Lobie Through the Pentland

Just had this from LBSC members Maddy and Neil Scobie, who are sailing Lobie 11, their Laurent Giles 43-footer, round Britain. Anyone want to join? Read on. Details below.

copyright Neil Rothwell
Just sending you a copy of our summer plan and log of the trip so far


The approximate plan depending which way the wind blows
1st leg-16th- June to 25th June Ullapool to Inverness via Port Soay Boat festival
2nd leg-20th to27th July South to England via Eyemouth
if it stops raining so we can shear the sheep
3rd leg will resume after Charlotte and Dans' wedding 29th July
1st August 7th August Northumberland to Belgium via Norfolk
7th -14th August Belgium to Devon via France
14th-21st Devon and Cornwall
21st-28th Cornwall Scotland via Ireland or Wales

Anyone who wants to sign on as crew or just wants to meet up when we get to dry land, we will endeavour to come and meet you at the nearest point This is a rough itinerary best to make a date then we can tell you where we might be but be prepared to adjust your travel plans. So far apart from Neil and me Kirsty Williams on 24th August has a week so plenty space for a good berth.

Midsummer night 20th June2012 beautiful evening dry east wind and a smooth sea sitting on deck with a bucket of Sandy's prawns cracking on at 7 knots the crew think sailing is nice. It is still light as I go down after my watch at midnight, rocked to sleep woken by the rattle of the anchor being dropped in Loch Laxford at 2am.

Thursday woken by a knock on the hull from John Ridgway who is off in a boat to collect steve ledger and susie ranner from the other side of Loch Laxford. Time for a leisurely breakfast and we go ashore on the slip under the hull of The English Rose and climb the steep hill to the house. We have tea on the bench overlooking Marie Christine's garden that she has protected from storms, sheep and wild geese. John is keen to show us his wood every tree planted with a plaque of someones name that he chose each tree to match a person. this has grown into a big wood with his many friends enemies and acquaintances. All sorts of trees from every continent a fascinating mix prickly thorns, Antarctic beech. Livy 's a tall eucalyptus waving in the wind. Neil a sturdy Caladonian Pine standing on his own.

Marie Chistine make a wonderful lunch in the wooden house John delighted with his young audience who hang on every word . He takes them to see the boat that he rowed the Atlantic and tells us the death defying stories and shows us how different it was without electronics and Gortex.

Back on Lobie at tea time we pull in the anchor and set of on a tack 3 hours to Cape Wrath. the sea getting bumpy and the wind getting up to force 6 and 7 going pretty well till we turn right along the top straight into a strong wind and wicked sea. Everybody turned green and took turns to be sick heeled well over the waves have a horrible drop so we land with a thud after each wave deck covered although we are well reefed. Dare not go below as the cabin rocks horribley and water poor s through the deck. When it is time to go off watch rush down to a wet bed and shut my eyes. dread coming back on in the night grey and wet and not quite dark. Adelle and Dan out of action terrible dry wretching sounds Rob bravely carries on getting less sick and Iona does nt stop talking. Very difficult to get a grumpy Neil out of bed and I get cross instead of sick.

We tack for 24 hours 111nm instead of 67 nm so it take twice as long as it might torture. Reminds me of being in labour thinking it will have to end soon and why did I put myself through this again. Every time we have been along the North coast it has been a miserable sea and a head wind and the relief of getting into the shelter of Scrabster Bay is bliss.
Kenneth Adam is waiting on the cliff to join us we throw him a rope and tie up in the dirty grim industrial harbour and it feels like paradise.

After a shower in the yacht club and a friendly harbour master we are human again. There is an amazing twee cake shop in the old chapel pink and fluffy squeezed between ferry, fish factory and pub. There we have fantastic cakes and tea. A jolly evening drinking whisky telling Kenneth about our adventures.

Wake late the boys have to go back south by bus but Adelle bravely stays on with us and we leave immediately in order to catch the tide through the Pentland Firth.

Tacking out in a brisk wind into the Pentland Firth where the North Sea meets the Atlantic there is an incredible tide rip and you need to hit it right and just as we aproach the Merry Men of May the engine starts behaving oddly PANIC I am at the wheel cut the engine and I bear away from the cliffs of Dunster Head to a better course for sailing and we take off away from trouble. I had forgotten Lobie is a sailing boat. Neil down below trying to work out what is wrong, she overheated and so poking about in the water intake he comes back with a plug of sea weed. So we are able to resume our course gingerly trying the engine again and pleased not to be back in Scrabster waiting for a part.

Passing the deserted island of Stroma with its skeleton houses we are awed by a wall of water bubbling along the horizon.Turning south on a better course we avoid the worst. The sea is smooth now not much wind to sail down the coast then out to sea across to the triangle of the cromartie firth to Buckie a pleasant down wind sail with plenty of jybing. Arrived outside Port Soay at 1am in a strong wind on shore wind and a line of white breakers without a chart Neil wisely decides to retreat and go another 5 miles along the coast to Whitehills where we do have a plan of the harbour even so it is a very tricky entrance on the NW swell and we arrive in the shelter at speed with not much room to manoeuvre.

Tie up to a pontoon behind a German Yacht and gladly retire to bed.

Next morning we meet the nice harbour master an ex fisherman who does everything to make our stay comfortable so £20 well spent even though anchoring is free it is impossible on this coast in this wind so luckily Neil has no choice.

Very wet day when we arrive at the PortSoay Boat Festival the races have been cancelled because of the wild weather. we huddle in the Black Isle Brewery beer tent and find consolation, pity we could not make the harbour in the night but quite a tricky place as it dries out. The boats, old fishing smacks leave on the high tide to great cheers as they brave the swell thrown about and disappear into the troughs.

Bella arrives after her party we have tea and she delivers us back to Whitehills. It is still too rough to leave the harbour on the morning tide. Adelle Neil and I are to sail the boat to the Black Isle. Mouching about the coast we visit a caravan park doing some research we quiz the lady running the shop.

After lunch the tide is right to leave the harbour and we sail along the Moray coast finding all the places we know on land. A beautiful evening among the fishing boats and terns closing in on the black isle. Arrive at Cromarty at 1 am and pick out a bouy in the half light.

Sunny morning Neil drops Adelle and I off on the slimy harbour wall and I walk through sleepy Cromartie to Ronan's house but he doesn't answer the door so we go back to the boat and sit in the sun while Neil comes back to pick us up.

Off to catch the tide down the firth we follow the coast to Chanonry Point where Rona and Kenneth and there dogs wait for us to go by.

Then under the Kessock Bridge passed the Inverness harbour entrance where a boat is on her side having caught a sand bank.

The depth meter going worryingly low as we enter the Beauly Firth on an exploration to find a way through the sand banks to Coulmore. We do not want to have to call out the coast guard and it is not long before there is a judder as we run aground and go full astern taking down the sails we creep into the deeper water below Charleston and wait for high tide.

Raising the anchor continue cautiously on our way passed the Anchor and Chain we find the water a little deeper then Neil does some circles by the boat house to check the depth a little disappointing because the charts say 5 meter and we are only getting 4.5 at HW but Neil reckons it is worth a try despite my gloomy tide predictions and we anchor. Blow the dinghy up and row to shore, walking back to the house it all seems much safer on dry land and Lobie looks so content swinging to the tide we can see her from the house when the trees dont get in the way and she has nt touched the ground yet when we go to check the cows so we will see.

Crew Iona, Rob, Dan, Adelle, Kenneth, Neil and Maddy

Best Wishes

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