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Cornwall to Scotland days 29 and 30

Days 29/30 – The imperative is movement, to travel northwards while the light winds last. We start from Amble and move across the border into Scotland, Eyemouth, then the next day on again to Arbroath. We are motoring mostly, the wind too light for sailing, and there is a haze about which degenerates visibility, sometimes to only a few miles.Kate off Holy Island We slip through a gap in the Farne Islands, between the inner and outer set, where the tide runs strongly, like two boulders placed in a stream between which the current rushes. Kate poses on the foredeck with Lindisfarne Castle just visible on our port side but the sky is just shades of grey, lighter or darker, devoid of colour.

Eyemouth is rather fishy and humid. The harbour seals seem bored as they are teased by tourists for titbits of fish. Although we have visited this place several times before and normally enjoy the atmosphere, today we take to our beds early for in the morning is another early start to catch our tide. By six thirty the next day we are heading away from the land, St Abbs Head lighthouse receding into the low cloud and mist. The day is damp and lifeless and soon there is only sea, no land visible, just us and the birds which swoop in low across the sea, coming close and checking us out.

All is not as it seems, however, as beneath us there is much activity going on. These are deep waters now, sixty metres below our keels. The air is full of gannets from the colony on Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth. They glide across the sea just above the waves, flapping their wings just enough but no more than they need to. Then suddenly we see many of them swirling together just a short distance away from us with countless gulls and other birds too. The gannets are diving one after the other into one patch of sea which tells us there are fish to be had, many of them. But what brings such a shoal to this place? With our binoculars focussed we wait, until sure enough there are black rounded bodies and a sharp fin broaches the surface. Dolphins, we know, round up shoals of fish and drive them to the surface where they are relentlessly captured, but the fin is curved, the backs too large and dark. On reflection we feel certain this is a whale, or maybe more than one, a moment of true excitement for us. The birds, of course, see what is happening and swoop in to participate in the feast if they can. Far from being lifeless, the sea here is full, plentiful life and death is happening unseen beneath us while we plod on to our next safe haven.

Rain comes on and off all day but by three o’clock we are safely berthed in Arbroath, tucked in for the night.

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