Sunday, 19 July 2015

Wednesday 24th to Friday 26th June : Arbroath

We left Stonehaven at 11-15 with very little wind so were motoring with the main up. We made good progress and by 13-10 we reduced engine speed to delay our arrival at Arbroath to ensure we arrived after the opening of the lock gate into the inner harbour. At 16-25 we were rapidly approaching Arbroath, still too early, so turned the engine off and unfurled the genoa for a gentle sail. We entered the harbour at 17-15, taking great care to stay on the leading line and avoid the reefs just offshore. We were secured alongside another yacht by 17-30. 

On the leading line into Arbroath.

Moored in Arbroath inner harbour.

Fishing boats in the outer harbour.

It soon became apparent that smoked fish in particular 'Arbroath Smokies' should be on the menu during our stay. We had lunch at the Harbourside Grill overlooking the inner harbour and both ate the fabled smokie, and very good it was too!

Smoke rising from one of the local smokeries viewed from inside 'Norman James'.

Arbroath Smokie.

The next day we brought some fresh haddock from a fishmonger close to the marina to cook and eat onboard.

Another local fishmonger and smokerie

View of Arbroath harbour from the southwest.

Arbroath was our last new port on our great adventure, the following day we would be sailing into the Firth of Forth which we had explored in our previous boat.

Tuesday 23rd June : Stonehaven

We left Peterhead marina at 09-25, there was a strong smell of fish on the air as we exited the port! The sea was heavy just off Peterhead but soon flattened out. The wind was 17kts true, aft of the beam and we were motor sailing under full main with a gybe preventer, and full genoa, SOG of 5.2kts with about a knot of foul tide.

Off Aberdeen the supply vessel Normand Aurora passed close behind us after dodging a Belgian yacht a little way further behind us ( another example of a yacht with an AIS transponder cluttering the airwaves in good visibility, we had to turn off our AIS alarm, as we had constant bleeping due to this yacht travelling at nearly the same speed as us. Fortunately our own vigilance had made us aware of the supply vessel in good time to monitor it's progress past us. Sometimes it is our AIS receiver  alarm that helpfully alerts us to approaching large vessels crossing our path. )

Supply Vessel 'Normand Aurora' 

Just after 12-00 we picked up a MayDay Relay message from Aberdeen Coastguard relating to an active EPIRB transmission from about 6NM north of Rattray Head. Various vessels in the area were contacted, and asked to provide their EPIRB serial number as a check and a local lifeboat was launched to search in the area. The EPIRB in question was not registered with the authorities, another No No.

By 15-25 we were approaching Stonehaven and by 16-30 we were tied up against the inside of the outer wall with another much smaller yacht rafted alongside us. There was quite a bit of swell making it's presence felt, however the friendly harbour master offered us a berth in the inner harbour as we could take the ground with no problems. By 17-00 we were snug against the inner harbour wall ( with no swell ! ) in 1.2m of water - it really is quite wonderful having the swing keel sometimes!

Approaching Stonehaven. 

Yachts moored against the outer wall where we first tied up. 

In the evening we had a pleasant walk through the town and along the sea front to the north of the harbour. Just enough time to take a few photographs in the fading light. We liked Stonehaven, it just seemed well loved by it's population.

Stonehaven harbour and town viewed from the north. 

'Norman James' in her inner harbour drying berth. 

About midnight a slight creaking announced our grounding on the harbour mud. A cursory check of the ropes indicated that all was well. At 08-40 the next morning we left the inner harbour, while we still had water, and tied up against the outer harbour wall to allow the correct timing for our departure for Arbroath.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Sunday 21st to Monday 22nd June : Rounding Rattray Head and on to Peterhead.

We left Whitehills just after 11:00 and motored with a light breeze on our port bow into a fading foul tide. There was just enough wind to fill the main and steady the boat in the slightly rolley sea. As predicted, the tide turned in our favour by the time we arrived at Kinnaird Head. Once we had passed Cairbulg Point we accelerated rapidly as the tide increased towards Rattray Head. Rattray Head itself has a bit of a reputation for heavy seas, however we were very happy to pass this notorious headland in very benign conditions - even the forecast rain held off!

Rattray Head.

Are we going to get a soaking ? 

Entering Peterhead. 

Heading to the Marina entrance. 

We had two nights in Peterhead. Lunch was had in the Scottish Maritime Academy whilst watching the sailing dinghy activity in the shelter of the harbour. After lunch we walked into the port at Peterhead to look at the fishing fleet and then along to the seafront to see the view looking north. We shopped in the Morrisons to the north of town and took a taxi ride back to the boat as the rain arrived.

Peterhead fish dock. 

Looking North from Peterhead.

Many international visitors in Peterhead Marina. 

View of the marina entrance from our berth.

Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th June, Whitehills.

Our passsage from Wick to Whitehills was not the most enjoyable because of the cold, drizzle and an uncomfortable sea. After a little over 7 hours at sea we were very happy to be photographed on our arrival by Bertie the harbour master (a courtesy extended to all yachts who announce their arrival). 

 Approaching Whitehills.

On our way in. 

Sharp turn left. 

Into the outer harbour. 

Nearly there.

We spent the first night on the pontoon in the outer harbour. The next day there was room in the marina in the inner harbour, for us to escape from the slight swell in the outer harbour.

'Norman James' in the inner harbour.

We enjoyed our three nights in Whitehills. It was an excellent place to eat scampi and other seafood, bought fresh to be cooked on board and also to eat in the local pub.

Looking towards Whitehills harbour. 

We had a good walk east along the coast to Banff. For the first time in quite a while we felt the warmth of the sun so took off our shoes to walk along the beach and paddle in the surf.

Banff harbour.

 Warm enough to paddle - just !

Beautiful sandy beach in Boyndie bay.

We planned our departure to round Rattray head. Bertie the harbourmaster advised us to delay slightly to give more water in the outer harbour as we would have plenty of fair tide to take us around Rattray and on to Peterhead.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Monday 15th to Wednesday 17th June, Wick

By the time we arrived in Wick we were ready for a rest from the sea. We spent the next few days learning about silver and gold barrels - silver for the silver herrings which were salted and packed in barrels, and gold for the very fine whiskeys produced by the Pulteney  Distillery based in Wick. We had several good walks along the river and around the headland to the south.

A pleasant walk along the river looking back towards the town.

Whilst looking around the harbour we came across the old herring mart dating back to 1892. A chance encounter with Anthony Sinclair of the Wick Society at the mart resulted in a very happy couple of hours learning about the herring industry and looking over the lovingly restored herring drifter 'Isabella Fortuna' moored in the marina.

Wick Herring Mart, now the home of the Wick Society. 

The Herring Drifter 'Isabella Fortuna'

On our last day in Wick we had a tour of the Old Pulteney distillery, not to be missed as the smells in the distillery and warehouses were seriously intoxicating! 

The distillery building blackened by a reaction with 'fumes' from the alchohol.

The second of two stills used in the production process.

Barrels of 'Gold' - a small selection of thousands maturing.

The entrance to the harbour. 

View over Wick Harbour including the marina.

Having stocked up with whiskey we made our plans to leave Wick and head further south.