Scotland and Norway 2009

Crossing by the Caledonian Canal

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Instead of sailing around the North-West coast of Scotland to get to the Shetland Isles, we joined "The Crossing", an event organised by British Waterways to publicise the Caledonian Canal.

The Canal cuts diagonally across Scotland from Fort William to Inverness, and is something of a National Monument in Scotland, having been built about 200 years ago.  It is 55 miles long, of which 22 are man made, and the rest of the route follows Loch Ness and a few other lochs along the Great Glen.

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The flotilla in the crossing included a wide variety of boats. 

This shot from our bow shows:
    Aileach (a Scots Highland galley)
    1928 lifeboat donated to RNLI by CP steamships,
    1970's yacht,
    Swan (a Shetland fishing boat that worked under
             sail from 1900 till 1956),
     Dutch sailing barge,
     Recently retired RNLI lifeboat.

We were behind most of the flotilla, so that the official photographer, John Moore ,could use our mast to get high enough.

John took most of the shots on this page.  He has a great gallery at

Aileach is a replica of the galleys that the Scots built in the 13th century to fight the Vikings.

These were largely  copies of the mid sized galleys of the Viking raiders' ships.

Aileach was handled by a crew of 10, but could carry about 40 warriors.

The Vikings reportedly built one that carried hundreds of men, but most of their ships were smaller.  Some, not much larger than seen here, sailed to Canada 500 years before Columbus.

Rowing Aileach was hard work, requiring rest at times


There was always a squeeze in the locks.  The shot from our masthead shows some of the 14 boats and two swans that went  through one lock.

The flight of 4 locks in Fort Augustus leads down to Loch Ness, seen in the background in this shot from Milvina's masthead.


There was a lot of partying, including a couple of ceilidhs (Scots parties with lots of dancing, some singing and plenty whisky)


Next day, the after effects were apparent on Swan, and several  other boats too.

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Antique Dutch sailing barge, with Milvina in the distance, in Loch Ness.

This float plane seemed fascinated by all the flags the flotilla boats were flying in the basin in Inverness, at the North end of the Canal.
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