Passage 11, Dunbar to Montrose

It is never easy to sum up a passage as it so often involves significant highs and lows. The high was that my passage started in perfect conditions; A following wind, sunshine and ... wait for it ... not unduly cold! The low was that it ended in a near gale.

My intention was to make for Stonehaven, some 60 miles away. I was prepared for a long sail. The ever helpful Duncan had come out on Sunday night and helped me get the boat out of the inner Dunbar harbour into the main one so that I could leave when I wanted the following morning. I was all set and I left shortly after 7am in the aforementioned conditions.

I knew the winds were going to get stronger and I wasn't disappointed. After a few hours I had to reduce sail (reef) significantly.  After a few more hours I had to take the main sail down altogether as I now was in F6-F7 winds. The sea had built up considerably and for the first time on this venture I was feeling liable to sea-sickness as, with the following waves and wind, the boat rocked and veered quite violently. In these conditions, my autopilot was not really up for the job and I was helming most of the time by now. By the end I only had a heavily furled (reduced) foresail and was still screaming along at 6 knots.

So, decisions. Do I cut the journey short? I could go into either Arbroath or Montrose. I decided I would and warned Montrose port control that I was on my way. Montrose is a commercial port not set up for yachts and when I calld them the controller was a little flustered saying that they did not have much room but that no. 6 berth was free. OK, fine, I thought.

Turns out that no. 6 berth is fit for the QE2 (almost) and was a massive long piece of concrete wall against which little me parked for a few minutes - but it was obviously a non starter. I ended up tied up outside the pilot boats. At 6pm they needed to use one and so I had to fend off and reset against the other one. He returned an hour later and I had to get off and on again. Not really ideal. They also said they were going at 5am the next morning so I'd need to do the same. I said, never mind that I'm leaving with you.

Anyway, as it turns out, I had a good natter with the pilot boat coxswain and he showed me round the pilot boat and I went down into the engine room that housed two huge diesel engines. Good stuff.

Although I may have been OK to continue onto Stonehaven, it would have been very tough as I was already tired. I measured a F8 (37knts) of wind just standing on the quay inside Montrose port! So I was glad to have got into this safe haven, however inconvenient/inappropriate it was.

Started out as a good sail but the increasing winds and forecasts of gales made me increasingly nervous. A difficult decision saw me resort to Montrose for a safe haven. 45 miles in total - all sailed.