Cruising on Loch Etive

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Telo
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Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby Telo » Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:08 am

There are many boats moored in Loch Etive that come and go through the Falls of Lora at Connel; so there is no great distinction for Shard in having recently been up to the head of the loch and back.

However, as a passage, it had its interesting moments, not the least being passing under the Connel Bridge and, some miles further east, under the HT cable at Bonawe. It is a passage we'd fancied making for several years, although slightly put off by the apparent absence of a modern chart. After reading cpedw's positive account of sailing in Loch Etive in 2004, we had purchased the cancelled Admiralty chart 2378 complete with beautiful land contour drawings and leadline depths in fathoms. However it seems that a new chart 2388, Loch Etive and Approaches, was published in2006. It also appears on the UKHO/RYA CD-ROM "Area3, West of Scotland".

As to the electricity cable, we were encouraged by cpedw's observations. His advice concerning the HT cable clearance on the north bank was, gratifyingly, spot on. Thanks Derek!

The first thing was getting through the Falls of Lora, and clearing the Connel Bridge. The Clyde Cruising Club Sailing Directions (2000 edition) were very clear about the safe passage under the bridge (shown below);

Image

The SDs also advise going through in slack water, and explaining that because of the rock barrier that create the "Falls", slack water is HW Oban +0200 and LW Oban +0230. Connel Bridge has a charted clearance of 14m clearance (my edition of the CCC SDs claim 15m), so we made careful calculations and went through at Neaps HW +0200 slack, giving adequate clearance for our 12.6 mast and aerial, plus the better part of a couple of metres from waterline to the base of the mast. With hindsight, we should probably have been made our first transit at slack LW +0230 as the charted dangers would have been exposed.

Once in the loch, and clear of the Kilmaronaig Narrows, we had a look at Bonawe pier on the south side of Airds Bay, but with two submarine cables in its vicinity, anchoring there didn't seem particularly attractive.

We therefore studied the height of the cable crossing Bonawe Narrows which has a charted clearance of 13 metres on Chart 2388 (the SDs say 12m at high water). The lower of the the three cables clearly drops considerably, so with the neaps tide now well on the ebb we decided to go through about 20m off the the north bank, all in safe water. But, of course, no matter how careful your calculations, or rational you assume your judgement to be, the threat of high voltage fairly concentrates the mind, and there is still that nagging doubt as the mast approaches the overhead cables.

In the event, there was a lot of space between the masthead and the cable. Looking back south, from the north, and by superimposing red dots to plot the position of the lowest of the three HT cables, it may be seen that there is considerable sag in the middle of the span, with much more clearance on the north/west side to the right of the picture;

Image

Once clear of the cables, we headed north, taking a look at Port an Dobhrain, or Glen Noe Bay.

Image
- Port an Dobhrain, Glen Noe Bay, Loch Etive

The CCC write up was decent enough, but we decided to anchor overnight in Inverliever Bay, about a mile and a half to the north east. The SDs suggest anchoring in 10m owing to the proximity of boulders. We anchored in 9m chart datum - that extra metre weighs a lot when you're pulling the anchor up by hand. We attached a tripping line, but didn'd need to use it. The anchor had however set well in the mud.

The following morning we were joined by a fine looking motor boat, Samara of the SMYC (Severn Motor Yacht Club?).

Image
- "Samara", in Inverliever Bay

The weather broke as we sailed north with a following breeze. With thunder and lightning, and heavy rain, the wind died, and we rolled away the genoa and motored to the head of the loch.

Image

As we wanted to go ashore when the weather improved (it did), we anchored on the north west side, just a little to the north of the jetty. We found that the ground seemed reasonable and had no difficulty with the breeze which came from the NE (the low clouds were rolling in from the SE). It was ideal for an overnight anchorage in these conditions.

Image
- Anchored at the head of Loch Etive, Ben Starav in the background.

We spent a peaceful night there;

Image

While north of Bonawe, we saw only four boats - a small angling day boat, a slightly larger fishing boat, MY Samara, and a canoe complete with sail and two outriggers.

On our return passage, we anchored at Sailen Ruadh, tucked in behind the mussel farm, to wait for slack water Connel Bridge. This is a well sheltered north facing anchorage;

Image


+++++++++++

Some comments;
    Loch Etive feels like an inland loch - unlike, say, Loch Fyne, there is no sense of being at sea;
    It's no great deal - plenty of boats go there;
    With care, the difficulties at Connel Bridge and Bonawe Narrows can be overcome by carefully following the Sailing Directions;
    Shard takes no responsibility for anyone daft enough to take unnecessary risks with the HT cable;
    The midges are more of a problem than at a coastal anchorage;
    The clegs are something else;
    The old jetty at the head of the loch is being replaced by a stone and pontoon pier (for shipping out the forestry harvest);
    As with similar lochs bounded by mountains, the breezes can be freaky;
    The scenery is spectacular;
    There are no known facilities;
    The wilder areas beside the loch are free of sheep and cows, so I would have had no problem taking on water from the burns.

+++++++++++++++

Finally, just a personal note. While I was still at school, probably in 1964, I spent a few weeks of a summer holiday working for the Forestry Commission in Glen Etive. With a couple of other lads, one from Glasgow and the other from Dalmellington, our task was to cut the bracken from around the recently planted trees. We were on piece rate, paid by the totalled acreage of cut bracken. I was pretty useless at it, and was probably responsible for chopping lots of little trees. Anyway the forest seems to have recovered, and I assume that it is these trees (or perhaps a later generation of them) that are now being harvested.

The three lads, and possibly the ganger, stayed in the forestry bothy. Next door was Ian Auld with his wife and IIRC two young children. He later ran a pub in Largs. Mrs Auld made the breakfasts, our pieces, and our suppers. The ganger by the name of Kennedy was a very decent bloke from south Ayrshire, and had a degree in biology and/or forestry management, yet he had to labour away at the bracken at rates of pay not much better than we had. The other man I remember in the gang was great fun; Charlie Cattanach from Ballachulish. He lived in the glen and had a very young baby daughter. Finally, the ditching for the new tree plantation was undertaken by contractors, Charlie Buist and his mate. I sometimes wonder what became of them all.

Some of the glen was owned (at that time at least) by members of the Fleming family, who had made their wealth through merchant banking and, possibly, shipping. Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, 007, was part of that family.

There was of course no pub in the glen, the nearest being at Kingshouse, to which two of us walked the twelve or so miles, there and back, for some illegal under-age drinking on a Saturday night. Took about three or four hours each way, and I think we would get back to the bothy, stone cold sober, at around 4:00 AM, just as the sun was preparing to get out of its bed.

At that time, in the Sixties, the pubs were shut on Sundays and only "bona fide" travellers could buy drinks at a hotel or similarly respectable premises. There was, however, a "ferry" service on a boat called the Shearwater that ran up and down the loch from Connel. Now the Shearwater was licensed to sell alcoholic beverages, so Sundays were particularly busy days.

As far as I recall, there was only one telephone line to the bottom of the glen, from which the houses were then connected via a small house exchange switchboard run by the head forester's wife in her living room. The house extensions could "tinkle" their phones to talk to each other without being being billed for it, so when a "strange" car was seen coming down the glen, there would conversations about which house or farm it had stopped at, and discussion as who the callers were, and who their relations were.

Walking around the south end of the glen the other day, I found that I really couldn't remember any of the farm buildings or local features, despite having visited on a few subsequent occasions (I'd climbed on a couple of occasions on the Etive Slabs on Beinn Trilleachan). Also, remember it being much more open, with far fewer trees near the road.

Changed days.

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claymore
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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby claymore » Mon Jul 06, 2009 10:53 am

Shard my ageing tonsure - whilst the pictures and the reminisences are apt and well crafted - I cannot but feel an overarching sense of dissappointment that you chose to go under Connel Bridge at slack water. Having read an Ocean Crusing Club report of a cat covering the ground at 30 Knots and practically taking off over the falls - and you being a white water man - I had hoped for a rather more adventurous venture from the pair of you....
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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby Falkirkdan » Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:54 pm

Never mind Donald! Others of us found it very interesting and some great pics.

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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby Silkie » Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:56 pm

Nice write-up Donald.

That sounds like a right handy chart for anyone who might be thinking of making a once-in-a-lifetime sortie up that way.... :)
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Telo
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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby Telo » Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:35 pm

Silkie wrote:That sounds like a right handy chart for anyone who might be thinking of making a once-in-a-lifetime sortie up that way.... :)

Well, the cancelled 2378 is available from Marine Chart Services for £3.25.

The UKHO/RYA CD-ROM is good value imho, and has the whole loch on it, plus everything from the Solway to Cape Wrath. Don't know about the Leisure Folio edition - the top end of the loch doesn't show up the picture, but seems to be mentioned in the text.

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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby aquaplane » Mon Jul 06, 2009 10:07 pm

I right enjoyed the writeup too. It's good to hear about other folks exploits, thanks for posting.
Seminole.
Cheers Bob.

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claymore
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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby claymore » Tue Jul 07, 2009 1:01 pm

Never mind Donald! Others of us found it very interesting and some great pics.



Oh dear
Regards
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Telo
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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby Telo » Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:02 am

Falkirkdan wrote:Never mind Donald!


Ach Dan, ye're a fine man. I'll have a wee sniff on your shoulder. See that Claymore, one day....

;-)

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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby Shuggy » Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:53 pm

Excellent write-up. I read a book recently (not to hand as currently in Ardminish Bay) about a civil servant in the 30s who went up to the top of the loch and had his oars nicked by am indignant landowner who was horrified that one of the unwashed should dare to drop anchor on HIS loch. Hope you did not experience same!
---
Shuggy

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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby Aja » Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:36 pm

Shuggy

It wasn't anything to do with the request I was on about here....
http://www.oceanbluesailing.co.uk/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=4890


?

Donald

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Shuggy
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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby Shuggy » Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:39 pm

That's the one! Sorry I never saw your original request. We're still on the boat so this is a guess until I get home. 'Off in a Boat' by Neil Gunn ring any bells?
---
Shuggy

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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby Aja » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:15 pm

The power of the forum. Last read many years ago, I suspect on a wet day holed up in Tobermory trying to avoid the drips. A very good read, and available to boot via Amazon!

One for the library. Now ordered via above link....
Thanks
Donald

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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby Shuggy » Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:25 pm

Good news Donald - I seem to remember that I thought he was completely mad, but it all seemed to work out for him!
---
Shuggy

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Telo
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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby Telo » Thu May 07, 2015 3:34 pm

Shard wrote:
Silkie wrote:That sounds like a right handy chart for anyone who might be thinking of making a once-in-a-lifetime sortie up that way.... :)

Well, the cancelled 2378 is available from Marine Chart Services for £3.25.

The UKHO/RYA CD-ROM is good value imho, and has the whole loch on it, plus everything from the Solway to Cape Wrath. Don't know about the Leisure Folio edition - the top end of the loch doesn't show up the picture, but seems to be mentioned in the text.


UPDATE: The modern chart BA2388, 1:25,000, which goes right up to the head of the Loch, comes as part of the MemoryMap package for laptops and tablets.

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Re: Cruising on Loch Etive

Postby SteveN » Fri May 08, 2015 3:33 pm

Shard wrote:UPDATE: The modern chart BA2388, 1:25,000, which goes right up to the head of the Loch, comes as part of the MemoryMap package for laptops and tablets.


It's also included in the chartsets for PC (Seaclear) and Android (MarineNavigator) from VisitMyHarbour.


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