Sunday, 2 June 2019

Loch Ness to Nairn

Loch Ness is a mysterious place. It's so deep that it has more water in it than all the lakes in England and Wales put together.  The echo sounder often loses the bottom and bounces off a fish 2 metres down at which the crew cry Nessie!
The winds funnel off the steep hillsides coming from different direction in a katabatic fashion, with water cascading off large waterfalls to keep the glacial valley topped up.
We Anchored off Urquhart Castle besieged and occupied by Robert the Bruce in the 14 th century, he looked in vain for cobwebs to get further advice from his mate the spider, but it's too windy a spot.
Managed to blow the main fuse on the boat by hitting the up button on the anchor controls with the anchor attached. For some reason the breaker sŵitch failed to work.
We spent a very pleasant night and reminiced after a chicken curry , followed by port and cheese. It was like being back in our Medical School , now sadly disappeared under a block of new flats.

Out of Loch Ness and into the salubrious gardens of Inverness, Europe's fastest growing city , a very well heeled town where they pride themselves on their diction and articulation. I don't think the queen speaking sounds quite the same!

We spent the morning in the seaport basin ,fueling up , water on board and scrubbing ourselves down until we donned oilies on a foul afternoon to go out through the sea lock , under the Inverness Bridge and raced accross Inverness Firth to just beat the tide at Fort George an impressive structure guarding The seaport of Inverness from French or Jacobite Invasion. The weather was dricht as the say in Scotland with rain and the wind on the nose .We passed the Black Isle named because snow never lies on it in winter making it look black in contrast to the surrounding countryside. We tacked up the Sothern Coast of the Cromarty Firth watching large colonies of seals on the beaches followed by dolphins leaping into the air to try and drive the fish towards the boat which they were using as part of their hunting circle. We arrived at Nairn harbour in the gloom to wait for enough water to take us through the very narrow channel. There was supposed to be a waiting buoy according to the Almanac. All we could find on the spot was a flag and buoy named channel marker which we attached ourselves to with some difficulty losing a boat hook and broom in the process. The harbourmaster came out to look at his lobster pots and told us the buoy had been removed some years ago and that we were in danger of dragging the buoy. On his advice we waited a further half hour till 1 hour before high water( not 3 hours as it saiid in the pilot) and followed him gingerly up the very narrow channel. The depth sounder was reading 0 metres under the keel! It was good to get the heater on , go below and dry out with a gin and tonic followed by chille con carne into which John had put a level tablespoon of chile powder. We became very warm inside too!

Nairn is near the site of the battle of Culloden where the Duke of Cumberland dispatched Bonny Prince Charlie's highlanders with ruthless efficiency The highlanders were exhausted after a night spent walking to Nairn where they planned to night ambush the Dukes men. Unfortunately by the time they reached the camp it was dawn which meant withdrawal in the pouring rain a further 12 miles to Colloden Moor on starvation rations. The Dukes men well fed and watered, killed most of them with accurate cannon work and grapeshot before they had a chance to charge with their dirks , Targes and Claymore's . Cumberlands men had worked out how to bayonet them from the side. The highlanders are buried in huge pits on the battle site with no gravestones apart from an attempt by the Victorians to name the clans. The Duke was known as Butcher Cumberland not because of the battle, but as a result of the savage repression that followed with rape pillage and murder from troops left to their own devices . The clearances followed and the clan system was mercilessly crushed. Colloden is a sobering place to visit.

On Friday evening we were visited by Johns's daughter Lucy and her husband and her husband Stewart together with their two children Freddy (5 ) Hattie (2). Freddy celebrated his 5th Birthday on Board with candles and a caterpillar cake and a good time was had by all.since leaving the Isle of Mann we have been in a blog blackout , mainly due to my inability to source enough bandwidth to download photos.since leaving the Isle of Mann we have been in a blog blackout , mainly due to my inability to source enough bandwidth to download photos.

Joined later that evening by new crew Ian and Cat Fearn together with Ian Mitchell. John and Ceri had departed to hot showers and creature comforts at Lucy's hose before flying home on Sunday. Pete Quilliam arrives tonight

Up the mast again in the morning. I think I have got the Genoa wrap sorted. It's not much fun when you can't furl a sail in bad conditions . Joined Iain inmy favourite place on the boat to sort out a siphon valve that was allowing the toilet to flood. Life on a small yacht is full of snags that will bite you badly if you don't sort them out.

We plan to leave for the fishing port of Buckie tomorrow shortly before high water which will Hopefully allow us to avoid running aground.

John and Ceri on the anchorage at Urquart Castle

The locking down team in operation

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