Cruachan returns to Ardrishaig birthplace

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A yacht has returned to her birthplace for the first time, 122 years after being built in an Ardrishaig boatyard.

The graceful 29-foot ‘Cruachan’ was designed and built by Donald Munro and Sons boatbuilders in 1897 for J D Campbell and J & G Wingate. She was brought to Ireland shortly thereafter by the Hall family, wealthy Cork grain merchants.

She spent her life in and around Irish waters, before her latest owners, brothers Rom and Stephen Hyde, at the age of 73 and 74 respectively, decided to sail the Cruachan home to the Crinan Canal, all the way from Cork.

Setting off in Mid June, they reached Campbeltown before sailing to Tarbert. Mechanical problems meant the pair to stay in Tarbert until these were repaired, but, as Rom remarked: ‘There’s worse places to be stuck.’

‘Cruachan is a lovely boat, based on the Loch Fyne skiff, but we learned quite a bit about her on the way here,’ explained Stephen, who has experience of sailing round the globe.

Cruachan reached the Ardrishaig canal basin on Saturday June 29, where they were met by Ronnie Munro, a descendant of the boat’s builders.

Ronnie, son of Alister who carried on the business after his father Donald retired in the 1930s, showed them the site of the boatyard of Donald Munro and Sons between locks three and four of the Crinan Canal and now occupied by Caledonia Court.

‘She was purchased by our father in 1963,’ said Rom. ‘Everything in her is original except the deck and cabin, which he renewed.’

As he wound the mechanism to open the first Crinan Canal lock gates Rom said: ‘It is great to bring back Cruachan to Ardrishaig for the first time since she was built – but I’m not too sure about all these locks!’

After sailing through the Crinan Canal – locks permitting – the brothers were heading for Oban, where they met two of their sisters and sailed on to the Caledonian Canal.