Friday, 15 June 2012

Darling Happy Anniversary

Hi Chaps,
As it stands we are only a few days away from the day with longest period of daylight for 2012 and we in Scotland, along with most of the UK, are still waiting for Summer to arrive. We have had a few splendidly hot balmy windless days in which I have had chance to refresh more of Ruach's varnish, but the weather has generally been cold and wet.
I just love the smell of fresh golden varnish, Mmmm 

Looking at my diary last week reminded me that it has now been just over a year since I set off from Port Edgar in the Firth of Forth to begin my trip over the top of Scotland. I am amazed how quickly that time has passed, but guess that says something about my age rather than the actual time elapsed.

This post is most likely the final update to the blog. So I intend to cover off a few things.

The first being to publish the final total raised for the two Alzheimer charities.
Between the donations you made, the donations made en-route, the matched giving from my previous employer and a final bit from the tax man we raised a smidge under £3200! Well done and thank you to you all!!
However if you fancy donating a bit more to the charities from this years charity pot the charities would be most grateful. The usual links are below or send a txt to 70070 with a message of  SAIL51 and the amount. ie SAIL51 20 to donate £20 to Alzheimer Scotland. Txts are FREE and all of your donation goes to the charity. for the Alzheimer's Society

Next a few confessions:

  • Did you know that the furthest distance I had travelled in Ruach in one go before I set off on my expedition was less than 15 miles? We learnt a lot about each other during the voyage. In the early part of the trip I didn't go all the way across to see the Bell Rock lighthouse off Arbroath at close hand because it was 'too far offshore' at 10 miles from the nearest land. Yet when I visited Stornoway later in the cruise I was something like 20 miles offshore in the turbulent North Minch. Ruach looked after me well.
  • I had a wake up call in Kerrera Sound after leaving Oban. This is an area I have sailed a fair bit and complacency could have been my downfall. As I sailed along, creeping along the shore as is my want, I spied a light patch in the water a couple of metres to my right. My first thought was 'that looks a nice sandy bottom through the clear water', only to realise that I'd strayed a bit too near the coast and it was actually a rock just under the surface of the water!!
  • The heads (toilet) repairs carried out before I set off were never completely satisfactory. But I survived!! ;-) 
  • Astonishingly never once during the whole trip did I have to reef the mainsail. When reefing was necessary it was done by first lowering the topsail, then if further reefing was required it was done by dousing either the jib or staysail. This was in winds up to the top end of a force five. It just goes to show how well Roger Dongray the designer and Cornish Crabbers the builders put this sailing package together.
  • A slight leak in the engine cooling system developed around Peterhead that was just out of reach under the engine. I had to monitor the situation frequently to ensure a) that the engine remained cool enough when any large demands were placed upon it and b) that we didn't sink! This was resolved once I was back in my home berth at Largs
  • You may remember that I had various troubles with the engine throughout the cruise. I'm pleased to report that I now have astern once again after replacing a solenoid in the complicated box of electrickery that lives at the foot of my bunk. I also have refurbished the engine cooling water pump that was on it's last legs during the stint from Kinlochbervie to Stornoway. In addition I have taken the engine out of the boat during the winter, shaken my fist at it and told it to behave and put it back. I now have a much better understanding of the little beating heart that sit under Ruach's cockpit floor.
The beast in it's lair

Some factoids
  • During the trip I covered 917 nautical miles, that's 1055 statute miles or 1698 kilometres. That is a lot of sea in anyone's book.
  • I consumed around 36 Imperial gallons of petrol. Being a petrol engine she is more thirsty than an equivalent diesel one. But the engine is only intended as a backup to the main source of power, which is of course the wind. Free for the using (Don't tell the government!!)
  • After several more haircuts all traces of the Arbroath cut have thankfully disappeared.

I've been asked what was the highlight of my trip. Now that is an almost impossible question to answer. A single highlight, no, but several things spring easily to mind. The few days I spend at Skullomie in the Kyle of Tongue rates highly. The dolphins en-route to Stornoway. Sharing coffee in the cockpit with friends. The people I met along my way and the kindness I was shown as I travelled. Don't ask me to pick a single event, person or place. My answer to this has to be 'The Trip!' 'All of it!'

The ripples go on....
Every now and then details of my voyage still bubble to the surface. A lady contacted me to see if she could use a picture from my blog to give to her nana for her 90th birthday. It transpires that Lysbster Harbour is of great importance to her nana as her husband, who was killed when he was in his early 30's, worked on the harbour when it was being built.  Her nana sadly now has dementia and lives in a nursing home, her illness makes the 'here and now' a difficult place for her to be in, but talking about the past and seeing pictures prompts memories and makes her eyes light up.
             I was choked when I sent off the few pictures that I had.
In another instance a gentleman contacted me with a small photo he had taken of a 'nice boat' he had seen in Upper Loch Torridon last year. Unknowingly he'd taken a picture of Ruach with Brian Wilson and Me sailing in the Loch and then came across my blog while doing some research about Loch Torridon on the web for his own website. 
Photo from the author of the website for the cottage Badan Mhugaidh

And finally......
People have asked me 'what next?' Will I continue South and complete my circumnavigation of the British Isles? My answer to that is in all probability no. But I would happily do the same trip again, this time going West to East 'over the top' for a change.
But at this time no further epic journey is currently planned for Ruach and me. However I do keep looking at the charts for Ireland and thinking that a lap of that could be interesting. I also fancy spending some more time exploring the North West of Scotland as it is such a beautiful place and for various reasons during the cruise my time there was all too brief. 
So watch this space, who knows what we will get up to?
If you don't mind I may send out the occasional mail to keep you informed of anything noteworthy if you are on my mailing list. Drop me a note if you would prefer not to hear and I'll unsubscribe you. (Or for that matter if you want 'in' click here to subscribe.)
David H.

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