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Tempus Fugit!

 

Sunday 3rd July 2011 – We woke to another brilliant blue sky and warm, sunny weather. There are boats everywhere, of all types, shapes and sizes and everybody is busy. It is a real buzz. We spent the day packing Red Ruth and getting rid of all the rubbish and packaging that we had transported from Avoch. Surprisingly and eventually it started to come together and we could find a place to sit down and eat. We will still be sleeping in the sleeping bags tonight as we didn’t bring any sheets with us! 
We see Avocet (another Rustler 42) and Carrick (a brand new Rustler 42 registered in Rhode Island) in the marina with us. All is well with Avocet and hopefully we can catch up with them again soon.
Saturday 2nd July 2011 – Breakfast is eaten and it’s time to set off again for Falmouth. We leave at 09h00, the sun is shining and it’s going to be a hot day. We need to find fuel – motorway prices in excess of £1.48 a litre so a bit of a hunt and we found a local station selling at £1.30 a litre. We eventually make Falmouth at 12h30 – a total of 720 miles since leaving Avoch.
We found Red Ruth at Port Pendennis Marina. It was a joy to see her again but where on earth were we going to put all our bits and pieces. We enjoyed reacquainting ourselves with her and admiring her newly polished hull and clean teak decks. The afternoon was spent unloading the car and loading the boat. 4 trips later the car was empty, the boat was full and we were trying to puzzle out how to find a place to sleep….. So, we abandoned the task and headed into Falmouth for a walk and a pint. It was as good as we remember it, helped by the extremely good weather, sunshine and temperatures in the 20’s. What Joy! 
The RNLI shouts were posted at the lifeboat station. We read about a yacht ‘Lady Lesley’ that had an electrical failure with a lifeboat response. On the pontoon we met the skipper of ‘Lady Lesley’ and Peter assisted him to reset his instruments. He tells us about his adventures from Azores and his time in the Med, with some useful recommendations and tips for wintering in Malta and Cyprus. We will look these up.
Friday 1st July 2011 – We’ve had lots of cards and messages of support for our journey. Again we have been most touched by these and had not realised how much we were in their thoughts. However, it’s time to go and its 6 o’clock in the morning! The car is packed, the lunch is made and its 6 degrees C. The goodbyes to those left behind were emotional and a final look back on our house as we drive off. We will see you again in 5 years’ time.
We eventually made Falfield, north of Bristol, at 16h00 despite some delays around Manchester. We stayed at the Gables Hotel, which was OK. 
Thursday 30th June 2011 – we had some last minute paperwork to arrange, Hilary and Pug came round and we all went to the Station Hotel in Avoch for a meal. Large helpings of fresh seafood left everyone feeling stuffed! Congrats to the Hotel for the quality of the seafood and also managing to cope with a huge party as well as the local diners without any significant delays.
Saturday 25th June 2011 – Moray Firth Cruiser Race Day - Peter crewed for David Price on Drumlin in the Moray Firth Cruiser Race. Unfortunately the winds were fickle and he and David spent 2 hours drifting aimlessly, although the wind picked up later. They abandoned the race after 4 hours. Meanwhile I moved Jeanne into George Street and then we made our way to Cromarty to watch the prize-giving. Due to the variable winds we had some time to wait for the boats to cross the line so a large glass of white wine in the sun outside the Royal Hotel was the order of the afternoon.
When everyone was ashore we made our way to the Cromarty Arms Hotel where we treated everyone to a drink as part of our farewell. We had a great night and it was good to say goodbye properly to people. We were most touched by the good wishes offered by everybody.

Saturday 18th June 2011 - The farewells continue!

Yesterday our friends, Graham and Evelyn, came up from Edinburgh to see us.  As always it was great to see them and we had a wonderful seafood lunch at the local Station Hotel.  I'd highly recommend it. 

Tuesday was another farewell lunch hosted by my immediate work colleagues.  Another fabulous afternoon.  Wednesday they outdid themselves and had arranged and 'almost surprise' farewell tea party which was open invite to anyone in NHS Highland that wished to come along and bade me good riddance - oops goodbye!  Those wonderful girls produced an amazing spread of all my favourites - huge creamy meringues, millionaire shortbread, scones with jam and cream, shortbread and much much more.  A good turnout with a brilliant speech by our Associate Medical Director -Ken.  He had everyone in tears of laughter and judging by the comments afterwards they'll be talking about it for some time yet.  Thanks Ken.  

Gill presented me with a big bouquet of flowers and an inspiriational quote  "Sail, don't drift, to the port of your destination".  I think I can safely say that this sums it up.  We decided this was something we wanted to do and have worked for the past few years in achieving it. Tracy and Gill had their diaries manipulated to allow them to come along -  and the rest of the team - the emotions were high, my words can't define how it felt and I'll miss you all.  You're wonderful people and the best team anyone could want to work with.

Friday 10th June 2011 -  The farewells begin!  Today was my farewell lunch at work hosted by my colleagues.  We have worked together for over 8 years and been through lots of changes.  They have made me cry many times but today it was in the nicest possible way.  They presented with the most beautiful bracelet and necklace which I shall treasure.  

Trying to finish things at work to hand over has been really stressful as is letting go of 'my baby'.  I have been with the department since its inception and taken it through the ups and downs of organisational changes.  Oh Well - the ups and downs now for me will be the size of the next wave!

Last weekend Peter and I attended the Scottish Rustler Owners Dinner in Ardfern.  We had a good night and met some lovely people.  It was an historic moment in Rustler history with owners of the first 001 hulls for the R36, R42 and R44 being around the table together. 

We took advantage whilst in the area for some sight seeing and took a trip to the Bridge over the Atlantic - apparently the only one and its been there since 1749.  

Before the Bridge was built the local hotel 'Tigh an Truish' which means 'house of the trousers' was the place the Islanders changed from Kilts to Trousers when heading to the Mainland.  We also visited Loch Melfort and saw the damage caused by the storms on the West Coast a few weeks ago.  The flora in the area was very brown having been burned by the salt in the high winds. The prettiest little harbour at the head of the loch - stunning views - but sitting on the harbour wall was a yacht which had some serious cracks in her hull.  Just to the left was another yacht literally high and dry but undamaged (at least nothing we could see).  It must be heartbreaking for the owners - both Peter and I felt so sad to see these yachts as we can imagine how we would feel if it was Red Ruth.

 

Wednesday the 1st of June 2011- Well its still windy, its blowing a steady F4/5 from the west gusting to at least a F6. In the last 10 days we've seen some strange weather with snow on the hills, gales (sustained F8 and occasionally F9) torrential showers and hailstones and so on. Today and for the next 3 days the temperature is due to rise briefly, so maybe we can turn the central heating off?

No doubt someone will blame the global warming or the ash clouds from Iceland, but me I blame the farmers who were complaining its been too dry.

Its certainly not done the sailing any good, I've only been able to get a berth on 2 occasions (see below) and in the meantime both Chanonry Sailing club and Cromarty Boat Club have suffered damage to some of the boats on swing moorings. At Chanonry a boat lost its bow roller and ended up on the shore (no serious damage), another sank and a third lost its mast. Whilst at Cromarty another boat has ended up on the shore, and another went walk about after breaking its mooring.

So you can see why we want to sail in more comfortable climes. Its now only 30 days until we depart for Falmouth and then only another 2 weeks after that before we leave for Lisbon. I find it exciting and anxiety provoking both at the same time, its a daunting thought to give up (albeit voluntarily) the comfort of routine for the relative unknown and unsettled. 

I sold my car on Monday, and now for the first time in 39 years have no car of my own, another interesting experience: not unpleasant but having to learn new ways of coping.

This Friday we're off to Ardfern for a dinner with the Scottish sector of the Rustler Owners' Association, Nick Offord and Adrian Jones are coming up for it so I will catch up on how Red Ruth is. We really can't wait to see her again. I suspect it will take us some time to get to know her again!

Sunday the 8th of May 2011-The dining room is rapidly disappearing under piles of equipment, clothes and bedding in vacuum packed bags, books and documents.

Speaking of which, the Long Range Radio Certificate arrived on Friday and it looks most impressive. So it should considering the effort and cost that went into getting it. Now I can officially operate the SSB, VHF, DSC and Inmarsat C. Trouble is I've already forgotten half of it!

Lorraine and I went sailing with David Price from the Cromarty Boat Club on his Twister "Drumlin", yesterday, in the first of the MYA series. Not so much sailing as drifting with the tide and flukey winds, it took nigh on an hour to round the first mark! Still it was good to get back out onto the water and Drumlin is a fine boat. We had a super display of dolphins with a number of young ones being escorted by adults.

We both need to get our sealegs so on Wednesday I went sailing with Robert Hogg on his Elizabethan "SeaJay" from Cromarty to Nairn and back. The outward journey was on calm seas with light NE winds, after an hour in Nairn for lunch on our return to the pontoons, the wind was up to a force 6 with a most unpleasant chop, I felt most unwell but managed to keep lunch down! Another fine sailing boat which with its long keel tracks well, even in that sort of weather.

2nd May 2011 - April has been a busy month with courses, catch up with friends and endless lists of things to do.  We ended the month in Fort William visiting friends (Jim and Christine) who treated us to a day out on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula.  A picnic on the beach (champagne included), white sands, aqua green seas, sunshine and warmth!  (another 10 degrees and we could have been in the Caribbean). 

pic - on the beach at Ardtoe

20th April 2011- Time is flying in, slowly we are getting on top of the tasks to do and can see the tasks done.  At last the weather has shown signs of improvement, although here in the North of Scotland you really don’t want to tempt fate as you cannot depend on being out of winter until the end of May!

At least the days are longer and there is a sense of freshness and energy, all the local boats are now back in the water and we are hawking our services as crew to anyone who would be foolish enough to take us on. It has also surprised us at how interested and enthused folk are about our journey, I would encourage anyone who has a dream to get on and do it rather than regret not trying later in life. (Enough of the home grown philosophising!).

So the work on the boat goes on and as you would expect so too does the expenditure, controlling it is a wholetime job in itself.

I've completed successfully the Long Range Radio Certificate course with Bob Smith of Yachtcom in Southampton, 2 weeks ago and am waiting for my certificate. The course was intense and hard work, but I can now legally operate my SSB and if I still had it my Inmarsat C, I also had a good refresher on the VHF and DSC. There were 5 other course members, all of whom had military ties, interesting people with good and scary stories to tell. None of us found the course or exam easy, not even the RAF helicopter pilot! Our examiner was Denise Brehaut the author of the definitive book on the subject “GMDSS A User’s Handbook”, a daunting lady.

I purchased, on the course, an Eton portable radio which can act as a good quality MF/HF/SW/AM/SSB receiver as well as the software for weather fax (Mscan Meteo) plus all the cables. I’ve been trying out the knowledge gained on the course but the reception here in Avoch is not so good.

19th of April 2011-  Lorraine and I went across to Findhorn marina to the RYA training centre and did the RYA sea safety course, we spent the morning in quite entertaining lectures learning the basics of sea safety and then an even more entertaining and wet afternoon practising what we had learnt in the swimming pool at RAF Kinloss. Great fun, hard work and gave us some reassurance about how to make ourselves safe on board and how to maximise our survival if we ever have to use the liferaft. We met some interesting people on the course, including Simon Paterson who was running the course and everyone seemed interested in our adventure.

I’ve now got to make some final decisions on the last of the purchases for the Red Ruth. Menno and Jane from Cromarty have been good enough to lend us an Aqua6Gen for electricity generation (although if they are willing I would like to buy it from them), I will also purchase a 50 watt solar panel ( we will then have solar, water, wind and diesel generators on board) and a LVM voltage regulator for them both. We will also need to buy Navionics cards for the Med and paper charts as well as pilot books and so on!

17th April 2011 - We had our last dinner party last night, we expect, and have brought everything we intend to take with us down to the dining room. We need to measure the volume of stuff to take down to Falmouth, so we can hire the right size vehicle. Sometimes it feels like we will need an oversized Transit, but it looks like with a bit of pushing and shoving we’ll get it into a large estate car.