Cornwall to Scotland days 37 to 39
|11/08/2011||Filled under Scotland, weather|
Day 37 – Far, far away from Cirrus, where she hunkers down in the corner of Peterhead marina so that the howling northerly wind sweeps above her decks, lies the toilet and shower block. The journey from boat to shower is an arduous and dangerous one, but nevertheless rewarding in the end. From the first step out from under the shelter of our sprayhood and onto the pontoon, balance is crucial as the wind is trying to gets its way, trying to flick the unwary off the edge and into the water. The journey starts with the rain on your back so you sort of float down the pontoon, an easy stroll, too easy perhaps, to the first corner where a right-angle turn puts the rain on the left cheek and immediately splatters the inside of one glasses’ lens with fine droplets. Blinded in one eye the journey continues and two turns later the rain is on the other cheek, the other lens, so that by the half way point vision is seriously impaired, a dangerous position to be in given that there are four more turns to come with mooring lines to trip the feet and that the wind has become more gusty, catching and pulling at the clothing. Finally the ramp to the shore arrives and providing the shoes don’t slip, beyond this is solid land and the ‘services’ block. The door opens inwards and with the force of the wind behind it the handle can barely be held but being sucked inside here at last is safety and warmth. Force the door closed and all is quiet, time now to pause for breath then to begin removing the layers of dripping clothing so that the warmth of an endless shower can penetrate the bones. This is not the time to dwell on the return journey when the rain will be full on the face, the body leaning against the wind. No, those thoughts are pushed aside for the moment. For later, much later.
Reality is not quite this bad. In any case for our third day here in Peterhead we have some sunshine at last, still with the north-westerly wind but the sun brings warmth and brightness too. We set off walking along the shore, beating into the wind, towards the delights of the town and some shopping, anything to get ourselves away from being cooped up inside. Always heavily reliant on fishing, Peterhead has the appearance of a town in decline, but only on the surface. The port provides important facilities for the oil industry just offshore and the grey stone from which the town is built is misleading and no reflection on the real wealth of the place and the people.
After much searching we manage to find Park Lane and Kate sets off to explore, sure that if she looks hard she will find similarities with the Park Lane in London. The Hilton, perhaps, just behind that blue door.
Day 38 – Rugged and tough though we are when it comes to sailing (not really), Kate and I will not ordinarily put out to sea when it is raining hard and when the forecast promises a day with more of the same. But today we have made an exception partly because we feel we have spent more days than we care to in Peterhead and partly because although continuous rain is forecast, the wind is just about perfect for us to sail around Rattray Head and then west up the Moray Firth. Which is how we come to be berthed in the little village of Whitehills tonight sitting amongst all our dripping waterproofs listening to the rain still pattering against the windows. Our thirty five mile passage we did in record time with the wind behind us all the way so we shouldn’t complain really, but then this also happens to be the one wind direction where we get no shelter from Cirrus’ sprayhood. However even with five and a half hours of heavy rain falling on our backs we still both felt we had done the right thing. It is all a question of mind over matter, telling yourself that were it not for the rain we would enjoy being out on the sea sailing, enjoy the view, the wildlife, etc. We pass Troup Head, a wild looking lump of exposed cliff and even through the rain, cannot believe our eyes. The ledges are lined with equally spaced white blobs – nesting gannets, each one a precise distance from the other, the gap being determined by the distance a gannet can stretch its neck to annoy its neighbour. We love these beautiful birds, so streamlined, so powerful, so elegant.
Day 39 – Working our way step by step westward along the Moray Firth our next stop is Burghead. This is an uncomplicated working harbour now almost deserted but for a mixed assortment of boats lined along its walls. No pontoons here so we tie up to another yacht and let the afternoon sun stream in through the back of the boat. Yes, real warmth at last! The harbourmaster here is very laid back and will do anything for us, it seems, even giving us the key to the ‘executive’ toilet so that we don’t have to use the public one, and he charges us apologetically, far less than any other harbour we have visited to date.
We stopped here in 2009 and right behind us in the harbour is the very same boat, Catriona M, that we photographed in June that year. It is in exactly the same place, so naturally we take another picture. This gives a clue to the pace of change around these parts – but why would you change anything? The place is a hidden gem. It is about as far from the concept of a modern marina as you can get in terms of what facilities it offers but at the same time is is a peaceful haven that lets us come in from the sea and gives us shelter and makes us feel welcome.