Monday, 25 April 2011

Loch Leven and the dragging anchor

I was busy day dreaming of boating in the strong winds of Loch Leven as I drove to Fort William for breakfast. I was almost there when I noticed the still reflections on Loch Linnhe. I couldn’t believe my luck, the wind had dropped. The thought of boating in Loch Leven, in the calm, soon knocked all thoughts of breakfast from my mind. I had a quick coffee in Morrison’s then headed back to Invercoe campsite as fast as I could go.

I saw the still waters of Loch Linnhe all the way to Corran Ferry, then as I rounded the corner to Onich ..... the wind was still force three gusting to force six on Loch Leven.

Loch Linnhe was calm because it was in the shelter of the hills and it runs at ninety degrees to Loch Leven. It was that deceptive off shore wind again. I wasn’t hanging around any longer. I was determined to see how the boat would handle the wind and chop. If it proved too rough in the white horses then I could potter about in the shelter of the campsite bay.

I had no problem launching the boat. I managed to drive the trailer to the top of the ramp, turn and reverse like a veteran. The campsite was awake and watching. I felt hundreds of eyes on my back as I prepared for the big launch. I didn’t drive the car on the ramp but unhitched the trailer and with a long rope wrapped round the tow ball, lowered it safely to the waters edge. I then tied the trailer off and pushed the boat into the water. The spectators cooking their bacon breakfasts would have thought I had done it a hundred times. So far so good .... except I was too embarrassed to take a photograph.

Once the boat was fitted with its outboards and loaded with my gear, I rowed fifty yards off shore then started the engine. It fired up first pull. I headed for the white stuff coming round the corner on the main length of the loch. It was now an oncoming wind in my face. The boat handled it with ease. Its bow nodded into the waves and spray went flying out from the sides but it didn’t come into the boat.

That is the big advantage of a displacement boat, unlike my inflatable where the waves came straight over the top and soaked me. It was exciting and exhilarating heading up the loch into the swell. I settled quickly and enjoyed the experience.

This photo was taken around half way up the loch towards the narrows at Caolas na Con. The wind and waves had dropped a bit from the start of the journey allowing me to get the camera out.

The boat was trimmed far better than my first journey on Loch Fyne. I made a tiller extension from plastic pipe so I could sit in the middle of the boat. Even with my auxiliary 2.5hp engine on the transom, the boat was even keeled and handled the wind and waves with ease. I carry the spare engine in case of engine failure with the main 4hp engine.

I was in the narrows when the outboard ran out of petrol. Why do things like that always happen at the worst times ? However it wasn’t a problem, I got the oars out in a flash and the tide flow carried me safely back into the loch. That’s when I decided to anchor and fish for a bit while I refilled the outboard.

I know that a boat must be anchored from its bow and not from the side, as the waves will make it very unstable. Previously, I had wondered how it was done without putting myself in danger clambering over the cuddy roof. A search on the internet told me about a lazy line.

The lazy line is permanently fixed to the bow ring and is long enough to reach the seating area but short enough not to catch in the propeller if it falls overboard unnoticed. The anchor is dropped over from the seating area and the anchor rope is tied onto the lazy line, keeping enough slack anchor rope in the seating area to recover the anchor plus lazy line ..if that makes sense ?

Here is a photo of the lazy line holding the anchor rope to the bow ring with the spare fed back to the seating area. I still put myself in danger as I had to clamber over the cuddy roof to get the photo but it was a one off :-o

I found the anchor didn’t hold well in the strong wind and current. When I pulled it back on board it was full of huge pieces of kelp. Still... I got the outboard refuelled and was off through the narrows again.

Soon I was leaving the narrows and the Pap of Glencoe far behind.

I was headed for the sheltered pier at Kinlochleven for some fishing. The wind didn’t seem quite as bad now ?

Almost there so time for another photograph before maneuvering into position to drop anchor again. There is plenty room to carry all my gear in the dry confines of the cuddy.

Although the sea was calmer in the harbour, the strong wind still blew the boat and it kept dragging its anchor. I will have to improve my anchor equipment for the next journey. It was now time to enjoy a spot of fishing.

To be continued ...

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