INVERNESS to LOSSIEMOUTH

By 1500hrs we were ready for sea and made our way to the sea lock which opens to the Firth of Moray. By 1630hrs we were through the swing bridge and locks and on our way to Lossiemouth with an ETA of 2130hrs. Graham had contacted the harbour master Charlie Cranfield who is the brother of Laurie Cranfield a good friend of Graham’s. Charlie is also a Kiwi and a yachtsman and we could sail past his ‘gate’ without calling in. This was Milan’s first voyage in open water and he was a little apprehensive. We had an excellent breeze of just over 20 knots and off we went with a double reef in the main and a full headsail. Meg was loving it and with wind on the beam we were soon making 8 knots of boat speed. Milan did well for the first half and then perhaps spent a little too long below decks changing clothes for when he emerged he was not feeling great. Well even the admiral of the fleet will occasionally experience ‘Mal de Mer’!

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We arrived on time and our instructions were to find any berth available on the south side of the harbour. It was very tight in the fairway but we managed to berth without incident. Milan was very impressed with the captain’s boat handling skills.

As most restaurants in Britain shut down the kitchen at 2100 hrs we had cooked aboard while sailing and so we ate Bangers and Mash as soon as Meg was secure. Milan had an early start the following morning. He had to catch a bus to Elgin and then another bus to Aberdeen and a flight to Paris the following day. We said our goodbyes and thanked Milan for all the cooking he had done while aboard and he said he had really enjoyed the time on Meg – and then we were two!

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Charlie came down to see us the next morning and welcomed us to Lossiemouth. He asked us if we needed anything for Meg and we mentioned a gas bottle refill plus we would like to make a new shelf above the navigation station. Charlie was a boat builder before setting off on a circumnavigation of the planet so I thought after 5 years in Lossiemouth he would know where to find the timber we needed for this project. Not only was he very helpful in directing us to the right businesses he also loaned us his car to drive to Elgin. Thanks Charlie. Well we accomplished much more than expected that day.The joiner we went to see took our cardboard pattern of the shelf and within two hours had cut out the mahogany shelf, rebated and bull nosed the fiddle( the fiddle is the fence or retaining strip around the edge of the shelf that stops items flying around the yacht when heeled over under sail) and glued it all together.

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By next morning I had applied two coats of stained varnish and Graham had installed it. A story with a happy ending. To have that done in a Mediterranean country would have taken a week.

We met with Charlie in the evening and he showed us his yacht which had just had a copper epoxy antifoul applied which is supposed to last for 10 – 15 years. We also saw the clever travel lift built by Swedes which drives down a ramp on remotes and picks up the boat/yacht to retrieve it out of the water. The engines breath through a snorkel and are in a watertight compartment and they power the hydraulic system.

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That night we went to a pub that looks out over the coastline and was screening the FIFA World Cup soccer. We arrived at 2055 hrs only to be told the kitchen had just closed and it was “Big Steak Thursday”!! Well a packet of peanuts with the Guinness doesn’t quite cut the mustard but we persevered.

We caught the tide the next morning at 0930hrs and set sail for Aberdeen in 22 knots of breeze with wind over the port quarter. We used the whisker pole to pole out the genoa on the same side as the main and we were off – Meg with the bit between her teeth! It was the fastest leg of the voyage so far averaging around 7.5 knots and often hitting speeds of 8.9 knots. The sea was a little rough in the beginning but settled down to slight seas and Meg knifed through the water even when the wind dropped off somewhat. We docked in the commercial harbour of Aberdeen around 2130hrs with just Graham and I aboard.

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On VHF Channel 12 ” Aberdeen Harbour, Aberdeen Harbour this is the sailing vessel ‘Roaring Meg’ Zulu Mike Alpha 4050 do you copy over?”

Reply “Roger captain this is Aberdeen Harbour how can we help sir, over.”

“I wish to request a berth for my yacht sir”

” We do not usually deal with yachts sir however we will find a berth for you however it may be a little rough and ready over”

” No problem sir as we are both farm boys and will be happy with whatever you have available.”

” Very well captain then please stand off the entrance until this convoy of ships have left and then we will bring you in, over.”

As I write we are docked next to a wet fish store and it is a little smelly but very close to the Main Street of Aberdeen. There is a very nice bistro just across the street called ‘Bistro 210’. We have to leave a lot of slack in our mooring lines as there is a 5 metre tide here and we do not wish to ‘hang’ Roaring Meg! We are surrounded with oilfield supply companies and workboats and we are the only yacht in the harbour. The harbour staff are very friendly.

Yesterday morning we were up early and off to the Casino – no it was not to gamble but rather to watch rugby again and the casino was one of the few places open with Sky TV. It was a good game and a great result for the All Blacks beating England 36. – 13. Go the Blacks!

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