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Back to salt water

The next morning we wake at 06:30 giving us the one and a half hours we like to have before departure. The Fort Augustus flight consisting of five locks starts at 08:00 in the morning. Roland calls the lock-keeper on VHF at eight and is told that there would be at least a one and a half hour delay before we could start our transit up the flight. In fact we enter the first lock chamber at 10:30 - we could have had an extra two and a half hours sleep! During our long wait for the locks we chat with our neighbours on the sailing yacht Gemini who we met at Caley Marina, three fun Scots delivering their boat to Inverkip.

The “flight” is hard work for Leontine who handles the land lines from lock to lock and pulls the boat forward into the next lock. Once free of the Fort Augustus flight we pass through two more locks alongs some spectacularly beautiful sections of the canal.

We pass though Lock Oich which is relatively narrow before stopping for the night on the west side of the Laggan Locks. Our Scottish friends had recommended this stop to us as there is a lovely floating pub called the Eagle just before the lock chamber. Unfortunately the pub is closed on Wednesdays, but that did not lessen our enjoyment of the moment and we invite the Gemini crew on board for a drink.

Gemini crew

They bring a bottle of single malt whisky - the start of a very alcoholic evening! We have supper onboard and are about to settle down for a nights rest when Iain from the Gemini taps on our hull to give us a couple of glasses of Glen Morangie (Rolands favourite) we take the glasses with us to their boat together with a bottle of Berenburg for some original Dutch hospitality. Quite quickly it is clear that some of the Gemini crew are a bit worse for wear! However that did not lessen the enjoyment of the moment what so ever.

The following morning we are awake bright and early ready to lock out towards Loch Lochy at 08:00. Our plan for the day is to complete the rest of the Caledonian Canal and descend Neptunes staircase to spend the night in Corpach Basin just inside the Sea Locks. The trip goes smoothly and we look in awe at Ben Nevis mountain - the highest mountain in Scotland towering above us.

After a good nights rest we steam out of Corpach Sea lock and are back on salt water sailing towards Oban. A strange feeling being back on salt water, so far inland that it is hard to believe that one is “at sea”. Maybe the sight of a couple of dolphins playing in the loch and a seal sticking its head above the water is a worthy confirmation. After a beautiful trip we find a berth in Oban Marina on the island of Kerrera with a stunning view of the Oban bay. We enjoy dinner in Oban and then walk down to the new pontoons in the harbour to have a farewell drink with Iain, Ken and Alisdair from Gemini - we have genuinely loved their company all the way along the Caledonian Canal and say goodbye to them in good style with more whisky before they head on further south towards the Crinan Canal whilst we enjoy another day in Oban.

The island of Kerrera is a natural barrier protecting the bay of Oban and offers some lovely walks along gravel tracks. The new owners of Oban Marina have implemented a free ferry every hour for berth holders between the island and the mainland (tourists pay GBP20 for a single), also of interest is a very good little restaurant next to the harbour office where we enjoy a slap up dinner before our departure the next morning up the Straight of Mull to Tobermory.

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