Crazy Canals and Tight Harbour Entrances

Good Evening from Stonehaven,

Hello all and what a busy week I have had going through the canal and getting down to here, for most of the time I have been heading here I haven’t had any power but I have found a nice quiet corner of the local pub to keep you all updated as I needed the power for the laptop.

Well last time I spoke with you I was heading up to the canal and as I arrived there I was just 10 minutes late to get into the inner basin that night so spent the night on the mooring outside where I was joined by three other yachts and we all got into the locks at 8am.

The first part of the canal when entering from the west is Neptune’s staircase a flight of 9 locks and this took me half the day to get up but the staff were fantastic in helping me. When we reached the top I had a couple of loads of washing I had to get done so the afternoon was spent doing this.

Later on that afternoon I was reunited with Alistar and Ingrid MacKenzie along with their son and partner, I first met them in Stornoway and was rafted up with them as I described in the earlier blog it was fantastic to see them again and catch up and we accompanied each other right through the canal.

The next morning was an early start as we wanted to be at the next lock by 8am and as we motored along the scenery was fantastic we made it through the locks and navigated Loch Lochy and made it into the top basin of Fort Augusta that night. This is the start of the second large flight of locks along the canal and we were first through in the morning at 8am. This lock drops you down into the famous Loch Ness and as we started the motor out there was very little wind.

I do have a confession to make as we crossed Loch Ness I did have the echo sounder on to see if I could catch a glimpse of the famous creature but no such luck this time.

As I was about quarter of the way across the loch the wind started to fill and I was able to hoist the asymmetric for the first time this trip and I carried this right the way across the loch which was fantastic fun. When we reached the end we were just in time for the lochs that dropped us down into Inverness and I spent the last night in the company of the MacKenzies and they very kindly treated me to what has to be the best curry I have had and I am so grateful for their friendship and support.

I spent the next day in Inverness stocking the boat and and making sure I had everything I needed ready to head back to sea, I departed the next morning at 8am out in the sea lock and headed for Whitehills. The wind again was very light but I managed to get the asymmetric flying and made the trip down to Whitehills in good time and sailing so I was very happy with this.

When I was in the loch I was accompanied by 2 other yachts who were heading to the same destination so we were all chatting and the smaller yacht with Sam and Roger on had seen the boat when I was up in Kinlochbervie and a couple of times since then as I made my way to the canal. The three yachts have all been in company until now as in the morning we are all going are separate ways as long as the weather plays ball.

I must say a huge thank you to Bertie the marina manager in Whitehills who was very helpful and arranged for my stay there to be free which I can only thank him for, we had planned to only be there that one night but when I woke at 5am the next morning to move off the wind was howling a 6-7 and there was no way we would have made the tight turns to exit the marina even if I had of managed what would it be like rounding Rattray Head which is a tough tidal race and the seas can be very fierce.

So the following morning we left Whitehills with a strong wind behind us and this took us around Rattray Head which was very calm and the three of us made it into Peterhead.

We arrived into Peterhead and I had enough time to go to what I thought was the local shop and it ended up in being an hour and a half round trip to Morrisons but I got all I need for fresh provisions.

It was another early start this morning to catch the tides down to Stonehaven and I arrived in here about 3pm.

On the way down I received a message from my sister in law Emily to inform me she had been e-mailing the local radio stations for them to give me a shout out and I was tuned into the only one I could get and this was original FM and low and behold they gave me a big shout out and wished me well on the voyage which I was jumping for joy over, so thank you Emily.

Well I am all shut up in the boat now as it has started to rain but I plan on slipping the moorings in the morning for Eyemouth so if you are nearby please come down and say hello or give me a wave as I pass by.

Until next time

Alex