Last Week July 2016 - Creran to Melfort
Work commitments kept us on dry land for 2016, at least that was the plan. We had arranged for a few days in Scotland to do some odd jobs, but that was extended to a week when we learnt that MRC was closing and we had to be out of there by the end of October. Any other year that would not have been a problem as Innisfree would have been afloat. Tim did some rapid ringing around and secured a storage spot ashore at Kilmelford Yacht Haven. All we had to do was get there. We extended the few days to a week (9 days) so we had four days to get Innisfree seaworthy, one day to sail the 30 NM from Loch Creran to Loch Melfort and four days contingency for any unforeseen hold ups. The first problem was the forestay track was bent - not found until the mast was up. This was due for replacement over winter so we did not make a fuss, but the yankee would not hoist, meaning any sailing would be with just the stay sail and main. By day three Innisfree was out of the shed, mast up, main sail hanked on and ready to go with a high tide the following morning...what else could go wrong?
The answer - the tractor, something completely out of our control. Clearly with the yard closing maintenance had been cut back and the clutch had seized, so no movement and no hydraulics. Innisfree was stuck in the slings with no way to extract her. This was very frustrating because other boats were launched using the tractor and trailer borrowed from the yard next door, and all we could do was watch. It was always "should be fixed for the next high tide" so we could not even go mountain walking. Eventually the fault was found to be with a bearing which had to be fixed somewhere on the east coast of Scotland. Extracting the bearing involved splitting the tractor in two (left), not a quick job, so at last we had a bit of free time. Typically the weather was miserable, but we opted to visit the Cruachan Hydro Electric plant on Loch Awe.
They do things differently on the west coast. On our way to Loch Awe, the railway workers had closed the road to paint the bridge. We were three cars back in the queue and assumed that they would paint a segment of the yellow chevrons, and then let the traffic through. But no, they painted the whole of one side. This took around 20 minutes and the line of traffic was considerable by the time they were finished and included service buses with a timetable to keep.
With all the jobs done, just waiting for the tractor to be fixed, the kindle came in to its own. Judith made friends with a dog who was always ready for a game of tug. There was much urgent work going on in the yard with all boat owners in the same pickle also having to move. Some "project boats" looked like they had several years work before they would be sea worthy and there were many "For Sale" signs in evidence. At one time a low loader arrived to take a boat away, but left empty handed as the tractor and cradle were out of action.
Finally on the Friday we were on our way. The tides were favourable so we got through the two tidal gates at the entrance to Loch Creran, and Cuan Sound on the approach to Loch Melfort in one tide. Typically there was very little wind so it was a motor all the way to make the gates. We arrived around 7pm but by now it was too late to be lifted out at the other end as there were no additional staff at the weekend, so we had to leave it to the yard as we were due back at work on the Monday. The yard later sorted everything out in our absence. We are hoping for better sailing in 2017!