Passage 12, Montrose to Stonehaven

That Monday night in Montrose the weather forecasts were not looking good but I needed to get out of this port. I decided my best bet was to hope the winds would be lighter in the middle of the night and so planned to leave Montrose at 3am in the morning. I'd be long gone by the time the Pilot boat guys came at 5am! In any case, it was physically impossible for me to leave at 5am. At that time the tidal stream coming into the harbour would be 6 knots. My boat does 5 knots. So, I'd go backwards at 1 knot.

I was off at 2:45am and I was right, the winds were comfortable and I enjoyed a peaceful night sail. Twilight sail, actually, because even at 3am there was some twilight. The sun rose at 5am.

Electrics scare
Since I knew I was going to sail at night, I tested the navigation lights before I went to bed. Switch on ... no worky. So I didn't go to bed. Instead I set to the task of rectifying the matter. I opened up the switch/patch panel to reveal the mass of wiring for all things electrical. Maybe it's the fuse - I've got spares aplenty. No it wasn't the fuse. Out came the multimeter so that I could make a few measurements. Damn, I'd left it on last time I used it and the battery was flat. No worries, I had provisioned with spare batteries for all my various electrical stuff, rummage, rummage ... except for the multimeter. OK, forget the multimeter. I patched the nav lights to use a different circuit. They worked - yippee, that meant it was something wrong with the patch panel switch. Trouble was that I have no spare circuits and the one I had switched to was my auto pilot power supply. Solution: I rewired the autopilot to use the same circuit as my navigation instruments. Job done. Very relieved. Can sail in the morning!

The passage
As the sun broke over the horizon, the wind stiffened into a F6 and I was once again forging along with just the foresail. So I made good progress and was pleased to miss the F7 winds that became predominant for the rest of the day. I was into Stonehaven by 7:30am! The final approach involved passing a series of rocky cliff-bound inlets that were most spectacular. One of which supported the vast ruins of a castle high up on a craggy rock - later to be visited from land.

The passage was not without a couple of challenges for me. First, the bolts that anchored the tiller pinion were working loose so, out with the tool box and spanners and tighten those up (different from the rudder bolts that loosened earlier). Getting the tool box out and back again is quite a faff - and when you're under way it's always a significant distraction to fix stuff. You have to keep a careful watch. Anyway, all good and done.

I was also running low on battery power and decided to have the engine ticking over to charge them for a while. Then the fan belt started squealing which meant it was slipping. Not good, the water pump and alternator would stop and then the engine will fail. Got to stop the engine. This one I have to fix. I need the engine to get into any harbour. Back out with the toolbox, dive into the engine space and re-adjust the fan belt tightness. Job done.

Stonehaven
Initially I was in the outer harbour but the wind was getting so strong I asked the harbour master if I could move to the inner harbour. Request accepted and that's where I've ended up. All good. I spent most of the day planning, sorting bits and pieces and sleeping (I was up at 2am). By 3pm I was ready to go exploring on the bike.

Oh man, what scenery surrounds this little town of two rivers. The town itself is quite pleasant though not remarkable. I cycled/walked to the Dunnottar castle I'd seen from the boat and witnessed these craggy inlets from land. Absolutely stunning. I find myself staring at these vistas with almost disbelief. Can this be true? I then cycled a little through the Dunnottar woods and found a gorgeous church (I love churches, remember?) surrounded on all side by a huge expanse of immaculate graveyard.

All in all, am I glad I came to Stonehaven! Another rich experience.

Summary
A successful bid to beat the winds to get to Stonehaven in under 5 hours - just 20 miles, in the early hours. All sailed. The scenery around Stonehaven has to be seen to be believed.