Before I tell you about the journey to the Crinan Canal let me say, we have spent two nights in Oban or more precisely in the marina by the island of Kerrera opposite Oban (a free shuttle ferry runs you to Oban). The marina staff, were welcoming and friendly, there is also a small chandlery here and somewhere to purchase a few small essential provisions. Also attached to the marina is a café/restaurant which appeared to be busy practically all day. They have a washing machine which is £4 a load, but as it’s an industrial machine, if you were so inclined you could wash quite a lot in one go. The tumble drier was the most effect we have encountered, costing £1 to dry the whole load. Electric is on a card system, you pay £5 for your card, they then come to you pontoon and read your meter and deduct the value of the electric you have used, or you pay the difference if you exceed the value of the card. Berthing here amounted to £23.50 per night and the showers were a £1, but they were shoddy and dirty, shoddy I can put up with, but the floors, toilets and sinks needed a good clean, I walked in took a few photographs and walked out. Named and shamed Oban marina, the worst to date!
We haven’t been to Oban before; (we came to meet Martin from Tui and his partner Barbara) so we went across on the ferry from Kerrera to Oban which took less than ten minutes. There we found a ferry port to Tobermory, a train station, an airport, plenty of hotels, cafes and charity shops, a sailing club (closed) and a handful of outdoor clothing outlets thrown in, and naturally the local museum! Thankfully they have a Tesco, Aldi and Lidl, so we topped up our supplies. Oban would appear to be where the yachts replenish their stores and have crew changeovers. On the way back to the boat we had to wait sometime to get across to Kerrera as the ferry only takes twelve passengers at a time. It was obvious that a larger yacht was restocking, and re crewing, judging by the dozen or so large boxes filled with essentials such as beer, and the lads with large holdalls.
As it turned out the boxes were for a boat called ‘Robin’ from Cowes and they were heading straight back, which was a five hundred mile passage with a stopover in Falmouth, good luck to them!
We went ashore with Marian and Simon, and then parted company arranging to meet back at the boat later in the evening. Marian and Simon wanted to listen to some music and ate out, and we had planned to spend an evening with Martin and Barbara. We just got back to the boat about 2pm and the heavens opened, and the rain continued right through to the middle of the night, a little galling when we know that on the south coast they are enjoying a heat wave. I cooked a chicken and ham risotto for dinner, which was washed down by a little alcohol and much chatter.
So this morning dawned fair, Marian and I leafleted the marina, and then wondered off to explore Kerrera, there are several walks on the Island, we chose to visit a bay where there is a colony of seals. To get there we had to walk through a farm, with chickens, ducks and geese wandering free range, then through a few fields with highland cattle and a sheep grazing, no real roads as such, it all feels very low key here. We met the farmer, who owns the land around us, he works full time in Oban as does his wife, and they have four children and manage the farm. He was explaining that he had a show that he needed to take his young bull too in a fortnight and he had spent the previous day wrestling with the beast trying to get him to walk with a halter on, his muscles were aching so today he was giving himself the day off. The farmer felt all would end well, as he had decided to put the halter on the bull and attached the lead to the tractor and then trundle up and down the lane until the young bull got the idea. Obviously the walk with his dogs and given him time to think out his problem.
On returning to the boat, I discovered that Sean had replenished our water supplies, we then waited for Marian and Simon to catch up and moved the boat to the refuelling pontoon, here the fuel is £127 at the 40/60 taxable rate on fuel ( 40% tax for heating and 60% taxable rate propulsion).
We have now headed off to the Crinan, being careful not to hit the partially submerged wreck by the marina.
I’ve written the passage plan today, the general idea is to head south with the tidal streams, there were a few key areas of tidal concern that I had to consider, these were the tidal streams between the islands of Scarba and Luing, in the Sound of Luing, where the tide can reach six knots in springs.
Another consideration was passing the Corryvreckan, where there are considerable over falls; my last area of concern was passing through the Dorus Mor, which caught us out three years ago (but thankfully Roger did the passage planning). I can tell you that the day went without a hitch, we had five hours of tide with us and I got it right! The wind was either on our bow or slightly to our starboard side, so the sails were in and out depending on the direction of the wind and our tack.
We covered 23.1 nm arriving at 17.45, and settled in the Crinan basin for the night, all ready for tomorrow and our trip down the Crinan Canal.
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I hope you enjoyed reading about our passage from Oban to the Crinan Canal, if those showers have been updated yet, or you have some advice for sailors why not add to the comments section.
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