Days 119 to 129
Sat 01 to Mon 10 Sep
High winds keep me in Inverness for the next couple of days, i spend my time reading and watching TV in the very relaxed Bazpackers hostel. Its nice to have a roof over my head and not be worrying about wet kit!!
Monday brings a nice break in the weather an i head up NE under the Moray Firth and under the Road bridge towards the Point at Fort George (still an active military camp). I wait till morning to get through the narrow entrance here and then push east again past the sandbanks and seal colonys (hundreds of the beasties and i feel guilty ever time they shuffle to the water because of me - however an offshore F6 wind means i want to hug the coast as much as possible.
I pass Nairn and Findhorn and with increasing winds and swell put into Burghead as waves slap over the harbour wall. Its a nice place and i have a few drinks in the 'Harbour Inn' with the womens darts team before heading back to the quayside for the night.
The next morning i wake to F6 onshore winds, haven't slept well as the tent nearly blew away last night - none of the pegs held in the stony ground and i ended up anchoring it down with drybags from the boat. By 1600 the winds have dropped to a F4 and i set off reaching Lossiemouth that evening, all day i've seen hundreds (WELL MAYBE NOT) of Tornado fighters, Sea King SAR helicopters and Nimrods from the 2 nearby RAF bases.
Another early start in sunshine today (yippie!!!) and after a brief chat to the Lossimouth Harbour master/local reporter i put my head down and paddle across Spey Bay for Portsoy. Along the way i have a regular escort from Dolphins - they come within 5m of me and during the afternoon i watch them jumping out of the water and a couple of times even chasing/throwing fish up in the air then jumping after them. The scenery also changes from sand dunes and shingle beaches to low crags with plenty of caves and arches.
Yet again the wind picks up to a F5/6 tailwind and its a bouncy ride the next day, worse still the boat stills seems to be taking on increasing amounts of water and after 1hr i have to put into Banff harbour to spongee out. Once off again i move past Macduff (great place name) but as the waves pick up decide to land at Gardenstown to repair this leak. Here i meet local man Nick and his Nephew Mathew who put me up for the night in there home and take me to the pub that night. From them i learn an awfull lot more than i previously knew about Lobster fishing.
Yet again its bouncy the next day and as i round Troup Head (home of the largest mainland Ganet colony -- thousands of them) i consider turning back. However i push on and things get calmer once i reach Rosehearty and get round Kinnaird Head. From hear on its south all the way until i reach the tropics of East Anglia.
I head past Fraserbrugh (and a rather badly parked fishing trawler - should it be on the rocks?) and land at Ratray Head lighthouse. here the old keepers house has been converted by husband and wife team Rob and Val into a fantastic hostel so i have a nice shower and the place pretty much to myself until Swiss chap Nicholas arrives.
Bit of a late start the next morning as i say goodbye on the phone to Rhiannon over the phone to fly off to a wedding in the states, we had both planned to attend but a while back it became obvious that i wsasn't going to be finished. Once again im watched by plenty of Seals as i paddle down to Peterhead (where BBC 1's Trawlermen series is filmed) and against the wind and tide toward Cruden Bay.
Once again the wind picks up to an offshore F7-8 so i take the day off and head into Aberdeen by bus to meet my younger brother David as he flys up (only £40 from Brum!!) for the week. I think there might be a bit more drinking this week, uh oh!!