We have a mast: and are stuck in Oban…

Trilleen is on the move again. It’s a huge relief to be on the way again. The damage to Trilleen’s mast in the start of 2022 resulted severe delays to my attempt to sail round the UK and Ireland solo, raising funds for the Andrew Cassell Foundation, but I’m back on board and getting the project out of the deep freeze, even as I sail through the wild winds of winter on the west coast of Scotland.

My reasoning for getting west is related to the fact that my passage to the West Coast depended on the Caledonian Canal, and that will close after Christmas until 25 March at least, which is well into the start of the what I hope will be the sailing season that will take me round the North of Shetland.

When did the new mast arrive?

Trilleen was remasted at the end of November thanks to the work of Caley Marine and Selden’s agents AllSpars from the South Coast. Brilliant technicians for whom nothing was too much trouble they loaded the mast onto a trailer and drove it the length of the country to get it installed and effective.

What’s the plan?

The plan, subject to weather is to take Trilleen south to the Clyde and sail her in that vast partly sheltered estuary to enjoy the conditions and get the boat and myself back up to speed. Winter workups are wild, and the list of things that need fixing is already growing. On the passage down from Corpach the anemometer stopped giving the system data which is hopefully just a connectivity problem, and the cable glands that take cables into he mast are leaking due to the seals perishing over the summer without having had cables keeping them in compression.

Where is Trilleen now?

I’ve been underway as I write this for twenty days, during which I made a transit west through the Caledonian Canal with the help of the amazing lock keepers and their colleagues in the office. In winter the canal works shorter hours and can’t work if the locks are iced in so the passage west took a few days longer than expected. Trilleen and I both got through without damage despite a few patches of excitement caused by a jammed throttle and separately the engine intake getting blocked by weed.

Having descended the assault course for boats which is Neptune’s Staircase, the flight of locks from Banavie top to the Sea Lock Trilleen laid overnight at the new marina in Caol (at the Corpach sea lock entrance) which is run by a community renewal company and which I hope will do much for the local area’s prosperity.

In the very early hours of the morning it was apparent that there was indeed a barely viable weather window for getting to Oban and I grabbed it with both hands jumping off down Loch Lhinne. I expected that it would be a long cold motor down the loch but was favoured with an unforecast breeze which allowed me to enjoy a beautiful sail into the rising dawn over Oban.

Currently stuck in Oban

I reached here on the 13th of December and have been sitting pinned down in a firehose of wind produced by a strong Azores high and some features in the jet stream ever since. At times there have been indications of windows to sail in, but they have slammed shut before even being cracked open.

Why am I being so cautious / going so slowly?

I am being incredibly cautious knowing that I’ve been away from Sailing Trilleen for a long time, and that she has a brand new and not entirely familiar rig. The other reason for caution is that at the same wind speed in kt, or m/s the wind is more powerful in winter due to the increase in density caused by the temperature drop. That meangs that a 25kt wind which might be a pleasant romp in summer could be exceedingly unpleasant in winter.

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