Sir Isaac Newton was a cleaver old chap. You know, inventing gravity and all that jazz. He didn't however know that he was going to come up against the wit of the likes of Sir Thomas Telford or any of the other remarkable engineers on the 18th and 19th Century. They defied the laws of gravity by using the power of physics and cunning, so cunning, that they could have received an honorary degree in cunning from the University of Cunningness. These giants of our engineering and scientific heritage have helped Ruffian summit mountains and cross land through the Crinan Canal.
It was with a happy heart that we slipped lines in Tarbert and spent the day dodging showers, squalls and hail storms on our way to the southern entrance of the Crinan Canal at Ardrishaig. All those that we left behind in Tarbert must have laughed at us, but little did they know that we'd manage to outrun all the shocking weather to the south and sail in glorious sunshine downwind for the whole day. The problem with Ardrishaig is that mooring can only be performed 100 yards inland and that meant negotiating our first sea loch.
The theory of locks is all very simple. There is a door at one end which is shut, you drive the boat in and the door behind you is then shut. The first door is then opened, the lock fills with water, the boat rises and hey presto, 10 tonnes of boat is now at the same level as land. It doesn't feel so simple, straightforward or safe when that 10 tonnes of boat, is your home and passport to new adventures.
We drove Ruffian into the lock, at which point the lock keeper briefed us on its operation and introduced himself as Biscuit, why Biscuit no-one, including Biscuit himself knows. He only knows that it gave him the excuse to nickname is son Crumb. Brilliant! Anyway, on with the locks, surprisingly enough the application of the operation was simple and suddenly, after being surrounded by foaming angry water for 30 seconds, Ruffian was looking down on the sea. This we just had to perform another 12 times.
As a thank you gift for his hep we gave Biscuit some Cadburys Mini Eggs and word and clearly spread of this. At every loch we found keepers willing and happy to help and who seemed as concerned at the safety of our home as they did their locks. So out went the Mini Eggs to each keeper and the help just kept coming. So much so that we transited 12 locks in only 4 hours. Unheard of progress. The only issue with this rapid progress and all the sound of running water around the boat and over the locks, was that Fiona was becoming increasing desperate to visit the little girls room. When we exited the final loch before the sea loch Fiona had blessed relief, so much so that she came out of the little girls room covered in goose bumps and with a massive grin on her face.
So a big thank you has to go out to all the guys on the locks who helped us and Fiona for successfully piloting Ruffian downwind safely and speedily though 13 walls of stone.
Whilst we are in an area of freshwater we have taken the opportunity to calibrate our instruments. We know that whilst in the canal there is next to no tide and we can finally match out boatspeed numbers with our speed over the ground numbers. This will help us in many ways such as being able to be sure of the direction and strength of tide, to Iain making sure the boat is running at peak performance. We also hope that the freshwater will be killing all the slime that's sitting on Ruffian's hull and so tomorrow we'll be giving here a good scrub under the water.
We plan to be in the Crinan for 2 nights with a view to exiting into the cruising mecca on Friday and continuing our journey north. So if that mecca if going to be the next chapter in our adventure then the Crinan so far has proved to be an excellent prequel.
We have also worked out how this google earth antics works and you can download our track here. It's not 100% live and we need to manually update it but it'll give you an idea as to exactly where we are and where we've been. please let us know if you find this interesting and of use.
Yes I know that I should have popped the chute.
It makes a nice change to sail downhill.
The relief as we are fthrough the first sea lock.
Ruffian sitting above the sea.
Our plotter giving an interesting view.
Water water everywhere.
Locks upon locks upon locks upon locks.
Happily tied up after an exciting day.
and so to bed.......
Our google earth mapping. Use the link at the top to download our track and links.