The day started with promise, the forecast of light variable winds was the best for quite a while.
The river at Newburgh was festooned with loved-up Eider ducks, everywhere cooing to each other. About 100m away on the far bank the seal colony was much less vocal today as they slid slowly from slumber to lethargy. The more curious members took a closer interest as the boat was loaded on the waters edge and soon they folllowed me out through the Bar.
Though the wind had dropped the swell was still running and there was some quite serious dumping waves over the sandbanks, the sort that would hurt as well as make you wet - I didn't want be part of that. I carefully threaded my way out accompanied by a number of seals who of course made much lighter work of the surf.
Finally out through the breakers and time to turn southbound, still in a surprising 4-6ft swell. The miles ticked away, though it was taking me a long time to wake up this morning. Short of Aberdeen I could see a wall of grey heading my way, another squall. This was a big one though, it stretched from 2-3 miles to my left to as far as I could see to my right. The familiar routine of the increasing swell combined with the veering and strengthening wind soon arrived - along with some impressive and painful hailstones - pogies on again!
When I appeared once again from the gloom I was in the middle of the anchorage for the oil rig support vessels, nervously I sneaked through between a couple of manouevering ships and the pilot boat. The wind dropped away nicely now and the tide picked up; soon I was ticking along nicely again - my goal for Catterline seemed a likely early stack. Good stuff.
But around Newtonhill the wind suddenly appeared beneath a rather ugly dark cloud, a stiff F4 in an instant, oh give me a break. Then I noticed a band of intense looking whitecaps in the distance, heading my way of course; when they hit things started to get a little more challenging.
The swell was still running and starting to break, the chop was all over the place along the rocky coastline and the wind was well into F5 and gusting on top - conditions just got lumpier and lumpier. Before long I realised that I was beaten, Catterline wasn't going to happen today. Time for another Plan B - Stonehaven.
It took quite a while to get into the bay and for a time I considered just holding station outside the bay until things settled, but eventually I sneaked behind the headland and into the sanctuary of the harbour. Phew.
The B&B on the water's edge looked inviting and so the day was done - of course once everything was unpacked the wind dropped as the wind gods teased me and tried to tempt me out again - no not today, I'll pick my moment when I'm ready!
Another day, another headwind - sounds familiar.