Edinburgh to Inverness


Our early start from Port Edgar promised sufficient wind on the quarter to ‘play’ with the new Parasailor but after a couple of fruitful hours, the wind died away and we had to resort to the engine to maintain our speed for the lock gate deadline at Arbroath. This being the home of the ‘smokey’’ we were obliged to sample this speciality in a dockside restaurant. While I found the experience reasonably enjoyable, Dave struggled with it all night and most of the next day. He did manage to maintain his constitution, probably for fear of ridicule had he not, he being a retired Merchant Navy Captain.

Leaving Arbroath. There was a dolphin just outside the entrance.

The 64 mile passage to Peterhead was exceptionally fast and thrilling with a beam reach in F6 gusting 7 under full main and jib. This sail plan proved to be well within the 135’s scope, the extended third rudder helping to keep her tracking in ‘the groove’ effortlessly all day long.

Entering Peterhead Marina.
Leaving Peterhead, the marina tucked in the corner beyond all the North Sea Rig industry.

We had passed by Aberdeen with dozens of the peculiarly shaped rig supply ships anchored off and Peterhead was also busy with these vessels, the Harbour Master clearing our entry and exit amongst the comings and goings.

With a host of options for shelter along this coast and two more stops before Inverness and the Caledonian Canal, we chose the only two which registered 3 rosettes in the almanac for ambience. The first of these was Whitehills where we would wait for the return of Bob who had popped home from Edinburgh returning to Aberdeen airport and taking a bus to Whitehills. The Harbour Master had been very helpful by Email, answering my berth enquiry at 5.30am and he asked us to call 15 minutes before arrival. This we did and were greeted by Bertie Milne snapping photographs as we approached and entered the tiny harbour.

Whitehills approach, photo taken by Bertie Milne, the Harbour Master.

Once we had moored, he handed over a memory card asking us to return it when we had copied the pictures onto our computer. This quite amazing service (he tries to photograph the approach of all visiting yachts) continued throughout our stay and he couldn’t have tried harder. In fact this was a feature of everyone we encountered in Whitehills (pretty typical of the whole coast actually) and it was a really memorable destination. One of the staff spent some time with us, giving advice about the best mooring places on the Caledonian Canal.

A short 22 mile hop to Lossiemouth the following day was started in thick fog and a light headwind necessitated motoring, we entered as the visibility improved.

Approaching Lossiemouth

Our passage west to Inverness provided another spirited sail with the wind just behind the beam. We discussed the phenomenon whereby the forecabin seems colder than the rest of the yacht on passage. Dubiously referring to half forgotten physics, we concluded that the likely cause is that the continual spray across the bow cools the cabin as it extracts the ‘latent heat of evaporation’ as it dries. The things we talk about on passage !

I had fitted a new pennant onto the lifting arrangement for the swing keel over the winter and the fixing onto the keel had slipped. Although it held up, I felt the situation needed addressing so we lifted in Inverness Marina, had a hose off, sorted the problem, and relaunched to continue our passage through the lock and into the Caledonian Canal.

Lift out in Inverness to sort out the keel pennant and to have a ‘scrub’.

All of the harbours visited since Lowestoft with the exception of Newcastle and Blyth had depth issues and we would certainly not have been able to enjoy such a varied number of interesting destinations without the variable draft qualities of the Southerly.

Locking into the Caledonian Canal. Dave Cooke in the foreground, Bob Haywood in the background.

So we moored safely in Seaport Marina, just inside the Caledonian Canal, Bob and Dave took the train back south while I had a most enjoyable (!) haircut in the station barbers. My wife and our friends Lucy and Graham joined the crew having flown up to Inverness from Heathrow.  Graham fell in twice when they joined us for the half term week last year so with 29 locks to negotiate, it could be interesting !

Seaport Marina just inside the Caledonian Canal for the crew change. Bob and Dave leaving to be replaced by Lucy and Graham Read and my wife Paula.

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