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OGA60 fleet on passage to Oban

The OGA60 Round Britain fleet is on passage to Oban where they will be joined by local Gaffers as well as some travelling from further afield. The President and Secretary of the North West and East Coast Areas will be joining the party. Organisers from the Scotland Area of the OGA, are on their way in ‘Robinetta’ from Gairloch. East Coast members, Jo and Paul have towed their Memory ‘Titch’ up to Largs from Suffolk and your Editor is arriving by camper van on Friday, also from Suffolk.

We hear from ‘Cygnet of London’ that she has now left South Wales and hopes to reach Gigha later in the week with stops at Fishguard, Holyhead and Bangor. ‘Onward of Ito’ has also just left for the long journey north from Belfast, also hoping to reach Oban for the weekend. Using the alternative ‘cross country’ route we hear that Mary has set just off from Neyland to join the RBC60 fleet in Ipswich: “The East wind has at last let up here, so ‘Molly Cobbler’ has finally left Neyland. Currently anchored in West Angle Bay ready to head East tomorrow. I’m enjoying keeping in touch with what the proper fleet is doing – especially the dolphins, Ricks – and I look forward to seeing you all at Ipswich.”

The boats will be mooring for the weekend at Kerrera Marina, just offshore from Oban. ‘Susan J’, ‘Recipe’ and ‘Bonita’ are already there, taking some time to explore this lovely island. Today, ‘Recipe’ and ‘Bonita’ motored all the way to Tobermory on Mull.

After crossing from Dublin Bay, the RBC60 fleet chose two routes north through the islands, with ‘Minstrel’, ‘Lahloo’, ‘Titch’,‘Barbarossa’, ‘Oystercatcher’, ‘Indian Runner’, ’Charlotte Elizabeth’, ‘Swift II’ and ‘Step Back in Time’ staying inland, using the ‘most beautiful shortcut in the world’ Crinan Canal . Others explored Gigha, Jura, Iona, Arran, Kyle of Bute, Mull of Kintyre, Island of Mull, Sound of Luing, Playa, Sandy Island and the sometimes challenging channels between them. ’Susan J’ and ‘Recipe’ braved the Corryvrecken, while ‘Moon River’ and ‘Bonita’ went through the Dorus Mor. ‘Letty’ reports she “anchored outside Crinan with the sun going down having spent a night at Gigha but with not  enough water to go through canal we had a change in plan sailing around the Mull!” Several visited Pooladobhran ‘the pool of the otters’. Skipper of the Dutch ex-lifeboat, ‘Hilda’ found some calm waters and reported “Sorry for the sailors, but this flat water is what ‘Hilda’ likes. We’re anchoring at Easdale.”

‘Bonita’, Mike Beckett

“7 June: Leaving Peel we decided to set Tarbert as our destination, a long hop but with the option of going into Portpatrick or anchoring at Holy Island if needed. We left at 1230 – the first flap gate of the day. We had a good sailing breeze for aroud 3 hours and had the tide with us. The wind died, so we had to put the motor on yet again. Passing Portpatrick at sunset, the water was flat so we decided to motor on. We had initially decided to pass the Isle of Arran on the east side to avoid the many fishing boats that we had seen on Marine Traffic, but about 4 miles off Ailsa Craig, a very strong north-easterly wind picked up, so we turned towards the west coast of Arran to get some shelter. This was about 0330. The wind and waves increased considerably so Tony rolled in the staysail to reduce sail area and for a few hours sailing was rough! Once in the lee of Arran, the sea state calmed a lot and we had a more pleasant sail. We finally arrived at Tarbert arournd 1300. We have a battery problem, so we will be staying here for a couple of days until we get a replacement before heading through the Crinan Canal.”

‘Step Back in Time”, Sally Kiddle

“We set off early today for Ardrishaig, the entry to the Crinan Canal.  We had hoped to transit the canal in one day, but there is a 1700 cut off and we had only made Lock 10 (out of 15), so we moored in the canal with a wonderful view. Our main hope is that it is too windy for the midges. Apparently they have been terrible for the last two weeks. We may have to try out my midge nets – specially purchased for this trip. We’re travelling in company with ‘Oystercatcher’ a Heard 28 single hander to help with the lines and share a special curry together. Transiting the canal has been a real learning curve. Despite practising on the canal towpath, I am a total incompetent in terms of throwing the line high up to the top of the lock for someone to catch and tie us off. In desperation, I switched to helming and with suitable advice, I am happy to say this has gone quite well. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. Yesterday we left Crinan and motored the short distance to Craobh Haven. It is a lovely spot. One rather strange thing here is the hordes of jelly fish in the marina. They look rather beautiful but apparently can be sucked into your water intake. This doesn’t sound good. Tomorrow morning we leave for Lock Feochan where we will spend the night. There are no provisions there at all so we will enjoy cheese omelette for supper on the boat.The main concern here with the crew seems to be the supplies of beer and wine, we will have enough we think.”

‘Indian Runner’, Chris Harding

We left the mooring in Gigha at 0940 and amazingly by 1000 we were sailing, a nice little breeze was coming from the NE with enough east in it for us to manage 3-4 knots up the coast of Gigha. It dropped off and backed as we rounded the top of Gigha but we still managed to sail, very slowly, half-way across to Jura. Then it died completely and we drifted, not being in any hurry to be anywhere else. The hazy weather we’ve been having continued but it was still beautiful with the Paps of Jura in the distance. We heard a blowhole being cleared a few times and think we saw a whale, perhaps a minke, but it was never above the water long enough to know for sure. There is an island on the Jura side of the sound called Am Fraoch Eileen – the heather island. North of it is a recommended anchorage for waiting for the tide. We went into the bay to take a look but decided to see what the tide was like – perhaps it would be weak enough to get through. For a while, it seemed like it would be a knot against us but as we got towards the north end of Glas Eileen (green isle), our progress was halted. We could do 1/2 knot across the sound but almost nothing north. We turned around and were doing 6 1/2 knots. So we think the tide was running at over 3 knots. It was still more than 2 hours until the tide would turn in our favour so we headed back to the anchorage and dropped the hook.

‘Robinetta’, Alison Cable