Sunday, 28 July 2013

Camping and the clegs of Loch Etive

I decided to stop for a well earned rest and walkabout at an old abandoned pier, deep in the heart of Loch Etive. It was too hot for the midges to be around but the clegs were in abundance and made a meal of me as I ate my sandwiches. Clegs are a horrible kind of horse fly, with a steel proboscus that can drill through clothing to get human blood.

The boat anchored off shore had the right idea. The owner obviously had stayed over night on the loch and was in the process of dismantelling his tent cover as I watched from the shore.

It reminded me of the times I too anchored here and slept in my little red boat with the white cuddy. I swapped it for this much more sea worthy boat. I wondered if I could devise a way to sleep in it ?

I have a foldaway camp bed that would fit nicely...perhaps a tarpaulin on a stretcher type frame ? could be possible with a bit of thought. anything to keep away from the clegs and midges.

Near by another group of boaters had pulled ashore had camped overnight in tents on the land ....but Im sure they must have made a meal or five for the vampire clegs.

Once my sandwich was finished I decided to leave the clegs to find another meal. I was fed up and had enough of them. I headed up the loch as fast as I could go.. fortunately it was too fast for the clegs to follow. The cool wind in my face, as I left a trail the lenght of the loch, helped soothe the bites.

I was smiling ear to ear in paradise be continued

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

A hard days fishing on Loch Etive

As I zoomed through the Bonawe narrows and headed up the loch, the wind died to nothing just after high tide. It gave me a chance to play with the throttle ..putting the boat on and off the plane and of course..some full throttle to see how fast she would go. It was fast ..but I have no idea of the speed as I had nothing to measure it with. However, all high speed manouvers were kept in a straight line and ..yup..I did wear the kill cord.

This safety cord is attached to mysef and the engine stop button. The idea is that if I accidentally fall overboard.. the engine will stop instantly as the kill cord activates the stop button. This will save the boat disappearing over the horizon at a great rate of knots..or worse still..running round in circles ..cutting myself to pieces with the big propeller as happened to four folks just recently :-(

It only took minutes to get half way up the sea loch so I stopped for a rest off the site of the bothy..the little cottage seen in the distance in this photo. It was very hot and my throttle wrist was getting tired with its new work.

With my other hand.. I lowered the hokkai lures back to the bottom of the loch and gently bobbed them up and down. Five minutes later.. my now tired wrist was busy winding in another fish. This time it was a small cod. I dont eat cod so it was returned safely to grow bigger on the rubbish it eats off the bottom. Give me a fresh free range mackerel anyday.

Now that both my wrists were a little tired with all this work..on such a hot day.. I let the boat drift in the doldrums while I drifted off for a snooze. The surrounding scenery was simply stunning.

I felt a bit like the boy castaway on the boat in the movie .. The Life of Pi ..except of course there was no tiger in my inflatable. The movie had some stunning scenes filmed on flat calm water ..and so did my hard days fishing on Loch Etive.

It was that hot.. I imagined that even the cows were going swimming to try and keep their cool.

I pinched myself to see if I was dreaming .. but was delighted to find that I wasn't. I really was in paradise.... to be continued

Monday, 22 July 2013

The First Adventure in the Gurnard ... Loch Etive

What a day Sunday turned out to be. Its the kind of day that dreams are made off.

For me, it started at 3.30 am when I got up, had breakast then towed my new boat to Taynuilt for the first voyage in her. I was on the beach beside Kelly's Pier just before high tide and set up the boat while I let the trailer wheel bearings cool down.

It is the only thing that Im a bit wary about with my new set up. I have always avoided putting the road trailer in salt water on my last boat. However this large inflatable boat weights around 150kg which includes the engine, so is too heavy to manhandle off the trailer. My last boat was a fibreglass hull so it could be shoved around and pulled onto beaches, but this one has a soft inflatable bottom with aluminium floor boards dragging it is just not wise. I pushed the trailer into the sea loch until the boat floated off. Only the tip of the tow hitch and top of the jockey wheel mount were left above water. However the boat floated great..even with the 52kg 25HP engine on the back. Once on the water..I topped up the tube pressures with the hand pump. It only took a couple of minutes. Then it was ready for the start of my new adventure.

One pull of the engine and it fired up with a healthy growl. I ran it a moment or two while I watched the water "pee" pour out its vent.. to ensure the cooling system was working as it should ..then I slowly opened the throttle. I carried my 3.3HP Mariner outboard in the boat as it was my first outing and I wasnt sure how reliable the second hand engine was. The inflatable is huge compared to my other boats so it was no problem having the spare engine on the floor. The boat slid agross the surface with easy. I didn't go far as I wanted to catch a mackerel or two for bait. I wanted to give my boat the workover but also incorporate it in a days fishing.

I stopped the boat after a couple of minutes running and dropped my line of hokkia lures to the sea bottom. The line ran out for ever.. indicating it was very deep. I bounced the lures along the bottom for a few moments then thought I felt a little tug. Reeling in, I was delighted so find I had caught my first Gurnard in many years. I know they have poisonous spines in the fins and gills so carefully shook it off my hook to allow it to swim away untouched.

The family I bought the boat from had mentioned that they had never named this boat so it didnt take me long to think of calling it "Old Gurnard" Well I can be a crabby old git at times. I fished another 15 mins or so but nothing else touched the lures. I got a little impatied as I had not tried planing in my boat yet. I wound in my line.. started the engine again on first pull of the started chord.. hung onto the ropes around the inflatable tubes and ... half opened the throttle. Within seconds..the boat made a little jump as she went over the "step" and started to plane. My eyes started to water a little in the cool sea air ... I left that I was floating in heaven.. and it was not yet 8am and I was still running on half throttle ....

How fast could she go ? .... to be continued

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The New SIB (Soft Inflatable Boat)

I collected my new inflatable boat last night.

Its a 2005 Mercury Quicksilver 4.3 meter HD inflatable with aluminium floors. Compared to my little Seago 2.6 meter inflatable.. this boat is huge :-D

The power plant is also huge compared to my Mariner 3.3hp 2 stroke. This boat is powered by a 25hp 2 stroke ..again made in 2005 but both boat and engine are in very good condition.

I had hoped to launch her today as temperatures are still soaring in the late 20C's but I checked the trailer wheel bearings before towing her far and found they were a bit pitted.

Rather than risk a wheel fall off, I decided to get new bearings today and replace the old ones. Everything is ready now for my maiden voyage tomorrow and Im heading to Loch Etive. I will post more on my new aquisition after the maiden voyage.. but here she is as I collected her last night.

Hopefully I will have many more inflatable boat journeys in this craft.. pushing my horizons even further out to sea.....

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Service as Normal ... will be resumed very soon.

I have been very negligent with my blog for the past month or so, simply because we had such a rotten cold, wet spring and early summer that I was not doing any adventuring ..then .. this past month..the weather swung to the other extreme where we now enjoying a heatwave and calm waters. I have been enjoying that many new adventures and experiences that I have not had time to post them. I hope to rectify that soon.

This photo was from last weeks adventure ..just to start dipping my toe in the water again.

Tomorrow I hope to purchase a new inflatable boat too. All going will be a 4.3 meter Quicksilver HD SIB ..powered by a 25 Hp 2 stroke it will be a bit faster than the boats Im used to. It will also get me further into the more remote areas off the West coast of Scotland .. Hmmm..perhaps even a trip to the Corryvreckan ? :-o

Stay tuned to follow some new inflatable boat adventures................