Pulled out of Whitehills at 5.30 am in the hope of avoiding the nasty weather heading our way later in the day.
Rob on the boat next door helped us to back out of the berth by warping us round his bow. Then we motored out straight into thick, thick fog. Our first waymark was Troup Head, but first we had to learn not to motor round in circles, which is very easy in the fog. Once I managed to concentrate on the GPS and keep checking the compass as well we set off more or less in a straight line towards the Head it was ten miles and about 2 hours as we approached from about half a mile off the fog lifted and we saw the cliffs covered in white birds mostly gannets I think judging by the number flying around us. There was very little wind but it was picking up, still an east or north east one so still not much good to us. Also the swell was a northerly one and getting bigger.
Leaving Troup Head behind we headed for Kinnaird Head above Fraserburgh.
Still no sun and wind in the north east. The swell stated to increase but wasn't uncomfortable so set off for Rattray Head, as mentioned in the Inshore Forecasts.
Wow just as we came abreast of the lighthouse the swell picked up from two directions, sometimes three and Harmony was pushed around all over the the place.
The sea wasn't blue like this it was grey and lots of white horses.
We ground our way through the swells talking of anything to distract ourselves from the nasty seas.
Finally Peterhead came into view and in another hour we rounded the point to pick up an even bigger swell towards the harbour mouth. Managed to call up the Harbour control and got permission to enter and proceed to the marina arriving through the entrance by surfing the big waves. With great relief we moored up and checked in arriving at 2pm.
Alice was marvellous and did not complain, but you could see from her face that she was happy to be back on dry land!
Safely tucked up and drying out.
It was not a day for photographs so I have 'borrowed' these ones from the internet - thanks to the various sources supplying them.
The weather forecasts are still for poor conditions but decided to go anyway. we headed off at 7am to catch the best of the tide. Actually turned into a reasonable motor, still no sailing as the wind is in the east force 3 to 4.
Called up the Whitehills Harbourmaster who saw us in, literally and took some great photos
It is quite tight coming in with some interesting turns, but what a cracking harbour and Bertie Milne, the Master, is very nice and very obliging. Once we tied up the sun came out so we went for a walk after lunch, came back had tea and more cake then Alice decided to go swimming and snorkelling.
A perfect end to the day. Supper was yet another M&S curry.
Tomorrow we need a 5.30am start to get to Peterhead ahead of the nasty weather so it is early to bed.
We decided to stay in Lossiemouth another day as it was sunny but very windy. We had a lazy morning then...
We went for a lovely walk along the beach, where we saw some mad kite surfers.
Also spotted this heron fishing in the Lossie, you need to look hard!
Then we came back and had tea and Alice produced a birthday cake! How she managed to get it here without a- me knowing and b- not crushing it, was amazing. She doesn't know this but it made me 'well up' when I saw it........thank you Alice.
A great fish and chip supper and then we played bananagrams and won one game each - well I was the birthday boy. Lots of birthday messages and phone calls so thank you everyone, I had a lovely day.
We left Nairn at 6 am to make sure we could use the channel without grounding. Merida went in front of us and turned towards Inverness and we turned east towards Lossiemouth.
The forecast F3/4 from the east, moderate sea, right on both accounts so another miserable motor into an unpleasant swell.
Only excitement was a mayday call for a boat near Cromarty which had struck an anchor(!). The Invergordon lifeboat attended and the coastguard helicopter which was out on exercise. Oh and also saw some seals.
Otherwise A and I were both feeling a bit green by the time we turned into the Lossiemouth harbour entrance. Found the visitors pontoon, paid our dues and went for a lovely long walk along the beach to Coveseas Skerries Lighthouse - it was good to have some solid ground under our feet.
My last day in my fifties, didn't think I'd spend it sailing (well motoring really) the Moray Firth with Alice! Celebrated with tuna pasta and a tonic.
Inverness is a place where they collect the bits of wind turbines ready to assemble - big bits....
Also found this very rounded boat made be the aircraft company Fairey, called Sugar Plum
but I digress, we left Inverness at 10 am on the ebb, Alice immediately spotted an otter on the shore line just before we went under Kessock Bridge. Then we met a couple of dolphins - they looked smaller than the ones yesterday.
Sadly the wind was in the east to north east so we plugged along on the motor, now sounding very happy.
Passed Chanonry point, studded with dolphin watchers, and Fort George then out into the Firth proper - nasty swell running east to west and and the wind on the nose, of course.
Attempted to sail but only went sideways so back to the motor. the wind picked up and so did the swell. Pretty miserable except it wasn't raining!
We passed Nairn and still had two hours motoring to go when I decided to turn back to Nairn for both our sanities.
Very glad we did, scooted into the harbour with water to spare under the keels and slotted into a visitors berth as directed by the very obliging harbour master. Paid our dues and went for walk.
Big beaches here!
not very busy....... a lovely sculpture to commemorate the Fishwives of Nairn
That evening we were made very welcome at the Sailing Club and shared stories with Ken the Commodore and Peter and his family and crew who were also visiting on Merida.
So we never made it to Findhorn, one to put on the list for another day.
Today has been a bit of a saga....
Let's go back a day or so - we travelled up by train from Peterborough to Inverness. Just outside Newark we sat for three hours looking at this brick wall
because a house had cauht fire next to the line and they had to turn off the overhead power cables.
Here we all are stoically waiting for something for happen. It did eventually and we arrived in Inverness four hours late at midnight.
The next day we spent a lovely day pottering around Inverness and fettling the boat
Here is some art sculpted into the wall running along the side of the River Ness. We met one artist chiselling away in the sunshine.
We had a good night's sleep and after waiting for the marine electrician to not come and fix a problem the next morning we decided to head off for Cromarty and leave as the other boats were doing. Like this rather nice french boat.
Well we motored down to the lock, a new experience for Alice and then through the swing bridge and on to the sea lock.
then in the sea lock we went through with another boat so we could follow them as the tide was low and the estuary is quite shallow in places. the engine was running nicely, Alice was retrieving the the fenders and stowing them in the stern locker when BANG! there was a loud noise and.........nothing, the engine kept running, we were still going at 4 knots and everything appeared to be ok except there was no water coming out of the exhaust system of the engine. There should be water......... but there wasn't any. Stop engine, raise headsail and check stern locker. The pipe which carries the cooling water from the engine to the outlet at the stern had split.
Alice took the helm, I checked for any other damage but all seemed ok.
Now I had to start the auxillary outboard for the first time in earnest. Under the sail Harmony was holding her own against the four knot tide so we gently tacked and headed back toward the south shore. The outboard fired up (!) and we gingerly headed for safety.
I called ahead to Inverness Marina to warn them that I might have some difficulty manouvering and Craig, said grab whatever space on the pontoons I could and we'd sort it out later.
I called Caley Marine and asked for John, the workshop manager, to call me when he could and we limped into the marina at 3 knots which meant we occasionaly went backwards when the tide caught us.
An uneventful arrival in the marina with Alice's expert help and we could breathe again.
John arranged for Robert, the marine tech to come and have a look and he said he could fix it there and then.
Good news! We have spent another day in Inverness in a different marina enjoying a different view and some sunshine.
Rather spookily the boat that moored next to us had just arrived from down south, actually from Suffolk, even weirder from the Royal Harwich Yacht Club! Which is where I would quite like to keep Harmony. Life is full of strange coincidences.
Tomorrow we shall try for Findhorn,
Many thanks to Caley Marine - John, Robert, the lady there who calmly took my slightly panicky phone call and reassured me, and to Craig at Inverness Marina for allowing me an easy entry to the pontoons.
Oh I nearly forgot, we saw the dolphins in the estuary. Just as we started the auxilliary two huge dolphins came to check us out - a real bonus!
Hope to see them again tomorrow when I would like a nice unexciting day!
Harmony is just as we left her. A bit grubbier and now sporting some new electrics.
The train journey north was a painful one. A trackside fire near Retford meant we were stuck outside Newark for three hours! Luckily our connection at York was stuck behind us in the delay so no worries about missing it.
Eventually with some other delays we arrived in Inverness nearly four hours late, just before midnight. I'll give Virgin Trains their due we had lots of complimentary tea, coffee and snacks to help keep us sane.
Today we have spent recovering, doing some essential jobs, washing down the decks and sightseeing in Inverness.
Tomorrow we head off into the Moray Firth to explore some of the wonderful harbours there.
Present aboard are Alice and myself and plenty of stores, weather looks ok so we shall head further east before turning south round Rattray Head for those of you who listen to the Shipping Forecast.