The Smell of Rotting Fish

Ahoy from Stornoway,

I have reached the north of the Outer Hebrides and Stornoway before I make the passage back over to the mainland of Scotland.

When I left Lochboisdale the weather was fantastic and it looked set and forecast to last so I thought great I will get to see the amazing scenery of these Western Isles. Well again I was wrong and although the forecast was for the wind from the south which it was they got the force totally wrong, they had said it would be a 3-4 with occasional 5 but it kept building and building and I had a force 6+ pushing me along at a very fast pace.

With the wind came rather large waves as we were wind over tide and this made for a rather lumpy ride and I was having to have full control of the tiller to stop us broaching as this would have had disastrous effects with the strong winds. I was on the helm all the way, the unfortunate thing was that we had rain all day and very low cloud cover so all I saw of the coast was the first few feet of the cliffs as I rounded headlands and it was such a shame as I was so looking forward to seeing the coast line.

As I was about twenty miles into the journey far in front of me I saw this object appear and then disappear I wondered what on earth it could be?? I grabbed the binoculars and fortunately enough I could see what it was and it was a whale broaching the surface like you see on the TV programs but I am unsure of what breed it was weather it was a sperm or minkie whale?

As I was close to the shoreline for most of the trip I had the usual bird life floating around me and them diving for the fish and then there it was what I would call a proper puffin the ones with the coloured bills and this was fantastic and something I really wanted to see.

Then out of nowhere I heard the familiar sound of a dolphin but this was unlike any other dolphin I have seen before it was 4 or 5 times the size of the common dolphin a real Scottish beast, and before you ask I can assure you it wasn’t Nessie as it didn’t have the tartan hat on!! As it was surfacing next to me on the bow the stern diving under the boat and playing with us it came up on the stern and as it did it blew through its blow pipe and what a noise it made but then it hit me the awful smell from its inside of rotting fish!! I have never smelt anything as bad as it before and even in the wind it seemed to linger… wow it was putrid and I have smelt some bad things in my time but I don’t think I will have to endure that again it was worse than the dog farting in the car!

I made it into Stornoway at about 7 o’clock and the marina was full even though I had rung ahead but there were a lot of people who had arrived before me and it was first come first in, so I had to raft up next to a very nice couple Alistair and his wife on the fisherman’s wharf. I had a lovely chat with them and they have been great neighbours and they gave me a donation and also a lovely slice of fruit cake to have as a celebration when I round Cape Wrath.

After a good nights sleep I have done all the essentials on the boat and they have a fantastic chandlery here so I have been able to sort everything out. I must admit that the very rough and at times very scary trip up from Lochboisdale has left me feeling rather deflated and down but I know what I have to do and I need to pick myself up dust off and get on with the next passage, but as everything in life it is easier said than done but I will have to bite the bullet and go for it.

If there is only one thing that I haven’t been ready for this trip which I thought I was ready but it is the mental state I am in. I knew it was going to be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and I knew this from the time I made the promise to Francesca. I have read a lot about how to cope with what the mind throws at you and how to think and act to deal with this, even with today’s technologies allowing you to speak to loved ones daily and see them also meeting new people on a daily basis it is still so tough on your mind. I really have a true admiration for the pioneers of the solo voyages in the early years going for nearly a whole year without seeing anyone just like Sir R K Johnson when made his record breaking solo circumnavigation doing this has really given me a much greater respect for the solo sailor of past and present. Please don’t get me wrong when I say I am having an off day and finding it hard it is a huge challenge but I am loving every minute of it even though I might not feel that at the time but as they say this show must go on and I am planning to make the passage over to the mainland tomorrow before we have more bad weather due.

Until Next Time