In and out of Wick quicker than a fiddler’s elbow. The shower block was brand new and, at one pound per shower, good value for the very hot and fast water provided. I don’t have anything else to offer for Wick.
We did discover, at last, the name of one particular sea-bird that had followed us on occasion (and not the legendary See-E-Gull) whilst we’ve been north of the border. A large, brown sea-bird with white tips to its wings. Known as a Great Skua or, if you are in the Shetlands, as a Bronxie. Mystery solved.
The journey from Wick to Inverness, with me as ‘Skipper’, started off rather uncomfortably as, making a schoolboy error, I read the open sea winds as being the same as the harbour winds when, in fact, they were 2 or 3 Beaufort forces higher. We should have started with a reefed mainsail (i.e. a smaller sail area) but I chose not too. We sailed on for quite a while but it soon became uncomfortable and, as the winds picked up further, we had all hands on deck to put 2 reefs into the mainsail. That worked and we had a much more comfortable journey from then on, albeit in high winds. Great stuff. Yesterday was, we believe, only the first day since we started RBE2014 that we sailed the whole day, from start to finish, using the engine only to exit and enter the marina. It also, being a journey of over 60 nautical miles, counts toward my RYA qualification. “T’riffic”, as Del Boy would say.
The weather was overcast, drizzly and a lot colder than it has been of late. The scenery was well hidden for most of the time such that we couldn’t even entertain ourselves with a couple of games of ‘3-point fix’. A technique for ascertaining the lat and long position of the boat – not a chemically induced high or a kung-fu move. However, the thrill of the sail more than compensated. We also had three other major events that enlivened this particular journey.
First, a 2-man RAF team, replete with multi-multi-million pound Tornados treated us to a display of low-level flying as they honed their targeting skills, not on us, but on a ‘practice barge’ in the next loch. Flying over the boat at a height of less than 300 feet (my guess) and at about 400 knots (my guess) was quite a thrilling sight. Cue the Dambusters theme music. “T’riffic”, as Del would say.
Second, as we were motoring into Inverness, along the very long approach, we were joined by a big, fat Dolphin. The first we had properly seen for a few weeks. He/She joined us by popping its head up out of the water and then, once spotted, royally entertaining us by leaping out of the water to a height of, probably, not more than 3 or 4 feet but certainly well clear of the surface of the water. That feat is now so well known and viewed (Flipper, Attenborough, YouTube, et al) that it is probably passé but it is nonetheless very exciting to see in real life and especially so when performed less than 20 feet away by a wild animal (not an aquarium trained one) of its own volition and, seemingly, for the sheer pleasure of it. It brought a big, big smile. What a Buzz. “T’riffic”, as Del would say.
Thirdly – and, oh dear, the shame, the shame – I ‘barfed’ (mostly) over the side. Not a bout of real sea-sickness, but simply nausea from the pitching and yawing over the preceding 9 hours. Still, it was my turn to cleanse the decks. “Plonker”, as Del would say.
May 21/22nd Day 46/47