Thursday, 20 June 2013

New Friends and Birds of Passage

 
Gannets galore!
All in all our trip north was a relatively easy return to long passage sailing, the only thing we've decided was next time to try a three on-three off  watch pattern in the hope of better quality sleep. We were both so tired on Tuesday evening that we went to bed early and slept in late the following day! And we ached all over - both from the exertion of all that sailing and our cycle trip up the hill to the chip shop. So a few days rest is called for and we've found just the place Whitehills Marina - a little paradise of a place a few miles west from Rattray Head on the south coast of the Moray Firth. A quiet tiny but well equipped harbour with a warm welcome.  Kevin has taken up his two big boat projects the solar panels and fitting an AIS B whilst Susie has been busy with oddments of repairs and rope work.

Fiddlers Green
One of the joys of cruising is meeting people. Here in Whitehills apart from Harbour Master Berty, who is a real character of a retired fisherman, we've met Whitehills taxi driver, a local lad but brought up in Portsmouth cos his dad was in the Navy, so he's got a Hampshire rather than an Aberdeenshire accent! He seems to come down to welcome all the harbour's visiting boats. We've also met several other locals all keen to say hello and pass the time of day, offer advice or simply chat. Whitehills is a community project owned by the village who basically decided a few years ago that viable fishing boats were getting too big for their tiny harbour and rather than let the port die turned it into a marina. There are cafes, a restaurant and a pub plus the usual village shop, post office and a good fishmongers attached to the fish processing place.

We should also log a few "birds of passage" people who may crop up in these pages from time to time if they are heading the same way as us. Mike on Seahawk, an American who is gradually circumnavigating the UK, John, skipper of Fiddlers Green a gorgeous Maurice Griffith's Eventide yacht, who has set himself the challenge of sailing from Essex to Essex via most of the UK before he is 66 (he's 65 apparently). John currently has his brother in-law as crew, we met them on the pontoon in Peterhead as we arrived there and yesterday they rafted alongside Temptress in Whitehills. Today both boats headed off west to Lossiemouth but we're sure our paths will cross again.
On the seawall Whitehills
Entrance channel over the Skippers left shoulder
 In Peterhead we also met a Norwegian Oceanis 40 "Njord" with father and son aboard making their way to Inverness to pick up the rest of the family for a cruise down the Caledonian Canal. On our sail from Peterhead Njord left before us and a little while later we found her hanging around with her sails down, we wondered if they'd a problem so sailed over. Whales! Or more precisely a single minke whale longer than Njord was swimming alongside their boat. We watched from a couple of hundred metres or so away in amazement until the whale decided to head off somewhere else entirely.

So here we are and we'll be enjoying our temporary home for a day or two more.

Kevin admiring 80 years young Ron's Morgan

Whitehills Inner Harbour

Masts over the seawall


Peterhead - Whitehills 32 nautical miles logged, 533.5nm total

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