On Saturday morning, Chris our injured crewman was transferred to Inverness General Hospital for a knee operation to correct a torn tendon. We have been in constant touch with Chris by text messages and he remains in good spirits ( well England did beat India in the Test Match at Edgbaston ). I am writing this on Sunday evening listening to the rain hammering down on the cockpit tent upstairs in the boat… and so far it seems Chris is in some sort of queue for his op’…. maybe Monday. He is in good hands and we all wish him a speedy recovery.
Margaret….. Ben Nevis in the background…. on our way to catch the 47 bus into Fort William.
We spent Saturday morning having a good tidy up on the boat as well as doing two big loads of washing in the Scottish Canals Facilities block not 30 yards from the boat. Now the laundry event on Poli Poli has its own league table…. as to how far you have to walk back and forth to change from the washing machine to the drier, to put the washing in at the start, to collect the finished dry laundry and so forth.
Well top of the league in terms of distance walked is Dun Laoghaire ( Dunleary near Dublin ) where I walked some 16,000 steps ( over 7 miles ) to do two loads of washing back in early July. Second is Portland in early June, where it was just over 10,000 steps. The shortest distance to date… the winners are the YHA in Bristol and the Scottish Canals laundry at Banavie, Caledonian Canal… where it is has been hardly any leg exercise at all! You really need to know this sort of stuff!
Photo above…. T…. our Wharf berth at the top of the Staircase of eight locks … note Monaco motor yacht still there…. left Sunday morning.
Saturday afternoon… well we walked down Neptune’s Staircase of eight locks to the A830 road from Fort William to Mallaig…. and we caught the 1.36pm No. 47 bus into Fort William. In an exchange of e-mails with brother John he kept referring to a town called ‘Fort Bill’….. took a while for us to cotton on. Fort William sits on the side of Loch Linnhe and very much right below the mountain mass known as Ben Nevis. This of course has always been in cloud…. either white, grey or a menacing black.
Fort William’s position between loch and mountain means that the town attracts many hill walkers, mountaineers, and sightseers from all over the world. There seems to be but one long high street full of the usual shops ( Boots, WH Smiths, Costa etc ) plus a good number of tacky type tourist gift shops, factory shops, and usual run of outdoor activity cheap and expensive clothing stores…. mountain warehouse to name but one. Between the rows of unspectacular shops the street is fully occupied by hundreds of tourists of all nationalities…. often attired in hill or mountain garb…. rucksacks galore plus the now common sight of those telescopic special walking sticks…. which you use to do pretend skiing.
We did our victualling ( going to Tescos and buying provisions for the boat ) in a Tesco Metro ( bigger than a ‘Express’ I suppose, but smaller than an ‘Extra’…. or is it ? ). Victualling is a posh nautical word for the uninitiated into matters marine. Then a taxi with two bags of shopping back to the boat at Banavie.
Reading Saturday paper on Sunday afternoon.
Earlier on in the day we had a chat with the lovely Lock Lady Gillian about our berth on the wharf after she had enquired as to how Chris was progressing in hospital. We had decided to remain at the top of the Staircase in Banavie until next Thursday when our next crew member would appear. Gillian informed us that we were ok on the wharf berth until Monday morning but then a ‘puffer’ boat would arrive and require the berth for tourist trips up and down the canal. So we had to keep an eye out for a vacant berth on the long pontoon just upstream from our wharf spot…. where shore power and water were both available. Full up with boats on Saturday night… a much sought after mooring.
Sunday commenced dry and quite chilly, the thermometer only struggling to reach 14 degrees C. What a difference to the 25-30 degrees down south, and so so different from Spain and Portugal where temperatures of 40 plus are being recorded in heatwave conditions. So far Scotland has been a steely grey gloom, incessant rain and temperatures in the low teens. Margaret has just gone to bed with a hot water bottle for goodness sake.
Sunday…. third lot of washing done…. all bed linen. But…. after washing had finished… noticed that two small boats had left the long pontoon with shore power… and a gap big enough for Poli Poli suddenly appeared… about 9am’sh this morning. So a very rapid prep’ boat for sea routine done…. and in doing so a couple from Southampton suddenly appeared from nowhere…. started chatting…. they turned out to be retired sailors from the Hamble and volunteered to take our lines at the new berth about two hundred yards upstream from the wharf. Excellent news!
Margaret accompanied them to the new berth…. Jill and Ian from Swanmore, Southampton. Ian took the stern line from me as Poli Poli drifted in to the pontoon, Margaret ( get this ) did rope work and took the midships line and held it expertly on the cleat, whilst Jill , just as expertly, cleated off the bow line…. then she told me that one of the port side fenders needed to be adjusted!!! Lovely couple working as a team with the now named…. ‘midships queen.”
Photo above…is our new pontoon berth for Poli Poli…looking eastwards away to Fort William and Ben Nevis. This is where the “Midships Queen” did her rope work.
Lunch Cornish pasty from our gas oven and salad…. followed by reading Saturday papers… then pm washing boat with hose, cleaning cockpit, and filling water tank. At precisely 8pm this Sunday evening…. guess what…. heavy rain. Oh well…. at least we have an excellent pontoon berth with water and shore power…. we can relax. New crew arrives on Thursday until 22nd August… then Mike and Christine return. Despite the rain, still smiling and planning the rest of the Circumnavigation.
The photo below…Poli Poli on her new pontoon berth in Banavie..this time looking westwards. Pretty depressing how the skies look in all these photos!!