Leaving Fraserburgh

Leaving Fraserburgh

We left Fraserburgh at 0900 in bright sunshine and a force 4 from the NW. The engine was behaving itself and we started motor sailing towards Lossiemouth. Because of the depth in the entrance we had to get there before 1800, so we knew the motor would get a good test.
There were dramatic skies all around us, but to begin with we seemed to be skipping the squalls. The coastline up here is sparsely populated and the villages on the coast, centre around the small drying harbours with very little ‘sprawl’ into the surrounding countryside.

Its over there!

Its over there!

Matching Yellow with Marcus

Matching Yellow with Marcus

By mid day, it became apparent that we were not going to escape all the sqaulls. The wind picked up to the top end of a force 7 under the clouds. As usual, the wind was bang on the nose, so we got little increase in speed but enjoyed the ride!

A squall on the way

A squall on the way

In sunshine before the hail storm.

In sunshine before the hail storm.

Fantastic skies ........this ones for Mummy!

Fantastic skies ……..this ones for you Mummy!

We had made good time and despite being close hauled and under motor all the way, Lossiemouth was getting closer by the minute. Another wind shift and we found ourselves having to tack for the last hour and a half before dropping the sails for the approach.

Lossiemouth in sight

Lossiemouth in sight

What a delight to enter a harbour during daylight and in the sunshine!

The Entrance

The Entrance

Once moored we went along to The Steam Boat Inn …….. I know what you’re thinking!!!! but it was where visiting yachtsmen have to pick up the key and welcome pack when the HM is off duty. Needless to say we got into conversation and a game of pool with some of the locals and one beer lead to another………. we managed to leave just in time to catch the kitchen at the restaurant recommended by Marcus’ pool partner, Karen,……. a real character with what her fellow pool players described as ‘a mouth on her’!!
Walking along the estuary it is clear there must be a summer holiday trade here, with it’s long white beach and the river cutting picturesquely through the dunes.

Lossiemouth too has had to change with the times and now uses its two harbours as marinas with pontoons in each with a yacht hoist and yacht services. There are a few fishing berths against the quays for those ever tenacious fishermen.

Lossiemouth harbour with a fishing boat at the quay

Lossiemouth harbour with a fishing boat at the quay

Wednesday

Up and off by 0520! Hind sight is a wonderful thing and I think Marcus may have wished he had not imbibed quite so enthusiastically last night!!

Leaving Lossiemouth at 0525

Leaving Lossiemouth at 0525

If we had had more time, we would definitely have stayed at least another night. Lossiemouth depends on the air base for its prosperity, but Skip and Foggy, who we met last night work on the oil rigs, so hopefully the town could survive if the RAF base was closed. This journey is certainly making two ‘soft southerners’ wake up to the hardships that people have lived through over the past 20 or so years and marvel at the adaptability of the communities we’ve visited.

The sleeping town as we left

The sleeping town as we left

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My first glimpse of snow topped mountains

Again the wind was on the nose, so another day of motor sailing to get to Clachnaharry and the sea lock on a rising tide. We took watches today ……. guess who went down for a snooze first!!
As we rounded the top of the Moray headland, I could see the highlands on the opposite bank and the snow capped mountains emerged from the lowering clouds………it makes us realise just how far north we have come.

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Entering the narrower part of the Moray Firth

Now was the time to break out the courtesy flag ……… a little late you may say, but with all the rough weather, remembering at the right moment has been tricky.

The contrast between North and South continues …… somewhere in the back of my mind is a memory of a geography lesson and being told that the North of Scotland slid down on a different tectonic plate and bumped into the one that the rest of Britain sits on ……. the result was Lochness, the deepest loch in Scotland. Now we are here, it’s clear as clear can be the Mrs Haskell knew what she was talking about

Looking to the north

Looking to the North

Looking to the south

Looking to the South

As we got closer to the shallows in the Firth we saw some people down on the water’s edge and realised they were watching something …….. DOLPHINS!!! We were playing Rod Stewart through the cockpit speakers and I wondered if they might be fans and pop over to see us ……… no such luck, they must have better taste, but I got one telephoto shot!

Our first recorded sighting of a Dolphin!

Our first recorded sighting of a Dolphin!

As we shot along on the tide we saw the Kessock bridge which crosses the river just before the sea lock into the canal.

Kessock Bridge ..... almost there!

Kessock Bridge ….. almost there!

At last it was time to call the Lock Keeper, David, on the VHF ……. another friendly, softly spoken and helpful man. We milled around waiting for a yacht to come out of the canal bfore we could go in ……… slightly different from the narrow boat on the canal last May!!
Fenders out, lines ready to throw at the Lock Keeper and we were heading for the lock……. all went smoothly and we were secure against the wall. After a false start………we had started to go up, when another boat that had followed us out of Lossiemouth, called up for the lock……….we started to go down!……. No matter…. we have all the time in the world now.

In the Sea Lock ..... safe and sound with the other boat

In the Sea Lock ….. safe and sound with the other boat

Handling the lines in the lock ……… there’s nothing to it!

Line Handler extraordinaire!

Line Handler extraordinaire!

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