The last post suggested that we will go on Saturday provided no SW winds…we’ve got SW winds. Sunday looks OK so for the moment Wick is our home. Friday breakfast in Weatherspoons means we can all catch up on other aspects of digital life…and free refills of coffee to boot. Wick has the edge on Thurso, with some signs of life and refurbishment going on. The silver darlings have gone from here too, although some white fish is landed alongside the usual hobby and part time crabbers and lobsters. Rig supply is reasonably buoyant and the new wind farms will keep the supply ships running. The demise of Dounreay is also a problem though.
The afternoon is wet, but we mind not a bit as we spend a happy couple of hours at the Old Pulteny Distillery. Slightly disappointed that all they really produce is a pure but tasteless spirit (with bought in malted barley and dried yeast)…all the flavour comes from the used barrels previously holding bourbon or (more rarely these days) sherry. That doesn’t mean however that we don’t enjoy the 12, 17 and 21 year old malts! However, despite the 17 y.o. being our preference, we buy a bottle of the usual 12…£125 for the 21 y.o. is a bit too much even for us.
The best meal of the trip so far is at the French restaurant in town, which is pricey but classical French. The chef is genuinely French who fell in love with a local girl many years ago…turns out however that he has been to see Saints at the old Dell several times and we chat happily for a while about the good old times in Southampton.
We spend a long time checking and re-checking tide times and distances and forecasts for our trip over the firth on Sunday. The tide gate off Duncansby Head is very precise…just 15 mins too late and we risk being swept south of Swona and in to the Merry Men of Mey nastiness with not enough boat speed even at our best to stem the currents.
Another sailing boat arrives in the night from Fraserbrough after what they tell us was a wet and rough crossing across the Moray Firth. Alan and Ian who live on Orkney, have recently bought the boat and are planning to sail across on Sunday as well. They are experienced in the crossing and it is a relief that they have the same conclusions about weather and times as us. They are happy for us to keep them company for the crossing…especially it seems, as they are less than confident in their gearbox…not that we fancy towing them across! Our current thoughts are for a lazy Saturday and then a 13.00 departure from Wick to get us off Duncansby Head just after HW Dover and before the tide fully turns west.
We gaze out across to where we think Orkney is, hopefully the next post here will confirm or….