Finally the embarkation day has arrived. Fortunately, Brad’s ankle is feeling better and he is able to walk around. He did feel a kinship with this hiker that has sore feet in Fort William, though.
We left the Old Harbormaster behind and headed out in a taxi with Ian. It was his first day driving the taxi and was very enthusiastic, but not very skilled. He couldn’t figure out how to open the boot of the car, so he threw all of our suitcases over the back seat. Then he didn’t know how to get to the dock where our barge was tied up, but fortunately we could direct him. All was well, and he finally figured out how to work the boot once all the luggage was unloaded. We were able to drop our bags off, even tho the crew wasn’t quite ready for guests yet.
We had a nice lunch back at the same bistro as yesterday, and then walked around a bit. It was a gorgeous day, with a lovely view of the top of Ben Nevis (which wasn’t to be seen yesterday when our friends hiked to the top). The rest of our group arrived and everyone took their “prom photo”, when encouraged by Lori.
We got on board about 2 and got settled into our cabins. Ours is Loch Eil, right next to the living room. It has a higher ceiling than when we cruised on the other barge a dozen years ago, which is much appreciated by me on the top bunk. We each have a bathroom, a small amount of storage and a window. The accommodations are basic but comfortable for such a small space.
Folks had a choice of cruising (which we did), walking or biking the six miles to our overnight anchor spot at Gairlochy. There’s a cute little lighthouse at this stop, which we walked out to see before dinner. Here’s a map of the canal so you can follow our journey over the next few days.
Dinner. Wow. Our first meal on the boat. We all sit at a large square table, four to a side, including the crew. The chef is Simon. He will make two different choices for dinner each night. It was roasted duck breast or onion tartain for the main course, accompanied by broccoli, snow peas, and roasted potatoes. Then it was onto dessert, which was an apple and mixed fruit crumble (gluten free) with a warm custard. But we didn’t stop there, as we had a nice cheese and fruit plate to end the meal. We’ve got a self-serve drinks area that has coffee, teas, sodas and beer, wine or whiskey. We will not starve or go thirsty.
Following dinner, Martin, the captain (and owner) brought out the big map and the antler pointer. He told us about the canal in general, and described what our options would be for the next day. About 9:30 or so, dinner and the discussion afterwards was over and everyone headed off to their cabins.