Now listening for Cromarty having left the balmy southern waters of Forth behind us, Rattray Head becons as another of those (to us) remote and slightly forbidding headlands to be rounded. We head out from Peterhead into a roughish swell (just right for our first sail of the season!) and the wind as predicted on the nose. Clear of the harbour and out to the 30m depth contour (as suggested by Brian and Anne) and we can bear away into a much calmer sea. Heydays comes alive again as we hoist the sails for the first time in 2017 and soon Peterhead is just a distant memory with Rattray Head coming up fast.
We round the headland and Heydays slips up a gear as we get a brisk F4 on the beam and feel the effects of the tide sweeping us west in the welcome (but weak) sun. Its cold! We tick off the settlements and headlands along the coast including Pennan and some rugged coast reminiscent of Cornwall.
We get safely through the bombing range off Troup Head and start to look for Knock Head which marks our turn into Whitehills. We call Bertie the Harbourmaster at Whitehills as Macduff comes off the beam. Clouds are beginning to threaten and build and we idly wonder if we’ll make it in before the inevitable squall comes. We lose the main and make our final approach under genny alone before it too is furled and there’s Bertie at the end of the pier to meet us and direct us in, taking pictures all the while.
The view from the sea was not entirely reassuring…!
A strongish swell, close rocks and a sharp left turn add to the excitement, as the first few drops of icy rain start to spatter the deck.
Bertie jogs along the outer harbour wall and directs us to the final sharp left and onto the end pontoon…just as the squall strikes with surprising venom and sleet. A controlled, experienced and even nonchalant approach to the pontoon ends with Heydays being blown violently away and Bertie and another willing local sailor sprinting to take lines before we end up being pinned to the harbour wall. A fair amount of heaving, leaping and straining and we are finally alongside, promising huge amounts of cash to Bertie not to publish the embarrassing evidence. The squall is over as quickly as it came and we tidy up the boat in the last of the day’s sun. Bertie continues in the tradition of incredibly helpful and friendly people we have met as we have sailed north and will get everything sorted for us as we prepare to scrub accumulated gunge off Heydays’ bottom tomorrow. He has also been taking pictures from headland and is kind enough to give us the disc from his camera so we can load them up directly.
Dinner and the odd pint in the Seafield Arms on Cullen Skink and trio of fish alongside a log fire…what more do we need?