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It's Vince and Malcolm

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Wick to Scrabster 13th June 2007

I was up early this morning to re-check the passage plan for today's voyage to Scrabster. I will be passing through the Pentland Firth today, so I want to make sure I have every thing planned right. I don't want to get this passage wrong. At 08.00 I cast off to leave Wick, with engine on I motor out of the harbour before raising the main sail. I have allowed myself plenty of time to get to Freswick Bay where I can take advantage of the eddy which runs north for nine hours round Duncansby Head close in. The wind is N F3/4 so I motor sail past the end of Freswick Bay and into the north going current, By 11.05 I am rounding Duncansby Head, and heading through the inner sound towards the Rocks of Mey. I will wait in Gills Bay for the first two hours of the ebb to run before leaving the rocks awash 100m to the south. I can see the white water ahead where the tide is rushing through the relatively  narrow channel, there are breaking waves right across from the mainland to Hoy. before I reach Gills bay I am drifting along at seven knots over the ground in the current. By 12.00 I am in the calm waters of Gills Bay waiting for the breaking water beyond the Rocks of Mey to recede from the mainland. I take advantage of the wait to peacefully sail around the bay, have a hot drink, and a piece of Helens Simmnel cake. My mobile phone rings which I answer. Talking on the phone causes me to loose concentration, and Anita's bow is caught in the current which pulls the boat into the race spinning her 360deg. Oops! but not a problem Anita responds to the helm and is soon back in the calm waters of the bay. I am joined by a Fulmer swimming off the stern of the boat preening itself, its only about three feet away from the boat and doesn't seem a bit concerned about me being there.

13.30 and the first two hours of the ebb have passed, and I can see the white water is off shore now so I make ready to have a fun ride through the next part of the Pentland Firth. I head out into the current, this time concentrating on the water flow and manage to steer Anita almost on a straight course. the sea is swirling around and trying to push us off course, I don't know weather the long keel helps or hinders in these situations, as there is a bigger area for the currents to push against. I couldn't have asked for better weather for this part of the voyage, I have managed to navigate the Pentland Firth perfectly, I am very pleased with myself. 

I was rejoicing in the relatively easy passage and sailing across Brough Bay and heading towards Dunnet Head. 14.15 and off Dunnet Head, once round the headland I can alter course for Scrabster and head for port. About a mile out I radio the HM to request permission to enter the harbour, the HM asked where I was coming from, and quickly zoomed in on Anita 'A' with the cctv camera, he told me to continue into the harbour and gave me a berth alongside a steel motor vessel, which made it easy for me to tie up with no tide to worry about again.

I went to the office to pay the dues and was told that the yacht club allowed visiting yachtsmen to use their facilities, which were excellent, I had a shower and shave before eating at the Ferry Inn. I walked into Thurso the next morning for some provisions, and some flowers, which I will place off shore in remembrance of the sailors that have lost their lives at sea.

I also called in to have a chat at the lifeboat station and get some local knowledge which is always a good idea.


Links www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/thurso/thurso