Monday, 28 July 2014

Arbroath, and some new changes to the schedule, to Edinburgh.

Mark W and I slipped at 0700 this morning from Peterhead, and went out to sea. Not a breath of wind. The sails were all rigged, nothing, we changed course when it made a tremulous appearance (bang on the nose, of course) but it went away again. Nothing. We fiddled, exhorted, indulged, aspired and perspired, but no, the wind did not want to come out to play. So, as we had a defined schedule to make the Arbroath locking in time at HW plus or minus 3 hours, we motored, and enjoyed the strong springs (today) current which took us towards Arbroath. Fun, but not sailing. Even if we did have our sail up trying to convince others that we were in fact doing so! But there was no one else, as they were not sailing either. In fact, one of the notable observations of sailing beyond the South coast, is that there are so few yachts around. I understand that a circumnavigation will take you into some of the more worrisome places which will deter the majority, but I am still surprised how almost every day the number of yachts we see add up to a very few indeed. Mark W saw his first pair of dolphins...indeed they might have been a pair of small whales given their size. 

So, we arrived at Arbroath which has a very unfriendly approach, quite in contrast to its friendly staff. Firstly, the entrance is difficult to see from afar, secondly, it is protected by around fifty (yes, 50), creel pots strewn across the approaches to the harbour so that getting through them is a major accomplishment in itself requiring binoculars, many dodges, major concentration and multiple cups of tea. Thirdly, when one gains permission to enter the harbour approach, it is a narrow one where predatory rocks and reefs are waiting to snare those whom the creel pots have not yet got. Then comes the tight 90 degree turn around a blind corner, and then just for good measure another. Then, just when you think it must be over, a third one, this time sufficiently visible that the temptation is to cut the corner...right over the reef which guards the entrance to the inner harbour. When, we were in, I was aware that what felt like the entire town had assembled to see us come in. There were people in deck chairs, people sitting on the harbour walls, people stopping their cars to look. Not I suspect with any thought of relief that a stranger's boat had safely triumphed over the obstacles, but it crossed my mind that it was with a ghoulish sense of excitement, waiting for the next catastrophe! Anyway, more friendly people, more enthusiastic admirers for the boat which excites attention and compliments wherever we go, and another friendly harbourmaster ready to take our lines, if needed.

As soon as we arrived, a very efficient exchange of information occurred relating to keys, laundry, places to eat etc., and the time of the next lock out TOMORROW AFTERNOON!!! No, I said with stubborn logic, we needed to lock out tomorrow morning at high water plus three hours ie 0800 as indicated, as we had places to go, people to see. If we would not be able to leave in the morning, we needed to exit the harbour immediately and keep sailing. Through the night to our certain doom. Probably stuck on a lobster pot. A moment of quiet reflection occurred concluding with the harbourmaster agreeing to open the gates specially for us at 0700 so we could continue our progress. Thank you, so much.

So, what is the big excitement? Well, I thought today that we needed to spend another of the days I had banked as a provision for bad weather. So the revised schedule, is that we will leave Arbroath tomorrow (at 0700, thank you again) and sail down to Edinburgh so that we can pass under the Forth bridge. Alexandria raised Tower Bridge in London last year, to celebrate her first birthday, so I thought it would be fun to do so while in Scottish waters. Although without the traffic chaos and congestion that openingTower bridge causes.

We have a berth tomorrow night at Port Edgar where we will be joined by Matthew, to which I am looking forward, then the three of us will move onto to Eyemouth, where we have a berth in another difficult harbour. Then on to Lindisfarne and Holy island, just to please Matthew, and on to Amble assuming they can fit us in.

Lots of exciting places  to stimulate us over the next few days. 

In the meantime, here is Mark, elegantly clad in this season's latest offering, but without his usual stylish Panama hat.

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