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Canal newbie

Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2016 10:58 pm
by Mavanier
Some time in the spring I'm going to be helping a mate deliver a boat up here, and the Crinan looks like a useful route to take. He's got a bit less experience than me so I am being designated skipper, and I had better figure out what this whole canal malarky is about. I've had a bit of a google on it but some of my more general questions remain unanswered. So:

Do the locks open at specific times, or when a certain number of boats have queued up, etc?
What is a realistic passage time- the guide says 5 to 6 hours but other sources say leave a whole day. We might be starting from Tarbert or thereabouts. How far might it be reasonable to get in the same day after leaving Crinan?

And most importantly- I've heard some negative stuff about the Canal over recent years, closure etc. Are we likely to encounter any problems or delays in, say, early April?

Ta

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2016 11:32 pm
by aquaplane
The canal times are published online but vary according to season, it depends when you are transiting.

In high season it's something like 09:00 to 17:00 but they shorten the hours and stop Sundays first then the whole weekend.

From Tarbert if you leave @ 07:00 you may get in when they open, it's abut 10 miles.

After that it depends. If you are two or three well maned boats sending someone forward to prepare the next lock and leaving someone behind to close up the last lock you may/should get through in a day.

But if you are following someone who is arsing about and slow you won't go faster than them. If you are two up and alone you will have lots to do and be slow. If you hit a bridge or other maned obstacle at lunchtime you will be held up, maybe.

But it's quite scenic so there is no real need to rush unless you want to.

It's worth asking here if anyone would like to lean on gates, I would volunteer if I'm available.

If you leave Crinan at the start of the flood you can ride one tide all the way to Tobermory. If the tide is wrong you may as well wait until it is right because progress will be slow to non existent.

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Tue Dec 13, 2016 5:17 am
by Mavanier
Thanks for that info. So the 5/6 hours appears rather optimistic!
Whilst it seems a shame to rush, this is a delivery trip and we can't justify hanging about just because somewhere is pretty. Anyway I grew up in Argyll so I have spent enough time there already :)

Good point about the tides after Crinan. It's only a wee bilge keel Sadler 26 so we will need to passage plan at a reasonably sedate pace, Tobermory sounds like it could be pushing it a bit.

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Tue Dec 13, 2016 11:21 pm
by lady_stormrider
As a 26-footer you may have to share locks with other like-sized boats so make sure you are confident in close manoeuvring and have plenty of fenders and help fending off. Some of the locks have quite a swell as they fill up but you should only need to open one gate for a small boat.

You are going to need some suitable ropes for steadying you as the water drains in/out of the lock and you are at the bottom of the chamber as you are going up or down. The bow line is usually controlled via a winch from the cockpit as you descend or raise up.

I hope I'm not teaching you to suck eggs with rope work guidance!

Don't forget - this is often described on the various television programmes that feature it as 'The most beautiful short-cut in Scotland', don't treat it as a delivery run but enjoy the canal. You will find hospitality at both Ardrishaig, Lochgilphead and Crinan as well as Cairnbaan and plenty of places to tie up along the way

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Wed Dec 14, 2016 9:34 am
by marisca
If you have to share locks try and be at the back - less turbulence. Insist on the side the stern kicks in reverse - port for Yanmar, starboard for Volvo, etc.. Starboard has the advantage of the ladder at the back of the lock, useful for passing a short line through before main ropes get sorted. And take it easy - while you can plan ahead and get locks ready, the operation of gates and sluices has its own rhythm and can't be rushed so chill and enjoy. As for how far in a day from Crinan, 8 hours of spring tide can easily get you to Tobermory if the wind, and/or engine, is favourable. It's only about 40 miles and you get to nick through the Dorlinn.

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Wed Dec 14, 2016 11:48 am
by Mavanier
Thanks again for the advice. I will get the owner to make an inventory of all the ropes and fenders and if necessary will add some of mine to the pile. Is it worth buying some lengths of disposable polyprop rope or is that a bit unnecessary?

Re delivery vs saunter- SWMBO will have to take time off work to let me do this so I'm afraid that I won't have the luxury of taking my time. I could pretend to be stormbound but then she has access to XcWeather just like everybody else so it's a bit hard to lie about that...

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Wed Dec 14, 2016 11:48 am
by Mavanier
Oh, and what way would a Bukh kick in astern, does anybody know?

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:08 pm
by DaveS
Mavanier wrote:Oh, and what way would a Bukh kick in astern, does anybody know?


I think that the propulsion arrangement (prop direction of rotation, shaft drive or sail drive) is more important than engine make. A sail drive gives no noticeable kick either way. A right hand shaft driven prop (rotates clockwise going ahead when viewed from behind) will kick the stern to port when engaging astern and vice versa.

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:46 pm
by lady_stormrider
Mavanier wrote:Thanks again for the advice. I will get the owner to make an inventory of all the ropes and fenders and if necessary will add some of mine to the pile. Is it worth buying some lengths of disposable polyprop rope or is that a bit unnecessary?...


If you get long ropes you could always keep them and trim them down for warp use later (my other half is pretty adept at splicing). I hate polyprop as you or your crew would be most likely handling it. Don't forget the extendable boat hook for passing loops up!

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:03 pm
by SteveN
Mavanier wrote:Thanks again for the advice. I will get the owner to make an inventory of all the ropes..


Our method, for what it's worth (not a lot I hear you shout!), is 2 long warps that will fit the (preferably self-tailing) sheet winches and 2 snatch blocks.
Bow: snatch block on the bow roller with warp led back through the genoa sheet's block to the sheet winch.
Stern: snatch block on the stern cleat or toerail, warp led across the cockpit to the other sheet winch.
One person on board is then all you need, taking in (ascending) or surging (descending) the warps on both sheet winches to keep the boat tight in against its fenders.
We've been through several times like this with one on board and the other ashore and it's a good method.

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:09 pm
by mm5aho
We do much the same. Bow rope through a pulley block and back to genoa sheet winch. Stern rope through spinnaker sheet block, and usually hand held. One on board, one ashore.
And being narrow beam, if we're locking alone we only open one lock gate. Saves walking across and back.

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:08 pm
by wully
Sail round the Mull...

Easier on the boat if the weather is OK.

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:37 pm
by lady_stormrider
This is an alternative as I believe the cost of transit was £11.95 a metre in 2016

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:49 pm
by marisca
Carry the tide from wherever round to Gigha, stop, play 9 holes of golf (clubs are available at the hut but you'll need your own ball or find one in the gorse), have a couple of pints and craic in the hotel, then take the next flood north to the Otter Pool and visit Nick. Quicker, cheaper and less stressful than the canal.
You need a good Plan B (and C & D) whatever you decide to do.

Re: Canal newbie

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 1:23 am
by Mavanier
Certainly not ruling out the Mull. But starting in Troon and heading north, it would be adding miles. And the owner is happy enough to pay the transit cost. I think if we are prepared to use the ditch it will be the plan that is most likely to actually work.

Oh and I am allergic to golf. As Michael Schumacher said, "I don't play golf, I still have sex"