The midges turned out to be no problem, thankfully - it's early in the season, after all - and the remaining transit of the canal was a great experience. The two lock-keepers for the final 'uphill' section at Cairnbaan were really friendly and helpful and we earned Brownie points by letting a couple of yachts who were in a hurry (complete with paid 'pilot' to do all the hard work for them, where's the fun in that?) overtake us. We were very happy to take it steadily and enjoy the experience - heaving on the gates and winding the sluices is all part of the fun.
The 'downhill' locks are easier (no massive turbulence in the chamber unlike the previous ones) and again the lock-keepers made life very easy of us.
|These locks are more closely spaced in a 'staircase' of 5 chambers, each with a holding pond in between|
|Bravo and Maunie are a reasonably tight fit!|
Our final night destination was the Crinan Basin, with just one final lock before the sea. The weather finally has turned into summer and this was a great spot to enjoy the views.
|Maunie tucked into the top left corner of the basin, Bravo two boats behind.|
The canal is used by all sorts of vessels but Bravo is probably one of the bigger sailing yachts to make the transit. There's a draught (depth) limit of only 2.1 metres - we saw a least depth of 2.2m at one point - and most big sailing yachts have deep keels; the fresh water in the canal also makes boats float about 10cm lower than in sea water. Adam & Cindi were able to retract Bravo's lifting keel, however, to get through with ease.
We were delighted to see a boat at the other end of the scale come through the locks. An intrepid couple of blokes had launched their ancient wooden Wayfarer dinghy (just 16ft) in Portpatrick and were heading up to Fort William, through the Caledonian Canal to Inverness and then south to Berwick on Tweed.
|Graham did lots of his early dinghy sailing in a Wayfarer (sail number 918). Panacea is probably 50 years old.|
We are now anchored in the beautiful natural harbour of Puilladohbrain (pronounced Puldoran, it means Pool of the Otter) just south of Oban. It's become rather too popular at the weekends so we didn't venture into the inner section, crowded with 12 boats already at anchor, and instead enjoyed the peace of the outer end.
|Looking south, with the island of Seil to the left. Maunie and Bravo in the foreground|
Today has dawned bright, sunny and windless so a walk ashore this morning is on the plan. We're hoping a sea breeze will kick in this afternoon to take us up the Sound of Mull.