Day 122, Tuesday 25th. September….the day we crossed the border back into England!

The Tuesday plan was all about how to get out of Eyemouth Harbour and the big bay beyond… back into open water and safety.

So we started before 6am and sunrise… go to showers, then eyeball entrance first, then look out into Eyemouth Bay and try and judge sea state and swell. We did this…. and whilst there were one or two breaking waves coming in over the Hurkars and Luff rocks… it did seem calmer than yesterday.

We noted that there was roughly a 30 second gap between the waves produced by the swell coming down the entrance channel. Perhaps we could time our arrival at the entrance to exploit the 30 second gap.

7FC92F33-B8A2-4352-B4FA-DF16482E0860.jpeg

So T went back up to the HM’s office to speak to Brendan ( on duty ) and let him know we were leaving in the next 30 or so minutes. Brendan had been very helpful the day before in finding us a third berth after the raft up with the dive boat. He had said he would be available from 6am to give advice on departure. A top man Brendan!

At 7.10am we departed our berth in Eyemouth…. confident that today was the day! Keel half way up as we were 2 hours before low water…. engine purring nicely, speed slow ahead…. watching the depth gauge…reading 1.8m at the start.

As you reach the end of what is known as Saltgreens Quay ( where we were berthed side on to the single long pontoon ) there is a “kink” in the main channel and you don’t actually see the main entrance until you have turned the bend.

Well we did so…. and immediately faced the main entrance and our way out. What I saw… did make me draw breath …. and likewise Mike who was hanging onto the shrouds ( midships )….. the channel had not one but two metre and a half swell waves advancing down the entrance towards us. Out the window went the 30 second gap plan!

Poli Poli could not just suddenly stop dead…. the oncoming waves would have thrown  the boat onto a high bank of black rocks behind us. Poli Poli could not abort and turn to port or starboard to escape the swell waves… there was no where to abort to.

So gritted teeth, racing heart….. full power on the throttle…. aim at the exact middle of the first wave….. up and over, bow spray flying everywhere as 15 tons of Poli Poli surged up and over….. then the second wave…. now worried about the stern of boat up in the air, prop out of the water scenario??? No worries…. Poli Poli came down just before the bow took the second wave…. up and over….. and then in what seemed like an age at the time…. out into the Bay…. gulp, draw breath….. next issue… the Hurkar Rocks to the right and the Luff Hard rocks to the left.

Managed to get Poli Poli hard to starboard to counter the incoming waves and swell… up and over some big ones… then get her onto a parallel course with the chart leading line and power her out and past the north cardinal buoy which marked safe water beyond.

We did this….. and once beyond the black and yellow bouy, motored out to sea until we reached much calmer waters.

Looking back at Eyemouth….. lovely town, lovely little fishing port, lovely people…. shame about the harbour entrance! Much relief. Next plan…. cross the border back into England.

Plan A over thank goodness. Plan B now to sail the 40 or so n.miles to Amble in England. Weather wise the dawn was ok…. but the skies quickly became grey and gloomy…. and off shore there was a strong south westerly wind.

Once we had settled down, cups of tea and hot porridge served at sea…. we headed out to sea to avoid the forests of lobster pots and then turned south east to run parallel with the coast.

We spotted the main railway line from Edinburgh to Berwick on Tweed plus the busy looking A1 … the Great North Road from London to the Scottish capital city…. above the railway line. Two very long passenger trains with red flashes on their carriages rushed south with only a small time gap in between. We presumed London bound via Berwick, Newcastle and York.

Later, coming the other way….. a very long goods train ( unusual? ) rushing northwards with what looked like browny orange cargo trucks…. the length… well about one and a half if not twice as long as the big inter city passenger trains we had seen.

At precisely 8.25am Poli Poli lined up with the lighthouse at the entrance to Berwick On Tweed harbour…… and so we crossed from Scotland into England. Nine n.miles from Eyemouth.

We had spent exactly 70 days in Scotland… over 2 months… and whilst there were many good memories, much of our time here had been spoilt by a great deal of atrocious weather. But we had done it! So mixed feelings on departing Scotland. Down comes the Saltaire courtesy flag from the main mast.

In the centre of the photo below is a white lighthouse…not a brilliant pic but we were miles offshore. This is the Berwick On Tweed lighthouse…to the right Scotland, to the left England.

956035E4-0BB6-402F-9CED-C97DB76CBCA2.jpeg

Sailing south against a strong tide… we deliberately stayed well away from the shore… and thus skirted Holy Island, the Farne Islands and Bamburgh Castle. The weather was now turning….. strong winds up to 25 knots and a 2 knot head tide. We did not try and explore these beauty spots…. saw them from a distance. In order to do so we would have needed a much more calm day with the right tidal conditions.

Mike spied the Round Britain “swimmer” two masted catamaran in the Farne Islands…. so once again we had overtaken Ross Edgley in his amazing marathon swim around Britain.

Conditions worsened…. a very choppy sea got up and the winds increased to 30 knots at one stage. The most difficult part of all of this …… was not the actual skills of sailing and navigating the boat…. but avoiding the hundreds of lobster pots well out to sea…. many very poorly marked. This scenario… of 100 per cent concentration and lookout… brings unnecessary tension and anxiety and the lobster pot nightmare entanglement constantly in the forefront of one’s mind.

Early afternoon after hot baked beans and heated sausage roll and a mini steak pie…. we sighted the entrance to the River Coquet and the little village of Amble. We had a tidal cill to cross and had to be there no earlier than 1.30pm ….. this we did, but the wind in the actual marina had also got up…. but two splendid Amble Marina guys were there on the pontoon to help guide us in and take our lines. They were both excellent…. “welcome back to England” …. we felt, and by 2.15pm we were safely moored up. But the wind screamed out the “banshees” song….. through all the masts and rigging…. and then later, throughout the night.

Amble Marina …arrival…our first day back in England…grey and very windy!

FFBC9E79-8AE8-4D32-9B61-5859BE29C042.jpeg

We had arranged to meet my niece Victoria and her family, ….husband Alec and sons, Ben and Adam. They arrived at about 5pm ( after Mike and I spruced up the boat !)…. we had tea and drinks in the saloon first, then adjourned to an excellent seafood restaurant “The Old Boathouse” in Leazes Street on the Amble waterfront. A lovely meal, lovely company and great to see Victoria and her family again.

Total mileage for the day: 44.9 n. miles.

Total mileage from Eastbourne: 2,219.9 n.miles.

1731EFBC-35FD-432B-99D8-1E5A3BA62CC3.jpeg

441142B8-41CE-4FE4-B808-CC17CD2D4EC5.jpeg

Day 121, Monday 24th September, 2018…. proving very difficult to exit Scotland!

We rose bright and early, noted the blue sky in the early dawn light…. all evidence of a high pressure weather situation… but there was a strong breeze. After showers in the first class Eyemouth Community Harbour facility ( far far superior to Port Edgar in their porta cabins )…. breakfast on the hoof, we were ready to depart Eyemouth by 10.30am…. depart the port, depart Scotland, cross the border round the corner at Berwick on Tweed and be back in England.

We left our berth, and proceeded slowly being aware we were only a couple of hours after low water…..  very gently along the inner channel…  then round a slight bend in the harbour to the narrow main entrance.

We stopped in our tracks…. white water rolling into the entrance from the Bay outside… great big roller waves breaking as they passed through the narrow channel. We pulled out…. quite taken aback at the level of the swell coming in. Poli Poli with her super, but small yacht engine would never match the power of the waves we saw coming in. We adjorned into the deep sea trawler basin next door, spoke to the Harbour Master on our VHF radio and aborted our attempt to leave Eyemouth.

The swell coming in the main Eyemouth harbour entrance channel .

D7A3DEB5-AF17-47CA-8E19-E8720A1F65A8.jpeg

Breaking waves outside in Eyemouth Bay.

D50A7325-6A54-4592-B78A-AD1A4D40DE7D.jpegOur overnight berth had now gone…. as harbour staff had moved other smaller yachts into a set of paired rafts…. but unfortunately our original berth had disappeared. We went back up the channel and conversed again with HM. We decided we would have to raft up against a larger vessel… which is the accepted practice… and we chose a large catamaran dive boat. Having tied Poli Poli to the dive boat,  we went ashore to go and look at the harbour entrance and speak with the locals as to why today the conditions were so bad.

Rafted up against the dive boat …our second berth of the day.

09DB61D4-5654-4F2A-848A-1113E899FC84.jpeg

At the harbour mouth, we watched as a very large sea going trawler attempting to enter but on encountering the surf and breaking waves out in the Bay… the swell nearly turned the boat around…. the skipper aborted the attempt to come in and went back out to sea. Two meter waves were breaking on the harbour walls and on the beach that fringed the bay… showering all and sundry with white water surf.

We adjourned to a coffee house to work out what to do. Within minutes we received a phone call from the owner of the dive boat…. sounded a bit miffed that we had chosen his boat to raft up against…. it was a new looking boat. We had left a note on the dive boat and had got HM’s permission to do the raft. We had only been gone 45 minutes, but we returned immediately and moved Poli Poli into mid channel whilst we took advice from HM.

At about midday we moved to our third berth of the day… which turned out to be a very good one. T went to the office to pay. We had noticed the breeze earlier on and had also noticed how it had gone from a south westerly to a north westerly. Recalling how in the two almanacs we use… Reeds and CA…. we had noted the warnings about Eyemouth Harbour and trying to enter or leave with a wind from any northerly direction… whips up the swell and sends it down as waves through the main entrance channel. Possibly did not heed the warning! Lesson learnt.

Our third berth of the day ..but pointing in the right direction …out!!

A8F88864-7AEA-4DD8-A70A-44A3328F168A.jpeg

HM confirmed this. It was not the blue sky, or the lack of rain, or the wall to wall sunshine that had blocked our departure…. it was the north westerly wind. So there we have it.

Our travails were lightened by this family of Mum, Dad and six cygnets…they got two slices of best Scottish bread …they and two fat seals made it all worthwhile!

990B014E-6745-40B8-9087-FAA35A1B2D0B.jpeg

We will try again tomorrow Tuesday…. hoping that the wind is a south westerly or westerly and does not change…. and that we will sail out, cross the border at Berwick and be back in England. Who knows which way the wind blows????

 

Day 120…. Escape!! Sunday 23rd September 2018…. Poli Poli departs Port Edgar on the Firth of Forth.

No screaming banshees in the night….so at 6am no wind! Dark and silent… T walked to showers…. M groaning in bed, Mike awakening! Lots of moaning about how cold it was…. but when dawn came… the sun with it…. weather in Port Edgar ok to go!

The Met Office did not agree… strong wind warning, force 6 and 7. However, when cross checked with other forecasts…. of smaller areas… not too bad. In the subsequent 7 hours of sailing in the Firth of Forth and a coastal passage down the North Sea…. in 7 hours we did not see a wind speed above 10 knots. The sea state was smooth at the start, slight throughout the main part of the journey and only moderate at the end.

Poli Poli departing her berth at 8am this morning, Sunday. Look at that sky! Margaret had “jumped ship” and took this photo from the pier… then caught the 8.36am bus from South Queensferry to Edinburgh…. to catch the 11.20am London bound train.

SFSZ1803.JPG

It took us less than two hours to clear the Deep Water Forth Shipping Channel fairway buoy before we proceeded east around the headland marked by the Fidra lighthouse. Before this we had examined the coastal landscape of Edinburgh waterfront and Mike spotted the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith Docks.

Amazing picture taken by Margaret… yes that’s Poli Poli heading out of Port Edgar under the Forth Road Bridge…. and blimey, why were we ever worried about head room???

FXSC7587.JPG

At 11.30am we passed Bass Rock on the inner passage and watched with interest the RNLI lifeboat carrying out a practice rescue of about ten high vis jacketed folk from a ledge below the white lighthouse. This landmark is quite an amazing sight…. covered in millions of seabirds and thus coloured cream white in their poo! T recalled that our lifeboats at Sovereign Harbour and Eastbourne carry out their training exercises on a Sunday.

This is Bass Rock… taken from the inner passage. Blue skies and calm seas.

IMG_7117.JPG

Bass Rock again. You can see the orange lifeboat … it sent a small rib to the rocky ledge to rescue about ten folk dressed in yellow high vis jackets. You can see a line of yellow in the photo. See the millions of birds and their poo!

IMG_7121.JPGAt about 1pm we heard on the VHF Radio that the swimmer Ross Edgley ( Round Britain )… was nearby. On the AIS system and binoculars we found his support boat… a huge catamaran… about 3 miles distance from us…. but only doing 1.6 knots speed.

By 2.15pm we rounded Saint Abb’s Head, located the leading line into Eyemouth Harbour…. and were moored safely by 3pm on a long pontoon in the Eyemouth inner harbour.

Eyemouth inner harbour at dusk…. Poli Poli is on the right, dark blue hull…. to the right of the big posh house…. once owned by a very wealthy smuggler. Who said crime does not pay??

IMG_7123.JPG

Eyemouth is a small town in East Berwickshire with a population of about 4,000 people based largely on fishing. Here there is a fleet of 10 -20 vessels from small creel boats to large, sea going trawlers. Eyemouth is also remembered for the terrible fishing fleet tragedy which took place in 1881 when most of the fleet, some 20 boats and 129 men from the town perished in a terrible storm. I will try and visit the memorial tomorrow morning.

So we are now only a few miles from the English border !! Tomorrow Monday we will continue south to the marina at Amble. The homeward run continues…. and the forecasters say it will be a good week ahead!

Mileage today Port Edgar to Eyemouth : 51.20 nautical miles.

Mileage from the start at Eastbourne: 2,175.0 n. miles.

 

 

Days 118 and 119…21st and 22nd of September… first day prep for exit from the Firth of Forth, second day exit plans foiled by the numbers 8 and 9.

Friday was the usual…. bright for short periods, squally winds and heavy showers. Margaret ….. very brave…. went into Edinburgh on her own to go to Waverley main line station and book a seat on the 10.45am Saturday London bound train. This was achieved and M returned about 5pm. T, after doing the Co-Op food shopping, remained on the boat and prepped her for sea the next day. We had decided to remove the dinghy from the stern mounting davits, pack her up  in a special stowage bag and lash her on the coach roof just forward of the traveller. In between heavy showers, working on the pontoon, this was completed without hassle. It is unlikely that we would need the dinghy again.

Mike and Christine had gone home to Surrey the previous day Thursday, and Mike was attending a funeral in central London Friday. Mike would then catch a train from King’s Cross to Edinburgh…. planning to return to the boat by about 10.30pm Friday…. ready to sail the next day at 8am. In the event and as a consequence of industrial action plus the “afters” re storm Ali…. Mike’s train from London to Edinburgh was delayed…. he climbed back onto Poli Poli at 3.06am early this Saturday morning.

About three hours later, at just after 6am, T looked at the Met Office Inshore Waters Saturday forecast for the Firth of Forth, North Sea up to Rattray Head and south to Berwick.

Very very disappointing….. winds W to NW force 5 increasing 6 with gales of force 8 and later, severe gale force 9. The word “rough” was used to describe the sea state. Furthermore, our passage plan would take us east away from Edinburgh against a flood tide for the first part of the journey. With a strong westerly wind of force 5 plus…. produces a “wind over  tide ” situation. In short, rough  sailing conditions likely to delay our arrival at Eyemouth. So our planned “escape” from Port Edgar was foiled. Nobody goes out in a force 8 and 9 severe gale. Very “cheesed off”.

So we remained between the two bridges with a good view of the third. Mike slept for some of the morning after his pretty awful trip late last night from London. M and T went into Edinburgh on the bus to re-book a seat on a Sunday London train. Our last view hopefully of the Scottish capital. As it turned out, a nicer day weather wise on land… with a sunny afternoon and evening…. no rain and a temperature of 15 deg C. And Grimsby lost again!

Final photos of the Forth….. seems that shale gas production has already started in Scotland.

IMG_7091.JPG

We are hopeful that we will have a decent forecast at 6am Sunday morning and that we will be in Eyemouth tomorrow evening…. 50 n.miles further south.

IMG_7093.JPG

Margaret…. “A Place To Eat” in John Lewis, Edinburgh….. cup of tea with Leith docks and the River Forth in the background.

Edinburgh skyline late afternoon, Saturday… taken from Prince’s Street.

 

IMG_7097.JPG

IMG_E7096.JPG

Margaret with Edinburgh back drop…. Prince’s Park looking north. Walking to catch the 43 bus back to South Queensferry.

IMG_7098.JPG

The view from the bistro restaurant “The Boatshed” where we had our evening meal in South Queensferry…….. seafood curry, followed by Banoffie Pie and sticky Toffee Pudding and ice cream. This was taken at about 6.30pm …. how calm and peaceful the Forth looks!

T with his seafood curry at the Boatshed Bistro…happy soul!

116BA90B-337F-4E39-9166-810EEEEC9C32

89D1F2F3-0CD2-4467-9E31-695B0435E9D4.jpeg

T at sunset going down the ramp to Poli Poli.

A376AF42-B9E9-4EE0-B56C-DDD69D22429F.jpeg

Sunset at Port Edgar, South Queensferry. Saturday evening.

Days 116 and 117….the day Storm Ali visited and the aftermath….rockin’ and rollin’ in Port Edgar Marina.

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.

7252A299-4703-47D8-8514-E10C4B1BB6C4.jpeg

Double rainbow over the Forth Rail Bridge on Storm Ali day.

9D55A6C5-6A15-40FB-998F-1F4BA1C95943

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.55FD2ADE-A09C-407A-846D-AD7ADB7B877F.jpegWe 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.

66C84B30-5E25-4C12-86D2-4259AA6A4C14.jpeg

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.

 

 

Day 115, Tuesday 18th September 2018,the lull before Helene and Ali arrive……..

A warm, close day… the occasional shower and a general greyness…. all the forecasts predicting strong winds as the storm passes through the Scottish lowlands. On this evening’s BBC Scottish local news…. the broadcast came from one of the three bridges… the new one that carries the motorway. Strong winds up to 70 mph are predicted, the bridges might be closed, teams are standing by to clear fallen trees etc etc. We will see.

Today Mike and Christine went into Edinburgh for the second time…. this time to join the tour to the Royal Yacht Britannia…. which is now based  in the Port of Leith.

Christine with a sailor friend and the Royal Yacht Britannia in the background.

D4DC75F0-5BA1-48B8-9C48-C4731E0FDF9A.jpeg

Christine and Mike having lunch on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

54CEF379-323F-400F-82EE-1DF6438634F5.jpeg

Christine on Poli Poli with her two souvenirs from the Royal Yacht Britannia …note the Corgi.

 

EDB020E3-F951-45F4-9FE3-8D3B3FBF0AE6.jpegWe remained in or near the boat…. there are approximately 500 n.miles to go until we are home in Eastbourne on Sunday 14th October. Our objective is to complete the Circumnavigation safely and without any mechanical problems.

There seems to be a good team of marine engineers on site here at the marina…. so I am having the engine serviced and checked over…. after all it has done over 2,000 n.miles in three months. Other checks are also taking place… the electronics, the freshwater main pump and other small items. We want to complete on time…. and as the issue over the final weeks seems to be one of bad weather…. where the boat will be under pressure in poor conditions…. everything needs to be checked and working properly as we set off on the last leg of our journey.

So we have been engaged with the engineers most of the day… apart from a nice lunch at “Down The Hatch” and a walk into South Queensferry to the Co-Op and back. The heavy rain came about 7pm and the winds are now blowing.

Each day a number of good folk post messages to us here on Poli Poli on the blog. All are very welcome and its a good feeling for us to know that our friends, family and even strangers are following our journey around Britain.

So today James, our nephew in Cambridgeshire….. discovers through the blog that he has a birthday on the same day as a newly discovered 2nd Cousin….. Emma from Madrid in Spain. So belated birthday wishes to James.

Day 114, Monday 17th September 2018, bus trip into Edinburgh and the remnants of Storm Helena heading this way…..and a big big Happy Birthday to my great niece Emma… far far away in Spain.

A very calm night…. so absolute silence, the symphony orchestra did not play under the stern. Well, in a way I had fooled them by parking Poli Poli with bows into the wind…so a good night’s rest. After breakfast on the boat, showers and the usual tidy up…. Mike and Christine departed first for the bus to Edinburgh City Centre. T and M followed a little later…. catching the 43X green double decker…. journey took 45 minutes.

Funny sort of day weather wise…. very calm, almost silent…. but quite warm and close…. no blue sky or sunshine…. quite peculiar. Grey it was for most of the day…. perhaps the calm before the storm. Weather warnings in all forecasts, strong winds and rain Monday night onwards.

We alighted the bus on Princes Street next to a big Boots Chemist. This wide street with shops, cafes, eateries, hotels and the occasional tartan and kilt shop…… was thronged with thousands of people….. mostly I suspect were tourists. Very very busy.

Look blue sky! The Scottish National Gallery off Prince’s Street,   Edinburgh.

3BE0A218-7606-491B-9005-F9206E35FF6E.jpeg

We found the stop for the open top bus tour…. reasoning that in our limited time frame we would get to see the principal sights of Edinburgh. We sat upstairs…. after Margaret had persuaded the ticket man that we were “wrinklies”…. he generously reduced the ticket price from £15 each to £14. He was from Sweden …. not Scotland. Something to do with higher latitudes. Prior to boarding we had seen Mike and Christine fly past on the same sort of tour…. except they were on a red bus.

Scott Monument in Prince’s Street..grey clouds building, very close.

62EF02BF-9992-44B5-A8E4-72912A8EC5F4

The tour lasted 75 minutes…. we sat in the open air and listened to a lady in yellow…. known as a ‘live guide’ describe the main details of historical import as we flashed by. When we did the same sort of tour with Margaret’s Dad a couple of years ago in Liverpool…. the guide there was quite passionate about the sights, enthused and drew you in with both knowledge and most importantly humour with a scouse accent. He was a Tranmere Rovers supporter…. not that that had anything to do with his ‘guide style’.

Margaret’s photo over a lady’s head …Edinburgh Castle in the background.

C89AA92E-8BA7-4AE0-B04A-37FF75D94280.jpeg

The lady in yellow spoke rapidly with no intonation whatsover…  her script often broken up by telling Brian, the driver, how many folk were coming down the stairs to get off.  I followed the route on a good map… but often lost what the lady in yellow was pointing out.

I recall the Burn’s Monument…. the national poet of Scotland, Arthur’s Seat, Palace of Holyrood House, the Royal Mile being absolutely packed with “tat tourist’ shops….. and the brutally modernistic architecture and design of the Scottish Parliament. As a building ….. ugly. Edinburgh Castle was much more impressive.

We finished to bus tour near the main railway station… Waverley…. and walked to a street where we had spied a good number of “better” restaurants and cafes ( away from the crowds )… from the open top bus tour…. George street.

We had a most pleasant late lunch…. three course for £15.95 ( M ) and £17.90 for myself. The restaurant we chose was “Brown’s”…. one which we had frequented in Cambridge in the early 1980’s…. then also visited the same in Oxford and then Brighton. They seem to have spread. Peaceful, beautifully clean, excellent service…. and good food.

Margaret posting a birthday card to the Chief Swab with an Italian sounding name…in the gold Chris Hoy letter box in Hanover Street, Edinburgh ( 2012 Olympics ).

8C9A6E1D-F6C5-4B76-B071-0342021596EA.jpegWe joined the 5pm rush hour crowd heading home ( strange feeling for both of us ! )….queuing for buses, then caught our green double decker home to South Queensferry…. back on the boat by 6.45pm in Port Edgar.

Within an hour of returning the winds got up. To the north west it looked as black as thunder. The lull before the storm is about to end…. we guess. Blowing hard now…. Mike and Christine have not yet returned to the boat… we last heard they were studying geology at the “Dynamic Earth”…. some sort of exhibition involving rocks on the bus tour route.

I hope Emma ….. far away in Madrid, Spain has had a lovely day on her fourteenth birthday….wonder if she came top in a Maths test…. and has read a few books today. All good wishes to you Emma.

 

Days 112 and 113…. Rest Days in Port Edgar ( Edinburgh )….more rain and strong winds in NE Scotland.

Saturday began well with a visit to the Marina cafe known as ‘Down The Hatch’ … a mixture of Canadian and Scottish cuisine…. we were there for breakfast. The photo below tells the full story….

A Scottish Canadian cooked breakfast …the big one served in a skillet!

8F64E73F-2F40-416E-9033-9B44E2DC0736.jpeg

F7C0736A-096D-436D-AE13-6E62613FF1CF.jpegMike and Christine then set off for Glasgow by bus and train… to visit friends and stay overnight. M and T visited the Marina office to announce and register the arrival of Poli Poli in Port Edgar, to pay our dues and to gather local information.

Photo for brother John… we were joined by six military men .. who we later saw doing black rib training under the Forth Railway Bridge.

8E4575D8-883E-40EE-B712-9E4351A7205E.jpeg

The rest of the day was spent tidying up the boat and carrying out routine maintenance tasks. In the evening we walked the mile or so into the little town of Queensferry which is located to the east of the Forth railway bridge. An interesting high street follows parallel to the edge of the River Forth…. some nice shops and quite a few different cafes, hotels and restaurants. We visited the Antico at the Orocco Pier Hotel for our evening meal…. again photos below. On the way home T visited the big local Co-Op supermarket to purchase some basic provisions for the boat.

Margaret and T in Antico’s restaurant …T had a special Parma chicken dish..M had the Queensferry version of a burger…being a very adventurous conosieur of strange gastronomic offerings.

017F0BA3-D6B2-4E9A-A1E2-0ACBA18397E8.jpeg

Not a good night on the boat! We had seen the gale warning for our area…. and sure enough after midnight the winds got up and by the early hours a gale was screaming through the rigging followed by torrential rain.

All of this was made worse by the two sailing yachts moored next to Poli Poli…. both had loose halyards ( ropes ) which with great regularity, banged against their hollow masts…. bang, bang, bang…. sometimes together, sometimes one after the other. The swell in the marina was also accentuated by the wind speed so Poli Poli rolled from side to side in the gale…. her fenders groaning and creaking as they rubbed between the hull and the pontoon. A cacophony of weird sounds…. each one had to be located and explained.

So T in pyjamas and coat…. went out with torch in hand on deck … to both make sure everything was secure and safe but also to locate the banging halyards. Got soaked… so the best therapy was tea and hot toast at nearly four in the morning. M declined.

Could not believe that sailing folk from the local yacht club went out to do racing at about 11am this morning, Sunday. We spoke to one returning yacht who said it had ‘not been much fun’ and that there had been a force seven wind blowing ( which is nearly 40 mph and a near gale ).

Following the overnight gale things calmed down Sunday morning. The boat was washed thoroughly getting rid of all the salt taken on board during Friday’s sail southwards from Arbroath. The water tank was filled and all the bilges were checked after lifting up the required sole boards. Margaret bought her travel diary up to date.

Sunday afternoon …can’t believe the blue sky! Sadly didn’t last long.

C20476F8-DFEF-4898-88A5-42E9BBA35FC9.jpeg

At lunch time we walked into Queensferry once again and had a nice Sunday lunch cum snack at a lovely cafe called the Bakery…. although it was not a bakery as such, it was a cafe…. with the most delicious array of cakes and pastries.

T….Sunday lunch dessert.. we both had blueberry brownie and ice cream in the Bakery…jolly delicious too!

4B9E3E53-D945-48AF-83D5-565EB5C0B3A3.jpeg

Immediately afterwards we walked down to the little harbour and looked at all the bilge keeler sailing boats parked on the mud at low tide. However, when we got back up to the High Street a few minutes later, the heavens opened and the rain came down. We beat a hasty retreat back to the Marina and the shelter of Poli Poli.

Am afraid the weekend was about gloom, greys and wet wet and more wet…. made worse by this awful west wind…. bitingly cold. Looking and listening to the forecasts for the whole of the UK for the coming week…. well the remnants of Storm Helena are now on the way…. so more rain and gale force winds to come!! Big yellow wind warnings out for the whole of the western half of the UK. Will we be storm bound in Port Edgar I wonder?

 

Days 111 and 112, 14th/15th September….a sinking in Arbroath, a nuclear submarine and a lazy seal taking a nap…….arrival in Port Edgar ( for Edinburgh )….

Well the story starts in the early hours of Friday morning…. now the standard orchestral work … the wind screaming through the masts and rigging of Arbroath Marina. In the dark it always looks and feels worse…. the portents were not good. Sure enough The Met Office put out a strong wind warning, plus the red line for our inshore waters area… Rattray Head to Berwick upon Tweed. The number 7 was in it… but it is a huge area and we were planning to spend most of the day in the Firth of Forth.

580DF791-0289-4A60-8057-F0B9C21A1C0B.jpeg

 

When we examined other forecasts…. Wind Ghuru, XC Weather, Coastal Passage Planner plus SWIS ( Sailing Weather Information Service )… yes they said the winds would be up to 35 knots in the early morning …. then ok and strong again in the evening. The Met Office was not clear on timings…. so we agreed to depart our berth at 8.30am.

After a quick shower in the really excellent Arbroath Crew Room suite and a quick bowl of porridge ( me ), Mike toast and cornflakes…. we made ready for sea. I walked out of the marina to the harbour master’s office at about 8am …. office lights on but locked. A voice said “hello can I help?”

It was the friendly, helpful Grant… the Marina boss…. standing with two other gentleman looking down the harbour wall into the marina. I went over to the side of the marina where they were gathered and reminded Greg that we leaving and that we would be on the fuel berth at 8.45am. Then I stopped…. looked down and realised what they were all staring at.

“Oh my goodness” I said…. but not in those words. All you could see was the foredeck, pulpit and  deckhouse roof and aerials of a fishing boat…. it had clearly sunk and most of the vessel was on the bottom with its bow pointing up at a horrible angle. Its mooring lines were still attached to the harbour wall… but were all very tight, bar the stern line which had clearly ripped out a cleat on the boat. A very sad sight.

Grant was happy to tell me the full story. The fishing boat was made of wood and clinker built ( each wooden length of wood in the hull overlapped the one above…  as opposed to carvel built where each plank butts up against the next one )…. and had been in the local boat builder’s yard for a long period for an extensive refurb programme.

It had only gone back in the water yesterday… and had sunk on its moorings overnight. The owner lived in nearby Dundee and was on his way after the phone call. He had taken possession of his boat once back in the water the previous day and remained there until nightfall…  with pumps in place and working. Clearly something had gone wrong…. and the boat had sunk overnight.

This immediately reminded me of family …. Carol and David from Exemouth in Devon… both sailors and boat owners on the River Exe. They recently bought an elderly classic wooden sailing yacht from Dartmouth which had been out of the water…. and spent days and days if not weeks gradually “wetting” its timbers so that they would swell and seal any leaks….. long before it was deemed seaworthy.  In a later conversation, it was revealed that the Dundee guy had been advised not to put the boat straight back in the marina …. but to berth it on the slipway in shallow water. Whatever…. not a nice thing to happen. Very sad.

When Poli Poli has been out of the water in the boat yard for 8 to 10 weeks…. I always spend the first 12 hours on the boat once back in the water, checking everything under the floorboards ( sole boards ) and all the 19 holes in the hull where there are seacocks, transducers, speed paddle wheel etc etc…. to make sure there are no leaks.  Then come back within 24 hours for further checks. And Poli Poli is not made of wood…. but we check all the same. A tiny ingress of water means there is going to be a problem.

So much to think about after we had left the fuel berth in Arbroath and headed out along the leading line….. avoiding all the lobster pots of course. Re the previous conversation about fisherman and the positioning of lobster pots. Just to clarify…. sailing yachts can of course defend themselves against a lobster pot rope/line snagging the propeller. Poli Poli is equipped with a serious piece of kit….. a razor sharp rope cutter fitted on the inside of the prop…. this employs a series of blades to instantly cut any snagged rope or such like.

This of course is fine if the lobster pot rope/line gets snagged on the propeller. What happens if the rope/line snag a rudder? Lost steerage can be disastrous in waters where rocks or shoreline prevail. With a prop snagged you could still manage to employ your sails to move the boat out of danger. Propulsion by engine would be lost but not steerage or the ability to make headway to safe waters. Fortunately, up to now, our rope cutter has never had to do what it was designed to do. With the ever increasing number of pots, our luck or ability to spot in time and alter course, will not last.

The journey from Arbroath to Port Edgar…. south along the coast, passing the estuary of the River Tay …. where Dundee is located, passing St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Leuchars, and the major headland of Fife Ness…. to the Firth of Forth. It was a somewhat bumpy ride… winds of 30 knots were recorded near the quaintly named Isles of May, stinging rain blowing in from the west, and grey, steely blue North Sea sea spray …. cold and icy coming over the bow… smacking you in the face and dousing your oilies in cold wetness.

Not pleasant but we ploughed on…. Poli Poli dealing with the waves in her customary confident fashion. Cold it was, wet it was, bumpy it was, but we still made good headway and the 50 nautical mile total distance slowly but surely decreased as we motored south ( not safe to have any sail up in winds of 30 plus knots ).

South of the headland Fife Ness we made our turn into the huge estuary known as the Firth of Forth. Past the Isle of May, we were able to just make out the land on the south shore of the Forth…. but this became difficult in ever decreasing poor visibilty. We now had a head to wind situation… the wind had backed to the west… and we were able to present minimum profile to the wind… ie head on. To start with we were punching tide in pouring rain…. but as we moved westwards the tide turned from ebb to flood and we made good progress up the Forth.

At a point south west of Kircaldy we entered the north side of the official shipping channel marked by green and red buoys all the way to the Firth of Forth railway bridge just to the west of Edinburgh. Visibility became so poor …. almost fog like in the rain and mist, that we had to put all navigation lights on. As practice dictates, we proceeded west on the right hand side of the channel…. meaning we “buoy hopped” from one green to the next.

Not long after we had entered the shipping channel, we spied the black top of a conning tower above the black upturned hull shape of a submarine. Not sure whether or not this was a nuclear sub or not….from where we were did not seem big enough. This we observed through the rain and mists with some interest. Then there appeared a tug which had been stationary for some time. Once we passed the tug…. it followed us for a while… so we surmised it was the MOD security tug looking after the submarine on possibly a training session…. so we held our course and proceeded in the channel west towards Edinburgh.

The tug followed us for about twenty minutes… and presumably once it was sure we were departing the area ….. turned back. We then saw that the submarine had crossed behind us from north bank to the south of the Firth of Forth. Again we were left puzzled. Clearly we understood the events in NW Scotland in the submarine area near the Kyle of Lochalsh…. but both the gas pipelines ( south of Fraserburgh ) tug and this one in the Firth of Forth failed to identify themselves…. hence the puzzlement.

Soon after the tug incident, the rain eased and the choppy seas calmed somewhat…. no more icy spray over the bow….. and visibilty improved. The reds and greens were easy to spot…. as we hopped from one green to the next. As we approached one particular green buoy we noticed that the conical green top shape was mounted on a flat platform at its base….. and a small grey seal was taking a rest…. watching quite happily as the likes of Poli Poli….. plus great big oil tankers, coasters and ferry boats of all descriptions went by. He or she just flapped his or her tail at us…. no fear, no fright and no leap into the water.

The first of the famous three bridge trio was sighted soon afterwards…. the iconic Forth Bridge, the great arch spans of the red steel railway bridge comes first just after the city of Edinburgh had been sighted on the south shore. A dying westerly wind brought calmer waters….visibility improved and thank goodness…. the rain actually stopped here.

Poli Poli approached the first of the three Forth bridges trio…the railway bridge.

1CA82BA6-DD85-46B1-9BFE-0D06251C615B.jpeg

Poli Poli’s bow was pointed for the centre line of the middle span…. and under we went… our air draft of 22 metres or so making no impact on the 58 metres of the Forth Railway bridge. Mike looked up quizzically …. just checking!

Mike looking at the Forth Railway Bridge at about 4.45pm on Friday. Hat, gloves, jumpers, oilies on …cold and so grey.

B3478409-4A5C-4370-8F66-EDD5C17393B1.jpeg

Then a ship appeared on the other side so we held station and let her pass. Did not even say thank you! So next we aimed for the highest part of the central span which carries the Forth Road Bridge…. the A90…. but again our 22 metres passed under the air draft of the bridge which was 31 metres. Lower but still a large gap. I looked up this time…. the bated breath was unnecessary.

Mike looking at the second bridge of the three…the Forth Road bridge carrying the A90. Beyond is the third new 2017 Queensferry Bridge. 8564EF75-2E2A-42D9-AD2B-F6B6D1242FFA.jpeg

The marina…. Port Edgar is just west of Edinburgh on the south bank of the Forth. Within the last five years, a third Forth bridge has been constructed…. right next door to the other two. This third bridge….  named the Queensferry Bridge carrying a motorway opened in August 2017 and is of a completely different design to the other two.  The marina is located between the two road bridges…. so we only passed under the first two and were not bothered by the air draft of the new Queensferry bridge.

We had pre-booked our berth at Port Edgar… so we had a trouble free entry into the marina, were able to locate our starboard side to E10 berth….even better we managed to reverse into it….. so that there would be no sea symphony played out under the aft cabin at night. Peace at last!

You can just see the blue bow of Poli Poli sticking out of E10 berth at Port Edgar.

F120738A-3D9E-4E32-A3F0-E976D6CAEB3C.jpeg

We berthed at 5.30pm after an eventful day….. the ladies, Christine and Margaret, were spotted on the pier walkway at 6.30pm. They had caught the 12 noon Edinburgh train from King’s Cross, London…. 4 and a half hours via York, Newcastle and Berwick Upon Tweed. Not bad…. our journey of 50 n.miles on Poli Poli had taken 8 and a half hours.

Total distance sailed from Arbroath to Port Edgar…. 54 n. miles.

Total distance sailed from Eastbourne….2,123.80 n. miles.

Today…Saturday 15th September was a rest day in Port Edgar…and details  will follow on Sunday morning.

 

 

Day 110, another bad weather day, 25,000 lobster pots debate in Arbroath, NE Scotland.

Overnight, the under the stern symphony played through two movements of tinkling first, then a good deal of slapping which woke me up before 5am…. then the chorus up in the clouds joined in…. screaming banshees in the rigging. So at 6am the forecast confirmed strong winds of force 7 in our area…. this was then reaffirmed by other forecasts. No window of opportunity to get to Port Edgar for Edinburgh today.

Dawn breaking over the stern of Poli Poli in Arbroath…notice the Round Britain rowing boat…more about this later….

5935F29B-EEFB-429A-B1E8-978F9E61752F.jpeg

The day was spent doing the laundry once again, washing all the salt off the whole boat… she had been saturated and soaked by sea water coming over the bow on our journey from Peterhead yesterday. …. and other tasks…. checking over and pumping up the dinghy, walking the High Street, etc etc.

Photo of the “Crew Room” at Arbroath Marina…brilliant! Washing machine and dryer. Plus individual bathrooms with showers and loos. First class facilities. Well done Arbroath.

D90C7A42-BAFE-4919-A1B8-428CE0038CFC.jpeg

Looking out from the Lifeboat Station this morning…. peering south and east across the North Sea… it was the right decision. The sea looked dark and menacing…. white tops all around…. and that wind…. so so strong from the south west. Not even a fishing boat went out all morning. All flags horizontal and stiff.

Poli Poli in Arbroath Marina, a good berth with shore power and water within an arm’s length.

D1CCF772-0EDC-4EB4-85D0-825C9D2C5B11.jpeg

On a visit to the harbour master’s office… a discussion around lobster pots and leading lines took place. An informed source told me that the last count off the coast of Arbroath…. was 25,000 lobster pots…. and some as far out as 20 miles! My point was that, whilst I fully respected a fisherman’s right to earn a living from the sea…. I strongly disagreed with fisherman placing their traps and pots along a recognised official “leading line” into any port.

The issue here relates to the entry of Poli Poli into Arbroath Harbour at 6.30pm yesterday in a cross wind of up to 20 knots…. following the leading line of 299 degrees…. in twilight conditions, spray over the bow an an ebb tide. In effect we had to zig zag the line in order to avoid poorly marked lobster pots,  putting us close to two sets of dangerous rocks either side of the entrance. I asked why do the fishermen do this…. the response was “they don’t care.”

The forecasts for tomorrow are promising and we plan to leave our hammer head berth here in Arbroath at 8.30am…. to first take on diesel fuel in the outer harbour…. then head south on 180 degrees towards the Firth of Forth and Port Edgar marina just outside Edinburgh.

Poli Poli again…backdrop of coloured houses along the waterfront.

 

33240764-8AD2-45F5-B026-3CB25A74764A.jpeg

Hopefully the ladies … Christine and Margaret will be arriving  from “down south”. 51 n.miles will see us in Port Edgar by 5pm to meet them. We plan to spend five whole days seeing Edinburgh. This means I will have to readjust our last schedule somewhat as a consequence of the bad weather days spent twiddling thumbs in Banff, Peterhead and one day here in Arbroath. Our intention is always to be back in Eastbourne on Sunday 14th October.