Passage 14, Peterhead to Whitehills
I wasn't sorry to leave Peterhead, to be completely frank. It's a marina in the middle of a working port just like Montrose. Handy and safe but hardly picturesque. I never got out on the bike so can't comment on its environs.
But I was excited about the passage as I would have favourable and strong winds to get me round to Whitehills quickly. It turned out to be the case for almost the whole passage. I left at 11am which meant I'd have some tide against me to start with but that it would soon turn with me, to push me round into the Moray Firth. And once that tide came, after about 2 hours, I was sprinting along at a steady 7-8 knots - very fast, in other words. Marvy. I'd be in Whitehills in time for tea. Except the winds were due to go Westerly at some point which is the direction I was going once in the Firth. They came an hour too early for my tastes. Accompanied by rain.
If you look on my "see where I am" track you'll see a graceful round up of going ever northward into the Firth as the wind shifted to westward. By the time I was practically going north I tacked to head back toward the coast and hopefully into Whitehills. Unfortunately the wind decided to go all wishy-washy at that point and I stopped making any real progress. Still, only 7 miles away so I packed the sails away and motored home. Got in by 6:15pm.
Bertie the harbour master was waiting for me and helped me tie up. I'd given him my "see where I am" page which he had diligently followed .. to see where I was! He said "I see you were cheating back there going at 7 or 8 knots". I beg your pardon, Bertie? One does not cheat. That speediness was down to my speedy boat, the speedy wind, the speedy tide and my speedy planning. Nothing to do with my rusty old engine.
Turns out Bertie is best of breed and we had many a conversation about the harbour and the people who have frequented it. Bertie also dolled out passage advice and helped plan my bicycle adventure of the following day. Top man, Bertie.
Whitehills is a lovely little village which is managed, relatively independently, by the village council (as opposed to a district council). Which means it is managed by people who care. And it shows. The harbour is well equipped and a pleasure to visit as a yachtsman and the village itself looks pristine.
The next day I stayed in port. The morning got occupied by me talking to Bertie, doing some odd jobs and generally faffing around. By 1pm I was ready for explorations.
I have to say that the time I spend exploring the locale on my bike are the best times. And this time, from Whitehills, was no exception. In fact it ranks high up there. I first zipped over to Portsoy - about 6 miles up the coast. Portsoy is a lovely example of the Scottish coastal village genre of this area. It has an old harbour built in 1600 something and a "new" one build in the 19th century next to it. It is picturesque in the extreme. All these coastal villages have very solid stone built houses giving the impression of having arising naturally from their rocky foundations. It all looks very nice. The coastal cycle route I took afforded spectacular views - but then I'm beginning to expect spectacular views these days. Going to Portsoy meant cycling west against the wind so it was a slog. On the way back I hardly had to peddle!
And while sailing back, I made a small detour to Boyndie. Ah, what a treasure chest this turned out for me. It's a little conglomeration of shops and manicured walking grounds around a second world war air base. It has loads of displays telling you about that airbase which I found absorbingly fascinating. I met one bloke who had helped in excavating an old war plane who's propellor now hangs in the coffee room. Then there was a long walk alongside the airbase (it was a significant self contained "village" in the war with 3,000 people living there) with plaques telling you stories. What blissful education. Long walk, mind - 4 miles. One of which I ran to get a bit warmer.
But that's not the end of it. They'd built 8 wind turbines on the old site and the walk got you up close and personal to them. Boy they're big beasts. I worked out that the tips of the blades must have been travelling at about 80 miles an hour! Scary.
I got back at 5pm and was flushed with the excitement and pleasure of my discovery day. What wonders. I rewarded myself (for something) by having Fish and Chips at the excellent Galley seafood restaurant who kindly contributed my tip to Honeypot (so they got a big tip!).
Leaving at 11:00am, a very fast passage with F5 favourable winds except for the last 7 miles which had to be motored. 7 hour passage with some sun and rain, though still rather frigid winds. Following day's exploring was wonderful.