Monday, 25 April 2011

Loch Leven and the off shore wind

The weather forecast was correct. I awoke around midnight to the sound of the tent getting in a flap because of the rising wind. I used it as an excuse to get up and check it was well pegged down but in reality it was an excuse to get up and relieve myself. The wind was now a force three with force six gusts coming off the hills.

At six in the morning I got up. The cold was seeping through my sleeping bag and the excitement of the new day made it impossible to stay in bed any longer. A quick breakfast of some cereal and drink of water saw me heading for the boat ramp to survey the scene.

The tide was out but was coming in and lapped the bottom of the ramp. The water in the shelter of the hill was calm but beyond the headland, in the main body of the loch, it was white horse after white horse as the waves broke in the strong wind.

I debated what to do. The calm water at the ramp was because of the off shore wind. I always remember my dad saying that off shore winds were very deceptive and I could hear him saying it in my head over and over again. I knew that if I went out in those conditions in the inflatable, it would be rather unpleasant and wet. I decided to wait a little to see how things developed during the day.

I headed round the loch by car to see if I could find other suitable launch points for future use. This would also let me see how rough the water was in the open. The wind was from the south east and was blowing the full length of the loch. The waves were breaking in white horses and white trails of flume formed in the wind lanes along its surface. Dark patches darted quickly across as the force six gusts hit the water.

However Kinlochleven village looked lovely in the early spring light. The loch was a little calmer at this end as it was in the shelter of the hills here too. I wondered about braving the storm on the main loch and finding shelter in the harbour for a little fishing.

Away from the water, I began to relax a little and noticed the light dancing on the fresh green growth of the new leaves. They were contrasted with colours of the remains of bare winter branches and buds of the slower growing trees.

Driving back around the north shore of the loch I noticed another little boat bravely making its way along the loch. In fact it was rather a large little boat but its bow kept nodding into the waves, sending spray flying far to the sides. off shore wind can be deceptive. It looked fine from this angle until I saw the other boat.

The only suitable launch site that I saw was at Ballachullish bridge where the old ferry used to land. It has public access but a strong tidal flow makes it very difficult to use for small boats. I noticed the quiet backwaters on either side of the ramp and wondered if they were as deceptive as an off shore wind ?

I got back in the car and headed to Fort William for a real breakfast.

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