Crinan canal

smithy

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17 Apr 2011
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I've just priced a return trip throught the Canal, £256 for a 9m boat I'm sure it was under £200 last year. Looks like you are getting assisted passage whether you like it or not. Suddenly the Mull looks a lot more attractive!
 

EuanMcKenzie

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24 Oct 2005
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Stirling, Scotland
did it one way a week past saturday having circumnavigated the mull through a week

my boat was £160 one way. with assisted passage we got through in four and a half hours

your right you get it whether you want it or not but i guess it helps pay for the guys that would need be be substantially there anyway.

about the same as a return flight to Malaga - take your pick
 

Sgeir

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We went through in late March, 10m, out of season, more expensive than before, but quite a bit cheaper than the OP, IIRC.

Like it or not (we don't), it's now assisted passage whether you require it or not. The new assisted passage takes away some of the fun, but it's fine. On the social side, it also provides more secure (although temporary) seasonal job opportunities for a few folk. I wouldn't grudge that, and, BTW, all the canal staff are extremely helpful and pleasant.

TBH, it's a very good but unnecessary service as two reasonably fit people should be able to handle any boat going through the canal without assistance, IMHO.
 

awol

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4 Jan 2005
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Me - Edinburgh; Boat - in the west
I am still ambivalent about the new regime. I've had 3 trips this year, 2 of which were single-handed which I could not have done without the assistance - previous years I would have drafted in help that probably cost considerably more in fuel, food and drink! I agree with Sgeir that the fun and satisfaction of handling 19C technology has gone.
The justification put to me was that the new price is similar to the cost of hiring a pilot and was intended to encourage more boats. Whether the increase in numpties outweighs the extra staff costs and the loss of meanies remains to be seen. My fear is that next year they withdraw the assisted passage but the price stays up.
 
D

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Do the assistants cycle alongside the yacht or are they onboard between locks and bridges?
 

Sgeir

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Cycle and/or walk. Onboard assistance unnecessary as everything can be managed by one person from the cockpit.
 

Quandary

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Argyll
The service is working well except perhaps at Dunardry where while the card school is rumoured to be no longer in operation some of them do still seem to manage to time their break with your arrival, they will hand you the key to do it yourself before they go though. To be fair there are some very pleasant and industrious young people working here this summer. Surprisingly, some boats are paying the new rates and still employing a pilot, I have done three so far (Hugh is in Texas) The customers explained that they just had confidence in the experience the old pilots have, but by now most of the temporary staff have a fair idea of where to position lines and how to fill locks to avoid risk of damage. The main reason assisted passage is working so well is the much lower density of boats as the prices have become more widely known, £25 a mile or £200 buys you a fair few beers in Gigha. I am hoping to get a few more pictures of half a dozen 15 stone men in Dubarry boots standing by watching a 5'2" girl heave a gate open for them. Avoid locking in at Ardrishaig at low tide if you can , the outer sea lock gates have sagged over the last couple of years and it can now take up to 20 mins. with the water racing through at full chat before enough pressure build up to seal the gates, scary for first timers.
Some people locally reckon that Scottish Canals are not unhappy at the reduced traffic as they reckon that that and almost zero maintenance of the locks and infrastructure indicate a strategy to abandon the Crinan in a year or two. It would be easier to justify if numbers drop.
 

Steve_N

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Fife
I see that there's a new business starting up in Ardrishaig shortly; "the 'Yot Spot' will provide much needed services to the Fyne end of the Crinan Canal including a chandlery and gift shop, a restaurant and takeaway, toilets, showers and a laundry in Ardrishaig, breathing life back into this small town and providing 5 full time jobs from day 1".

No connection, other than being on their mailing list. Part of the Forbes Boat Care empire - very best of luck to them.

In this building:
17332-6df059093e06f97b99f662d69675ac95.jpg
 
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Quandary

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Don't hold your breath.
Apparently young Mr. Forbes had not realized that the landlords were not going to fit out and equip the interior for him so he is resorting to crowd funding to pay for that. If you make a contribution you get your name written somewhere.
Scottish Canals did renew the roof and make it watertight last winter for him, all except the clock tower which they are working on now, unfortunately it is unlikely that they will start the clock but I hope they at least put the weather vane back.
What is it about poor old Ardrishaig that the only entrepreneurs it can attract are not very entrepreneurial?

BTW the photo is back to front, the old steamer doors are at the other end.
 
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smithy

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I'm starting to think I might head for Ireland instead, as Quandry says you can buy a lot of beer for the money.
 

Shuggy

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We circumnavigated the MoK a couple of weeks ago so that the children could spend 5 days at Tighnabruaich sailing school while their parents cruised the Clyde a deux. We'd never taken our boat into the Clyde so it was quite good fun - lots of 20-30 knot sailing days and the opportunity to lament the removal of the hair straighteners in Portavadie gents' bogs. We came south round the Mull but the forecast for the end of the week was for NW 6 so I was out-voted and we agreed that we'd head back to Ardfern through the canal. We're canal virgins and we're effectively 2-up on a 1970s 43 footer with very poor handling characteristics so we thought the assisted passage all-inclusive price would be good for us.

We locked into Ardrishaig and handed over £200+ (can't remember exactly how much as I eradicate all boat spend from my mind immediately!). The massively helpful Laura took us through the first lock, but she struggled with the lock gates and we were not in a position to help as there were two boats in the lock and we both needed to be on the boat to manage fenders and lines - the children were sorting out roving fenders. Our boat's too heavy to have one person in the cockpit managing lines, even though we used blocks to help with friction.

That was fine, but the following few locks were a problem. There weren't enough canal staff to manage the locks, so we had to stop several times to wait for them to catch up. Some of the holding pontoons were full of boats and we had to go very slowly and hold the boat in position - not easy in high winds, and we don't have enough manoeuvrability to turn in the canal width.

We went through with a fantastic boat (Kestrel) with a large, enthusiastic crew - and they did lots of the leg work for us both. Without them we would have been a bit stuffed a couple of times.

We asked if we could stop for lunch - we'd locked in at 9am when the Ardrishaig sea lock opened but thanks to the delays we didn't get to Dunardry until about 1pm. The answer was 'no' - we'd lose our place in the queue. So we kept going without Kestrel and got to the basin at Crinan at 4pm. Not great progress, given it should have been assisted passage.

We had a 30 minute stop in the basin for ice creams and locked out at 4.30pm before tanking back to our mooring under sail. None of the other boats we went through with managed to get end-to-end in a day.

So - although they advertise and charge for 'assisted passage' the reality is not quite as promised. And it's flipping expensive. On the plus side all the staff were really friendly, and we saw Quandary's Fingulf 33 looking gorgeous in the canal!

Here's us in the basin:

IMG_2695.jpg

Shuggy
 

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dylanwinter

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Buckingham
It is amazing how fast the world is changing and how much of it has been inadvertently caught on my camera before it disappeared or changed forever. Me mate Jon and I passed through the Crinan last autumn - on what turned out to be the last season of unassisted passages.

I have sailed through and filmed places before windfarms, the sand barge company on the Ouse has now gone bust, even yacht design has changed with the appearance of the twin wheel cheese wedges. This all makes me feel terribly old.
 

adwuk

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Tarbert
How right you are. I used to go through Crinan loads as a kid, brought up just round the corner in Tighnabruaich. One of the highlights of the summer holidays was working the locks as we took my dads Contessa 26 out to the islands. I really hope that they offer the assisted passage as an option in future - some boats really don't need (or want) it - and aside from anything, it removes part of the fun of the trip.
 

stevepick

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16 Jan 2007
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Lanarkshire
I used the crinan a lot in the 90's crewing for friends, but it was always a lot of work, a fair amount of mucky topsides, and not much time saved compared to going around the "long way". Last time I went through was in 2012 in my own boat on the way to put her on the market on the clyde. Sailing to a schedule and F8 winds around the MOK didn't appeal, so we shot over into the sea - loch at crinan for 0930, then it all went wrong,we were asked to pair with an older couple who had never taken their boat through the canal. We ended up doing an assisted passage for them, they were very,very slow, and at the end of the day we were still stuck before millers bridge , having hoped to get through in one day. So , the assisted passage scheme seems to make sense, but then I always wanted to use it as a short cut, and many want to take the scenic option.

I don't use the canal now, a deeper keel stops me, and to be honest I have always preferred the mull of kintyre route , since it is quicker, plenty of nice places to stay if required and incredibly scenic. It would be rather sad though if that option was lost to yachtsmen.
 

awol

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Me - Edinburgh; Boat - in the west
Avoid locking in at Ardrishaig at low tide if you can , the outer sea lock gates have sagged over the last couple of years and it can now take up to 20 mins. with the water racing through at full chat before enough pressure build up to seal the gates, scary for first timers.

The Crinan sea lock seems to have a similar problem with full flow necessary to seal the gates - allegedly due to the cill reconstruction a couple of years back.
 

Aja

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6 Nov 2001
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We're canal virgins and we're effectively 2-up on a 1970s 43 footer with very poor handling characteristics so we thought the assisted passage all-inclusive price would be good for us.

Some of the holding pontoons were full of boats and we had to go very slowly and hold the boat in position - not easy in high winds, and we don't have enough manoeuvrability to turn in the canal width.

Here's us in the basin:

View attachment 52230

Shuggy

When we went through in parents Robert Clark 33' with long keel in conditions that were tricky - like force 8 up the chuff and the helpers ashore weren't as quick as they might be :nonchalance: we used to park the boat by just nudging the bow into the bank. We used to envy the plastic fantastics that used to reverse confidently, turn in their own length and not leak.

In the early seventies as the boats were smaller (our beam was only 8' 3") you could comfortably fit 5 boats in a lock - meaning plenty of helping hands. Nowadays your lucky if you get 2 boats in a lock with a crew of two on each boat. QED, as they say.

regards

Donald
 

Billjratt

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9 Sep 2004
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Firth of Clyde
Skinny boats R US! It was nice to get through in the old days while only opening one gate when we had our Shipman28.
Those days are gone as the current boat has a bit of a bahoochie and a RIB across it. (think Tom & Jerry...)
 

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