Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sea of tranquility in Loch Eil.

Last Sunday Jim and I left Glasgow at 6am. We were bound for the head of Loch Eil which is deep within the mountains of Lochaber. We dropped one car off (as our shuttle) on the shores of Loch Linnhe, just north of the Corran Narrows.

Not a breath of wind disturbed the waters of Loch Eil and to the west, the mountains above Glen Finnan were perfectly reflected on the calm water. From left they are: Beinn an Tuim 810m, Meall an Uillt Chaoil 844m, Stob Coire nan Cearc 887m and on the extreme right, Streap 909m.

There is a long passing place, suitable for parking, on the single track road just above a large rock on the beach. In the distance, Ben Nevis 1344m was lost in thick cloud.

If this old lifeboat is moored offshore and is a pretty unmissable guide that you have arrived at the correct spot.
We soon had the kayaks on the beach ready to go.

The waters of Loch Eil are a long way from the open sea and not a hint of swell reached the upper recesses of the loch. We set off on a tranquil sea.


  1. Its always nice to see kayak pictures from different areas and the perspective taken by different photographers. It gives me other ideas to try. Thanks!

    Tony :-)

  2. Old lifeboat? Can you not tell that it is more than a lifeboat?
    It is a TEMPSC! :)
    (only on training courses though, lifeboat is much easier to say)
    ((It's a ship's/rig's lifeboat rather than the RNLI kind))

  3. Thank you Alex and Tony. Jim is that one of the boats that they can drop from a great height, like off an oil rig? If so ouch!


  4. Nope, those are Freefall Lifeboats.
    TEMPSC simply means Totally Enclosed Motor Propelled Survival Craft. They are lowered relatively slowly from a great height and a quick release mechanism operated when they are afloat to disconnect (the engines are started before they reach the bottom ready to drive away) from the wire.
    Inside one of these you have a row of bench seating (I think there are seatbelts, it's been a while) down each side facing inwards and another bench running down the middle. When loaded to capacity with everyone wearing bulkly survival suits, each person on the outside will have their legs either side of a leg of a person in the middle facing out, packed in like sardines! The scuttles will all be closed (there may be a fire or severe storm raging outside) and only the helmsman's turret has windows from which only he/she can see out - the interior is pretty dark.
    One of the first things to do is find and issue the seasickness pills, But at least you will survive!

    In a Freefall Lifeboat everyone has a single rear facing bucket seat and is firmly strapped in, the deceleration upon hitting the water must be pretty ferocious!

  5. Jim, that sounds horrendous, I hope I never need to see the inside of one!


  6. To be fair there is always 100% spare capacity on a rig or passenger vessel so you would hope to only need to half fill them.
    Of course the 100% extra is in case you can't launch half of them, on a ship usually because it is heeling so far the boats on one side would land on the deck....

  7. They're not too comfortable to either be lowered in or to bob around in! The ones fitted to tankers must also have their own onboard air supply and a prewetting system to constantly cover the surface of the boat with water in case of escape from a ship through a burning sea surface. I really, really don't want to think about that scenario!

    all the best


  8. Ian I truly hope you never need to get aboard one.

    I hope you got out in the kayak today.