I decided on the last weekend in April for the date of the meet as it was before the midge season starts but hopefully late enough to have some chance of decent weather. It was also a weekend that didn't clash with any other OCSG events.
I contacted the campsite who were very helpful and were well used to hosting meets by diving and kayak clubs and who agreed to give us our own section of the site as close to their slipway as possible. This would make for a nice sociable setting and easy access for launching and landing our canoes.
For various reasons I left home at around 9pm on the Thursday evening before the meet and drove up as far as Glencoe before finding a peaceful layby at the end of the Glen Etive road to bed down in the back of the van. It was a really nice quiet spot and I was asleep before midnight. Friday morning saw me up early and revealed the spectacular setting I'd chosen for my overnight stop (not entirely by accident I have to say). Buachaille Etive Mor isn't the most photographed mountain in Scotland for no reason!
By late morning we were approaching some kind of readiness to get out for a sail so we held a quick meeting to formulate some plans for the weekends activities and settled on going for a local sail after lunch (possibly heading to Salen) and then trying to reach Loch Teacuis on Saturday when we'd have all day available. The wind was reasonably strong and promised decent sailing conditions at least for Friday.
After a bite to eat we headed out onto the water and got a feel for the conditions.
Adam forgot to put his buoyancy aid on and couldn't manage to get it over the zip on his new drysuit on the water so had to land briefly to sort it out. Once we'd all had a sail about we set off west down the loch as a group, the wind was probably blowing up to a F4 and despite the fact that it was coming from the north the water was a little choppy and bailing was necessary on occasion.
We all became a little split up as we left Salen Bay for the short sail back to Resipole. There was a short rain shower just as Andy and I sailed out into the main loch and Andy and Nora were framed by a rainbow.
Myself and Andy had just acquired marine VHF radios (Adam and Dave already owned a set each) and we'd agreed to try these out on the return journey so radio test calls were made successfully as we sailed back.
Saturday dawned without a cloud in the sky (although there was a heavy ground frost). Tom's cousin David arrived early on, he owns a Solway Dory Osprey trimaran which he'd brought with him. Unfortunately one of the outrigger beams had bounced out the canoe during the journey to Resipole rendering the whole set up unusable. Graham saved the day by offering David the use of his new sea kayak for the day and it turned out that David was an experienced paddler into the bargain. The scene was set for our quest to reach Loch Teacuis but first it was breakfast!
We formed up on the water at about 10am ready to head west. The wind was lighter than it had been on Friday but there was enough to ensure we didn't have to paddle. The sail westwards along the loch was downwind so we made good progress in the glorious morning sunshine.
Andy and Nora cruising up the western side of Carna.
The fleet about to enter Loch Teacuis.
The buildings on the left in this picture are on Carna.
Andy and Nora sailing in relax mode with Ben Resipole in the distance.
I was woken by my alarm at 7:30am and emerged from the van to another beautiful morning.
My plan for the day was to pack the awning away in the dry then have a quick sail later if the wind picked up. Dave decided not to sail as he had a sore neck from paddling on Saturday, Andy opted to climb Ben Resipole to give Nora a good walk and Graham, Adam, Tom and David decided to explore eastwards up the loch.
While everyone set off on their trips I set about packing up and on completion Dave and I sat in the sun chatting for quite a while before he decided to head for home. After eating a quick lunch I set off onto the water, I called up Adam on the radio to see where the others had got too. They'd reached the narrows towards the eastern end of the loch but were now on their way back so I set off to meet up with them.
Those of us who were going home packed up our boats and said our farewells. It had been a fantastic weekend blessed with great weather (while most of England was lashed by heavy rain and gales).
I can't thank the guys enough for supporting my meet and being such great company, I don't think it'll be long before I start organising another meet (maybe camping from the boats next time).