Friday, 1 March 2019


Taipans Photo Albums 

Vessel Finder also has Taipans current possition. 

 Link to Taipans Anchorages and Map.

I will update our position on the map and produce an icon showing our latest anchorage position. The link to Vessel Finder will also be pretty accurate. 

Saturday, 16 June 2018

GOLDEN GLOBE RACE.14th June 2018

Crossing the line. They're on the way to France

Don McIntyre and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston
Not the Golden Globe but the lead-up race, the SITraN Challenge left Falmouth on Thursday the 14th of June.  A big fleet of excited supporters followed the race competitors from Falmouth Haven Marina to St Mawes and then to the start line where, in a blaze of color, sails were hoisted and the real business of the challenge commenced. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, once again at the helm of his 9.75m Suhaili, a traditional ketch and the winner, 50 years ago, of the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, fired the shot signaling the race start.

Mark Sinclair Australia. Coconut.

We gave Istvan Kopar some Vegemite just to
give him a chance against the Aussies.
16 competitors will endeavor to get each other's measure and test the equipment installed to enable us, the viewing public, to follow their progress via tracker, and via satellite phone link with the organizers. We will be able to hear their individual stories as the Golden Globe challengers go south and then westward around the worlds 5 great capes before returning to France. They will encounter challenging southern ocean conditions in their small and very basic boats, without the benefit of any modern technology. No GPS, Autopilot, chart plotters, wind instruments, computers, watermakers, phones or digital cameras. Its back to wind up clocks, paper charts, sextant, typewriters and a good look at the sky for weather indications.

The dedication and hard work of many people, but especially Don McIntyre from Australia has seen this race re-enactment come to fruition. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston won this event 50 years ago in Suhaili an unassuming little timber double ender,  built in India, making him the first person to single-handedly and unassisted, sail a non-stop circumnavigation of the globe. The rest of the fleet either failed to finish, retired or died in the attempt.
Parade of Sail

Saint Mawes Sailing Club hosted a cocktail party at which a small crowd of people we introduced to the participants and Sir Robin presented each of the competitors with a fruitcake, not to be consumed before rounding Cape Horn. Cape Cake. This was a fun evening and we were lucky enough to score an entry and mingle with the intrepid and interesting sailors and their support crews.

Suhaili with Sir Robin at the helm after firing the start gun.

Western Australias Kevin Farebrother.
For two days prior to departure, the organizers hosted open days and the public were able to visit the docks for a closer inspection of the yachts. For those lucky few of us, we were also able to see inside the boats for a first-hand look at the inner workings. And I have to say there was not much. These are all old boats, with the exception of Abilash Tomys boat which is a replica of Suhaili, purpose built in India for the race. They’re all full keel boats designed before 1988. They were bursting at their little seams with food and supplies for the adventure. There seemed to be little room for the occupant but no doubt as time passes the interiors will empty out. They will never be spacious though.

Kevin Farebrother heads to France for
Western Australia.

We will be watching the website at for updates and news as the fleet countdown to the start in Les Sables-d’Olonne France on the 1st of July.

A farewell wave from Robin as Taipan turns to return to Falmouth

Tuesday, 29 May 2018



Returning to Taipan and with the load of provisions stowed away we enjoyed the meal at the Waypoint Restaurant at Oban Marina. This is a well run and friendly marina with a free ferry service to Oban. Very accommodating indeed. After filling with water and fuel at the dock we headed 7nm south to Pulladobhraine, a tiny tight little spot nestled amongst islets. Sentijn were there too so a reunion was in order. Birthday time. Davids. A celebration was held with the Sentijn crew aboard Taipan. In deference to his old age, he received a Winchrite. To be picked up on the south coast somewhere.

The Ocean Cruising Club Gathering was to commence on Saturday with a Dinner at the pub in Craobh Haven and as the Currin family had a mooring available we were invited to pick it up. However, the weather forecast was lousy so we decided to go into the marina. £37 per night! What a fun weekend we had though. Australian boats “Diomedea” with David and Andrea McKay and Jim and Paula Holland on “Freydis” whom we hadn’t met before, but did pass in the Caledonian Canal last season. There was approximately 30 members present and Simon and Sally Currin hosted a great Sunday BBQ at their home overlooking Asknish Bay. We also caught up with old friends Bill and Jane McLaren “Vagrant” who we met previously in Shetland and in the Caledonain Canal. Bob Shepland gave a wonderful talk in the afternoon about a recent ski and climbing trip to South Georgia. What a legend!!

Loch on Dura 
These stomes form the beaches!
Acharnarnich Bay provided anchorage for our first night on leaving Craohb Haven. Tucked into a nook at the bottom of the peninsular in lovely calm weather it was another delightful spot. On the morning of the 22nd a wind shift caused a change of plan and we followed Sentijn through the notorious Gulf of Corryvrecken, also called the Great Race. The water races through this narrow gap causing some pretty wild whirlpools and overfalls. Of course, we didn’t see any because we got the tide right!!

The west coast of Jura is very exposed to the Atlantic Ocean and the volcanic nature of the rock formations along with the long gone ice age. Allegedly the area was once under 2000 feet of ice. (not so sure about that though) give rise to some spectacular geological formations with numerous caves and raised beaches. There are vast areas of cobbles. Round stones of every size with absolutely zero vegetation. In Loch Tarbert, ashore from the anchorage, we found the Loch formed by a rock cill covered with the debris from a melted glacial event and forming a dam wall. A nesting area for several bird species and a very dramatic mountainous and absolutely remote setting. The area is reminiscent of Tasmania’s south-west wilderness and the Port Davy area, with less vegetation.

This is one of the peaks they climbed!!

Work had to resume next day. it being necessary to recommission the water maker. It has been pickled for 2 years but with ocean passages planned and some south coast chandlers en-route it was decided now was a good time to activate it in case we need any parts. After wrestling with leaks in tight places the water maker is back in business and making water to spec. 60lt per hour. 

Paps of Jura

From Loch Tarbert we sailed south and east again around to Craighouse Bay. The home of Jura Distillery. The little town was packed with runners as the Fells Race was due to start next morning. This annual run involves over 300 runners and the course includes the 7 Paps of Jura, a 28 kilometers run and a climb of 2378 meters. The Paps of Jura are mountains of shale. They require the runners to crawl up and skid and jump down. Grueling to say the least. The first runner completed the circuit in just 3 hours and 20 minutes. They were all looking a little battle scared on their return.

Theyre off.

The easterly wind picked up and the anchorage was looking a little dubious so we chose to sail south-east 10nm to the north-west corner of Gigia. This was an overnight stop only but a pretty location. Next day a 20 mile run in blissful conditions saw us anchored up for the day at Laphroaig Distillery on Isla. Isla is probably the whiskey distillery capital of Scotland. With its many famous distilleries attracting ferry loads of visitors daily. 

Jura Distillery
The very pretty anchorage at Craighouse.

Time marches on and it's nearing that time when we can go back into the Schengen Area so we need to be heading south. This fabulous weather won't last forever. Our next passages will take us east of Ireland and on to the south coast of the UK once again before crossing to France. So check back again soon.

Taipan at Laphroaig Whisky Distillery

Wednesday, 16 May 2018


Castle Stalker

Departing the Caledonian Canal in early May we sailed 19nm south, down beautiful Lock Linnhe past Corran Point Narrows and Light to Dallens Bay behind Shuna Island, dropping anchor in 6 m on mud on a spectacular Scottish afternoon. 

In company with Sentijn we set off to do a circuit of the island Castle Stalker. Privately owned and not open to the public except at certain times during the summer, it sits on a tiny island in Loch Laich. With enough tide it is possible to motor around it in the dingy. Castle_Stalker

Corran Point Light

Next morning a 27nm trip south and west down the Sound of Mull to Tobermory. Tobermory is the main town on the Isl of Mull. Some provisioning was required and some internet!. 


Moorings for the first night then a night at anchor before heading back down the Sound of Mull to Duart Castle where we anchored and went ashore to check out the 13th Century home of Maclean Clan. Bought back from a ruin in 1911 it is one of the last remaining privately owned Castles in Scotland and is the home of the Clan Chief himself. This restored castle is open to the public and during our visit the road was closed so we had the place pretty much to our selves. 

Duart Castle

After the Duart Castle visit we continued 7nm to Oban Marina where we picked up another mooring and packed to leave on a road trip to visit Andrew and Christine in Northumberland.

The Sound of Mull

Normally a 5 hour trip we managed to spend over 9 hours on the road but did divert to the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel

Kelpies are huge Stainless Steel clad sculptures of horses heads. I watched them being built online some years ago and had resolved to try to see them. They are spectacular.

The Falkirk wheel is a form of boat lift. The revolving structure transports boats up or down at Falkirk to get vessels from the Forth and Clyde Canal to the Union Canal. Its the only one of its kind in the world.

Alnwick Castle

Northumberland provided numerous opportunities to spot Castles once again. The Bamburgh_Castle was just down the road and Alnwick_Castle 20 minutes drive inland. Both are magnificent but crawling with tourists so we enjoyed them from afar. Lindisfarne_Castle on Holy Island was also close by but its still covered in scaffolding so we passed.

A short drive north back into Scotland and on to the port town of Eyemouth where we found the sculptural monument dedicated to the memory of those lost on the 14th of October 1881. About the sculpture

Bambough Castle

The countryside is bursting with spring color and we spent the day meandering around the Scottish border towns and villages enjoying the scenery.

Hospitality at Frosts Static was exceptional as usual and we were sad to leave after almost a week.  Time to head north again along the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and the Highlands, back to Taipan in Oban.

Still a little snow on the high bits!

Ocean Cruising Club gathering is in just a few days at Craohb Haven.

Monday, 14 May 2018


The Caledonian Canal runs vaguely North-South. Lying in almost perfect alignment down the massive geological fault that is the Great Glen, are four natural Lochs. Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, the famous Lock Ness and Loch Dochfour. They make up 38 miles of the 60 miles of the total length of this engineering masterpiece running from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. 

There are 22 miles of cuttings,  29 locks, and 10 bridges. The Canals designed purpose was to enable naval and other sailing vessels to avoid the treacherous Pentland Firth and Cape Wrath. William Jessop and Thomas Telford are credited with the engineering design and it took roughly 40 years to complete by which time the arrival of the age of steam largely rendered it unnecessary. It survives today to provide access to forestry and Highland economies with Germany, Holland and the Scandinavian countries. It plays a major roll in the Scottish Tourism economy, as a popular route for commercial cruisers, private yachts, fishing vessels and small naval vessels using it as a shortcut and as a destination in itself. The route also attracts walkers, kayakers, and cyclists.

Inverness is tucked into the armpit of the Moray Firth, at the northern end of the Caledonian Canal. Our arrival at Clachnaharry Sea Lock was the entry point for our trip south. Arrival is carefully timed to coincide with the lifting rail bridge so you can enter Muirtown Basin. We explored Inverness for a week, re-provisioned and awaited the arrival of Pam and Jon Tweed and Sentijn with John Kara and Dean, who were still coming north on the East Coast of the UK. 
Memorial at Cullendon.

Tweed arrived with a hire car and for the next two days, we explored further afield. The battlefield at Cullendon, where, in 1746, English Soldiers killed or wounded 1500 to 2000 Highlanders in a brief and bloody battle. Their fight to restore Bonnie Prince Charlie, is graphically represented in a new Visitors Centre at the site. In beautiful weather, we then drove down along Lock Ness to Urquhart Castle and then onward inland to take in some highland scenery.

Touring at LocH Ness
Inverness City sights and some shops satisfied the shopping urges and then it was into the serious business of Locks. Muirtown Flight comprises 4 locks in a staircase, with the top gates forming the bottom gates of the next one. It takes about an hour to traverse the stairway. We carried on to Dockgarroch, approximately 5nm where we spent the first night on a pontoon provided. The cost of the canal was £438 and included 2 weeks in the canal and pontoon berthing. There is also power and water available at many pontoons. Onshore ablutions are very good and there are laundry facilities as some stops. Some of the stops have restaurants or pubs and some, just a lock keepers cottage. Dockgarroch has a new Visitors Centre and offers some attractive Highland souvenirs to the many tourists who bus in here to take a cruise on Lock Ness.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness the next day was a 20nm sail in brilliant sunshine with a headsail only. Loch Ness is over 220M deep with steep mountains on both sides. There's a lot of forestry on the lower hillsides. The higher mountains are treeless and clad in heath in the Autumn. Now there is a lot of golden Gorse flowering. 

Loch Ness was the training ground during the WWll for the Dam Busters. The hillsides have raised beaches, well really just shelves, which run perfectly horizontally several hundred meters higher than the current shoreline, caused when the water level dropped in some past millennia. Formed into roads during the Jacobite Wars by General Wade, they facilitated access by the English Army to quell the Highland Rebels. Feelings still run deep in the cultural heritage of the Highland Scots. 

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle sits high on a cliff halfway along the western side of the Lock. We were able to approach quite close for a great view from the water.

Fort Augustus

Fort Augusts, midway along the Great Glen, Fort William at the southern end and Fort George at the northern end on Moray Firth were built by the English, and linked by General Wades roads. Fort Augustus is a small and particularly picturesque town and is one of the main centers on the canal. The Fort has been substantially modified, now houses private condominiums and is not open to the public. 

A quaint Pepper Pot Lighthouse sits at the entrance to the next section of the Canal. We spent 3 nights here during which time Sentijn caught us. Jon had met them in Cocos Keeling. 

There are numerous choices for dining and pubs and a new Visitors Centre is almost completed. We dined, walked and explored here for 2 day. Fort Augustus has a stairway with 5 locks and a swing road bridge at the Loch Ness end. After traversing the locks to the top, Pam and Jon left us the following morning by bus, back to Inverness, to catch their flight and continue their travels. We had such a great time catching up and sharing time with them in this precious place.

Southern end of Loch Ness. Fort Augustus.

On Wednesday the 2nd of May, in company with Sentijn we pressed on South. The weather closed in and it was a pretty cold. 9.5nm. Laggan Lock was the next stop after a pretty, but misty, passage through Loch Oich and the River Oich. Loch Oich is the highest point on the canal at 32.31meters.  At lock Laggan, our first downward lock, Eagle Pub is a converted Dutch barge serving as a restaurant and bar. Weather was a bit grim but a Scottish piper suitably clad in a kilt, was undeterred by the stiff breeze up the dress and he piped in one of the Canal Cruise boats. 

Thursday dawned cold and rainy so we decided to stay put. Friday we locked down the 2 locks into Loch Lochy and we pressed on for another 9 miles in highland mist and a fresh nosily to Gairlochy where we spent the night. There is nothing much here apart from Canal facilities for boaters. Laundry, showers power and water. Gairlochy to Neptunes Staircase was just 5 nm on Saturday. Approaching the snow-capped mountains on the west coast, Ben Nevis is a spectacular sight as the mist lifts. 

Neptunes Staircase consists of 7 locks down with a road bridge at the bottom. Going down is much easier than going up. You just let the lines loose as you go. Going up you need to be shortening lines all the time and with the turbulence in the locks as they fill, that can be fairly arduous. We stayed the night at the top. Availed ourselves of a nice meal at the new Visitors Centre and enjoyed the improving weather. 

Next morning our descent was delayed by a road bridge failure. Being a Bank Holiday Weekend, Technicians were hard to get. However, by late morning we were underway. It takes approximately an hour and a half to complete the decent then it was just a mile or so to a couple of locks then the Corpach Basin, our last night in the Canal. We had in fact been 8 nights but as it was not busy and there had been several delays with breakdowns of infrastructure, this was overlooked. We paid £6 for power for the week and next morning, 7th May we exited the sea lock into Loch Linnhe.

The Caledonian Canal is an experience we would definitely recommend. The scenery, history and culture is amazing. The staff are excellent and some even remembered us from our trip through last year. Locks are not difficult, a couple of long lines and plenty of fenders are all thats really required and of course time. Allow plenty of time. We enjoyed 2 weeks between our arrival in Inverness and our departure at Fort William.
Taipan and Sentijn at the top of `Neptunes Staircase with Ben Nevis behind

Onward South on the Atlantic Coast of Scotland for our next adventure. A planned Ocean Cruising Club Gathering in Craohb Haven south of Oban, return to Tobermory and some spectacular anchorages are just a few of our plans. We will also take a road trip to Northumberland on the Northeast coast of  England. Stay tuned.

Kara's photo of Taipan leaving the last lock.

Further information on charts and guides for the areas at

Maps Me