Getting Started - Dinghy Sailing
Sailing on Loch Earn
Sailing on Loch Earn is never dull, the wind strength and direction change constantly and provide challenging sailing throughout the season.
Loch Earn comes from the Scottish Gaelic Loch Eire and is thought to mean "Loch of Ireland" The Loch extends for 10.5km from St Fillans in the east to Lochearnhead in the west. The maximum width is 1.2km and the maximum depth about halfway along is 87 metres.
Interestingly there is an apparent "tidal system" on the loch called a seiche which is caused by the prevailing westerly wind blowing along the loch. The wind pressure on the surface causes the water level to build up at one end of the loch. This build up of water eventually returns to the other end of the loch over a 16 hour period. Loch Earn shares this effect with other bodies of water including Lake Geneva and Lake Garda. In a stiff westerly breeze a significant wave height can build up to add to the fun of sailing.
Being on the Loch is delightful on a warm summers day. If you are lucky you may see the resident ospreys feeding. Venture down towards the fish farm and you will get a spectacular view of Ben Vorlich. The waterskiing at Lochearnhead can provide noisy entertainment as does the seaplane which is seen frequently landing and taking off.
There are few navigation hazards on the loch as long as you steer clear of the hard bit round the edge. The shallow spit where the Tarken burn flows into the loch has snared many a keelboat, especially those painted bright yellow. There is a partially submerged rock on the north shore towards St Fillans. The area between Neish Island and the shore is very shallow. This was established by a member of the web team in a cruiser on a hot summer's day. The resulting crash and blaming of the crew gave great entertainment to the folk sunning themselves in front of the Four Seasons Hotel. It's not wise to navigate where the river Earn flows from the Loch unless you fancy a cruise to the River Tay.
The club encourages racing, both in dinghies and keelboats. Participation in this activity is a very effective way to build your skill and confidence on the water.
The primary concern of the committee is the health and safety of the members. A recent incident has underlined for us all that even the most experienced sailor can suffer a mishap on this loch.
Accordingly we would urge any member who sails outside Club hours (weekends or diarised events) that there is a significantly increased risk. The weather on the loch can be very variable and often changes without warning.
Sailing at any time is of course at each member's own risk however if you sail when there is a rescue boat deployed it is obviously far safer than when there is no-one else around!
John A Shearer