It's been an absolute delight to visit St Abbs and Stonehaven, harbours that are small and new to us. Some places can't be avoided though; Whitby, well we wouldn't have missed for anything, Amble, lovely, although we really had spent enough time there two years ago. Peterhead, on the other hand, I don't expect any voyage north on a yacht can avoid it. It's a horrible place, but I love it, it's a welcoming embrace after a difficult day at work. The weather always seems to become challenging just before you get there, or, you're just exhausted; the next harbour is too far to even begin to contemplate....and then there's Peterhead. We've been there twice and haven't yet got off the pontoons, which are the most convoluted maze formation, determined to confuse and bemuse you. It is the most secure and sheltered harbour, nestled between the commercial shipping port and the prison, I'm not sure if the difficulty arises in trying to keep undesirables out, or in!
We arrived from Stonehaven, and were welcomed by a couple of enthusiastic young men who were instructing the sea cadets, always nice to have someone around to welcome/help you moor up.
A brief stay in Peterhead, we were up and off sharpish (5a.m.), the forecast was good but wind picking up later. We decided that by moving Bliss to Whitehills, 40 miles away in the Moray Firth, despite being a detour, would; a) make the most of good conditions on Friday morning. b) shorten Saturday's passage by 20 miles and c) get us out of Peterhead before we ran out of provisions and HAD to go ashore!
Great plan, except..... The wind picked up to a peak of 42knots, gale force 9, it was very challenging, scary and pretty horrible. Bliss, and Chris coped brilliantly, the conditions were such that we, or at least I, were expecting something to break, like the mast!
We phoned ahead to Whitehill's harbour master, he assured use that there was space for us and he would be there to meet us, and bless him he was. A portly gentleman, hat tied under his chin, was watching out with his binoculars. As we approached the shelter of the windward shore we dropped the sails and snaked our way through the narrow, convoluted harbour walls to the pontoons. Bertie, harbour master, was ready with his boat hook to catch lines, guide and help us tie up. My first thought,; I wonder if Downies is open with those amazing Cullen Skink pies that I remember from our last visit? It was and they had just two left! We spent 2 or 3 days here two years ago and have very fond memories of the extraordinarily helpful, friendly staff and locals, and Downies, a exceptional fresh fish shop! I got a load of washing done, Bertie, bless him, even made myself and a woman I was chatting with a coffee, it really is the most welcoming place ever. Chris and I had a nap and a wander around the village, a G and T in the local ; (Scottish beer is truly rubbish!) And then, using the fish I'd bought earlier, from Downies, cooked my signature boat dish, 'fish curry' , it was good. It felt good to be in Whitehills, in one piece.
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