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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Posts
    15

    Default Praise for Crinan Canal

    There seem to be a lot of complaints about the Crinan Canal here. I'm sure the problems are real, but it's also worth remembering that people are more likely to post problems than praise. We went through from East to West 2 weeks ago and it couldn't have been easier, or the staff more helpful.
    We didn't book. We phoned Ardrishaig, when an hour way at 11am. We were able to go straight into the sea lock. One boat joined us, but stopped in the basin. With just 2 of us on board, the staff helped us through the first group of locks. We overnighted above Cairnbaan, which was idyllic. Then worked our way down the other side. We stopped for lunch below lock 10 and were then asked to wait for 2 boats coming down behind us, which was fine. We chose to stop in the Crinan Basin to enjoy the Seafood bar at the hotel, then took the first sea lock out to catch the tide North.
    We had started to think we should skip the canal, but are very glad that we didn't. We look forward to going back that way.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Praise for Crinan Canal

    We had pretty much the same experience 4 weeks ago.
    The staff couldn't have been more helpful.
    Sure, some of the lock gates are in need of serious work but we got through without any issues.

    We overnighted at Cairnbaan and were asked to wait 30 minutes for a boat coming up behind us.
    As well as saving some water it made the locks much easier having the extra muscle.

    The fish and chips at the Crinan Hotel are fabulous!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    SW Scotland
    Posts
    19,187

    Default Re: Praise for Crinan Canal

    These stories are charming, but I note that both of you were happy - and why not? - to take two days to make a trip which twenty years ago would only have taken five hours if you decided to dawdle.

    Dawdling can be great fun, of course, but the delays and unpredictability are less fun when you just want to get from A to B efficiently.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Praise for Crinan Canal

    Not sure I'd equate a stop at Cairnbaan to look at the Cut Stones and enjoy a meal at the Cairnbaan Hotel with "dawdling".
    Incidentally the yacht we were asked to wait for on day 2 transited in less than 6 hours. The only problem they reported was with the sea lock at Ardrishaig. They entered at LWS and the gates took a few minutes to seal shut.

    It's 25 years since our last Crinan Canal experience and I'll admit I was nearly put off by all the doom-laden posts here. All I can say is our transit was fine. We didn't have to wait for any locks. There was enough water for our 1.7m draught. The staff couldn't have been more helpful. The other half a dozen boats we spoke to were equally positive.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Returned to South Coast from West Coast of Scotland.
    Posts
    1,764

    Default Re: Praise for Crinan Canal

    I love the Crinan Canal and have never had any problems. But then I think the transit is an experience to savour and not to rush.
    Now that I have sailed back South I will miss the Crinan Canal.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    SW Scotland
    Posts
    19,187

    Default Re: Praise for Crinan Canal

    Quote Originally Posted by Mud Lark View Post
    Not sure I'd equate a stop at Cairnbaan to look at the Cut Stones and enjoy a meal at the Cairnbaan Hotel with "dawdling".
    I am not for one instant criticizing your choices - each to his or her own - but stopping for lunch at Cairnbaan and then overnighting in the summit reach is textbook dawdling. I expect the canal is still a nice experience for those with plenty of time or experiencing it for the first time, but after a while the problems grate. This week was my young crew's fourteenth transit. Nice as the canal is, we really didn't want to take a day and a half to get through.

    Quote Originally Posted by mainsail1 View Post
    I love the Crinan Canal and have never had any problems. But then I think the transit is an experience to savour and not to rush.
    Now that I have sailed back South I will miss the Crinan Canal.
    I miss the old canal. Not just the well maintained equipment, but also the camaraderie and efficient passages you got when most other boats were regulars. It's not just the operator's fault that things have gone downhill. With bigger boats capable of rounding the mull in more conditions and marinas in the west, the old demand is never coming back, and modern wide boats often can't fit in side by side, reducing capacity and available crew.

    No easy solutions. A morning convoy for those who just want to get through quickly sounds like a good idea, but they just aren't backing up the promise with staff.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Scotland.
    Posts
    14,108

    Default Re: Praise for Crinan Canal

    Quote Originally Posted by JumbleDuck View Post
    ..... With bigger boats capable of rounding the mull in more conditions and marinas in the west,.....
    An interesting point and one which may actually drive up demand for marina berths on the west coast, even if only slightly. I came round the MOK last week to the FOC and when I left Gigha, there were 6 boats behind me, around the 30-40' range, older models, not that proves anything.

    The holes are worrying as that suggests serious structural, foundation issues.
    "'...contradictions .... are deliberate exercises in doublethink." Orwell from 1984

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Praise for Crinan Canal

    There have been structural issues for decades. What struck me this year compared to 25 years ago was the condition of some of the lock gates. Whilst this lack of maintenance is obviously a concern, it didn't delay my transit or that of any of the other vessels over the 2 days we were there. We could easily have transited in one day if we had wanted to.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Argyll
    Posts
    6,254

    Default Re: Praise for Crinan Canal

    You miss the point, no (zero) maintenance has been carried out for at least five years, despite the canal only transiting perhaps a total of four boats between November and March. It is not that the lock/bridgekeepers do not help, there are now as few as 7 to man the two sea locks and 6 bridges and the situation in the office is worse with only four or five in Ardrishaig and a similar number in Glasgow to support them. (Irony emoji?)
    For example, lock 3 which is at the bottom of our garden has massive leaks around the top gates and only one working sluice on the bottom pair to drain it. This situation delayed JD for an hour; over the last two days while I have been cutting my grass and hedges I have had to go down half a dozen times to assist folk struggling futilely to try to open it, it takes three strong males to shift one gate to release the pressure from the through flow. My wife has been going down to help push even more often. Otherwise they have to phone and wait until the sea lock keeper can get away to come and help them. A situation like this would not have been tolerated in the past, it used to be that a couple of yachts each with one woman or child ashore could transit without injury.
    I have an axe to grind here, I stopped the car one day to help a lady struggling at lock 6 , bit too macho, crushed and split the cartilage in my left knee and had to suffer pain and limited mobility for almost a year while they put a steel joint in. I know of one lady sailor who is incapacitated by a permanent back injury sustained in a similar way, that lock is still as bad today.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Argyll
    Posts
    6,254

    Default Re: Praise for Crinan Canal

    When lock 11 is full the water is pissing out of the downstream stone work and this is not the only one whre the grouting has clearly gone,the water is flowing freely behind the wall to create these cavities, a collapse can not be far off, hope it is not your boat that the wall falls on.

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