Seal in the Firth of Forth
We were off by 09:00 UT to cover the 44 miles to Eyemouth. We had been expecting a reach, but it seemed that whatever direction we headed in, it was always a run. The first three hours were against the tide, so we motor-sailed, and spent our time listening in to the comings and goings on the Forth Navigation VHF channel. The waterways seemed to be much busier today, and we saw that the rig had been loaded on the Albatross.
Gannets on Bass Rock
Having rounded the North Berwick headland, we caught the south going tide, turned the engine off and spent a happy hour watching the gannets on the Bass Rock Colony – but we were still running. We had to weave in and out of the enormous number of fishing buoys/lobster pots for the next three hours which meant that we couldn’t use the self steering but at least we were sailing.
Harvard, Dreamtime and Fair Isle in Eyemouth
Eyemouth was busy, and the Harbour Master, Gordon, sounded a bit fed up when we called him to see if there was space – but he turned out to be really nice. There was a small Wayfarer called “Dreamtime” tied up to the only space left on the pontoon. The Harbour Master asked him to move, we squeezed in, and then the Wayfarer rafted to us. That worked really well. It was owned by an intrepid adventurer called Nick, who had come from Nottingham in his Wayfarer, and was basically just seeing how far he could sail in the year but with the ambition to circumnavigate Britain. He was really well set up, and looked very cosy when he put his tarpauline uo over the boat to settle down for the night.
There was also another Rustler 36 called Fair Isle in the harbour. It was Rustler No 54 (Harvard is 93) and looked to be in fantastic condition. It had recently been bought by a Belgium man called Paul. Again, he was someone who put us to shame. He was sailing singlehanded and was covering much greater distances on each leg of his journey than we manage.
The visitors’ pontoon of the Royal Forth Yacht Club at Granton had just enough water for us. It was good to be at a sailing club, rather than a marina, for a change, but disappointing that there were not many members around to talk to.
Scottish Parliament Building
After a quick shower and a look around the club’s facilities, we caught the bus into Edinburgh. It was an exhausting day but we managed to walk down Princes Street, visit the Scottish Parliament Building, walk in Holyrood Park, back up The Royal Mile, visit the Museum of Scotland to see the Lewis chessmen that we had learned about in the Hebrides, walk around the old town, and see the castle. There was a bit of drizzle during the day, but the worst of the weather held off until we were safely back on the boat where we sheltered for a couple of hours. We then walked to Leith/Newhaven for a great fish supper at a Loch Fyne restaurant where we sat looking at a lovely sunset over the Forth Bridge.
Looking towards the Castle
Arbroath’s loch gates opened at 0750 UT, and we were all ready. We really want to spend some time in Edinburgh and somewhere near there was to be our next destination. All the ports on the estuary of the River Tay dry, as do most of those on the north and south coasts of the Firth of Forth, so our only choice was Port Edgar or Granton. We rang the Royal Forth Yacht Club first thing and were told that they were likely to have room on their pontoon at Granton – so that’s what we aimed for. It turned out to be a beautiful day but, for once, there wasn’t quite enough wind. We ended up motor sailing for the first 5 hours. However, once round the Fife Ness headland and into the Firth of Forth we had plenty to keep us interested. It seems to be full of disused oil exploration rigs. We followed a rig being towed from Arbroath towards a special heavy lift ship – although in the end it didn’t do any lifting because the wind became too strong.
Harvard tied up on the Visitors’ Pontoon at Granton
The stronger wind meant that the last 3 hours of our journey were great. A run in around 17 knots. We had to skirt around the Queen Elizabeth, anchored off Leith, and arrived ahead of our expected arrival time, and safely tied up to the visitor’s pontoon.
Another early start. A great change from yesterday. There was no wind at all, and soon we were motoring along in a fine drizzle. It was a pity because the countryside is pretty on this part of the coast. It has steep cliffs with hundreds of seabirds, and rolling green fields behind, but we couldn’t see much. At at least there were lots of seals enjoying the quiet conditions.
Even without any wind, we made good progress with the tide. It was 30 miles to Arbroath and we were there by 11.30 UT. The timing was particularly important today as the marina has a gate which is only open 3 hours either side of high water. Also, the mariana is small and we were slightly concerned that it might be crowded – it was, but they squeezed us in.
Signal House Museum
Richard had various phone calls to make during the afternoon, so I explored the town by myself. It was clearly a busy fishing port in the past and seems to have owed some of its prosperity in the past to the building of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, a lovely little museum explaining how it was built in the early 1800s is housed in the Signal Tower just next to the marina. A lot of work has also gone into the creation of the marina for “leisure” users without spoiling its character. I also enjoyed a walk around the town looking at the ruins of Arbroath Abbey and appreciated some of the green open spaces of the town.
We tried one of the local pubs in the evening, but we were too tired, Richard has a cold, and there was no one else there to talk to so returned to the boat for an early night.