eXXpedition Round Britain crew member Bryony Meakins updates us on the sailing conditions on the exciting new Caledonian Canal route from Arran:
“We set sail from Arran with a nice force 4 wind and fairly flat seas in the shelter of the Mull of Kintyre with a sighting of porpoises to wish us on our way. We were shown the ropes by the brilliant pro crew (Skipper Diane, Holly and Kat) and then practised some tacking in our watch groups so that we were prepared for our upwind passage to Fort William. A delicious dinner was served and after we settled into our watch patterns for the evening. My own watch group of Diane, Sue, Emily, Carol and I taking the 18:00 to 20:00 watch. Handing over to the next watch who were on from 20:00 until midnight, things got a bit more exciting! The wind built during the night, reaching highs of 36 knots, with the seas also building as we came out of the shelter of land. This was challenging sailing but the crew coped amazingly.
Our watch came back on at 04:00 just as the skies were beginning to lighten (the watch system works with 4 hours on, 8 hours off, save for two 2-hour shifts over dinner time). We had made it to the Island of Islay (where Sue, our local expert, tells us there are 8 whiskey distilleries). As we tacked round the headland the seas whipped up, where a few waves knocked us like skittles off our feet! At the end of our watch we rounded round the headland heading inland to Fort William, which we could now make on one tack- Hooray! Eventually Sea Dragon was able to bear away further and enjoy a fast reach towards Fort William.
It felt great to get out to sea in Sea Dragon, but this short, 24-hour sail proves why it makes sense to go through the Caledonian canal. I have no doubt that Sea Dragon and our fantastic crew could make it on our original route, but these would be no conditions for science and that is one of our most important objectives!”