Marica goes clockwise

Vessel Name: Marica
19 September 2017 | Rattray Head
17 September 2017 | NE Scottish Coast
16 September 2017 | Moray Firth
15 September 2017 | Inverness
14 September 2017 | Inverness
13 September 2017 | Inverness
12 September 2017 | Loch Ness
11 September 2017 | Fort Augustas
10 September 2017 | Loch Lochy
09 September 2017 | Oban
08 September 2017 | Gulf of Corryvrecken
07 September 2017 | Crinan canal
06 September 2017 | Crinan canal
05 September 2017 | Bute
04 September 2017 | Kip marina
02 September 2017 | Ayr
01 September 2017 | Off Arran
31 August 2017 | Scotland
30 August 2017 | Portpatrick
27 August 2017 | Douglas Harbour
Recent Blog Posts
19 September 2017 | Rattray Head

From Whitehills

I stayed in port yesterday. I had been planning to head for Fraserburgh, ready for an early start round the corner to Peterhead. A few people, including Bertie the harbourmaster, advised me that Fraserburgh was not a great place for yachts. The day was a bit bleak and the sea looked similar to the uncomfortable [...]

17 September 2017 | NE Scottish Coast

From Burghead

I pulled out from Burghead into a rather lumpy sea. I was reluctant to go forward to take the mooring lines and fenders in. I thought about turning round and heading back in, but decided that I could press on to Lossiemouth, about 10 miles and two uncomfortable hours along the coast.

16 September 2017 | Moray Firth

From Inverness

I heard the familiar sound of Sailing the Farm's diesel engine as I lay in my quarter berth this morning. Apparently they are heading back to Norway to change the engine, amongst other things. I didn't get up to wave them goodbye, as I'd had a late night trying to back up my iPad, get it to activate, [...]

15 September 2017 | Inverness

Not nice weather for ducks

Not been a good day so far. I spent a lot of time going round chandlers and engineering places to try and replace my engine stop cable. I ended up doing a bodge job.

14 September 2017 | Inverness

Monster Visit

I spent today trying to sort out a few bits on Marica. The Volvo engine had decided not to do neutral and would only do forward or reverse which was a bit awkward in locks and berthing. I think I've sorted it, some loose connections. Boosted by this I decided to fix the engine stop. Some time ago the [...]

13 September 2017 | Inverness

In to Inverness

Marica was parked above a flight of four locks down to Inverness. I saw Seeadler was heading towards the sea lock on my phone. I went for a wander about and to check the forecasts. It looked like today would be OK to head East from Inverness to Findhorn or similar. The following two days, Thursday and [...]

From Whitehills

19 September 2017 | Rattray Head
Dry and chilly
I stayed in port yesterday. I had been planning to head for Fraserburgh, ready for an early start round the corner to Peterhead. A few people, including Bertie the harbourmaster, advised me that Fraserburgh was not a great place for yachts. The day was a bit bleak and the sea looked similar to the uncomfortable day before. I worked out that leaving today before 7 I should hit the tide right to get round the corner to Peterhead. I got an early night.

I woke a few times during the night and checked the time. I was up at six and away by 6:30, putting my navigation lights on as the sun was not yet up. I believed that Heron and Fiesta, the bridge deck cat, were also planning to head the same way, but they didn't need to start as early.

The sea was fairly smooth and the wind settled to being mostly off the starboard quarter. We sailed past a tanker anchored in deep water. The wind was pretty light so I kept the engine on to make the tide gate at Rattray Head. I saw that Fiesta had set sail on Marine Traffic, but Heron were not showing up. However, I spotted their tall mast when they were about four miles away, and they gradually overhauled Marica. We were making over 8 knots at times with the tide pulling us south. I think Heron must have been doing over 10.

Coming into Peterhead I called the harbour for permission to enter. I had the radio on dual watch, monitoring channels 16 and 14. I assumed (wrongly) that my transmission would be on channel 14. The harbour did reply, and on 14 they told me to hold my position as a ship was about to exit the harbour. I stooged around for about five minutes and saw the ship exit. I was then invited to enter the outer harbour. It is rather large, and the marina is right at the end. I contemplated how much of today's journey was actually through the harbour.

I came into the narrowish entrance to the marina. I had already spotted Heron's mast and there was a starboard side to pontoon close to them. Kevin took my bow line as I came in.

I kept an eye on Fiesta's position and heard him call the harbour. I also heard a boat called Unsinkable 2 request permission to enter. I wondered what had happened to Unsinkable 1. I took Fiesta's bow line as he came into the next berth.

The marina is lovely, there is a sandy beach on one side. The showers are nice and hot and don't need old pound coins, or any coins. The forecast for tomorrow is southerly winds. So it would be wind against tide is heading south. I'd contemplated Stonehaven, or even Montrose. Here is good though, I need to catch a plane from Aberdeen on Thursday and the transport links work from Peterhead. So we are stopping here for the moment.

I've wandered into town and the local Weatherspoon's to expand my beer repertoire. Not very encouraging but haggis, neeps and tatties with a pint for £6.95. My first taste of haggis in Scotland.

The photo is of the gas terminal in Rattray Bay, and the big flare stack that suddenly engorged to produce its own cloud system within five minutes.

From Burghead

17 September 2017 | NE Scottish Coast
Lumpy
I pulled out from Burghead into a rather lumpy sea. I was reluctant to go forward to take the mooring lines and fenders in. I thought about turning round and heading back in, but decided that I could press on to Lossiemouth, about 10 miles and two uncomfortable hours along the coast.

The wind had a bit too much east in it for sails. I kept an eye out for other sailing boats by eye and also on AIS. I saw a large boat behind heading towards me. I couldn't match them to an AIS track. As they got closer I recognised the boat as a 40 odd footer Jeanneau that I had shared four locks with coming down to Inverness. They waved as they came past and I made out the name, Heron. I called them on the radio and asked where they were making for. It had been Whitehills, but due to Trish feeling seasick they were going into Lossiemouth. I said I'd had similar thoughts, but I was going to press on. They are heading down to Essex, so we thought we might meet again.

Heading past Lossiemouth, I saw Heron was not turning, maybe a change of plan. My speed was down to about 4 knots, so it looked like it could be dark before hitting Whitehills. The wind had come round a bit more north, so I unfurled the genoa. That put the speed up to 5.5 to 6 knots. I still didn't want to be playing around at the mast getting the main up. A cup of tea I'd made had ended up with half splashed into the pan next to it. It looked like we should now get in before in night fall.

The harbour entrance is quite narrow with a sharp turn left then a small outer harbour leading into the inner by a sharp right and another left. As I entered the outer harbour I saw Heron on a pontoon with a catamaran. A man was waving me in to a berth on the pontoon. I had to restart the engine after slowing down, but came alongside and Bertie, the harbourmaster took my lines. His first words were 'Welcome to Whitehills, yes there is a pub". Kevin, from Heron told me that they felt they could not pull into Lossiemouth if I was continuing in a smaller boat, despite both of them being seasick. It had been a long uncomfortable sail. The weather forecast had been for a sea state of slight.

I had a hot shower, made some pasta and sauce, then headed for the pub. The photo is of Heron overtaking Marica.

From Inverness

16 September 2017 | Moray Firth
Sunny with heavy showers
I heard the familiar sound of Sailing the Farm's diesel engine as I lay in my quarter berth this morning. Apparently they are heading back to Norway to change the engine, amongst other things. I didn't get up to wave them goodbye, as I'd had a late night trying to back up my iPad, get it to activate, or do anything. Eventually success by plugging it into my laptop and connecting to iTunes through my phone, also connected to the laptop. Hurrah!

I did get up shortly after, tested my bodge on the engine stop cable. It needed adjusting but then seemed to be OK. I motored over to the fuel berth and filled up. I paid for the fuel and one night in the marina (£5). The man insisted I only owed for one night so I said I'd not argue.

Motored over to the works lock, no one around so got on the radio. Yep they would send someone over in half an hour. I made porridge. The lock keeper arrived by motorbike. She took me down the lock then waited for a train before the bridge could be opened. One more lock to go. The guy at the sea lock pointed out the best route to proceed east. First over to the northern shore then through the middle of the huge bridge that carries the A9. As I left the security of the canal into the North Sea it started to rain heavily with poor visibility. I thought of heading back or into the nearby marina.

We pressed on and the rain ceased. A great bunch of seals on a sand bank on the south shore. I managed to get the headsail out for a while, but mostly the wind was on the nose, so it was motoring all the way.

We got to Findhorn a little after low water. A lovely rainbow seemed to highlight the place. The waves were a little uncomfortable and going forward to rig a bow line I drooped the shank of rope. One of my favourite mooring lines too, so I spun Marica round and had a hunt, but I think it probably sunk. There are breakers either side of the marked channel. I headed in, and past most of the breakers. We then ran out of water. I kept the engine running and lashed the tiller. The boat was being lifted and rolled, but we were not making progress. Looking at the tide gauge and predictions it looked like the best option was to head back out past the breakers and stooge around for an hour.

We headed out and looked at other possible options. Burghead, a fishing port was just over an hour away. We could make that before nightfall, rather than wait an hour and try again going into Findhorn. Shame, I'd been hoping to visit Findhorn.

The harbour at Burghead was mostly full of fishing boats. I spotted a bare patch of dockside in the shallows. It needed reversing into which we achieved fairly well. I had to pull myself up on a ring to get onto the quay to secure the boat. I pulled Marica forward to a ladder and set the lines and springs. I was just getting ready to explore the town when a small fishing boat arrived. I made the mistake of asking if I was in his spot. I was indeed and he pointed out that it would dry out overnight. No problem as I would be leaving on the tide tomorrow. He suggested going alongside a sailing boat or the metal boat in front of me. He offered to help, and even offered me one of his lobsters. I took the hint and moved.

There may be gold at the end of this rainbow, but there's a distinct lack of water.

Not nice weather for ducks

15 September 2017 | Inverness
Bleak
Not been a good day so far. I spent a lot of time going round chandlers and engineering places to try and replace my engine stop cable. I ended up doing a bodge job.

My iPad has decided it needs to be activated, so won't do anything now.

Finally it appear that my posts since the start of the month have not been copied on to Facebook. Hopefully this one will and allow people to catch up if they want.

Monster Visit

14 September 2017 | Inverness
Mostly dry
I spent today trying to sort out a few bits on Marica. The Volvo engine had decided not to do neutral and would only do forward or reverse which was a bit awkward in locks and berthing. I think I've sorted it, some loose connections. Boosted by this I decided to fix the engine stop. Some time ago the stop ripped out of the fibre glass and now needs two hands to operate. I cut two metal strips and drilled holes to pack them either side of the fibre glass. All good until I tried to turn one of the nuts on the end of the cable and broke the cable outer so it will not work at all now. Something to try and sort tomorrow, as winds still high.

I was down in the cabin and something came past the window, a green monster head. I took a photo then went to investigate. Three lads had done the whole of the Caledonian canal in a dragon pedalo. They were obviously mad so I invited them inside to warm up with tea and biscuits.

In to Inverness

13 September 2017 | Inverness
Cloudy
Marica was parked above a flight of four locks down to Inverness. I saw Seeadler was heading towards the sea lock on my phone. I went for a wander about and to check the forecasts. It looked like today would be OK to head East from Inverness to Findhorn or similar. The following two days, Thursday and Friday, we're looking rather windy. I saw on Marine Traffic STF were coming down the locks. I wandered up and informed the skipper about facilities (limited) and costs of the Seaport Marina. First night is included in the canal licence. After that it is normally £10 a night for any size vessel. Due the facilities being out of order, this was down to £5.

The locks close before lunch time as the road bridge has to stay open. The lock keepers got Marica and a large boat down in time for the first bridge opening and I headed for pontoon 5 as I had been informed. All tied up and decided to sort out some stuff while I had phone signal and access to shops and delay my departure for a couple of days.

The photo is of the important part of the bar in the Clachnaharry Inn. All the beers cost£3.70. The Jarl I have tried before in Scotland and is a nice slightly grapefruity, light beer, at 3.8%. The Ossian was 4.1%, golden coloured also citrusy and hoppy, lovely! The Trade Winds I didn't particularly care for. The Lia Fail at 4.7% was treacly with a very bitter aftertaste, worse than the Lia Fail. Other opinions are available.
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