We left Lossiemouth heading for Inverness marina at 10am, 22nd June 2014.
We are one day off neaps. I did the passage planning and calculated that the journey of 34nm would take us upward of seven hours, depending on the wind ( I’m always the optimist!). So leaving at 10am would mean that the first two hours tide was against us, but then we would have the tide for the rest of the trip. We needed to ensure that the tide was with us going round Chanonry Point just before Inverness as the tide can flow around this point at 2.6knots.
We came out of the harbour with no problems and encountered a sea with wavelets and only 1 knot of wind! The passage plan was to head north for one mile, turn to our port and skirt round the Halliman Skerries, which are marked with a cardinal and a lighthouse. I was 50 minutes into my hour on watch, when I asked for the main sail to be hauled out. Simon, Marian and Sean, pulled it out, and adjusted the traveller, because the little wind we had was almost on our nose, I felt this might just give us enough of an angle to sail, which it would have, had the tide not been against us and the wind so light!
I think its always good to have a plan B, I had heard Marian mention the community living at Findhorn, which is on our way to Inverness, so as we are under engine anyway, I suggested that we take a slight detour to anchor off Findhorn and go ashore for a couple of hours. So thats where we are heading now.
Off to our starboard side is a rig of some kind, I didn’t realise they were so close to shore in the Moray Firth. We have been told that there are over two hundred rigs in the North Sea, supplying us with gas and oil. Each of these has a stand on vessel, which changes daily, and helicopters that also attend almost daily. You can begin to see why there is some much wealth on this coast, the backup jobs for maintenance and support for the rig industry is massive.
Funny things can happen at sea…and in our case onshore! We made it to Finhorn Bay for about 12.45, and as Sean and I were laying the anchor, Marian and Simon were lowering the tender on the davits. Sean passed Simon the outboard, Marian got the oars and we beached the tender less than ten minutes later. Everyone had strict instructions to be back at the tender for 1.45pm, as I had only allowed an hour for this little detour. So having casually abandoned the tender on the beach, and slung in our life jackets we trundled off up the beach towards the village on the other side of the sand dunes.
We were enjoying our walk round the village until a car pulled up next to Sean, and the agitated older female driver said ‘I had to come to find you, because the tides coming in and your dinghy is going to float off’. Sean thanked her for taking the time to find us. None of us questioned this, but as we were all running towards the beach, Sean leading with the rest of us in hot pursuit, all of us thought ‘how can that be, the tides going out, its not low water for another two hours!’. Sure enough there was the dinghy sat all alone on the beach, well away from the water. Marian went to find Simon and Sean and I just sat down and had a jolly good laugh….bless her! So an hour turned into half a stressful hour! I can tell you that I would like to return to Finhorn Village one day, the village and salt water lake look very tranquil, and reminded me of waterside villages in Devon. We also saw seals on the sand banks, there is a wildlife reserve here, so I think it would be well worth coming back to.
We returned back to the boat without a hitch, turned the key and have continued our journey to Inverness, Simons on the helm now.
We had no problem getting into Inverness, there were plenty of empty berths. Simon took Kantara onto a finger pontoon and Sean hasn’t had to deal with this problem up till now because I’ve always been on the helm, but now the ‘duties’ are being shared, so poor old Sean has to put up with my ‘two penny worth’.
Lets talk about the showers…you will know by now that I have a thing about them! I would like to say that the showers at Chichester still comes in at number 1 ( five star, all time favourite), but we have a new second…Inverness marina, powerful showers, spacious, well decorated, with coat hangers provided, nice tiling, hair dryers and warm. Third place still goes to Banff.
So what have we been doing, day one in Inverness saw us take a circular walk up to the Caledonian canal, along the river Ness, through a fabulous park and back into the centre of Inverness. Day two we hired a car and Sean drove us to the Culloden visitors centre and then to the Loch Ness exhibition by the loch, and now we are in Bournemouth for our sons graduation. We sail again next Tuesday when we head off to Wick and the Orkney’s.
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