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Cornwall to Scotland days 31 and 32

Day 31 – A sizeable remnant of the colossal portion of chips from Marco’s chippy in Arbroath Harbour still lingers inside us as we emerge into the daylight. This morning, the harbour lock gate which is our portal to the sea, is opening late, giving us something of a lie-in compared with recent days. It occurs to us that for five days in succession we have been getting up early and sailing or motoring for six to eight hours on rolly seas then into a new port for the night. We are pleased with our progress northwards but the relentless sailing is beginning to tell on our bodies.

One thing we are relieved about is that last night, at the cost of coffee and carrot cake in a harbour-side café, we ‘found’ a good Wi-Fi signal and slaked our internet needs, updating the blog, getting a weather forecast for the days ahead, emailing friends and family and so on. This is an important issue for us when we are voyaging on Cirrus, our way of keeping in touch and keeping ourselves informed of family and other news. Along England’s south and east coasts the marinas often provided Wi-Fi connectivity as part of the nightly charge but as we proceed along the Scottish north-east coast with its small ex-fishing port harbours we anticipate things being more difficult. More often we will have to resort to the internet-in-the-café solution, which inevitably means eating even more delicious carrot cake – but we will just have to cope with this.

So we peer out of the boat this morning but we can see little, barely further than the harbour wall. Arbroath sits under a dense fog blanket, devoid of any wind, with a bleating foghorn echoing back at us. Even if we set off motoring close inshore along the coast towards Aberdeen we would see nothing at all for visibility is less than a quarter of a mile. Our GPS chartplotter keeps us informed on where we are at sea but it cannot help us avoid the fishing buoys which are scattered like confetti on our path, each one with a rope underneath to tangle around our propeller. We would need some visibility to see ahead and steer around them. Our neighbours on the pontoon have also got up and are ready to leave (they are heading south) so we stand about with them until we each reach a decision. It is the safe decision. We are staying in port. We declare a rest day.

Once having made the decision we feel an immense sense of relief. The pressure to get up and go is off so we go into full lounge-about-the-boat mode, each of us devouring a good novel for the next few hours. Later we go exploring and discover that the mist lingers over the sea but just inland, no further away than Arbroath High Street, the sky is clear and a golden sun beams fiercely down. Maybe someone is trying to tell us something. Our wanderings around town lead us to discover treasure in the form of a Lidl store, a total rarity in the ports we have visited so far. This provides us with some new carpets for our cabin and a new doormat so, inspired by this, we set to and clean the boat inside and out, tidying and completing some of the little jobs I had been putting off whilst at sea.

Day 32 – Faced with a second day in Arbroath listening to the harbour fog siren hooting away – the visibility has not improved – we ponder upon what else we can usefully be doing and I come up with the idea of cleaning Cirrus’ bottom, this having become lightly fouled despite the expensive paint applied back at the beginning of July. Cirrus in Arbroath HarbourIn Arbroath’s outer harbour there is a sandy beach which looks like a good spot so we motor very slowly towards it until our keels bump us gently to a halt. (This entirely intentional manoeuvre is misinterpreted by a local passer-by who asks “Who was driving then?”)

The tide is falling fast so within half an hour I am wading about, brush in hand, in knee-deep water beside the boat. The job doesn’t take long and since I can now reach the drain plug at the bottom of our outdrive leg it seems like a good opportunity to do an oil change. By mid afternoon the returning tide brings rain with it, curiously, so we float off and return to our berth on the inner harbour pontoon.

Our cleaning and tidying activity within Cirrus has revealed a rather disturbing leak of fresh water from one of the pipes feeding the galley sink. What confused us was that we had discovered and repaired a pipe joint leak here some weeks ago but unbeknown to us there was a second leak in a length of copper pipe which runs across the boat from one side to the other. This pipe passes over what we refer to as the ‘nacelle’, the between-the-hulls V-shaped section which is hidden beneath the boat. Inside the boat this shape gives us room we would not otherwise have and gives Cirrus’ hull its terrific strength. The nacelle is hollow, however, and there is no access to the void within it. Our discovery was that the internal leak had drained down into this empty chamber and over time it had filled up with, so we eventually discovered, about a hundred litres of fresh water, water pumped from Cirrus’ own fresh water tanks. Only some mysterious damp spots in our carpets gave us a clue to what was happening (I might add that there is no manual that comes with a boat) and pointed us to the right area to look to start fixing the problem. In order to clear the water from the nacelle a small hole had to be drilled in the internal floor so that a pipe attached to a pump could be inserted. Ten bucketful’s later and the job is done, the boat is lighter and our carpets can start drying.

At least they would if it weren’t for the heavy rain outside, soaking us to the skin every time we venture out.

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2 Responses to Cornwall to Scotland days 31 and 32

  1. Hi Johnny,
    We are currently held up in Peterhead by some strong winds (the blog has yet to catch up) and the plan is to sail for Inverness later this week then passage through the Caledonian Canal. With fair winds we should be back home late August sometime. It is good to be back in Scotland again!

  2. Johnny Durnan

    Your both doing well on your trip.I see you are were i would like to be next weekend,Arbroath Seafood Festival 13th/14th.Lovely fish and chips there and the smokies.Are you coming through the canal or going round the top?Best wishes JD.

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