9 Aug 2022

Brodick Bay, Isle of Arran and Goatfell.

With the tender and new electric outboard at the ready and after a safe transfer to the slipway,  we were all set for a days walking , aiming to attempt an ascent of Goatfell.  Goatfell is the highest mountain on Arran at 874 metres and is where some of my dear friend Heather's ashes were scattered. It was a glorious day with clear blue skies and temperatures in the low 20's - unusual for Scotland and polar opposite to conditions when we attempted the same walk in 1987 in torrential rain!

As we were anchored on the far side of the bay to Brodick Castle and the starting point for the 'tourist route' up the mountain, we first had to walk 1 1/2 mles along the Fishermans Walk to Cladach.  Largely a boardwalk, the pretty path skirted the golf course and ran along the edge of Brodick bay beach.

The main route up starts by the Arran brewery - but we decided Ice cream was a better option to start the climb! It was approx. 3.5 miles to the summit, initially through Forestry commision woodland, gradually opening out to a rocky and steep path.  Making steady progress, we had a lunch stop by a bridge over a stream with lovely views back across the bay. After a further mile or so we reached the final section which is a less defined path and involves some scambling.  Knowing we had 3 miles to get back down and with my knee beginning to make itself heard, we decided to call it a day. My knee is always worse coming down and with some serious sailing still to be done, a good decision taken.  There was a beautiful patch of multi coloured heather by some boulders so we took some time just to sit and remember Heather and the good times we had together with just a few tears thrown in too. 

A well placed hostelry, The Wineport,  at the bottom of the track provided welcome refreshment, before we returned along the Fisherman's walk to the tender. 8.5 miles walked in total and around 500 metres height gained.

Sadly some of the seams and the back board of the aging tender had parted company whilst we were walking resulting in a slightly hairaising journey back to Ventus and a swift recovery of the outboard engine and shopping whilst Dave slowly got wetter and wetter. Oh dear.......

 

8 Aug 2022

Portavadie to Brodick Bay, Isle of Arran

With preparations  duly made to be able to go ashore when we arrived at Brodick Bay, we set off for the 20 Nm sail southwesterley to Arran.  The weather was stunning, with calm seas and largely blue skies. Little wind to help us on our way, but with sails flying nonetheless, we motor sailed down with the tide at a steady 4 to 5 knots.

The Isle of Arran soon appeared and we enjoyed the dramatic coastline and imposing mountains at its Northern end  on our approach. Brodick Bay has municipal vistor moorings - free of charge on a first come first served basis.  We were lucky to find just 7 buoys taken and selected a mooring close to the town slipway.

Sea trials of our new Electric outboard engine complete, Dave set up his fishing tackle to catch some mackerel for our dinner. The sea was bountiful and Dave was able to select the bigger fish from his endeavours to fillet for a meal this evening.

Meanwhile the sun shone and for the first time on this trip, Rosie was able to sit on the foredeck and enjoy her book in shorts and a T-shirt! 

The imposing Goat Fell dominates the landscape above the bay, where some of the Ashes of my very dear friend Heather are scattered at the summit. We are planning to attempt an ascent (as far as my knee will allow) tomorrow to be with her for a while. 

7 Aug 2022

East Loch Tarbert to Portavadie Marina

A short hop in a easterly direction of just 3 Nm across Loch Fyne completed today in very misty and mizzly conditions. 

Portavadie is a purpose made leisure resort with holiday  accommodation and a marina.

 https://portavadie.com/

A very pleasant couple of hours in the Leisure Spa for Rosie, with heated outdoor infinity pool, outdoor jacuzzi's, an 18 M indoor pool and sauna. A real treat to enjoy a little bit of luxury!

The restaurant provided delicious takeaway Pizza ( another recommendation from the Topsy crew - thank you !) enjoyed after a couple of drinks in the bar.

We are heading to Arran next, and then an anchorage off Sanda, an island south of the Mull of Kintyre before heading over to Northern Ireland. Weather forecast is promising, but communications may be unpredictable so bear with me if the blog is a bit hit and miss this week!

6 Aug 2022

East Loch Tarbet

A land day today to catch up with ourselves after a busy week. 

With passage planning completed for the next few days, we headed off to the village for a wander around the gift shops and picked up our provisions from the trusty Co-op for the next 4 or 5 days. We failed in our attempts to book dinner out - it seems we hit 'rush hour'here too, with a British Cycling 40 mile road race and a 15 team 5 aside tournament dominating the Village and restaurant bookngs for the day! It will have to be Curry a la Co-op instead!

In order to test our legs for the propsed ascent of Goat Fell on Arran later in the week, we embarked on a 9 km walk. Heading up behind Tarbert Castle for amazing views over Loch Fyne and the harbour, we eventually joined the Kintyre way until we passed to Carranbuie and West Loch Tarbet. A bit of a slog back on the road, and it's definitely beer o'clock!

Amusing event of the day came when passing through  quarry works on our walk; having duly read the instructions to follow the pedestian access Rosie decided that the path was too bumpy and uneven for her slightly dodgy knee and as no workmen were about we passed through the works access road  instead only to set off the most loud and startlng alarm system ever, with video footage taken and alerts telling us that the Police were on their way!! Thankfully nobody appeared but lesson learnt to follow instructions in future!

5 Aug 2022

Cairnbaan to East Loch Tarbert, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

A further couple of hours motoring completed our passage through the Crinan Canal descending  4 locks and passing through a couple of swing bridges to exit the canal through the Sea lock at Ardrishaig.  We continued through with Topsy,  and the boys once again did us proud helping with the lines and the lock gates. The final 4 locks were also manned by the Scottish Canals Lock keepers so a much less strenuous affair all round than yesterday.

Once out of the canal we headed south into Loch Fyne for a passage of around 10 miles . Conditions were perfect for sailing, a westerley wind and fairly calm sea state, so up went the sails and off went the engine for a peaceful sail down the Loch to East Loch Tarbert Marina.  As on so many previous occaisions, the wind blew up with a rainy squall shortly before our arrival into port so a quick drop of the sails and don of the sailing jackets whilst avoiding the incoming car ferry caused a last minute stir!

The harbour here is stunning;  it combines the old Historic fishing port, which remains functional, with a large leisure marina. I'd had it on good authority that the showers here were good and was not disappointed!

A double bubble catch up with both Rob by phone, and Katie ( who is now at day 9 of 12 days hotel quarantine in Shangahi) by videocall completed a lovely afternoon.

We joined Andy, Carol and the boys aboard Topsy for delicious Fish and Chips and a sociable evening's chat to round offf the day. Thank you for having us!

A day in Tarbert tomorrow to catch our breath, top up on provisions and have a walk to West Tarbert Loch before continuing with our journey.

4 Aug 2022

Crinan Canal Basin to Cairnbaan, Argyll & Bute

A great experience!  Having had a casual start to the day, and a nice brunch onboard it was suggested by the Lock Keeper at Crinan basin that we might like to go into the canal system through Lock 14 with a yacht which had just entered Cinan Basin from the Sea Lock - what a good suggestion that turned out to be! Unlike the Caledonian Canal, after the initial Sea lock, all the locks are old style and self serviced.  'Topsy' had a crew of 2 adults and 2 delightful 10 year olds, Nick and Ambrose, whose energy and enthusiasm was not only welcome but invaluable!

The locking procedure basically involved

  • Motoring the boat into the lock
  • Lines being thrown and secured on the lock edge
  • The lock gates being manually closed by pushing the long lock gate arms through 90 degrees and long metal pin locked onto a rock to brace it closed
  • Closing the sluice gates using a handle and pin winding system
  • Then moving to the opposite lock gates to wind open the sluice gates on the other side of the lock to allow water to move into the lock, then waiting for the pressure to equalise in order to
  • once again manually open the next lock gates by pushing the lock gate arms through 90 degrees.

This was much more strenuous than it sounds and after throwing lines back to the boat then involved a quick walk or jog ahead by the land crew to the next lock gates before the boats arrived for the procedure to be repeated! Fortunately Topsy and her crew had done all this before and with 4 of us ashore - the kids, Carol and Rosie doing the maual work and with the 2 guys coping with the tricky boat handling with cross winds playing havoc with the steering, we had a good system going! Lock keepers and swing bridge operatives appeared at regular intervals with advice but the manual work was most definitiely left to us!

We got soaked though from squally showers a couple of times which arrived with no warning at all, but generally the sun shone and it was a beautiful day.  

It took 5 hours to travel 4 miles, clear 9 locks - 5 up and 4 down plus passing though 3 swing bridges.  Having arrived at Cairnbaan in the nick of time before canal movements were stopped for the evening, we headed to the pub with our accompanying crew for a well earned drink together.

Sadly there was no room at the Inn for us to have dinner; an early night definitely in order and boy, am I glad I did those Body Pump classes before we set out on this adventure!

 

3 Aug 2022

Dunstaffnage Marina to Crinan Canal basin, Argyll & Bute, Scotland

We took a gamble today with the weather and winds; Dunstaffnage felt like it had us hostage and at some point we needed to make a run for it ! With Westerley winds and a decreasing risk of rain from 80 % to 40 % as we travelled south, we summoned our courage and committed to the passage.

The first challenge was leaving our berth - the 4/5 force wind was blowing us onto the pontoon, so strategic rope work and a quick jump back on board by Rosie meant we were safely away!

The passage was challenging at times, but stunning and exciting in equal measure.  We recorded our fastest ever speed of 9. 4 knots as we hurled through the 'washing machine' in the Sound of Luing, and our slowest coming out of Dunstaffnage Bay at just 2.5 knots. Oban Bay was very busy with ferries and a 27 boat flotilla on its way to the Highland races, the islands were remote and beautiful, the sea extremely varied in it's sea state and finally the entrance to the Crinan Canal surprisingly quick upon us and most welcome.

For the boaties, our passage was

  • Dunstaffnage Bay
  • Oban Bay
  • Kerrera Sound
  • Sound of Insh - between Insh Island and Seil Island
  • Sound of Luing ( passing the Gulf of Corryvreckan and its crazy rip tides and overfalls)
  • Passing between Luing and Lunga isalnds
  • and then Luing and Scarba
  • Before turning east between rocky outcrops between Craignish Point and Garbh Reisa and heading across Loch Craignish directly to Crinan Bay and the Sea lock 15 of the Crinal canal into the Crinan Canal Basin

We are so pleased to have completed this tricky passage today and be well on our way south. We only had one squall of rail to deal with despite seeing rain all around us. ( Kathy - Clive is back from his holidays!)

The Crinan canal basin is so pretty and so tranquil! We have just completed the Crinan Woodland Walk circuit which took us high above the Canal basin with stunning views across the islands we had passed through today. A real sense of achievement. Definitely an evening for a Mermaid Gin!

We are going to enjoy the Crinan canal  at leisure for a couple of days and will pop out to Loch Fyne towards the weekend :)

2 Aug 2022

Dunstaffnage Marina, Argyll

Luckily, the Marina management team agreed that we could stay for an extra 24 hours here as the weather overnight and for most of the day has been shocking! Force 5 winds gusting to 7 rocked the boat through the  night even within the protection of Dunstaffnage Bay.

Not being ones to miss out on local things to do, as the rain cleared this afternoon for a few hours we visited an Oceanographic Centre and a Scottish Castle just a couple of miles away on foot. 

SAMS (The Scottish Asocaition for Marine Science)  which works alongside The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) has its HQ right by Dunstaffnage Castle. We spent a very interesting couple of hours learning about Hydrographics and 3D charts,  plastics in the ocean, Algae and Whales. As divers and sailors, it was fascinating stuff!

Dunstaffnage Castle stands on the headland in full view from the Marina. It appeared to be a tumble down ruin, but it is managed by Historic Scotland and was actually well maintained; whilst being compact there was a lot to see including a chapel in the woods and it gave us an insight into the potentail layout of Castles we have passed on our way down the coast. 

The rain and winds have returned this evening, but the forecast is improving as the week goes on, so we are passage planning and hopefully will get on our way late morning tomorrow. It is the Highland Sailing week and our spot is required for visiting yachtsmen for their Prize giving and social event at the end of the week!

 

1 Aug 2022

Sidcup, Kent to Dunstaffnage Marina, Argyll

So our adventure continues....

With Katie and Joe dispatched to China and already on Day 4 of quarantine, a brief visit home from Rob, visits to Ron and friends, and some essential life maintenance complete, we returned to the boat as planned today.

Starting our journey at 9.10am with a South Eastern train from Sidcup to London Bridge, we continued  on the Northern line tube to Euston, Euston to Glasgow Central on Avanti West Coast trains (via a pit stop in Preston), a walk from Glasgow Central to Buchanan Bus station, a 3 hour coach ride on the 975X from Glasgow to Oban and finally a taxi to the boat via Tesco......we arrived at the Marina around 8.30pm !!  

It was a very smooth and actually quite relaxing journey, all on time and very little waiting for connections.  We listened to an excellent pianist who was being filmed for a Channel 4 production 'The Piano' at Glasgow Central staion, passed through beautiful scenery along Loch Lomond and Loch Awe on the coach  and best of all we jumped off the train at Preston at 12.38 and back on at 12.41 for a hug with my Dad and Sue who came to the station to catch us passing through.

We have arrived to Dunstaffnage looking exactly as we left it - pouring with rain and very grey.  Unfortunately the weather isnt great for the next couple of days so considering our options...watch this space! 

 

23 July 2022

Dallen's Bay, Argyll to Dunstaffnage Marina Argyll.

With only 10 miles to travel this morning, we took the last of the ebbing tide leaving our anchorage by the Isle of Shuna at 7.00am and arriving to Dunstaffnage Marina by 9.15am.  Whilst it was misty, still and calm as we left, rain moved in as we arrived to the Marina not answering their phones or radio! After some discussion, we negotiated a berth for the next week - not easy as it is apparently West Highlands Sailing Week and they are expecting 600 visitors!

Today has been a complete contrast to the last few days; winds blew up this afternoon and torrential rain moved in. So we focused on travel plans, washing and general 'boat keeping' ready for the next stage of summer!

We had sad confirmation yesterday that Katie and Joe have to return to Shanghai a week early on Wednesday, so we are dashing home to spend the last few days with Katie. Travel logistics are not easy from the West Scottish coast, so we have a 3 hour coach ride tomorrow to Glasgow airport in preparation for flight at 6.40am on Monday.  Let's hope Easyjet play ball this time!

We are returning by train on Monday 1st August and will then be living aboard Ventus until the Autumn, completing our UK circumnavigation and spending time around South Devon for the arrival of our grandchild in September. 

Please come back and join us next week :)

 

22 July 2022

Gairlochy, Loch Lochy, Scotland to Dallen's Bay, Argyll, Scotland.

The final leg of our Caledonian passage began at 9.00am as the lock keepers arrived; assisting us through Gairlochy Top Lock and the Gairlochy Swing bridge closely followed by Gairlochy  Bottom Lock. The 'mobile' lock keepers then jumped into their vans to move along the canal path to open the next swing bridge, Moy Bridge, before our convoy of 3 boats arrived! Moy bridge is interesting as it bisects Moy Farm where the farmer still has right of way over the canal.

There is a staffing crisis on the Caledonian Canal, and we heard today that there are going to be limited transits over the next few weeks.  The 'West team' are mobile between locks and the bottle neck which is Fort Augustus is only going to lock for half a day - this will cause chaos and a lot of frustration.  Thank goodness we arrived when we did!

Onwards with our journey was the excitement and challenge of Neptune's' Staircase, a spectacular 7 flight lock system. We arrived at Bannervie at 10.30am, but had to wait for the Lock keepers lunch break again (!) and were given a 1.30pm slot. This was fortuatous really as we wandered along to the lock flight and spent 45 mins with the lock keepers having a Masterclass in lock management! With one exception the Lock keepers have been an amazing bunch; helpful and reassuring as well as ringing ahead to organise the next lock or bridge opening for us.

Once through Neptune's, we just had the final challenges of Corpach Basin locks and the final Sealock. 

We feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to  pass through the canal system in largely dry and calm conditions.  It is an amazing feat of engineering and absolutely stunning scenery.  60 Miles, 29 locks, 11 swing bridges and a summit of 106 feet in Loch Oich - Caledonian Canal complete.

Once out of the Sealock, we entered Lock Eil on the calmest of afternoons and decided to make as much progress Southwesterly as possible. Fort William, Ben Nevis and it's range and the Coran Narrows were breathtaking and the sea was like glass.

An interesting moment 1 hour into the journey saw our depth guage switch from 108 metres to 4.5m...after a few minutes of confusion we realised we were in a submarine manaoevres area and were being passed a few metres beneath us by a moving Sub! A strange feeling!

Seals and dolphins played in near waters as we finished our passage through Loch Linnhe to our anchorage at Dallen's Bay.  Another stunning spot to spend an evening and after a rain shower as we were anchoring, we managed to sit out for a drink before bed.

 

21 July 2022

Fort Augustus, Loch Ness to Gairlochy, Loch Lochy, Scotland.

Wow, the middle section of the Caledonian Canal didn't disappoint today. A very heavy downpour first thing slightly delayed our departure from Fort Augustus, but as it eased we headed for Kytra Lock, the first of the day. Smooth passage here was quickly followed by Cullochy Lock and the swing bridge at Aberchalder before we entered the highest Loch on our journey, Loch Oich.

Loch Oich was much smaller than Loch Ness and very pretty.  A buoyed channel all the way through kept us in deep water and a fairly straight transit.

Next came another swing bridge at Laggan followed by the first 2 descending locks into Loch Lochy. We rafted up to another boat of Scottish 'geezers' by the bridge for 45 mins as the bridge keeper was on his lunch break !! 

 It was a very calm day today, with minimal wind and though we didn't see many rays of sunshine it was a lovely passage of around 8 miles across Lock Lockie to our mooring at Gairlochy for the night. 

Each lock area has toilet and shower facilities for which we were given a key as we entered the Sealock on Monday. It's great to be able to have a hot shower and the boating community are a very friendly bunch! We have learned to chat with locals and lock keepers - some get frustrated by visitors, but generally they are keen to share thier experience and local knowledge;  and are equally interested by our story too!

We are moored beneath the Nevis range and Ben Nevis is a few miles away.  It too seems to have been suffering from the heat as there is only a few small areas of snow visible; climbing that is not on our agenda, but we grounded ourselves with a 4 mile circular walk this afternoon walking parallel to the range of mountains in a wooded area with wonderful pine scents and wild thistles.

Dave excelled with a BBQ for dinner which we have eaten on deck just marvelling at the scenary.

We leave the canal system tomorrow via a flight of 7 descending locks  and are then back to the world of tides and wind direction to begin our journey through the Western Isles of Scotland.

20 July 2022

Urquhart Bay, Loch Ness to Fort Augustus, Loch Ness

Waking up from a peaceful night anchored in the beautiful Urquhart Bay, brought us back to reality with grey skies and Force 3/5 winds once again blowing from the direction we needed to travel !  As we turned out of the protected bay onto the main body of Loch Ness, the wind was so strong we were only making 2.2 knots; Gib sail duly released, we tacked the whole way up to the western end of the Loch and Fort Augustus. 

Fort Augustus is  a bit of a bottle neck as it is the only way through the middle section of the canal via a flight of 5 locks. We were very fortunate that Hal, a boat we had gone through the Muirtown Locks with yesterday was already moored on the transit pontoon and invited us to raft up to them as the pontoons were full. The lock keeper was able to accommodate us, along with Hal and Beyond These Shores II ( another boat we had transited with yesterday), on the last lock in of the day - friends reunited! The skies broke and we spent a sunny 2 hours moving up the flight of locks.

Locking is quite a technique

  • We motor into the lock
  • throw 10 metre lines up to the lock keeper on the top of the wall ( I had a lesson yesterday on effective rope throwing which has been invaluable! It's all to do with the coil...and the loose end!!)
  • Wait for the first lock to fill
  • Rosie steps off the boat onto the wall and takes both bow and stern lines
  • Dave motors the boat slowly into the next lock, whilst Rosie takes the lines, walks up the slope to the next flight and ties off the lines on the cleats.

Sounds easy, but the tourists enjoy watching and there's lots to go wrong!!!  Todays incident was a spontaneous nosebleed for Rosie at Lock 3....bad timing!!

Once settled on a pontoon for the night here, we had a lovely walk around the hamlet that is Fort Augustus and enjoyed a homemade meal at The Bothy Pub by the locks.

Tomorrow we will move on through the canal and Loch Oich, hoping to transit to Laggan in Loch Lockie.

 

19 July 2022

Inverness Marina to Urquhart Bay, Loch Ness

All those tricky days coming up the East coast of the UK were worth the great day we had today entering the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness. It may have been the hottest day on record 'down South', but it was also a hot and sunny day in Inverness and Loch Ness was simply stunning! It felt surreal to be here on Ventus!

The Scottish Canal Lock keepers were amazing and so helpful in our transit through the Clachnaharry Sealock, Works Lock, Muirtown Flight and Dochgarroch Locks.

Having left Inverness Marina around 6.30am, we battled the tide to approach the Sealock at Clachnaharry.  2 locks in, we then approached the 5 lock flight at Muirtown, with 2 bridges and a final loch at Dochgarroch to enter Loch Ness. What a great experience! Dave stayed on the boat and Rosie walked the lines up the fights and chatted to the Lock keepers...getting tips for the onward journey!!

We entered Loch Ness around 11.30am and made our way to the iconic Urquhart Castle and anchored in the sheltered Urquart Bay with a fabulous view of the Castle.

A nap was needed, and subsequently we have had thunder and quite heavy rain in squalls but spent a few hours just sitting on deck.  We have enjoyed the peace and quiet of our anchorage with a few drinks and just one yacht joining us.

 We are here for the night and are hoping to get the tender dingy and outboard in action tomorrow for a visit to Drumnadroichit!...before heading up to Fort Augustus which we are told is extremely busy with hire boats and tourists!  We hope to move along to Loch Oich but watch this space.....

 

 

18 July 2022

Sidcup to Inverness Marina ( via an unscheduled night in Luton!)

Welcome back to the 'we-are-sailing' blog on Ventus.

What an eventful few weeks we have had! 

Having met Katie and Joe at Heathrow on the 20th June 2022, we had a lovely couple of weeks catching up with them including a very special family reunion at the Two Brewers Inn at Chipperfield, Herts. 

Subsequently Covid came to call, disrupting our family holiday and other plans over the next few weeks. Wimbledon and relaxing in the garden saw us through, and all affected are recovered now thankfully!

Katie and Joe are due back to China shortly, but the Chinese regulations are making their return date unclear.  Whilst that picture clears, they are having a City break to Barcelona and we have decided to fly back and spend a week passing through the Caledonian Canal to the West of Scotland. We will return home again briefly in the next couple of weeks for a few days to see them off.

Meanwhile baby Rade is cooking nicely and we are all excited to greet our new family member in September ( Hopefully the winds will blow us smoothly to the SW of England in time - no pressure, but no early arrivals please!!)

To round off a few slightly challenging weeks for several reasons, we also had a disrupted start to this leg of the journey; Easyjet in their wisdom cancelled our flight, once we were at the Departure gate yesterday evening, and so we spent the night at their expense in the Sadie Hotel in Luton City centre.  Previously the Job Centre apparently, the hotel had only been open for 2 weeks and we actually had a very comfortable experience with new fixtures and fittings and excellent AC!

We finally flew at 13.00 today.....just a very short time before Luton Aitrport was closed as the runway had melted!! After the chaos of last night and a super busy airport this morning I can only imagine the carnage there this afternoon.

The boat was in very good order on our return...we are refuelled, provisioned, topped up with water and ready to roll. We are booked on the first transit throught the locks into the canal at 8am tomorrow morning ( Tuesday) so will benefit from a full days sailing on Loch Ness to Urquart Castle.

Hope you will enjoy the next leg of the journey with us...

17 June 2022

Inverness Marina, Scotland

Wow, how the wind has blown today! The marina is absolutely full as nobody is sailing out of choice today and those who arrived in the last few days have stayed put! It's been gusting to force 7 all day...but the sun has shone and I believe that is quite rare here. The Marina manager even told me he'd had enough of the wind for one day!

So, Ventus is now almost ready to leave;  washed down, oil changed, 4 loads of washing done, accessories stored, packing done and just a final last minute list of to do's for the morning.

Taxi booked to the airport and we fly at 11.40am to Luton, Thameslink to London Bridge and train home.  From take off to front door should be less than 4 hours! Crazy to think it's taken 6 weeks to get here!

So signing off for this leg. We will return to the Caledonian canal and the west coast of Scotland in a few weeks...date tbc

Now for the excitement of Katie and Joe's return and some lovely family time with the rest of the family x

Thanks for sharing the adventure.......please come back and join us on the next leg. 

16 June 2022

Inverness to Loch Ness ( by bike!) 

It's been a while (well 6 weeks!) since we were on our bikes, so today we hired a nice pair of Trek bikes from Ticket to Ride, Inverness for the day. The problem was it is a 2 mile walk to get there, so we were already up on the exercise front before we started!

We cycled on a recommended route from Inverness, across the pretty Ness islands and Whin Park to Dores and Dores beach. It was a 19 mile round trip, mainly along NCN 78. The scenery was beautiful and reminded us of the Lake District.  We hadn't quite bargained for the hills, but we largely managed to ride them! We arrived at Dores for lunch at The Dores Inn - a big plate of carbs each to fuel our journey back! A walk along Dores beach itself in search of Nessie was to no avail, before returning to Inverness via the same route.

On arrival back we detoured to see the Caledonian canal and were lucky to watch a yacht attempting the first flight of 4 locks. We will be doing this ourselves in a few weeks, so it was useful to have a tutorial watching from dry land and check out some of the challenges we may find when it's our turn. A visit to the Caledonian Canal office provided further information too.....we are ready!

We maximised the time on our bikes with a trip into the city centre for a few purchases and also a trip to Morrisons for a few last provisions and washing tabs for tomorrow's boat shut down.

2 more sleeps on board...

Miles walked: 5 miles

Miles cycled: > 20 miles!

15 June 2022

Lossiemouth to Inverness Marina, Scotland

WE MADE IT!

After 5 weeks and 5 days we arrived at our most northerly destination and ended the first leg of our adventure :) We are feeling a sense of achievement for 664 Nm sailed in all weathers and against all odds at times!

We were rewarded for our patience with the best sail of the whole trip this morning. Ropes off went ahead at 4am, just before sunrise, but as it is light here for all but 23:00 to 03:00, visibility was good and we left the marina with just under a metre of water beneath us.

The sea was like glass and the wind an extremely gentle breeze - enough to fill the gib, but not enough to affect the sea state.  As we headed west, the dolphins appeared. Oh my goodness, the next hour is etched in our memories forever.  At one point we could see 50 + dolphins playing both near and far. We could see them swimming under the boat to emerge on the other side, bow riding and breaching in groups of 5 and 6. It was simply magical.  They were so close to the boat at times, if I had put my hand over I would have been able to touch them. They stayed with us for about an hour.....what a privilege!

The next 5 hours remained very calm, I even updated my blog as we went along and Dave did some boat 'buffing' ( a family joke)!

As predicted on the charts we hit lots of turbulence and strong tides around Fortrose and Chanonry Point and the crossing through the ever narrowing Moray Firth was increasingly choppy and windy.  We passed under the impressive Kessock Bridge to enter the Marina at the mouth of the River Ness.

So, we are safely berthed in  Inverness Marina and here Ventus will stay for the next few weeks whilst we break our trip to fly home to spend time with Katie and Joe.

This afternoon we had a walk around Inverness, along the banks of the River and enjoyed a celebratory glass of wine at The Waterfront Inn.

 The next section of our journey will see us pass through the Caledonian Canal to the Western Isles of Scotland, then down and crossing to the Eastern Irish Coast to head southbound again (check out a map!)

2 more days in Inverness before we fly,  so we have hired cycles for the day tomorrow and will head off down the banks of The River Ness to Loch Ness in search of Nessy!  I will pop some pics up tomorrow evening.

Thanks for following the blog so far.....sailing tales tbc!

Miles travelled; 37 Nm

Total Distance : 664 Nm

 

14 June 2022

Whitehills to Lossiemouth Marina, Scotland

With the weather finally settling, we made our dash out of Whitehills on the early morning tide. The sail to Lossiemouth was one of the more tedious as once we had passed Cullen it was a long sail across an open and very lumpy Spey bay. 

Having moaned about N and NE winds with wind against tide for the last few weeks, you would think the change to SW would be pleasing ( I know the lovely hot weather it is bringing to the South East is welcome this week!)......however, we are now travelling a W and slightly SW direction to arrive at Inveness so once again we are facing wind over tide and lumpy seas.....grrrrr!

Feeling cold and a bit battered from the journey, an afternoon nap was in order to revive spitrits before exploring Lossiemouth.

Lossiemouth was a delightful town and the second half of the day more than made up for the earlier sail!

The Typhoon jets roared in and out of Lossiemout RAF base with startling speed and agility; they were amazing to watch, though fortunately stopped flying at 7pm! 

The townsfolk are delighted that the East beach is now accessible via a new bridge, and so were we! Miele's Gelato shop provided a delicious icecream to enjoy whilst we walked the length of a sand dune edged expanse of golden sand as once again the weather cleared for the evening. This was followed by a delicious meal in The Salt Cellar - Cullen Skink Risotto for me and Spaghetti de la Mar for Dave; probably the best meal we have had so far!

Relaxed and back at the boat, we looked at the passage plan  and weather  for Inverness...only to realise the best option in next couple of days was a 4am start tomorrow!  Lossiemouth has limited time gate for entry /exit and to make the most of the tide up to Inverness we need to leave before we lose water beneath the boat. So a few hours sleep and we will be on our way on the last passage of this leg of our adventure.

13 June 2022

Cullen to Portknockie circular walk

A final day weatherbound at Whitehills today, so we decided to explore more of the coast. The 35 bus came to the rescue again, although it was eye wateringly expensive!

40 Minutes west along the coast lay Cullen ( of Cullen Skink fame from the other day), a slightly larger community than Whitehills with a stunning sandy bay. A quick bite at the quirky Thyme cafe and we were ready to head off to explore.

Both Cullen and Portknockie are known for their Quartzite rock formations, which indeed were fantastic, including a Whale head and the Bow Fiddle rock. We walked a 5 mile circular route, heading out across the lovely sandy beach before climbing the cliffs at the far end of the bay to see the rock formations. Tracking back through Portknockie and along a disused railway track past the golf course and finally across the viaducts high above Seatown gave a different perspective again.  A very memorable afternoon.

Weather and tides looking good for the morning, so we are planning to set out for our penultimate sail to Lossiemouth.

We have enjoyed Whitehills and it seems they have enjoyed having us too!! When Dave went to settle the harbour bill with Bertie, the harbourmaster- he gave us 5 nights of the price of 4.......he knew we had been in the pub, The Galley and the local shop ( we had felt our presence was being noted by the locals!)...and so because we had supported the local economy it seemed a discount was due!!

Miles walked: 6 miles

12 June 2022

Whitehills Harbour Marina, Banffordshire, Scotland

The winds continued to blow, but having changed direction slightly we found ourselves more steady in the harbour and had a really good sleep last night.

A quiet day today, catching up with friends and family and a few jobs on the boat.

An entertaining Sunday Roast at the local pub, The Seaford Arms....where not only did we infiltrate the bar area to eat, probably sat in the wrong seat and definitely had the wrong accents .....but to Dave's dismay they didn't do any real ale either! Food was delicious though!

Weather due to start to settle tomorrow, so hoping to be able to sail on Tuesday - fingers crossed!

11 June 2022

Whitehills Harbour Marina, Banffordshire, Scotland

As predicted, the winds arrived with force today. A rocky night in the harbour and a blustery day with winds up to 45 miles per hour.

We opted for a day away from the coast, so headed off to Banff on the 35 bus!

We walked to Duff House for an interesting guided tour. There were only 4 of us on the tour and it was a fascinating insight into a house used as a home, a sanatorium, a PoW camp and a hotel. It's now owned by Historic Scotland and the art work supplied by the Scottish National Gallery. 

We walked on through the Duff House Estate to the Bridge of Alvah which spanned the gorge over the River Deveron.....sadly there were no salmon fishermen today, but it was a beautiful spot. We completd a circular walk of 6 miles, ending up with views of and crossing the Banff Bridge.

We returned to the boat to 45 mile an hour winds....so settled down for some catch up TV and a replay of No Time to die...with a dinner of locally caught Downie Langousties and salad...yumm.

Another day in port tomorrow whilst the winds settle, then we will review plans for moving on....

Miles walked: 7.25 miles

10 June 2022

Whitehills Harbour Marina

A much needed rest day today......with a good sleep safely moored to a pontoon in the harbour and a slow start to the day.

Washing done....boat tidied and washed down :) Dave caught up with some outstanding work...and I had a nap!

The weather as per it's usual pattern blew up this afternoon with rain showers and cleared around 5pm to leave a beautiful evening.

We have learnt from our mistakes and booked an early dinner at The Galley Restaurant right by the harbour. It was delicious home cooked food - we had the Cullen Skink, renowned in this area and named after a local town. A kind of Smoked haddock soup......delicious. The restaurant was full by 6.30pm! We are learning.

We walked off dinner with a tour of the village, with beautiful views back across the bay to the harbour, and also encountered a very vocal Oyster catcher on the beach.

Day trippping to the local town Banff tomorrow.

 

9 June 2022

Peterhead to Whitehills Harbour Marina, Banffshire, Scotland

Well, the last 3 days have certainly brought us a variety of tide/ wind scenarios but we have made it to Whitehills - Google it - it's a long way north! Apologies for lack of blog updates - I actually wrote 2 last night but the signal connections was too weak in Peterhead to upload and all was lost :(   

Look back tonight and you will see the backlog of blogs and photos updated!

So, the decision to move on was largely a good one.  We set sail in very calm conditions but finished in the remains of the swell and winds from a gale in North Shetland 2 days ago!!

The passing scenery was beautiful again, and we saw the infamous sailing points of Rattray Head Lighthouse, Fraserburgh etc,. The cloud formations were stunning and we are clearly on the edge of a weather front here.  Winds were SE today, so the first 4 hours were wonderfulwith wind and tide on our side, before we turned west to enter the Moray Firth and had cross tide Force 4/5 winds against rolling waves from the storm - very rocky!  The gib had worked well until the winds gained momentum, after which we chose a safer motor sail into port.

The headlands at Troup Head were spectacular - I'm not sure if you can see the birds in the photo but they were swooping off the headland in their thousands.

A feature of this trip has been lobster pots and buoys...Dave has spent hours dodging the minefield of markers, which disappear in high seas.  Today was another day of 'spot the pot'...aided and abetted by a fishing boat who thought it was a good idea to sail alongside us!

The harbournmaster at Whitehills is at a wedding today (think Local Hero if you are old enough) and his replacement didn't know how to operate a radio or mobile phone !  The entry to the harbour was complicated and when the harbour master replacement eventually answered his phone ( after we had chosen an inappropriate berth of course!) we had to move again but are now settled in the inner harbour, and very protected from the strong winds forecast over the weekend. 

We will have a few days rest here...some sleep and explore this pretty coastline on foot until the winds have passed. We have 2 more sails to reach Inverness by next Friday, where we will pause our journey for a few weeks as we head home because......

Our exciting news of the day is that Katie has received her passport and visa and so it looks like she will be able to come home on 20th June - we can't wait to see her!

Miles travelled: 37 NM

Total Travelled:  603 Nm

8 June 2022

Stonehaven harbour to Peterhead Harbour Marina, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

After a rocky night against the Harbour wall in Stonehaven, we headed north again to Peterhead.

Once again we were greeted by a pod of 6-8 dolphins riding the waves with us.  If you have ever tried to get a photo of dolphins you will appreciate the frustration of my only snap below!  In the end we stayed in the moment and enjoyed watching them breach in 2's and 3's.

What a difference a day makes - no sunshine, just grey, damp conditions - it was a 5 layers and hat sort of day!.....but wind was light and with no wind against tide to contend with we made good progress at 5 Knots+ all day up to Peterhead.  The coastline sported lots of really interesting geographical features of interest e.g. stacks, caves etc and was pretty with green slopes and sandstone cliffs.

Peterhead Harbour control are responsible for movements into the harbour...As the rain came down, the harbourmaster in his wisdom decided we needed to wait until a Supply Vessel 2 Km off shore with a pilot boat supporting had entered first....40 minutes later we were soaked, cold and a bit grumpy as we were given the all clear to enter!

Peterhead was a big disappointment.  We had thought we would stay here to weather the high winds, but the outer harbur was extremely commercial and the marina tucked into the back corner whilst protected, was overlooked by the Offshore supply vessels and their loading equipment. The other key feature of the town is an enormous high security prison!

We asked for recommendations for somewhere to eat...oh dear ...an 8pm closing again and we missed the 7.30pm deadline for last orders.  Those of you who know us will appreciate the McD option was not a popular one, especially with Dave...but needs must!  It was a 40 minute walk from the marina too....definitely time to move on!

We returned to the boat as the sun was setting - and the most glorious colours and reflections on the water. Perhaps that is the memory we should keep of Peterhead!

A quick review of the weather looks like we are able to move on tomorrow....so a very fleeting visit here

Miles travelled today: 39 Nm

Total : 566 Nm

7 June 2022

Arbroath Harbour, to Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

A day of mixed blessings - the sun shone and the sky was soooo blue......BUT the waves were enormous and we rolled and rocked for 9 hours to arrive at Stonehaven. A Force 3 NE wind over against tide made for a very uncomfortable ride indeed, and we only managed around 3.5 knots on average as the 3 metre North sea waves buffeted us.

The entrance to the harbour was hidden behind Dunottar Castle and Head; but as we turned the corner, we were met with dolphins bow riding - a wonderful end to a tricky day's sail.

Today was the first day I couldn't wait to get off the boat...Not because of sea sickness but just the need to be grounded again!

We were instructed to moor against the North harbour wall - so another mathmatic discusssion ensued, to be sure lengths of mooring lines were right and we didn't end up hanging in mid air at low tide in the middle of the night!

Stonehaven was a big surprise - as we left the harbour, the bay opened up and with it's boardwalk and sculptures, it was a lovely place to be. Lots of people enjoying the early evening sunshine and especially a gem of a find, Aunt Betty's Icecream parlour. A great concept and our blood sugar levels lifted with the icecream and sweeties atop!

The wall was quite challenging as we bounced on and off with the tide, so it was unfortunately a one night stop over.  We will return to Stonehaven if we ever find ourselves so far north in the future.

Miles travelled: 31 Nm

Total distance: 527 Nm

6 June 2022

Arbroath Harbour, Angus, Scotland

Hit a bit of a wall today after 4 1/2 weeks of being constantly on the go, so we have had a quiet day resting up before the next leg northwards to Stonehaven tomorrow.

Stretched our legs early evening and found Arbroath Abbey - closed due to dangerous masonry, but spectacular and very intact for a 12th Century Abbey built in beautiful red sandstone.

A few thoughts about Scotland though....

- not sure they realised it was the Queen's Platinum Jubilee over the past few days.....very little in the way of decorations or events (even in Edinburgh).  Clearly not a Royalist part of the nation!

- Nothing is open on a Monday (other than supermarkets!)

- 'Sunday opening hours' don't exist .....so Supermarkets are open until late everyday

- otherwise everything closes by 8pm whatever the day!

- it is light sooooo late -see the photo below taken at 10.30pm this evening

- there is a fish and chip shop on every road!

- it is windy and grey all day with weather settling around 7pm to leave clear blue skies 

5 June 2022

Dunbar Harbour to Arbroath Harbour, Angus, Scotland

After a very light sleep due to nesting Kittiwakes above the boat ( look carefully at the photo from yesterday!) and Fishermen leaving the harbour at 3.30 am, we set sail just after 7am for an 8 hour passage today; crossing the Firth of Forth, passing the Isle of May and sailing across St Andrew's Bay. It was just 8 degreees as we left and super chilly on the water, we both had 4 layers, plus jackets and over trousers and I even wore a hat!

Thankfully, the sea state was largely calm, with just come choppiness as the tides diverted mid channel.  As we sailed northwards, the skies cleared and we arrived to Arbroath in beautiful sunshine, discarding layers as quickly as we could!  The harbour master informed us we were very lucky as it is rarely nice like this here! Seals, puffins, auks and a couple of dolphins accompanied us on our journey today....then it was the usual minefield of lobster and crab pots to negotiate as we entered the harbour.

Following a quick trip to Morrisons ( I could have been in Sidcup) and agg with the laundry ( these things still have to be done), we managed a nice Facetime with Rob and Jade and a BBQ steak on the Cobb BBQ!  The boat is currently like Mrs Wong's laundry trying to dry off the bedding so we can retire!

Not sure on our moves for tomorrow yet; we know there's some bad weather coming at the end of the week so trying to work out where we would like to be at that point as we are likely to be port bound for a few days. That said, a rest day in port would be welcome.....watch this space!

Miles sailed: 34 Nm

4 June 2022

A day out in Edinburgh

Dunbar was very well placed for us to take a 25 min train ride into central Edinburgh for a 'grand day out'.

The day started with us meeting Leona, Tom, Hannah, Dale and Chris for brunch at Victor Hugo Deli on George Street. We thoroughly enjoyed their company and a bit of 'home' - thanks again for slightly delaying your day to meet up with us!

A whistle stop tour of Edinburgh followed, with a walk up to the Castle, back down the Royal Mile including the impressive St Giles Cathedral, into Princes Gardens to see the Jubilee flower clock and a whizz around the Scottish National gallery, with a delicious icecream thrown in. The skies were clear and blue, and the sun shone making the city look particulalry beautiful.

The Royal Yacht Brittania was on the afternoon agenda. A visit here had been on my wish list for the trip and it didn't disappoint. It is an amazing ship and the self guided tour displayed it in its original state, from the state rooms down to the boiler room.  It felt like a much loved ship and was very much a home from home for the Royal family. We enjoyed a cream scone and cup of Earl Grey on the Aft deck in the tea room looking out aross the Firth of Forth.  A very memorable visit. 

A quick Aperol Spritz and a glass of Red wine in the Festival park in the sunshine before we jumped on the ( delayed by an hour) train back to the boat rounded off a great day.

We will be pleased to leave this slightly uncomfortable mooring against the harbour wall tomorrow and are heading up to Arbroath. Conditions look slightly better so fingers crossed for a better passage than yesterday.

3 June 2022

Holy Island ( Lindisfarne) to Dunbar Harbour, Scotland!

Once again today, the forecasters got it wrong :(   

We had Force 4/5 North Easterly wind over or cross tide for the entire 36 mile journey today which made for an unpleasant day's sailing ( we were promised a Force 2/3 SE...this makes a big difference believe me!)

Four layers back on,  we had rain threatening most of the way until we were 8 miles from Dunbar when the sun came out to greet us.

We caught the tide heading northwards and passed the England/Scotland border just north of Berwick - upon - Tweed. Scottish courtesy flag flying, we contemplated how far we had come and how strange time is as a concept, when you are only living in the moment and planning a couple of days at a time.

Despite having read up on navigation to enter the harbour at Dunbar, it was the most challenging entry yet, and Dave did really well to maintain a course through the  narrow rocky entrance.  A warm greeting awaited us from the harbour mistress ( is that a word?) and her assistant to take our lines. This is another first for us, as we are moored to a harbour wall and have vertical steps to climb up to the harbour itself!  Unfortunately the Yacht Club is having a refurb...so the next challenge was a quick dash to the nearby leisure centre for a shower before they closed!!!

All this effort will be worth it as tomorrow we have a train ride and  brunch date in Edinburgh with friends, and are then booked to go on the Royal Yacht Brittania - something I've wanted to do for a long time and feels very appropriate this weekend.

We are about to go for a walk around Dunbar, but as photos are not currently loading, I will add those in the next few days when I can.  It's a pretty Scottish fishing community; apparenty the fishing fleet go at 4am.....joy!

2 June 2022

Amble Marina to Holy Island, Northumberland ( Lindisfarne)

Apologies for delay in updating this one, we were anchored in the bay at Lindisfarne last night with minimal signal and certainly no Wifi from our Dongle!

We had a wonderful sail up in sunshine from Amble. The sea was like glass as we left the marina, and with only 2 layers on ( we usually have 4!) it began to feel like a holiday! Some reminiscing when we past Seahouses ( an old Diving haunt) and wonderful to pass up Inner sound past the Farne Islands.

We were greeted at Lindisfarne by seals all around us and lots more amusing puffins! Puffins are very skittish birds and dive as soon as we get anywhere near to them but are great to watch..  The seals just lumbar about and pop up intermittently to check us out.

We had planned a BBQ in the sunshine, but the clouds rolled in so whilst it was cooked on deck on our Cobb BBQ, it was eaten down below; not before we had toasted the Queen with a lovely bottle of sparkling wine bought for us by our friend Kathy from Buckingham Palace - thank you...the moment was much enjoyed.

Optomistically assuming the Northumberland population would be beacon lighting, I kept vigil at 9.45pm.....but a measly showing of one beacon on mainland was all I could spot!  

Happy Platinum Jubilee your Majesty!

1 June 2022

Amble Marina, Northumberland

Amble has lived up to its name as 'the friendliest port' , with helpful marina staff and friendly locals

On our rest day, it was great to catch up with long calls to both Rob and Katie and I also managed a brief videocall with my Rockie friends this evening. We remain hopeful that Katie and Joe will be home on 20th June......with everything crossed for succesful Visa updates in the next week.

After an unsuccesful attempt to eat dinner out last night, we opted for a late lunch time slot today instead, and enjoyed delicious local seafood at The Old Boathouse with views up and down the River Coquet Estuary.

Boat re- provisioned and fuelled, the evening skies cleared and we walked 8 or 9 miles around the Amble area. Initially following the river to Warkworth Castle and then inland, with views out to sea and finishing on the Coast path at Hauxley as the sun went down. It was a beautiful sunset with red skies at night, so hoping for another settled day tomorrow.

Tomorrow sees us heading up to Holy Island ( Lindisfarne) and sleeping on an anchorage rather than in a marina.  It's a relatively short passage of around 20 miles. We are hoping to see some beacons light up the coast for the Platinum Jubilee tomorrow evening.

Total miles walked:  11.1 miles   ( no wonder my legs are aching!)

31 May 2022

Hartlepool Marina to Amble Marina, Northumberland

Good fortune finally came our way with the weather Gods seeming to be on our side today (or maybe Kathy and Bernie have been busy with their candles!) We left Hartlepool marina at 6.30am with 4 layers of clothes on each and could see our breath in the air! However, as we approached open sea, the sea was glassy and like a mill pond . Winds were light and we had sunshine all the way.....it was like being in the Mediterranean for a little while and we gradually dropped layers as we warmed up.

The strange thing was that looking back to land, it was clearly raining and indeed the Marina receptionist told us it had been 'double speed' wiper raining earlier here! It was as if there was a line about 1/2 a mile from land which delinated sunny and rainy weather fronts and for once we were on the right side of it!

After 25 days, I managed my first G&T on the deck when we arrived as the sun was still shining :)

The passage was fascinating.....Sunderland, South Shields, the entry to the River Tyne and North Shields gave way to sandy beaches as we moved to Northumberland. On our approach to Amble, we passed close to Coquet Island where Puffins breed.  There were clusters of Puffins sitting on the sea and a few seals peeking out of the water to watch us pass by. 

Amble is a pretty little town, with independent shops but our attempt to eat out failed miserably and we ended up with Fish and Chips! There is the first of the Northumberland Castles just a mile up river, which we will go to explore tomorrow. 

Miles travelled: 45 Nm

 

30 May 2022

Scarborough Harbour to Hartlepool Marina

Despite extensive research, conditions today did not match the predicted!! The wind came from every direction possible through the day and the waves rolled in from the North Sea, We managed to dodge huge cloud bursts which we could see on land and on sea right until we arrived at the Marina.

Highlight of the day was 2 seperate sightings of dolphins and lots more Gannets and Auks skimming the waves. It was also interesting to see Whitby from the sea. The Coast line was otherwise cliff lined, with little else to remark on.

Once berthed, the rain has been heavy for the evening, so other than a stretch of legs around the marina, we haven't ventured further.  It is a very industrial area and other than a potential walk to Seaton ( where the Canoe guy faked his death), there isnt much more to explore. 

We are going to take advantage of calm ( ?!?!?) conditions predicted tomorrow and do another big jump up to Amble in Northumberland to make up for lost time, with a rest day again on Wednesday.

Miles sailed: 41 Nm

29 May 2022

A weekend away!

Thoroughly enjoyed our trip to South Shields to visit the Allcoat family for the weekend! Living so far apart makes it difficult to spend time together, so most definitely a couple of days well spent! Dinner out on Saturday night at Blue Bistro and a home cooked Sunday lunch were both delicious. Great to see the Dolan family too this morning....thank you all for taking the time out to see us!

Journied on the train via York to Newcastle and then Metro to South Shields. Northern Eastern Rail cancelled our scheduled train for the last leg of our journey back so we had the bonus of an enjoyable hour doing a walking tour of York Minster, the Shambles and River Ouse whilst we waited for the next train.

Back in Scarborough now and finally the sea has turned to glass again!  Wind swinging round and calming, so we are good to go in the morning on the 6am tide :) 

 

27 May 2022

& still in Scarborough!

Day 4 in Scarbrough. We had been hoping to sail on tomorrow but following discussions with the Harbourmaster/ Watch keeper, he concurred that it would be foolish as wind over tide is still very much prevalent and seas are forecast rough as the day progresses.  He felt we would probably have to retrace our steps if we attempted a passage.

The winds are due to turn from the south on Monday, so we will make our escape then!

We had another chilled day today, culminationg with a 5 mile walk of both North and South bays, St Mary's Churchyard to visit Anne Bronte's grave,  Peasholm Park (interesting for it's oriental syling) and a trip to the Cinema to see Top Gun Maverick . The  Cinema was a relic from the 60's including curtain, red veleveteen flip up seats and an usher with ice creams. We both enjoyed the film which with a nod to the original also had some great flight scenes and to be fair the digital projection and sound was as good any newer cinema.

So, never one to miss an opportunity, we are going to have a night away from the boat tomorrow and catch the train to Newcastle via York to see my eldest Goddaughter, Rachel and her family for the weekend in South Shields; with overnight stay and Sunday lunch thrown in! It will be lovely to spend some time together.

No blog tomorrow .....see you Sunday night!

PS. Congratulations to the new Mr and Mrs Ficken! Hope you had a wonderful day x

26 May 2022

Still in Scarborough!

Wind and tide continue to be against us. We are facing a 50 mile journey in a wind over tide situation ( that means a very hard and bumpy sail for those who don't know!).....and these strong winds aren't abating, it blew Force 6's for most of today! There seems to be a weather pattern of strong winds and rain through the day and then beautiful sunny evenings which whilst lovely, are not much use for our travels. We are trying not to get frustrated and just enjoy exploring a part of the world we don't know very well.

The day disappeared in life admin, Dave doing some work, food shopping and washing!....but I did finally start a knitting project for baby Rade ( Rob and Jade's baby!)

Once the rain and wind settled late afternoon, we took a long walk around the North bay......stunning views across towards Robin Hood's Bay. I also found an excellent Blue lagoon.....!

Hoping we might be able to move on on Saturday...so may go to York for the day tomorrow on the train. We will see how the morning takes us....

Miles walked: 5 Miles

25 May 2022

A day out in North Yorkshire!

Following a vague suggestion from the harbour master, we took the opportunity for a day away from the boat today.

We awoke to Force 7 winds battering the boat and rocking us significantly even in the harbour. Thankfully we are securely moored to a finger pontoon and today was certainly not a day to be sailing.  We could see white horses on the waves for miles out to sea!

The X28 bus took us from Scarborough to the pretty market town of Pickering. Great views across the moors from the top deck as we came out of Scarborough. 

Botham's tea rooms provided quick refreshments before we boarded the 12pm North Yorkshire Moors Steam railway for the 1hr 45 mins journey between Pickering and Whitby.  The carriages were from bygone days and the picture windows and slow pace gave us every chance to see the N Yorks moors. We also stopped at Goathland ( Aidensfield for any Heartbeat fans)

Whitby was delightful and we walked it to the full including the west pier, the harbour, the 199 steps, St Mary's Church and Whitby Abbey. We also learnt about Jet jewellry which was very interesting. Fish and Chips at the renowned Magpie cafe and then a ride home on the X93 bus via Robin Hood's Bay.

Still waiting for these unseasonal conditions to settle  :( so will be here tomorrow at least...hoping for a weather window Fri/ Sat to move on up to Hartlepool.

Miles walked : 8 miles

24 May 2022

Scarborough, North Yorkshire

A very mixed day of sunshine and torrential downpours. The wind has really blown up this evening, with the tide and wind both on the stern it is going to be a rocky night!

Not sure where today went.....Started the day getting to grips with another washing machine! Then a walk into town and a bit of shopping - this is the first proper town we have visitied with High Street shops. A birthday voucher spent on a few treats ( thanks Lynette) and dinner purchased from M&S food :)

I took the opportunity for 2 video calls with 2 very good friends whilst in harbour, whilst Dave chatted to the Harbourmaster and other sailors in the port to share thoughts on forward passages.

Weather forecast is shocking for the next couple of days so battening down the hatches and staying put here. We are going for a day out in Yorkshire tomorrow!

 

 

23 May 2022

Bridlington to Scarborough, North Yorkshire

The day started with a good omen as Dave was splatted by a seagull as we left Bridlington Harbour! We made a dash for it just after High Water before the Bridlington Fishing fleet returned as that is like being on the M25 at rush hour!

We were both feeling quite nervous after the engine difficulties on our last passage, but Ventus came up trumps once again. Conditions were calm and settled so we motor sailed to give the engine a good run to restore our confidence. This allowed us a slow meander around Flamborough Head which was an ornithologists dream with Gannets, Auks and Puffins all around us. They were a sight to behold ( but difficult to capture on camera!)

We arrived at Scarborough quicker than intended, and Chris the very helpful watchkeeper literally shouted instructions from the harbour wall to allow us entry on low water;  1.8 metres of water with a 1.2 metres draft boat!! We are now settled in a berth well sheltered below Scarborough Castle.

A walk right around the bay to stretch legs and ground us before dinner on board; Scarborough is a grand old fashioned seaside resort for sure.  The walk back across the beach just the thing before settling for the night

There are some very strong winds coming through with squalls over the next couple of days, so we plan to stay here for a few nights. The next hop is a big one again and we also need the tides to move on a little to give us a 10 hour window for the journey.  

 

 

 

22 May 2022

Bridlington - Day trip to Beverley

Travelled to Beverley on a super smooth and modern Northern train to meet our friends Bernie, Steve and Jess for the day. 

Sunday lunch in The Tiger Inn was appreciated by all.

An interesting visit to the stunning Beverley Minster followed, with it's intricate carving, Flying Butresses  (thanks Steve!) and history going back to the 700's .

An incident involving the purchase of a soap dish caused great amusement - but perhaps you had to be there!

 We walked on through the town and out for a walk around Westwood Common with it's vast swathes of buttercups...a real sea of yellow.

A final drink in the Market square was enjoyed before heading our separate ways.....thanks to the Oakes for taking the time to come over to meet us!

Sea bound tomorrow with everything crossed for a smooth passage to Scarborough.

Miles walked: 7 Miles

 

 

21 May 2022

Bridlington, East Yorkshire

Further engine testing today and so far, so good.  No longer losing coolant and water pumping through the engine nicely.  Engine tested for 2 hours this morning so looking like we are good to go again.

We spent over 2 hours mulling passage planning this morning as there are some strong winds forecast along the East coast this next week. We will move up to Scarborough on Monday in settled conditions and light winds to ensure smooth passage and to grow engine confidence again! We may be port bound again, but this very unsettled weather is fickle...we will have to wait and see how the week develops.

 A lovely walk this afternoon. Having caught the No. 14 bus from the town centre to Flambrough with a top deck view of the kites, we walked on a couple of miles to Flambrough head with it's new and old lighthouses. Light refreshments duly taken in the form of tea and cake (!), we then walked the coast path back to Bridlington. Stunning views and a lot of steps!  By the time we returned to the boat we had walked over 10 miles.....I think that's a record for us!

Tomorrow we are getting the train to Beverley to meet up with our lovely friends, Steve, Bernie and Jess for Sunday lunch.  They are kindly crossing the penninies from Cheshire to see us for the day :)

Final entry for the day is a huge Happy Birthday to our wonderful daughter - in law Jade - 30 today! Hope you've had a fab day!

Miles walked: 10.5 miles

 

20 May 2022

Bridlington, East Yorkshire

Yesterday brought engine issues which is why we had to  divert to Bridlington.  We hadn't intended visiting here, as the harbour dries out to soft mud ( see photos below) and we have never trialled our fin keel in mud before. Thankfully an overnight very low spring tide didn't move the boat and she settled very nicely into the mud. Tides today have meant we haven't been able to run the engine as Ventus has sat in mud for most of the day; but as I type the tide has come back in and the engine tests begin.  We have been in touch with an engineer, Jimmy,  who we are hoping will pop along in person to add further advice to the helpful telephone advice he gave this morning.  We need to understand why the engine overheated and we lost coolant yesterday before we set sail to sea again.

The local harbour community has been extremely helpful, including the harbour master personally checking in with us to see if we need anything and offering help and advice. A real warm welcome!

Bridlington has been a very pleasant surprise.  Unlike other seaside places we have visited so far, it appears to be a thriving community driven by the largest shellfish (lobster and crab) fishing industry in the UK. The beaches are manicured and everywhere appears well kept.  We had a delicious and well needed lunch in Pier 6 by the harbour, the obligatory trip to top up on supplies, and once the rain had passed through we have had a delightful walk along the South beach for a few miles this evening.

There is a famous Kite festival on the nearby Sewerby cliffs this weekend which will be a great sight to see, and we are planning to catch a bus to Flamborough Lighthouse and then walk the 6 - 7 miles back along the cliff tops to see the Seabirds for which this area is famous.

We will wait here again tomorrow for further engine tests etc as we don't want to take any risks with the engine at sea.

Miles walked : 5.5 Miles

Total distance sailed: 294 Nm

19 May 2022

Grimsby to Bridlington Harbour

Short post this evening as no shore power.

Long day, but safely in the busy fishing harbour of Bridlington for the night.

Distance travelled: 52 Nm

18 May 2022

Fish Dock Island, Grimsby

Rest day in Grimsby today.  

Dave spent the morning repairing our VHF radio, the  deck gland had disintegrated- sounds painful, but basically meant the signal wasn't getting though!  He also replaced the Main halyard ( which was also not functioning smoothly!)

This afternoon we decided to go for  walk. Mmmmm......Grimsby (and Cleethorpes) lives up to its name.  In an effort to find the coast path, we ended up within the small town that is Young's Sea food HQ. What a huge operation that is! Eventually we negotiated our way to the sea wall and continued to Cleethorpes as far as the pier. We had intended getting the train back to Grimsby but as it was cancelled at the last minute the bus did the job instead. That too was a bit of an eye opener! Unlike Wells, we will not be rushing to return here. The local sailing folk here have been extremely friendly and helpful, but it really is a mixed bag of a town.

An interesting fact about Grimsby is that is is famous for smoked haddock. There are lots of smoking houses around and a general fishy aroma in the air.

Sea bound again tomorrow. Very good forecast, so hoping to do another big jump up to Scarborough for a few days.

Distance walked: 7 miles

17 May 2022

Wells next the Sea to Grimsby

Another long passage today, but what different conditions! 

We set off from Wells Town Quay at 7.45am just before HW slack to catch the tide out.  It runs at 6 knots through the channel so you need to get your timing right! The weather was glorious and as we set sail, it really felt like we were in the Mediterranean.  An easy and quick crossing of the Wells sand bar and we were in open sea across the Wash!  There are a LOT of  wind farms out there.... and a LOT of open sea!!

After a slow start, we picked up speed with the northern flow of the tide and, with both sails up, we motor sailed getting up to 7 knots for a few hours to clear some miles.

The approach to the Humber was very choppy as tides clashed, so we dropped the main sail and rode in on the gib and an incoming tide, again making 7 knots easily. The shipping was very imposing and we had a slightly close shave with one vessel - the pilot requiesting we make quick passage out of his way!!

Unfortunaly we realised our VHF cabling by the mast had been pulled out in rough seas over the last few days - so we had limited Radio capacity - thank goodnesss the Hand held VHF unit was with us and charged for such an event and saw us safely into Fish Dock Island Marina, Grimsby for the night.

A friendly greeting and 2 pints for £4.20 ...plus the nicest shower has made Grimsby anything but grim on arrival!

We will stay here for 2 nights as having done 2 x 50 miles plus passages in 3 days, we are ready for a rest day tomorrow ......next task trip advisor for what to do in Grimsby!

Thanks to all who have messaged with recommendations...so far we have had gin, sea food, museum and walking routes suggestions!  If anybody has any ideas of things to do whilst we are on passage, do contact us either via Whats App or the email address on the contact page!

Distance travelled: 57 Nm

Time: 10  hrs 15 mins

16 May 2022

Wells next the Sea, Norfolk

Following our very long and tricky day yesterday we spent a sunny day in Wells today. In order to move the boat up to the Town Quay, we needed to catch the early morning tide, so at 6.30am we were up again and negotiating the channel up river from the Outer Harbour. It was a much easier passage in the day light and calm conditions for sure!

The Town Quay is well served with a floating barge with showers and washing facilities.  As we were moored directly beside it , I took the opportunity to do some washing ...so we have nice clean sheets tonight!

We treated ourselves to a lovely, early breakfast at Bang in Wells, before retreating back to the boat for a few hours sleep.

A few more chores, filling, charging and walking into the town for food provisions filled most of the afternoon, before we took a long walk to the beach and were treated to a beautiful sunset.

We had intended staying here for a few days, but we have another long leg to complete and tomorrow looks like a better day than Wednesday so have decided to go for the passage tomorrow and move up to Grimsby! We are making up time from the extended stay in Southwold.

It's really lovely here, with the beautiful beaches and quaint surroundings - we will return next year for a few days to properly explore the area. Sue and Tony we understand now!

One point of interest today, there is a sculpture of a horse on the sands by the quay.  At low tide it is completely visible but at high tide is completely covered.  It is a testament to the horses which used to pull the lifeboat to the coast in bygone days!  You will see from the photos the difference in the landscape between high and low tide and why access is only HW +/- 2 hours.

Distance walked: 6.8 miles

 

 

15 May 2022

Great Yarmouth to Wells next the Sea, Norfolk

Long sail...short blog!

After a slightly hair raising passage, we are safely in Wells next the Sea for the a couple of days.  Currently moored in the outer harbour which we entered in the dark and rainy conditions and with just 40 cm of water depth to spare .....plus a force 4 gusting 6 wind blowing!  Not an experience to be repeated in a hurry :(

Will update with photos tomorrow ....now to bed.

PS Thanks Dad for giving me Bishop Rock trip experience as training for today!

Distance sailed: 53 Nm

Time 11 Hours

 

14 May 2022

Southwold Harbour to Town Hall Quay, Great Yarmouth

Finally the wind dropped and we exited the Southwold harbour on a glorious sunny morning.  Winds were light and finally we were able raise the sails and turn off the engine as we passed northward with a steady sail up the coast from Suffolk into Norfolk. All was relatively smooth, until we hit the turbulent entrance to the River Yare where the confluence of tides was like being in a washing machine! A motor upriver to the Town Hall Quay took us along industrial banks and past Wind farm support services.

Our mooring for the night was booked to be along the harbour wall, which on closer inspection looked rather tricky.....with tide turning and winds against us!

Two very kind gentlemen from the Lydia Eva Steam Drifter Trust offered for us to come alongside the vessel of the Historic National Fleet , helped with lines and let us raft up to her instead for the night.  A much better and safer prospect! They then proceeded to give us a full and fascinating tour of their renovation project. It felt a little surreal clambering ( at their direction) over the no entry signs and across deserted decks to access  Ventus.

A further incident of a lost fender, meant an expedition along the quay for Dave; with an eagle eye and a boat hook all was not lost and the errant fender retrieved!

Great Yarmouth is certainly a town of mixed fortune. The magnificent maritime buildings now lost between neon lights of the promenade and kiss me quick hats.

We rounded off the day with a trip to the cinema - a Downton fan through and through I wanted to catch the new movie on the big screen. It was nice to sit in a comfortable arm chair for the evening!

A big challenge tomorrow to sail past the North Norfolk beaches ....due to tides we hope to make an anchorage at Blakeney, with forward passage to Wells next the Sea on Monday.

Distance travelled : 22 Nm

Time: 4 hrs 45 mins

13 May 2022

Port bound......but worse places to be than lovely Southwold!

As expected weather stopped play today. A steady Force 5 gusting 7/8 prevailed for most of the day, rocking us around on our mooring and whipping around the rigging! Finally settled around 18.00 and once again has left a beautiful evening; we actually managed to sit on the deck for a coffee for the first time since we arrived.

Started the day with a videocall to my lovely friend Faye whilst Dave did some engine maintainence removing a build up of salt crystals in the water cooling system.

Thanks for the day go to the Southwold Harbourmaster who sourced Diesel for the next legs of our journey and gave some really helpful advice regarding resting buoys for our long journey to North Norfolk over the next few days.

We finished the afternoon with a 7 mile return walk from the harbour to Blythburgh across the Nature reserve.  If you ever find yourself in Southwold and fancy a nice inland walk, I would highly recommend.  There's a lovely pub, The White Hart Inn situated with views across the Salt marshes in Blythburgh for well earned refreshments halfway.

 

 

12 May 2022

Birthday on board

Rosie's birthday celebrations in Southwold today :) 

We had an early morning wake up as the Fisherman left the harbour at 5.30am under beautiful blue skies. 

Brunch from Samantha K's fish stall of King prawns and smoked Salmon was a deicious treat!

Katie and Joe video called from Shanghai for happy birthday chat , before we headed up to Southwold for the Adnams Distillery tour.

The tour was great - who knew Adnams gin came from vodka and vodka from unhopped beer! The copious tastings at the end of the tour were delicious, but necessitated a trip to a cafe for Coffee and flapjack to mop up all the alcohol afterwards!

A walk past all the beach huts and some 2p waterfall slots on the pier were folowed by a delicious meal at The Sail Loft, by which time Dave managed a Ghost Ship Ale and me a Copperhouse London Dry G & T!

Ended the day with a Facetime call with Rob, Jade and baby Rade to chat through birthday fun.

Thank you to everyone who took time to message me, &/or sent a card before we set sail for me to open today - I have made card bunting on our washing line on the boat !

Port bound again tomorrow, but looks like a weather window opening for the 2 hops up to the North Norfolk beaches over the weekend - fingers crossed!

 

 

 

11 May 2022

Boat bound!

A weather front passed through today.  Torrential rain and very gusty winds - we were pleased to be safely up the River Blyth and tied to a pontoon; even the Fishermen didn't go out today!

Visited the Harbour Inn pub for a light bite of lunch which is just across the way from where we are moored, then it was an afternoon of life admin dry, warm and cosy aboard Ventus.

Thanks to Rob for the IT support, the video of Ventus is now live on the landing page, and there is now also an email address should you wish to contact us through the website :)

Highlight and thanks of the day are to the 2 delightful 'Chuckle Brothers' style Sainsbury delivery staff who not only drove 35 miles to bring us supplies, but insisted on bringing them along the pontoon to the boat. It was a 'me to you' comedy on slippery boards with a trolley and heavy load! Boat now fully re provisioned...well done Sainsbury's !

Finished the day with a beautiful sunset and walk around Walberswick.

 

 

10 May 2022

Suffolk Yacht Harbour to Southwold Harbour

Another early tide to catch and another 6.30am ropes off! It was a tricky decision today as to whether to push on up the East Coast as winds were Force 4 gusting 6; but with conditions deteriorating for the next few days and as a southerly wind with ebbing tide were working together we decided we were best placed for a passage today. We got the sail out briefly as we exited the Orwell, but the unpredictable gusts and 1- 2 metre swell meant safety and control first and so another motor sail day ensued. 

Despite the bumpy ride and rain showers, we had a great view of the Suffolk coastline, the entry to the River Deben,  Orford and Aldeburgh. Then, Sizewell power station made an imposing blot on the landscape before the Southwold harbour approach loomed into sight.

We are lucky to have been able to moor on the pontoon by the Harbour masters office in Southwold Harbour...but fear an early morning wake up by the local fishermen as we are right beside the Fishermem's huts and the consequential aroma!

After a much need nap, we have just returned from a lovely walk right through to Southwold Pier from the harbour, with traditional fare on the way! Then a loop back to the boat past the water tower and Golf course to the harbour.

Staying here for the next couple of days to ride out the weather and spend a special day here on Thursday! Adnams tour booked.......of course!

Distance travelled: 33 Nm

Time: 7 hours 

Walk: 4 miles

 

 

 

9 May 2022

A day of rest....

After 2 long days of sailing, and following a hectic lead up to ropes off, we took a day to rest today.  That largely involved sleeping, videocalls with both our children and eating!

We took a walk up to a local farmshop for some supplies as this is a remote marina and there are no shops locally.  A delicious cream tea was in order at Goslings Farm Garden cafe.

Family news - unfortunately Katie remains in strict lockdown and on food rations in Shanghai, which is miserable but she and Joe are keeping their spirits up as much as they can. Rob meanwhile is busy decorating the nursery!

We treated ourselves to dinner at The Ship Inn, Levington. It was a lovely pub with delicious food a mile or so's walk along up river past the Salt marshes.

Total distance walked: 8 miles!

Early start tomorrow for the hop up to Southwold. The wind has changed to S/SW, so with the tide on our side, hoping for a smoother but gustier sail further up the coast.

 

 

8 May 2022

Brightlingsea to Suffolk Yacht Harbour, River Orwell

Decision made to make the next passage, knowing wind over tide was going to be an issue with a Force 3/4 North Easterly wind blowing against the tidal flow ( bit technical for non boaties, but those who are will sympathise!)

It was a very uncomfortable passage, with nose on winds and very choppy sea making motor sailing the safest option. 

It was interesting seeing the seaside towns of the Essex coast - Jaywick, Clacton, Holland on Sea and Frinton before the colourful beach huts of Walton on the Naze and the final approach to Harwich across Pennyhole Bay.  

A noisy Port of Harwich led to us change marina choice for the night and we motored up the River Orwell for a short way to Suffolk Yacht Harbour.  Despite it not living up to its promise of supplies, electricity and Wifi (!),  it is in a beautiful and peaceful location and we were treated to a beautiful sunset.

Rest day tomorrow - long sleep and more walks in the area before planning to hop up the coast on Tuesday..

Distance travelled: 29 Nm

TIme: 7 hours 10 mins

7 May 2020

Stangate Creek to Brightlingsea

An early morning wake up paid dividends in providing calm seas and fair weather for our departure from Stangate Creek at 5.30am.  We headed out of the River Medway, crossing  the Thames Estuary to the Essex coastline, passing the wreck of SS Richard Montgomery en-route.  There was minimal wind so we were forced to motor rather than sail today, but we maximised the tidal flows and averaged around 5.5 Knots. 

Fortunately the ever shifting sandbanks of the Thames Estuary were negotiated without incident!

However, unfortunately we hit a weather front as we passed Bradwell and Dave particularly, ended up testing his wet weather gear! A very wet entry in poor visibility to Brightlingsea,  was aided by the Harbour master who came out to guide us onto our North Pontoon mooring for the night.

After a well earned afternoon nap, we took the water taxi to Brightlingsea hard. We then stretched out legs and walked 10Km past Bateman's Tower along West Marsh and the banks of the River Colne. It was a beautiful evening and the Wildlife Reserve was full of birdsong, including a persistent Cuckoo!

Wet gear all dried out now, steak on board for dinner and an earlyish night before the next hop ( weather permitting) to Shotley Marina on the River Orwell tomorrow.

Distance travelled: 36 Nm

TIme: 7 hours

 

6 May 2022

Ropes off!

After months of planning we finally left Gillingham Marina to start our adventure at 17.30 this afternoon.

It took both cars full to the brim yesterday to get everything we needed down to the Marina and loaded onto the boat; but Ventus is like a tardis and we were able to bring everything we wanted to in the end - with the exception of only being able to bring 1 folding cycle!

We sailed down the River Medway on the ebbing tide early evening and are now anchored in Stangate Creek for the night.

We have an early morning start tomorrow to catch the tide across the Thames Estuary and up to Brightlingsea in Essex. The wind direction isn't great, so we could be in for a bit of a bumpy ride.... but the weather is set fair.

Thanks today to Max for a much appreciated lift to the station...and Pete for ropes off photos!

5 May 2022

Sail away delay....

Due to late delivery of an important part for the boat and general need for another day to get ourselves together, we are delaying our 'ropes off' until the ebbing tide on Friday afternoon ( subject to weather conditions too). 

3 May 2022

End of an era

After over 40 years since beginning my training as a Physiotherapist, and having practised as a Children's Physiotherapist for 35 of those years in the NHS,  I hung up my boots today!

Thank you so much to 'The Dream Team' at Acorns, Queen Mary's Hospital for making my last day so special and for your generosity in words and gifts. It was lovely to feel so appreciated.

It has been a real privilege to work with so many amazing children and their families over my career.

Who knows what the autumn will bring, but for now it's retirement for the summer and excitement for adventures ahead....

 

 

30
April
2022

Boat prep.....

A busy day at the boat in Gillingham Marina today. Before and after pictures below!  Boat spic and span and ready for loading as our 'home from home' over the next few days.  Taking the kids with us....

 

 

 25 April 2022

Website design....

This is all new to me and, yep, this is pretty much how I'm feeling.  It can only get better, bear with me.....!!!

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