Monday, 28 August 2017

Inverness and Caledonian Canal entry

Hi everyone,
We stayed at Inverness Marina for four days.  We had planned to spend only two days but crew injury (not serious) caused us to wait a while.  Despite the injury we enjoyed our stay and got to explore the city a little.

River Ness
Picturesque Scottish Architecture
Many Churches
Inverness marina is at the mouth of the River Ness.  Small cargo ships go a little way up river to the docks.  Beyond that is the city.  The Caledonian Canal entrance is a little further west along the Inverness Firth and it runs through the western part of the city.

River Ness (east) and Caledonian Canal (west)
It's worth noting that currents are very strong in Inverness Firth.  As we exited the river we needed full power to round the shoal which extends out into the Firth.  The north cardinal at its end was half-submerged!

Entering the sea lock was straight-forward.  We paid our money (UKP200) for the permit and motored on into Muirtown basin.  We lay at a pontoon berth there until the swing bridge was able to open.  This bridge is in Inverness so openings cause major traffic jams.  It is at the base of the "flight" of locks out of the city and into very nice countryside.  The lock flight seems to be a major tourist attraction.  It was weird looking down into a valley from the boat.

Clachnaharry Sea Lock
Entering the Muirtown Flight
All the opening bridges and locks in the canal are staffed.  This makes transiting the locks very straight-forward.  We had long bow and stern lines rigged through blocks with the tails led back to our main winches - this worked very well.

In the canal
Once at the top of the flight we were very quickly in a rural setting.  The mostly tree-lined canal is only 30-40m wide but at least 4m deep.  We spent our first night at Dochgarroch Lock, just short of Loch Ness.

While shutting down our systems I had a quick look at the AIS boats nearby.  300m along the canal was Taipan, an Australian boat we last saw in Bermuda and whose crew we first met during the Fremantle to Darwin Splash in 2002.  How amazing!  We walked along the canal to see them and spend a nice evening with them.

Zen Again at Dochgarroch Lock

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