East Coast: Stonehaven to Inverness
Twenty hours later, Stonehaven came into sight and we were soon tying up against the harbour wall. It proved to be a very long and tiring passage as we lost the breeze during the night – it was a struggle to just keep the boat moving! I was now in for a good few hours’ rest…
By the time I had reached Stonehaven I was on a roll. We had not had bad weather since stopping near Newcastle, and it appeared that we were going to have a clear window of weather for the rest of the East coast. However, I wasn’t trying to think as far ahead as Inverness. During my trip, in order to avoid feeling totally overwhelmed I always tried to break my trip up into small steps, this helped to prevent myself from looking ahead to upcoming passages and challenges. This was incredibly important as when I looked too far ahead into the future, it would drop my morale, overall positivity, and confidence in my ability to complete my trip. It also distracted me from the task in hand. So, when I was in Stonehaven, despite being only days away from Inverness, all I was trying to focus on was the next passage. The next small step of my trip.
My next passage was to Peterhead, a much shorter leg than my previous one, at only 35 nautical miles. We left Stonehaven reasonably early to make the most of the dying wind. This decision proved to pay off and thankfully we had a good 5 hours of smooth sailing before it died completely. I was then left with a very slow, bumpy ride, in the North Sea swell. It wasn’t fun, but it was soon behind me as I came into the sheltering harbour walls of Peterhead.
The next day, I found out that yesterday’s experience of North Sea swell was only a taster for what I was now enduring on my passage from Peterhead to Whitehills. Having set off just after sunrise on a calm sunny day. I soon found myself placed in the most jumbled up mess of a sea-state I have ever seen before! There were huge swells, with barely any intervals between them, coming from at least three different directions and colliding into Alchemy with huge power. Alchemy was rolling incredibly violently with the toe rails1 being alternately submerged in the water. Every few seconds I was being launched from my position, like being on a bucking bronco! It was far from fun and incredibly sea-sick inducing as well! The North Sea really was living up to its reputation. Gnarly.
Coming into Whitehills I was nervous. It was another tricky entrance where timing was key to getting successfully into the very narrow opening in the harbour wall. However, it was short lived and soon I was tying up alongside in the tiny marina of Whitehills. I could already tell that this place was a gem.
I ended up staying slightly longer in Whitehills. The day after arriving we had huge thunderstorms and lightning down the coast followed by some fog which I wasn’t keen to head out into. Although bad weather is always annoying when it halts progress, this time I was slightly less annoyed as it provided me with a chance to rest and explore where I had stopped. Whitehills is an amazing little place with an incredibly generous Harbourmaster who has so much care for the harbour and will go completely out of his way to make sure you have everything you need… In my case it was a shower after a few days without one!
I now had only two days of sailing to go before I reached Inverness. Two days! I was ready to get them done and after my day stopped in Whitehills we were off.
Our penultimate stop on the east coast was Lossiemouth, a short 5-hour sail from Whitehills where we had some excellent sailing. Well… that was once the sails were actually raised, and set, which was a whole different story. Coming out of Whitehills it had been quite windy and there was a large onshore swell which we were bashing into. Which, due to the constant slamming of the waves, made it very difficult to move around the boat safely. Eventually, over an hour later, the sails were up and we were on our way.
In Lossiemouth I was ecstatic, I only had one leg to go on the East coast and all I wanted to do was get going with it! Bright and early the following morning we were leaving Lossiemouth and found ourselves in fog for the first time of the trip. Overall, the passage proved to be damp and cold. My solution to the latter was one of my staple foods of the trip, baked beans and sausages! I could eat them hot, or cold, and at any hour of the day. They were especially good on glum days, where something simple but comforting was necessary.
14.08.2020 – 16:30 – Safely moored in Inverness – East Coast: DONE
That was my final hourly log entry for the east coast. Alchemy and I had finished half of our route round Britain. Wow! What an adventure it had been already.
The West coast was going to be a completely different ball game with a load more experiences to be had… and lot more challenges too.
First though, I was in for a short few days of travelling through a rather different environment in the Caledonian Canal before heading out onto the West coast of the UK.
Toe rail – A wood or fiberglass rail located around the outside edge of a boat’s deck, usually situated near where the hull sides meet the deck.