Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The third annual autumn wallaby safari.

At this time of year for the last few years we've done our final trip of the season and so last weekend myself, Andy, Dave, Graham and Ramsay arranged to meet for what has become our traditional season finale on Loch Lomond. Four of us met up at Luss on Friday lunchtime while Rambo was to join us later. The weather was showery and the wind light as we sailed slowly away from Luss and headed for the islands.

Once we got away from the shoreline and towards the middle of the loch the wind filled in and gave nice sailing conditions as we made our way to our usual campsite.

This late in the year we tend to take an extensive array of camping gear to make life as comfortable as possible whatever the weather throws at us. The downside to this arrangement is that setting up camp is a lengthy affair and on this occasion it left us with no time to go back out for a further sail. Instead we settled in and waited for Ramsay to arrive. He sailed into view as the last of the daylight was fading.

Rambo pitched his tent and joined us by the fire as we cooked our evening meals.

Some of us stayed up a little later than others but we knew we had to be up early the next morning so we were all in bed by midnight.
I slept fitfully and woke at 6:30 and decided to get up. Iain was coming to visit us for breakfast on his Stand Up Paddleboard after which we had an appointment to visit Loch Lomond Sailing Club at Millarochy Bay to view their collection of antique sailing canoes. We were on the water just after nine and Iain headed back to his car as we headed the other way towards the eastern shore of the loch.
The trip across the loch was carried out predominantly under paddle power and it turned into a bit of a slog as we were running late. Soon enough though the hard work payed off and we approached the clubhouse.

As we landed we were greeted by Roger Hancock (a senior member of the club and also it's archivist). Loch Lomond Sailing Club was called the Clyde Canoe Club until a name change in 1999 and has a long and distinguished historical connection with canoeing and canoe sailing. Nowadays the club is more concerned with dinghy racing but they have a collection of old sailing canoes some of which date back to Victorian times. Before showing us the canoes though Roger ushered us into the clubhouse for a welcome cuppa and a look round. I was immediately struck by the sense of history the clubhouse had. Although it looks quite modern from the loch the interior gives away the age of the building and inside it's brimming with character.

 After drinking our tea and coffee Roger showed us into a boat shed where (after climbing a ladder into the loft) we were able to see the old canoes.

Roger has compiled a history of the club which is well worth reading and can be found here;
The club was holding it's AGM later that day so we thanked Roger and launched our boats to make the short hop along to Balmaha where we hoped to have lunch.

The wind had picked up a little so thankfully we could sail instead of paddling down to Balmaha harbour. We beached the canoes and walked the short distance to the Oak Tree Inn where we had lunch and a pint.

After lunch we had an exciting sail back out of the narrow harbour before heading southwest along the side of Incailloch and the chain of islands leading towards Inchmurrin. The sky had cleared giving views of the snow capped mountains.

We arrived back at camp as the sun set and the temperature started to drop. The wind had gone completely and a mist rolled over the calm bay next to our campsite.

It was another evening of sitting around the fire, cooking, eating and drinking disturbed only by the unexpected presence of some hooligans in motorboats on the adjacent island who persisted in letting off fireworks and playing loud music until after ten. Thankfully it didn't spoil our feasting too much!

We didn't go to bed quite as early on Saturday night but weren't too late. I woke around eight and was greeted by a beautiful morning as I opened my tent door.

We ate breakfast and started a leisurely pack up. The one disappointment had been that we hadn't had a wallaby sighting (possibly due to the noise of the fireworks the previous night) so Andy, Graham and I went for a stroll round the island and were rewarded by bumping into this fellow.
Dave and Ramsay left once we arrived back at camp but we still had a little packing to do.

Soon we were ready to follow in their wakes back through the narrows towards Luss.

Another great weekend then and a fine way to round off the sailing season. I hope to have a few more jaunts during the winter but will probably lean towards using my Pal and combining sailing with some paddling which helps to keep you warm during the colder months.

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