Friday, 17 June 2011

Banff to Portnockie

Following my arrival at Banff Marina, James the harbourmaster came to welcome me and introduce me to the facilities. One of these facilities being a washing machine and drier, located in a room off of his office. So at last the laundry was done!! I also made use of the very clean toilet and shower in the marina. What a clean boy.

I stayed a couple of days in Banff, sleeping long and catching up on emails etc. James was also very helpful in taking me to the petrol station at the top of the town to fill up Ruachs' petrol tanks. this saved me a very steep walk there and back with 20 litres of fuel.

One afternoon James mentioned that he was going out for an evening sail in his Westerly Centaur, so I asked if he wanted a crew. Offer accepted we sailed about five miles West to Portsoy, while sailing he regaled me with tales of the actor Timothy Spall and his barge which overwintered in Banff. Off Portsoy we met a couple of other Banff yachts, so all returned together on the gentle evening breeze. The Westerly Centaur is not one of the fastest boats around, but they are very capable safe seaworthy boats. the Centaur was one of the first yachts I skippered and this sail brought back many fond memories.
I think Ruach was starting to take root in Banff so it was time to haul anchor and head to pastures new. The following day I set out for Portnockie, about 10 miles further up the coast.
I recieved a phone call from Bruce, a guy I had not seen for far too many years. A mutual friend had alerted him to my little adventure (Thanks John). So we arranged to meet up once I arrived at Portnockie.
Just before arriving at Portnockie I passed the little port of Cullen. This port is made famous by the dish Cullen Skink. Now I'm led to believe that the Skink around Cullen are related to the Haggis, the small hairy beasties that have one leg shorter than the other to ease their grazing in the Scottish highlands. The way these wee beasties are caught is to chase them the wrong way around the hillside until they overbalance and roll down the hillside to be caught in the glen below. Whatever the Skink is, they do make a tasty soup.
The Port of Cullen, famous for Cullen Skink

Interesting 'Bow Fiddle' rock formation near Portnockie

A mile off the port I received another phone call from Bruce, "Fancy a fish supper?". Now who am I to refuse such an offer. Half an hour later I'd been introduced to Bruce's daughter Eve and we were feasting on Cullen's finest Chips.
Bruce & Eve

Three year old Eve was more than happy climbing up the vertical harbour wall ladders with gay abandon; These are the ladders that I certainly don’t enjoy climbing.

Eve at the helm of Ruach.
"Come on Dad, can we get our boat in the water too"

Just before leaving town Alsion, Bruces wife came down to the pier to see me too. What a great suprise, and what a great day. We really must keep in touch this time. 
Finally this day I was rewarded with a Portnockie sunset.

Sunset over Portknockie
Today's Factoid - Portknockie is in Gaelic Port Chnocaidh, the hilly port.... and it certainly is.
The port surrounded by a natural bowl of rock atop the village is placed. Which of course means no phone signals in or out..... Bliss :-)

Ruach turned out to be quite a spectacle in town, whenever I looked up to the top of the harbour wall there seemed to be someone else looking back at me. Or if I was walking back to the boat from a sojourn ashore there were often one or two people looking over her from the quay. When they saw me coming they’d frequently pass the time with me having a bit of a ‘bleather’ about boats and such.
On my final night in Portnockie I was to receive an unwelcome surprise. the Harbour master came down to the boat about 5.30 to suggest I squeeze into the inner harbour as it was going to blow up a bit in the night. One of the locals helped me move into the inner harbour. Then stayed for a cuppa and a chat aboard Ruach. His boat was the pretty Shetland double-ender moored next to Ruach. It is believed to be the sixth boat from the bottom pictured here.

Then during the night blow up it did. Force 8 occasionally 9 according to the  forecast, with the seas breaking over the harbour wall I can believe it too. 

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Catch you next time.

David H.