A mixed day today; the forecast was for variable winds initially but then into a stiff headwind in the afternoon, possibly up to F7. The plan was to try to grab a few miles but be ready to run for the hills (or beach) if the F7 appeared.
At St Combs conditions looked good with little swell and a gentle breeze from the S, still only 5 degrees though. Loaded up and on the water only a few minutes late, out through the gentle surf and off towards the dunes at Rattray Head.
Straight away the headwind strengthened and it was once again into a F4, but I'm getting used to that.
I paused at Rattray to watch some guys working on the light (they seemed to be working on the lead on the roof) and to put my pogies on; the swell was picking up now and I could see an ominous looking wall of grey heading in from the south. The dog walkers on the beach saw it too and quickly scurried off through the dunes.
The rain hit, the wind strengthened and the vis dropped as I continued S with the St Fergus gas terminal for company.
As I appeared once again out of the gloom I got a quick wave from a passing fishing boat and a bit of sunshine. The wind dropped off completely as I neared Peterhead, leaving just a gentle oily swell. Just N of Peterhead I bounced through a rather lumpy overfall, reminding me of Penrhyn Mawr. The drone of passing helicopters was now becoming constant as they flit to and fro the offshore oil fields - not my favourite sound. It sounded like a war going on out there.
Peterhead looked intriguing with some impressive floating machinery in the port, but the combination of calm and good tide egged me on to take a few more miles.
The coastline was rocky with small cliffs now, the ruins of Slains Castle looked impressive on the tops but I could see no sign of the dude with the pointy teeth.
Then the wind hit; the wind gods had obviously been distracted for a while and now they were making up for it. The next couple of hours were a wallowing, jarring ride into a progressively strengthening wind, watching the boat speed slowly ebbing away.
Plan B was brought into action, a bit of a dodgy threading route through Newburgh Bar had me finally sneaking up river past the rather large and vocal colony of seals on the other shore.
A mixed day in all, but a rather satisfying paddle all the same.
I've been asked a number of times if I'll be writing a book after all this, and I think I just might - one of them there diet books: The Circumnavigation Diet. This one is the real deal though; you really can eat whatever you want, in just about whatever quantity you want and still not gain weight. No counting calories, no bulk order of lettuce or living off watery soup, no complicated plans just one simple activity - all you need to do is paddle 6 hours a day, every day, along the UK coastline - trust me it really works. Bugger, there goes the book idea, ah well remember you heard it here first.
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