04 May 2012

Breaking the spell

Today started very nicely watching the lambs gamboling in the field below as I was offered second helpings of an excellent breakfast! Sally and Malcolm McCall really looked after us well at their fantastic Inverbrora B+B.
The weather would always play a big part in today, the big question was how much shelter there was down the Firth from the N winds.
We returned to the small harbour at Brora, it was lumpy out there with a fair amount of white. But I decided I would go; there were a number of options though if I wasn't happy: a return to Brora, a land further down the N coast or a get out at Porthmahonack on the Tarbert Ness peninsula at just before half way.
As I prepped my kit a group collected around of fishing/boating types to see what was going on. As they drifted away to launch a boat one came over to chat. He explained he had plied these waters all his life and then progressed to explain the likely conditions and tides out there, useful info I thought but his figures (especially the 5-6 kt tides) threw me. What seemed to start as a polite suggestion of advice took an edge, and I started to feel uncomfortable. He drifted away but the spell was broken, concentration and confidence evaporating in confusion - if he was right I had made some serious oversights. After all he had been here all his life, I was but a brief visitor.
After reviewing the plans and figures once again I eventually launched - out of the bay (one of the group had walked down to the mouth of the river to take photos of my last moments) and off I went.
It was lumpy and the wind increased further out but the Taran was taking it well. I knew I could make the Ness but it was going to be a long way to the other side... I included the Ness as a waypoint just in case and off I went.
The Taran is a blast downwind but things were getting lumpy; I realised that the paddling wouldn't be a great problem but admin would be. I could drink but eating would be rather difficult and well, relief was not going to be easy either. I was also gripping the paddles pretty hard and I figured my forearms were not up to that after the long day yesterday - all in all I decided I wasn't happy with the conditions for a further 3 hours after the 2 it would take to Tarbet Ness - so bang out on the end of the peninsula!
I slipped into a kelp strewn gully near the lighthouse; as I climbed out of the gully to phone the Team Manager for another International Rescue I found she had just arrived to walk to the lighthouse - fate!
Boat up, kit out and then the early stack gave an opportunity to sort out kit and admin - thanks to Summit to Sea for more bits and pieces, Rockpool for the trolley plate, Justine C and Barry for their trolley and Little Brother and Dad for their help - cheers everyone.
Oh, and a quick mention to Peter and Francis from Boston who came to chat.
And the 5-6 kt flow? Well I didn't find it, but was he right - well you can decide on that one.
Sent from my phone


Geoff said...

Hi John,
You are making fantastic progress mate, I really enjoy reading each days post. Hopefully the head winds are going to be a little less prominent now. Fair winds to you!

Anonymous said...

When I passed though there, I found some very strong currents kicking me offcourse whilst approaching Tarbet Ness...maybe that's what they meant.

You have some great coast coming up next, between Tarbet and Fraserburgh...

Mark R