21st June 2016
I am in Peterhead Bay Marina about to spend a second night here. I slept until 10.20 this morning.
This evening at about 2000 ‘Drunken Duck’, with Raymond and Ann, arrived from Eyemouth .. I had been half expecting them this evening. I had last seen them on Sunday 19th June when we had left Blyth, both of us bound for Eyemouth.
They are very good sailors and from the look of their boat do things very well. She is very nicely set up. Everything looks professional.
Peterhead Bay Marina is immaculate. Billy has looked after me superbly and I have missed Doc’s off duty HM friend James who is having a couple of days off. James was HM when Doc came here in 2003 on passage to Norway. Doc went to Norway from this harbour! The facilities in this marina are the cleanest most immaculate that I have ever been in. You should see the laundry room! Yes! I did do some washing and I could have folded my clothes out of the machines (both Miele) on the floor. Well done all Marina staff.
On Sunday the 19th we finally left Blyth at 0450 in the company of ‘Drunken Duck’ with strong winds due from the SE.
There was little wind early morning and there was a long NE gentle swell. ‘Drunken Duck’ powered ahead with her new Yanmar and were quickly out of sight although I was able to pick them up on AIS.
The boat is not good under motor and we passed Coquet Island at 0730 and reached the Farne Islands at 1010 with the wind beginning to pick up from the SE as the low started to move across. I was able to get a good look at the islands and see hundreds of Puffins. It was lovely to see.
Having passed through Inner Sound we turned north to clear Guzard and Goldstone on the outside and set the genoa. For the first time since Lowestoft ‘Talisker 1’ was sailing and moving ….
My intention was to be in deep water and then turn west and sail to Eyemouth but the more we headed out to sea the more I liked it and there were things to find out about the boat. Last year James R had sailed ‘Talisker 1’ with me from Chatham to the Orwell in similar conditions. The self steering was not really tested and we over pressed the boat. On that occasion I had also set the Stay Sail.
Today we were under full main and full genoa which was reduced in stages throughout the late afternoon and evening to the second mark on the genoa and the second reef in the main. The steering coped in pretty nasty conditions and so did the boat. Five metre sharp short breaking waves as the wind eventually became a SSE7.
With the tide about to turn we headed for Aberdeen. Peterhead was going to be too far. Visibility was also reducing. As we closed on the coast line the wind veered as predicted to SW in equal strength. Aberdeen was an attractive entrance in those conditions.
It was very good to get in to the harbour.
At 0115 on the 20th June we were met and moored to a floating pontoon in Albert Basin. It had been a hard sail. And conditions were considerably worse than they had been when Graham and me had delivered ….. to France.
Aberdeen VTS, who are only used to ships, were very accommodating to what really must have been a nuisance to them. Anyway … sleep I did.
It was a viscous low that came through over Scotland with steadily increasing winds from the SE and big 5 metre cresting breaking waves.
The following day we left Aberdeen bound for Peterhead. It was quite funny booking a departure from the harbour. VTS asked draft, numbers on board, next port of call. If she had asked about dangerous goods I would have had to have said ‘ME’.
When I did call I was put on standby to leave and eventually was given clearance. I reported clearing the Pier Heads to VTS at 1555.
I arrived in Peterhead at 2035. It’s a very busy commercial harbour, mostly fishing. The very very well run marina is in the NW corner.
I spoke to the HM at Wick, Malcolm Bremner, who told me that the other ‘Talisker’ had been banned from his port. Apparently he is a terrible nuisance to all. Malcolm has banned him for exposing himself in the harbour. I’ll get the full story tomorrow. He is going to help me with passage planning for the Islands.
We leave for Wick early tomorrow.
We arrived in Wick Marina this afternoon at 1540. We left Peterhead Pier Heads at 0410.
I thought we might be in luck as we set off with a S 5 but almost immediately the engine was on again and we motor sailed practically the whole way in light airs.
Crossing the Moray Firth visibility was wonderful. Land could be seen to port and taking a bearing it had to be Dunbeath just under 30 NM away.
About 15 NM out of Wick I was also able to clearly see the southern end of the Orkney Islands before visibility reduced somewhat although still remaining good.
Its been a very frustrating time since leaving Orford on the 6th June. 16 days! That’s how long it has taken to get this far. I have never motored so much.
So far we have logged 437 NM. Distance travelled over the ground 506 NM so not too many foul tides.
I am expecting ‘Drunken Duck’ tomorrow. I am going to rest up for a couple of days and there is a list of jobs to do on the boat too.
No advice from Malcolm re the Islands! He IS on holiday though.
Sorted the main sail out. The battens had always bothered me and I shortened them a fraction so they tuck just inside the leech of the sail. Did a bit more on the engine and I think I might have sorted the last leak of diesel from the bleed valve above the fuel filter. Hope so! A few more things to do.
I was on my way to shop and went in to the harbour office to hear a conversation with a yacht in trouble with a pot about 3 NM out from Wick. I feared that it might be ‘Drunken Duck’. Wick RNLI are in the marina and the coxswain was dealing with the call.
Went to Tesco and returned to find ‘Drunken Duck’ next to ‘Talisker 1’ in the marina. Raymond and Ann had not fouled their prop. A few minutes later the lifeboat entered with a French Yacht. One of the crew from the yacht was wearing a wet suit and had obviously been over the side to try to sort it out.
Had a very nice hour with Raymond and Ann. They don’t say much about their sailing so one has to get it out of them. They have done lots of miles around the whole of the UK and France including the west coast of Ireland. No doubt further too. I think they go every year. I asked them about the Dutch inland waterways and they said it was something to do when they were old! Very nice people indeed and I like the way their boat is set up.. A very ‘Business Like’ boat.
24th June 2016
It looks like The Orkney Islands tomorrow. Dependent on wind and visibility. If we wake up to fog we are staying put..
Put 20 litres in the tank. And, not necessary, but bought a Scottish courtesy flag that’s now flying starboard spreader. My ragged Orford SC flag now on the port side. Bought the Tidal Stream Atlas NP09.
It’s an interesting harbour. Small and well run. The pictures of this place in its heyday are unbelievable. The herring fleets were enormous. The biggest in Europe at the time. The boats crammed in …. well ………… like sardines.
Today on a very smart pontoon there are boats of every nationality.
There is a Canadian and I am pretty sure he is based in Scotland. A single hander, in quite a small boat, who made a thoroughly chaotic, incompetent arrival. He arrived at the finger pontoon with one fender and a stern line only. He wasn’t bothered at all and perhaps he’s always like that. Nice chap! I helped the HM take his ……lines……. When he managed to arrange them and … errrrr another fender. Perhaps he was knackered, exhausted. Possibly! But not sure I would want to go far with him.
This evening I went on board ‘Drunken Duck’ to discuss departure times. We differed in ideas by two hours and although Raymond was interested (pretended to be) in my thoughts he new what he wanted to do and HE, of course, made complete sense. The tidal streams are very tricky here. Raymond has also given me an extra two hours sleep. Departure 0500.
Quite interesting that the other boats are keen to talk to each other and all in an unassuming manner. Just interested in each other.
The local RNLI boys are very nice indeed and very happy to chat. Three of them were talking on the Quay. Not on duty, just socialising. They seem to spend a lot of time around or near the station. All local lads who like their home town. Because of the French Yacht rescue and two in of the previous day I asked them if visiting yachts were a source of nuisance from getting in to trouble and was interested to hear that just about all yachts in these parts or visiting these parts are experienced sailors and know what they are doing.
The French Yacht’s skipper that they brought in yesterday had dived over the side in a wet suit to try to sort himself out. They told me that the pots were often invisible, submerged by the swiftness of the current and it was just one of those things.
I have made up my mind NOT to RUSH anymore. I have to be home end of July for a job, which could take about two weeks. I will leave the boat safely wherever I am and fly home. Then return to the boat and bring it home slowly and in my own time. I would have loved Sally to join me here for a few days but flights are 1) not direct and 2) exorbitant!
26th June 2016
I am now in Kirkwall Marina, the Orkney Islands. I arrived from Wick in the company of ‘Drunken Duck’ yesterday.
When I left Wick yesterday lined up on the small pontoon in a very good harbour were the following ensigns and nationalities.
The afore mentioned Canadian, then British, French (‘Romico’ TL … a Toulon boat that is always in Scotland. The French owner who lives in the S of France leaves his Mediterranean life every summer to cruise Scotland and the Islands), then another French boat cruising with ‘Romico’, then Belgian ‘Drunken Duck’ with Ann and Raymond from Oostende, British ‘Talisker 1’, a British charter yacht with some Swiss who wanted to talk about the referendum. They had replaced a single handed Swede in a Halberg 36. Then on the end a Czech sort of Super Yacht, home port Prague.
Some of the boats seem to be serious cruisers. Most of them business like and look as though they have travelled.
The Swede who had come in just behind me told me that he had gone through conditions he had never experienced in 35 years of sailing. No wind, flat water, then suddenly vertical waves from all directions, boat being thrown over 40 degrees, no steerage and making about a knot only. He was going to show me where! And didn’t!
Most of the boats here in Kirkwall are serious cruising boats too, including lots of Norwegians.
A Swede frightened the shit out of me when he reversed in to the sailing school boat from Blyth. Yes! He’s here too! The Swede went off to get fuel and came back to park between the training boat and me. Both the Blyth boat and me were armed with fenders and Ann and Raymond grabbed the Swedes lines. There was space to park the Torrey Canyon. The Blyth boat had been doing a Day Skipper course in Blyth while I was there. It’s now doing a skippered charter of the Islands.
I have internet. Hurray!
Yesterday was a very gloomy start. Poor visibility and NE winds on the nose.
There is quite a race off Duncansby Head (perhaps that’s where the Swede got in to trouble) and the current that runs up to 8-9kn was going to push us NW so we had to make more Easterly in our northerly to clear Sandy Riddle always with a bit of help from the current. Above Sandy Riddle the streams are very much weaker.
Visibility improved and by the time we were abreast of Copinsay and Horse of Copinsay visibility was very good.
In fairly light NE winds I tried to sail which took us much closer to Mull Head and then the wind died.
Raymond, cannily and of course sensibly, kept to his original passage plan and went on the outside and maintained his speed motoring. In even slightly bad weather the inshore route off Mull Head would be horrid.’
‘Drunken Duck’ had called me to suggest anchoring in Deer Sound until the tide turned in Shapinsay Sound and The String and that’s what we did. Because of my meddling experiment I arrived at anchor 45 minutes later than ‘Drunken Duck!
BUT…. How lovely! And very beautiful. The anchorage is the Taing of Barn.
It was a still sunny day and surrounded by green hills with virtually not a tree anywhere. I could see my anchor on the bottom. For a Thames Estuary Sailor that is odd!
At 1600 in light NE winds I slowly tacked out of Deer Sound
and attempted to sail west down beautiful Shapinsay Sound
before the wind died completely. Engine on AGAIN just after 1700 and at 1810 Ann and Raymond very kindly took our lines in Kirkwall Harbour.
Ann, who Raymond calls ‘my captain’ is a very competent sailor indeed. Its an impressive boat with a very experienced good crew. I have huge respect.
The next plan will be to work out timings and weather windows to get to The Shetlands …
Our lovely Orford SC President marked my card and told me not to miss Fair Isle if conditions are right.
Here following are my vague thoughts about moving on. I want to sail to Stronsay and then, weather dependent, Fair Isle en route to Lerwick. I will then plan for Norway choosing the best moment possible aiming for perhaps Bergen or Utsira. We will see.