Atlantic ocean

Toucan 2: Scottish Escapades

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Who: Chris

Where: From Dalgety Bay on the Firth of Forth to Kippford, Scotland

Multihull: Toucan 2 (Strider Turbo)


It was a very long sail ahead of us: up the East coast to Inverness, through the canal to Fort William and then down the west coast of Scotland. The Marine Haggis had had his input, suggesting “Why not use the Forth Clyde canal?” Never heard of it! It was tight but do-able. Maximum width of 6m/20’ (Toucan’s beam is 5.3m/17’5”) and an air draft of 3m/10’ (the mast has to come down). We could do it. The wind was light. It was sunny but chilly and, because the mast had to come down for the canal, I sailed under jib alone. I set off in glorious sunshine from the Kelpies basin on a passage through the Forth/Clyde canal. There was something like 19 locks. Southbank Marina was full, so we moored for the night at a canal-side pub. I had always thought that bascule bridges were like Tower Bridge in London where water fills large counterbalance tanks and its weight lifts the bridge. These had 4 hydraulic rams at each corner and lifted the bridge up. It reminded me of a table. We then got to the fun part. We had to go under the main road to Loch Lomond, which didn’t lift and had an air draft of less than a meter (3’). The ingenious solution was to enter a lock basin; the water was then pumped out, lowering us 3m (10’), enough to pass under the bridge; then filling the lock back up once we were the other side. After taking a taxi to buy fuel, I was ready to go but the engine wasn’t! All my good organization came to naught. Never mind there was a good wind. I got a tow out to about a ¼ mile offshore and hoisted the sails. The aim was to round the Mull of Galloway on the last of the ebb and then take the flood tide up the Solway. I would be in Kippford soon. But the wind died! I reached Crammag Head lighthouse and rounded the Mull. The flood tide sets slightly north into Luce Bay and with hardly any wind I was pushed in between the Scares which are jagged rocks halfway across the bay on the edge of the danger zone. After rounding Burrow Head and abeam of the entrance to the Isle of Whithorn, Toucan was romping along in the dark leaving trails of phosphorescence behind. As dawn broke I was joined by 2 dolphins that played around the catamaran for half an hour or so. They were larger than usual and brown in color. I thought they were Pilot Whales at first but they had the distinctive sickle shaped dorsal fin. When I got home, I looked them up and I think that they were White Beaked Dolphins. 

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