I am sure you have realised by now that I am intrigued by dolphins – although I am still enough of a naturalist to know not to go completely misty eyed over them.
They are the top natural predator in these waters. they hold territory and travel in well organised packs. They are more like wolves or lions than labradors or bunny rabbits.
There is often a feint whiff of melancholy about the boat when Jill is no longer aboard. She had looked at the weather forecast and seen the sun shining brightly in suffolk – while scotland was due to go a bit yeuch With the benefit of several years service as as a yachtsman’s daughter she had long ago decided that undertaking coastal passages in iffy weather is an activity best left to the terminally afflicted to do by themselves or in the company of like minded mates. She had taken the Micra south until the weatherman was certain it was safe to come back. I confess that her absence means that standards of both cuisine and hygiene aboard Katie are about to take a bit of dive.
If you want to see what I thought of Stone-haven or Peterhead or Banff then I came past here last year with a Centaur full of young people – which makes the absence of jill all the more intense this time around – but there were places on the Forth, Chromarty, Tay and Moray that I wanted to explore – and since Katie was already up here it seemed insane not to squeeze one more summer out of her before trailering her ignominiously home.
As I pass these massive seabird colonies, these rafts of divers, galleries of nests in tight packed gannetries, and rookeries I celebrate the fact that I have been alive to witness their existence – in some areas they thrived when men with ropes stopped lowering themselves down the cliff faces to steal their eggs and plundering their laboriously nurtured almost grown but not quite fledged young.
But now the threat from humans comes not from men above but from men below starving them out using the technology of the drift net, the trawl and the dredger with which they scrape and scoop with frightening efficiency the biomass from open ocean, coast and estuary It would be great if thoroughly out of hand mankind would, just for once, live up to its name and forget about regarding the sea as a bottomless source of protein and leave be, it to manage itself.
I like to keep the rig fairly slack – no gunter should be sweated down bar tight – , fine reaching through a choppy sea a bit of slack in sails and shrouds keeps shock loads to a minimum. Love my ghoster – so much better than a spinnaker when single handing.
I love the way with sailing your fortunes and prospects can turn in a trice – one moment drifting aimlessly in an aggravating sail flogging, tea spilling slop wafting you around one of the most feared headlands in Britain – and the next moment an entrancing breeze springs at you and Katie is scything through the water at a wave peircing base. The boat comes alive under your tiller hand and life is damn near perfect
Oil money men out from aberdeen riding their $10,000 jetskis back to harbour – probably
As I look down now from Google Earth I see all those small fishing villages with their man made unnatural harbours that I blithley sailed by. Scores of these built communities with their tiny man made harbours were thrown up along the coast to accommodate clansmen and their families who were thrown off the land in the clearances – – 200 or so closely clustered croft like houses in straight streets and narrow wynds – places where the clansmen, who were once proud cattle herders and britains bonniest rough riders more akin to cowboys than farmers were herded into these warren like settlements and told to knuckle under, lay to the oar and sail and learn the utterly alien to them skills of fishermen – some of those former landsmen chose to keep their dignity and emigrated to Canada or the great plains where land was as cheap as chips for those with the guts to take it by force of arms from Pawnee, sioux, cheyanne and commanche. The toughest clansmen started and grew cattle companies that encompassed hundreds of thousands of acres – and in becoming cattle barons they annihilated cultures that had endured for thousands of years before the coming of the displaced clansman and his ilk.
And finally into whitehills – a lovely little village with one of the tightest harbours along this whole stretch of coast – but as snug as a bug in a rug and an ideal place to wait out the next deluge and eagerly anticipate the return of my sweet who has promised to journey north as soon as the weatherman starts issuing confident assertions about the imminent return of long warm east coast scottish summer days.