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1,000 miles in a Solway Dory sailing canoe…

On Tuesday this week I decided to call a halt to my voyage at Oban. My 3 month sabbatical ends soon. I could do with a bit of R&R time before returning to work and Katherine will be joining me at Tighnabruaich tomorrow. I had hoped to sail from Oban to Tighnabruaich but forecasts of strong south and south-westerly winds ruled out the passage to Crinan via the Dorus Mor tidal race for a couple of days.

On Wednesday Stacey was loaded onto the roof rack and I travelled to Arran with Dave and Hilary, by road and ferry. I’m currently at Holy Isle, near Arran, and will soon leave to sail 20 miles north to Tighnabruaich.

Just before reaching Oban I clocked up 1000 nautical miles. Ideally I would have liked to have sailed and paddled further, but given the challenging conditions of this summer, particularly along the East coast, I’m happy to have made it to the West coast of Scotland. The physical and mental strains of sailing a very small boat alone on the North Sea in strong winds and large waves meant that there were times when I was close to giving up, and I confess there were times when I was very scared, but I’m glad I persisted with the voyage. I would not like to have missed many of the experiences of the last 2 1/2 months.

I’ve seen much of Britain’s amazing coastline from a special ‘upclose’ perspective usually only experienced by sea kayakers and a few intrepid dinghy sailors. I have many great memories, not the least of which are of the people I’ve met along the way and of the huge amount of support and generosity I’ve benefited from. So, huge thanks to all those who’ve been so kind and helpful.

I hope to bring my blog up to date soon and there are many photos and a quite a few videos which may be of interest to others. I’d also like to thank all who have generously donated to Hospitality Action. I’m sure the funds raised will be put to good use. Of course, the fundraising has not ended, so please contribute something if you haven’t already.

In addition to the sailing challenge and the fundraising, another of my objectives was to demonstrate the capabilities and possibilities afforded by a well designed and equipped sailing canoe. I’d like to thank Solway Dory for building me a superb boat which has stood the test of some very challenging conditions, with winds of up to force 7 and waves of up to 6 feet, although thankfully not quite both to the full extent at the same time.

This voyage of mine has not finished and there are many of the best bits to come. However, they’ll have to wait for another year. I hope what I’ve achieved may inspire someone with more time and courage than me to sail all the way round Britain in a sailing canoe. I’m not in the same league, but I feel I can say I’ve made a passable attempt at following in the tradition of the ‘Canoe Boys’ and John McGregor.

2 Responses to “1,000 miles in a Solway Dory sailing canoe…”

  1. kayaknicholas September 29, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Hi Gavin

    What an amazing achievement. It’s taken me a while to come across it (too busy working to do any internet surfing!) but I read your blog with great pleasure and interest.

    I’ve put up links to it on http://www.kayarchy.co.uk and http://www.kayarchy.com, and I’ve also taken the liberty of posting one of the pictures (Margate beach) here: http://kayarchy.co.uk/html/01equipment/014sailingkayaks.htm#sailingacanoe

    If you’re not at least 100% happy about that, just let me know and I’ll take the photo down.

    Best wishes
    Nicholas

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  1. Gavin Millar completes 1000 nautical miles of his sailing canoe circumnavigation – but runs out of time | intheboatshed.net - August 28, 2012

    [...] his weblog Gavin reports that he would have liked to have sailed and paddled further, but given the [...]

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