The journey from Broughty Ferry near Dundee to Stonehaven was 42.5 nm. We left at 4.30am so that we could get to the sandbar eight miles off shore just as the tide was changing, so that we wouldn’t be wind against tide, you see we did learn something after our experience in Blakeney! As it was the weather had settled form a gale force six overnight to literally nothing, so yet again we motored out. We were lucky enough to encounter another pod of dolphins near the mouth of the Tay, we know these were another pod as there were fewer of them and their markings varied from the last group of bottle nosed dolphins we encountered.
The journey took eight and a half hours, the tide was against us, but as it was neaps we weren’t worried, with only .7knot against us at the height of the tidal flow.
If there had been any wind it would have been south easterly, but the weather vane at the top of the mast was swinging round at 360’ for the whole journey. The seas were moderate to rough; and having studied the chart’s carefully we weren’t really sure if we could get safely into Stonehaven, we were concerned that the wind was blowing directly into the harbour. We phoned ahead and spoke to the part time harbour master Jim, who informed us that it was as flat as a pancake in the harbour, and there were two spaces available.
As we rounded a small headland on the approach to Stonehaven we realised that the harbour was completely protected, it was with some relief that the further round we went into the harbour the flatter the sea became.
I shouted up to two men on the quay wall, who helped us alongside by grabbing our ropes and securing us, until Sean could scramble up a ladder and tie us off. I really don’t enjoy rough seas with no wind, and for that matter 4.30am starts!
We had kept in touch with Martin on Tui over the past few days and knew he was moving up to Peterhead today from Arbroath. So we rang him up and suggested he broke his journey and joined us for the night, so within the hour he was tied up beside us again.
As we have come further north we have noticed that the price of harbours and marinas is slowly reducing, on the south coast the cost varied between £25 -30 per night, we are now at £20, or £50 for seven nights in council run harbours. The RTYC didn’t charge for using their buoy .
Stonehaven is a very pretty little town, with an outer and inner harbour, and a long beach, and the towns claim to fame….the place that invented the battered mars bar!
Those that have been following the blog will wonder what we have being doing for the past three days. So here is a quick summary, day one found us walking around Brought ferry and visiting the castle (which was free – will it remain free after independence?), we went into a charity shop, purchased some fabric to create blackout blinds, as it is light for almost twenty hours a day.
In the evening we went into the Royal Tay Yacht Club used their facilities and met with Roddy Matthews who has wanted to upload his Trident Voyager for the past six month, sadly family and location have both been an issue for him, but it was great to spend a few hours in his company, and get to know the face behind the voice.
The following day we caught a couple of buses and went into St Andrews for a day trip. My goodness I am so glad we didn’t try and come into the harbour, its minute full of small fishing and day boats, its so tiny it would have been a nightmare. The town of St Andrews is quite beautiful, it’s a university town, with the university very much blended within the historical town buildings. We saw the beach where ‘Chariots of fire’ was filmed and we ate our packed lunch overlooking the famous golf club! We strolled amongst the ruins of the cathedral, and window shopped amongst all the interesting little shop fronts. The wind was a steady five, which we had anticipated. On the way back on the bus we discussed how we were going to manage getting back onto the boat, as we were on a swing mooring about 100m off shore, and usually with a good wind comes a bit of wave. On arriving back at the shoreline it became immediately apparent that we would be ill advised to make any attempt taking our tender out to the boat, as the waves were crashing right along the river Tay, and the transom of Kantara our yacht was lifting and falling about a metre.
We decided to take a stroll down the riverside to the sailing club and have a chat and possibly a drink; as per usual with sailing clubs we were made very welcome and stayed about an hour, and then thought we should wonder back and re look at the situation. Which was still not looking good, but we thought if we hung on for an hour we would wait for the tide to change and then the wind would be with the tide, and our transom would be on the safe side of tide and wind. Standing around we got chatting to a charming lady walking her dog, who said she had seen us the previous evening in the RTYC, then two gentlemen from the yacht club invited us onto the veranda of the training room to get out of the rain, have a coffee and wait for the tide, which we all did.
An hour later as the boat swung round we decided to make a dash for it, well I can honestly say that was one our most foolish follies to date on this trip, how we weren’t drowned I shall never know, we had difficulty getting off the shore, but were eventually helped by one of the guys in a dry suit, who held us off the shore and out of the waves whilst we started the engine, and then we bounced over and through the waves to the boat in the pouring rain. We latched on and transferred our shopping, bags and selves onto the boat with the utmost of care. Then within the hour the sea state had settled and we sorted out the tender, top tip for another time, give the sea time to settle once the tide has turned!
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