views over to the ruined castle. Although the water was a distance from the access, the shore was firm and flat. I have been toying with the idea of using inflatable rollers designed for launching boats ..to roll the boat the last few feet from the trailer into the water and also to get the boat out the water and onto land before winching back onto the trailer. If its a bit far to drag the trailer here, I could try rolling the boat on the rollers. The tide was half out at the time of this photo. The biggest problem I saw was the drive was down a single track road with passing places. I have yet to try reversing a trailer so this spot will not be the first launch point.

It was a reasonable morning so I took a walk along to look at the old castle.

I was surprised that it wasn’t closed off and I could wander round the inside without any problems.

I then went down to Otter Ferry to study its possibilities. The rain was horizontal when I arrived and even the sand pipers looked miserable with their beaks held low and into the storm. Its definitely not my kind of boating weather yet.

Otter Ferry is another possibility. The access to the shore is good. Parking is good and there are plenty of places to anchor a winch. The hotel offers bar lunches and I could imagine sitting outside during a lovely sunny summers day. The only thing I didn’t like was the long drive down the single track road towing a trailer. When I try this launch point, I will travel early in the morning before there are many vehicles on the road.

This is the place that I hope I will try for my first launch point. It has good parking, hard shore, and a little concrete ramp to access the shore. Im standing at the waters edge and the tide is not yet fully in. Not to far to winch the trailer back to the car which can easily pull it back up the concrete ramp. Road access is good too..no single track roads and not to far to travel either. Its away from houses so there shouldn't be an audience on my first launch and recovery experiments :-o

Im looking forward to the warmer weather arriving and trying out the new boat.