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Holy Loch

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

27th August, 2016

Certainly not the most visited of ports, but the main reason for us making a call at Holy Loch was because it was the annual Cowal Gathering, or Highland Games to you and I. We slowed right down as we passed Dunoon and made the turn into the Loch that had once held US submarines, right until the end of the Cold War.

Now apparently ‘cleared’of any military underwater detritus, the anchorage lay just over a mile away and I was ably guided by a Clyde pilot, and the Harbour Master of the whole estuary. I believe he was keen to see how well we had prepared our risk assessment for this call. Two days, with an overnight, anchored in a rather ‘tight spot’. First the starboard anchor went down, then, after being ‘spread’the port followed. And just to be doubly sure, I had the cables run out and then we walked the stern anchor to four shackles on deck. Bar hurricane, we were not going to move.

I met the folks from the marina who told me they were trying to encourage more cruise ship calls, away from Greenock on the other side of the estuary. They certainly have the scenery and a different ‘experience’to offer, but it is a port of call for the smaller cruise vessel. I managed to take off on the first afternoon and join the tour to Inveraray Castle situated on the banks of Loch Fyne, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Argyll, the head of Clan Campbell. This archetypical Scottish Baronial Castle, built in1770, is a treasure trove of beautiful objects collected over many years. The rooms that are open to the public had many pictures of previous Dukes, antique furniture, French made tapestries, porcelain and, perhaps most interesting of all, a huge collection of weapons from the armoury that decorated the walls of the main hall. What tales of Clan warfare they could tell, if only!

The weather remained pleasant and the following evening, after many of our folk had returned from the Games, we commenced preparation to ensure we would be off Dunoon in good time for the fireworks expected shortly after 9 pm. I had ordered a work boat with cutting equipment to be standing by as all our heavy metal was retrieved from the bottom, just in case. It was a wise decision as the ‘clearance’had not been 100% and it became more of a fishing expedition, without the fish. Both the stern anchor and the port bow anchor came up with ‘stuff’that you wouldn’t want to take home.

We came into the estuary in time for the fireworks. Watched by most of the Saganauts it was a fine end to our two day sojourn.

Captain Philip Rentell

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