Planning a trip round Britain is far from straight forward. One of the key constraints which we are bound by is the depth (draft) of our boat which is 2 meters. This means that all the harbours which dry out are totally unsuitable for our purposes as we always require at least 2 meters of water or the boat would literally fall on its side. During the initial planning performed prior to our departure from the Netherlands we identified all the harbours which could accommodate a boat with our draft. In effect that means that we have included harbours like Aberdeen and Montrose … both industrial and definitely not the ideal place to be for a fun stopover. So Roland has been researching alternatives and we have established that the little port of Stonehaven is do-able - offering protection to a maximum of one boat with our draft just inside the outer harbour wall.
We agree that anything is better than an industrial harbour. This time we are joined on our passage by another boat which is also circumnavigating Britain a Southerly called “Never can Tell”. As we leave Arbroath the breeze is light at 5 to 10 knots as the voyage continues the breeze increases to above 20 knots, both boats enjoy the down-wind sailing and finally tie up just inside the outer harbour wall.
After tying up we realise that we are in for an uncomfortable night with a lot of surge in the outer harbour with 6 Beaufort blowing just round the corner. As we are moored on our port side we have the extra annoyance that the anchor which protrudes to port at the bow of the boat keeps on scraping the harbour wall.
The wind increases and we decide to stay an extra night in Stonehaven to sit out the storm and simultaneously enjoy the regatta for the sea cadets being held that day.
After another disturbed night adjusting mooring lines we are happy to say goodbye to Stonehaven and head on to Peterhead with the wind right on the nose and a choppy sea and foggy conditions we are motoring all the way. We make such good progress that we in fact arrive one hour too early so have to circle for an hour before being able to enter the harbour due to in sufficient depth. Whilst we are circling the wind increases as does the sea state, and suddenly we hear the engine “choking” and then recovering and then choking again and then recovering. Roland decides to unfurl the foresail in the strong winds and control the boat under sail, which works beautifully. In the mean time we put the engine in reverse to clear the (probably) fowled propellor and try again, after a few attempts the engine seems to run normally and we inform the Port Control on our VHF of our engine issues and receive clearance to enter the harbour in the fog.
We both breathe a deep sigh of relief as we safely tie up in the birth of Peterhead marina with the warmest of welcomes ever from the Peterhead marina harbour master.
The next day on the advise of the lovely harbour master we climb the “brae” (hill) and visit the Peterhead prison museum. The old Peterhead prison closed its doors in 2013 when a new prison was built next door. The old prison has been kept 100% in its original state and is now open to the public. We were deeply impressed / shocked / and in awe at the general environment not only for the inmates but also for the prison wardens, one of whom we spoke to at the end of out visit.
The next morning we leave Peterhead in much calmer seas than during our arrival and more importantly with much better visibility. We are awarded with sightings of seals and porpoises.
After about 5 hours of motor sailing we arrive in Whitehills a lovely little Scottish harbour village with a small outer basin deep enough to accommodate up beautifully. By now we are used to the luxury of the harbour master standing in waiting to take our lines as we arrive, this time the harbour master present us with a SD card of photo’s he had taken during our approach to the harbour “Just part of the service” he says.
Whitehills lies just to the north of Banff and Macduff and we decide the following morning to unfold our folding bikes and go sightseeing. The weather could not have been better for a round trip of at least 10 km.
Our track to the north is completed our next stop will be round the corner of Rattray Head, to the west Lossiemouth.