Vessels are being readied for transportation from bases across the UK. Rowing boats will be polished, riggers adjusted, pedaloes fine tuned. Training sessions are ramping up, last minute entries are flooding in (rumour has it some GB Olympians have set their sights on the world record) and even Nessie is bracing her monstrous self for the biggest event that Loch Ness has seen yet.
There is just one month to go until Monster the Loch 2019, and entries must be submitted by Sunday 1st September - so if you're toying with the idea of getting involved, now is the time. On 28th September, individuals and teams from across the country will gather on the banks of Loch Ness to take part in the world's first mass participation marathon boat race, racing from one end of the Loch to the other. The only rule is that your boat must be human-powered - anything from an 8-man rowing boat, to a smaller skiff, from a kayak to a pedalo. Although this is an event set up by an Olympian, and there may well be some Olympians competing, the event is open to any age and level of sporting prowess. Last year saw school crews, a lone Viking, groups of older gentlemen and Mums having a crack at Monstering the Loch. The spirit of the event is one of inclusion, fun, and adventure - and where else could you compete alongside an Olympian, your school friends or your family before enjoying a warm beverage or something a little stronger together in such a stunning setting?
The scene that is being set for this remarkable event couldn't be more impressive. Loch Ness is 22 miles long, and over 220 metres deep - although at one point it is 240 metres deep, around a mysterious cavern nicknamed 'Nessie's lair'. Formed over 10,000 years ago, towards the end of the last Ice Age, the Loch was created after the Great Glen was filled by an enormous glacier. It never freezes due to a thermocline effect, meaning that as the water in the upper 100 metres cools, it will sink and be replaced by warmer water from the depths. This can make the loch steam on very cold days - which only adds to its very mystical appearance and reputation.
The legendary Loch Ness Monster, which has been spotted in over 1000 official sightings, is a source of much intrigue and contention. Theories on what exactly this monster is range from a prehistoric plesiosaur to a giant mutant eel, which are known to inhabit such lochs. The frequency of sightings of Nessie, as she is fondly known by the locals, has ebbed and flowed over the decades. It all went a bit quiet in the early 1900s, until 1933, when construction began on the A82 - the road that runs alongside the North shore of the Loch. The work involved a huge amount of drilling and blasting, and it is believed that the disturbance of the water and the noise levels and vibrations forced Nessie from the depths of her underwater lair and up into public view. Around 1933 and 1934, there were numerous independent sightings of the monster, and the first photographs were captured.
During the 1960s, a ten-year observational survey was carried out. By the end of the decade, submarines were being used to explore the depths of the Loch using sonar equipment. In the 70s, fresh public interest was roused when an underwater photograph was captured of what appears to be a flipper, and a large, moving shape was captured on sonar imaging.
Since the early 1900s, sightings have continued to be reported steadily - by reputable, responsible visitors and locals alike. Whether it's all an elaborate hoax, seismic activity, a trick of the light, overactive imaginations or a real species evading discovery in the uncharted depths of the Loch, one thing is for sure; the atmosphere of Loch Ness, and the mystery surrounding its inhabitant, is worth experiencing in the flesh.
It's not too late to enter and plan your visit; whether you'd like to compete, or spectate. Entries must be submitted by Sunday 1st September, and if you require a boat, do contact the organisers to see what they can do - they're a friendly bunch. For all the information you need on the event itself, do check out the official website. Marloe Watch Company will be there as official timekeepers, keeping tabs on the world record attempts and the less strenuous efforts, and ready to welcome competitors off the water with a wee dram and a well-deserved knees up. Two thirds of Marloe Watch Company are Scottish, so you can take it in good faith when we say that we know how to hold a knees up.
We would love to see some of our Marloe Watch Company community there - let us know if you'll be heading up to meet us on the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Ness.