Inverness to Wick Sailing around Britain 2014

Date posted: 2 July 2014

Mike Davis from Looe has flown up to join us for the next ten days whilst we explore the Orkney Islands. We left Inverness for Wick at 7.30am prompt. I was just reversing off the pontoon, when Sean noticed that the end attachment was missing off the hose, so we had a false start and were back where we started within five minutes.

Mike Davis standing in front of the A9 Inverness Bridge, day one with us.

I asked Simon to talk Mike through the safety procedures on the boat, where the flares are stored, which flares we have on board, how to deploy them and in what circumstances, what’s in the grab bag ( a bag we grab if the yacht sinks ), and where the seacocks are. Simon also explained about sending a May Day call, where the first aid box is kept and how to deploy the Dan buoy, in the case of a man over board situation. Our life jackets are all numbered, so Mike was also issued with life jacket number 4, which means that he only has to adjust all the strapping once, we also explained that he would be required to complete a forfeit  if he ever came up on deck not wearing his jacket!


This morning there was not a breath of wind, or a ripple on the water. I took pictures as we left Inverness of the surrounding hills to demonstrate the beauty that was our day.

Calm waters off Inverness



With five on board, we are still rotating our shifts on watch and our galley rat duties, which meant during our 69nm passage today, I was only on watch for three hours. We left at 7.30am and arrived at Wick Marina at 8.45pm. Marian and Simon were galley slaves for the day, so we had porridge for breakfast, bacon sandwiches for lunch and chicken curry and wild rice for dinner. At ten and eleven am the chocolate biscuit box came out, and all Mikes resolve vanished over the side of the boat. At four o’clock the fruit loaf slices covered in butter and vanished with Mikes resolve.

It wasn’t until my second watch that I thought there was enough wind to sail. On engine we were making 6 knots, once the sails were all out our speed reduced to between 4 and 4.5 knots, but we were all happy, excepting that it would just take a couple of extra hours to get there.  We then managed to sail for four hours before the wind died down and we resorted to using the engine again.

Today we saw dolphins playing in the narrows off Inverness, a seal, puffins, guillemots, fulmars, a Skua, and all manner of seagulls, lion and moon jelly fish, cormorants, shags and razorbills.

Still no wind along the East Coast of Scotland


We were hardly over taxed today, the water state was either oily, ripples or wavelets, the mood on the boat was light hearted, as we headed up towards Wick, a real swell developed, Sean and I both observed a number of large waves, and at the same time started waving in a grand manner, which gained puzzled stares from our friends, until we said ‘large waves’…we had groans from our friends.

Mike insisted that he wanted to wash up, so whilst I mixed an Eton mess for desert, Mike started washing up, but within minutes was up on deck feeling queasy. In the past I have been advised to take over the steering, so that I concentrate on the steering rather than the sickness. So I asked Simon to step away from the helm, I took the boat off autohelm and asked Mike to steer for an hour, which he did, and within minutes he was all fine and dandy again.

Entrance to Wick harbour



As we approached Wick, I phoned the harbour master Malcolm and asked where he would like us to go. He asked ‘what’s your draught’, with his accent I had to ask him twice to repeat it, before I got it. Then I said, that I thought he was asking me which beer I liked, he didn’t, he didn’t even chuckle! Meanwhile all those around me were grinning like cheddar cheese.

Simon on the helm entering Wick

Simon took us into the harbour, and as he turned to starboard to go round a pier, he almost hit the wall by overturning the steering wheel. But he did manage to get us onto the pontoon without any further mishaps. Malcom then joined us on the pontoon; we had been told he was the font of all knowledge to do with sailing up to the Orkney Islands. Sure enough he told us what time to leave, where to hug the coast and where to leave the coast to cut across, he wants us to leave two hours earlier than we had anticipated, getting to Duncansby head.

I’m writing the blog and the others have gone for a walk, it’s now 10.10pm and still day light, wonderful.


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