We were woken at about 1am with strong winds serenading us via the masts and rigging…… screaming banshees warming up! T to showers at 7am…. battling the wind along the long exposed pier on the walk to the facilities block. Caught in a torrential downpour and having got soaked, the weather deteriorated rapidly.
Mike and Christine bravely departed the boat after breakfast for the bus into Edinburgh. We have TV on the boat and were able to follow some of the horror stories arising from Storm Ali. The very first sad happening was in Ireland where Storm Ali first struck the British Isles…. the poor lady who was killed when the caravan that she was in was blown off a cliff. Then a young man killed by falling trees.
Winds of 100 mph recorded, trains cancelled in Scotland…. no services at all, bridges shut and high sided vehicles prevented from crossing, power lines down etc etc…. and a number of people badly hurt in wind related incidents. We remained on the boat for most of the day…. the marina was exposed to the west/south west gales…. gusting to over 70 mph. We had concerns about the cockpit tent, the dinghy and our mooring lines.
Our area of Scotland…. the lowlands between Glasgow and Edinburgh…. acting as a huge flattish valley funnel…. was going to be hit worse by Storm Ali in terms of strong winds and torrential rain. In the late morning, what we witnessed in the actual marina was nothing short of madness.
At about 11am we watched ( from inside our boat ) two tourist type orange ribs load up with twelve “tourists” each , dressed in shiny yellow oilies…. plus helm/guide…. depart and go out to “sea” in the Firth of Forth for an hour. Crazy… the Met Office had put out marine warnings for our sea area…. Storm Force 10 rising to Force 11. M looked the firm up on the web… the fare was £25 per person for an hour under the three bridges. They all looked a bit bedraggled on returning to the marina.
What was even more bizarre was the spectacle of coastguards carrying out a training and rescue operation between the pontoons not 50 yards from our boat. Port Edgar is the HQ for HM Coastguard North East…. and we had seen members of said organisation training in fairly large groups on previous days.
Today was different…. so as Storm Ali raged all around… we even had white horses in the marina! We watched as two Coastguards …. two at a time…. jump in to the water…. thrash about as if in distress…. wave their arms up and down in the recognised international distress signal…. to be followed by teams of coastguards running along the pier carrying rescue gear including a stretcher…down the gangway… along the pontoons… throwing rescue buoys and lines and then hauling the “casualties” out, placing them on stretchers and heaving them off up onto the pier… and along to their HQ building. Bizarre…. all in winds gusting at over 70 mph! Plus torrential rain of course. they might say…” perfect conditions to practise”!
Our boat rolled from side to side…. the fenders creaked and the lines stretched. At one point during a very strong wind gust, I looked at our wind instrument mounted above our companionway…. 61 knots of wind measured at the top of the mast on the anemometer…. the spinning four cups instrument. 61 knots of wind equals just over 70 miles per hour. The highest wind speed recorded on Poli Poli….. but not under way…. thank goodness!
It was not until well into the evening that weather matters started to calm down. We ventured forth in the early evening and T walked into South Queensferry to the Co-Op to get milk supplies. Mike and Christine returned to the boat about 9pm after having a meal in South Queensferry. They had not been impressed with their visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse…. the official residence of the Queen when in Scotland on official business. Our tour guide did explain the difference between Holyrood and Balmoral… basically the difference is in work and holidays.
A very wet looking Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.
Double rainbow over the Forth Rail Bridge on Storm Ali day.
Mike and Christine adjourned to the Education debate ( testing little children ) in the Scottish Parliament building next door. They were not impressed there either…. the standard of debate was pretty poor and the external appearance and architecture of the Parliament building…. well…. even we thought it not only strange, but positively ugly.
Thus was Storm Ali day in north east Scotland. Not pleasant for many people, a gusting wind which throws you off balance is quite scary….but we do appreciate that a lot of Scottish and Irish folk were a lot worse off than us.
Thursday… the aftermath.
In the early hours of this morning, the winds finally subsided and we woke to …. well…. silence…. the splendour of peace and quiet…. the absence of screaming banshees…. and some sunshine. A quiet day throughout…. so much so that the waters in the marina turned into mirror glass this afternoon…. and Poli Poli rested …. level and still on her moorings. No creaking!
Mike and Christine returned to Guildford today by train…. Mike has to attend a funeral tomorrow Friday of a close friend in London… then he will return to Port Edgar on Friday night. Margaret will probably catch a train south to home in East Sussex on Saturday.
We walked through South Queensferry this afternoon to beyond the town and along the coast to the east. Amazing weather…. nice and calm, even some blue sky…. the aftermath of Storm Ali. Lunch was taken in a nice Bistro near the RNLI station very close to the Forth Railway bridge.
Margaret after lunch …a more peaceful day on the Firth of Forth.We are monitoring the forecasts carefully, and we hope to depart Port Edgar on Saturday morning for Eyemouth…. about 50 miles further down the Scottish coast…. very close to the English border.
Margaret…South Queensferry..note the Queen Victoria post box. M felt at home here…Queensferry is named after the Scottish Queen …Queen Margaret …who used to cross the Forth at this point on a ferry for trips north to Dundee and Aberdeen and such like.