At Coniston a second trial took place on the trip to Peel Island. Pushing hard on a broad reach in occasional gusts and some waves gave the effectiveness of the sponsons a test. I believe that in extreme conditions, when I'm sailing on my own, they would probably prevent capsize or, in the worst scenario, would make regaining the safety of the canoe an easier exercise than otherwise. So I am very pleased with the outcome, and many thanks to JohnS for his help and encouragement.
I think this temporary extra buoyancy will be of help when the weather turns rough or when cruising with loaded canoe and less freeboard. At the moment some water does splash up between hull and sponson, but I am working on an appropriate modification. Any member is welcome to examine or copy mine, and I will gladly discuss details to facilitate adaptation of the idea to other canoe hulls.
I Vow Island (Part 1) (WalterG)
Not many of us have sailed in the northern section of Loch Lomond. Roland, our resident canoe sailor, has been up there and told us a little about it, mentioning a canal. A book I have gives a potted history of the islands there and I was intrigued with the story of I Vow Island, which, so I read, still had a castle complete with dungeon. At least two men have lived in it at different times since its decline after the McFarlanes moved to the mainland. So in 1999 I vowed I would reach the island.
After the races, I said that I was going to explore the north to look at I Vow. Others too wanted to reach the top of the loch. When I got up early on Wednesday morning the wind was strong and some decided to give it a miss, others said that they would set off later, so I started alone. It was a downwind run to the Ross Islands and strong gusts made it an exciting sail. It was obviously time to reef, so with some relief I slipped behind Big Ross and pulled up on a mossy beach. Since whitecaps were rolling in between the island and the shore I tucked in a double reef. As I left the islands the wind vanished and I had to paddle in a flat calm, but as I approached Eilean Deargannan (a big name for a little island) it started raining and the wind came back, force 3, with very strong gusts. I was glad that I had left the reefs in.
I made for the lee of the island and landed on a pebble and rock strewn shore. The scrubby trees gave shelter and the rain paused long enough for me to make a much-needed brew. This little island, about 2 feet above the water level, was where the fleet regrouped on the 1998 Three Lochs trip. The wind was still strong as I set off for Tarbet, where I planned to camp for the night. Looking back I thought I saw, through the murk, a small white sail near the Ross Islands.
The sailing was good and the waves made it interesting. The wind strengthened and the waves rose; visibility was poor, and rainsqualls swept across the loch, battering my hooded waterproofs. We were surfing down the front of the larger waves. I lifted the daggerboard halfway to avoid tripping over it but with enough down to slow the rolling action. Yet stronger winds and higher waves! This was now a £7-99p white-knuckle ride, lifting and surfing, rolling and twisting, white spume streaking down the backs of the waves and spray blowing off the tops, definitely force 6. My handkerchief size sail was like a curved sheet of steel. Boy, was I glad I had two reefs in!
After half an hour of this, I needed a rest and headed for a nearby shingle beach. Turning to starboard, we proceeded to rock and roll as we sailed along the face of the waves. A motor cruiser heading down the loch slowed almost to a stop, obviously watching my progress, and standing by in case! But we made it to the shore. Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' would have heightened this drama to a cinematic epic (I like to think).
Hauling Valkyrie up the beach I looked back through the mist and rain, and could see a small sail rapidly approaching. Soon I made out the outriggers of JohnB's boat. He saw my sail and headed towards us on the beach. "Lively out there, old son!" said John as he stepped ashore. "I'm glad you stopped, I needed a rest! Peter's behind me somewhere". We could just make out his small sail in the murk as we sat down on a rock to rest. Heavy raindrops from the trees above splattered noisily on our waterproofs. John tried to light his pipe but it's hard to set fire to a bowl of water.
We waited for Peter to head towards us, but in vain! He shot past over by the far bank, and then his sail disappeared. It looked like a capsize. John clambered quickly (for an old man) into his boat and went to the rescue, but in fact Pete's leeboard had broken so he dropped his sail and paddled towards us. John gave Peter a tow and we soon arrived by the Tarbet camp. Derek and Mary paddled into sight and so the group was complete. The camp was wet but a blazing log fire helped to reverse our fortunes, and after a hot meal we felt much better. John and Pete enthused over their army rations: Lancashire hot pot, chicken supreme, asparagus soup, and chocolate pudding, all on one plate. After this repast, I dug out into my No.2 hold and shared out some cans of beer. Cheers!
The morning broke dry but cloudy with a light wind. John and Peter (with a jury-rigged leeboard) set sail back to Cashel. Mary, Derek, and myself sallied forth into unknown territory. With a light wind abaft the beam a very pleasant sail ensued, in complete contrast to the previous day. The landmarks slipped by, Tarbet & Tarbet Isle (to be visited), the jetty and hotel at Inversnaid, Inveruglas Isle (to be visited - it has a castle!). This belonged to the Clan MacFarlane and was