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What we do 2009 (part 3)
Helmsdale, Wick, then Orkney We planned the wee cruise to co-inside with the opening of the new Wick Marina, departing Finechty on Thursday 25th June. Neil and Bill Shillitto crewed on Fusion 2 and Mairi crewed with Bob Lawton on Sparkle. We set off for Helmsdale at about 1.30pm on Thursday and the weather was hot, sunny and gorgeous. Sea state calm, winds light to moderate. The winds were southerly so we hoisted the spinnakers and took off. As we ate up the miles it was clear that Fusion was doing better with her chute than we were doing on Sparkle, with the spinnaker, however, Sparkle was actually heading for Helmsdale whilst Fusion was more set on a course for Wick! I do remember from my Day Skipper course how to go from A to B, in a straight line, being the quickest option!!!! Neil and Bill were having a belter of a sail though but destined for somewhere else, far, far away. The nearer we got to Helmsdale the more the wind got up and the sea state started to get a bit lumpy as the waves bounced back at us from hitting the cliffs. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw Fusion's spinnaker getting dumped! We were sailing with just the mainsail up on Sparkle, with about 25 knots of wind up our backsides as we covered the final few miles and we had earlier rigged a preventor just in case we took a gibe but fortunately that did not happen. "Got the tee-shirt for that one", says Mairi. Bill and Neil had spotted a mainsail closing in on them really fast and decided that it was not Sparkle but a bigger boat and they couldn't believe how much ground we suddenly made up on them. Sparkle can really fly in the right conditions when she's let loose to do her thing you know, we were hitting 7 and a half knots. I heard Neil shout up the Helmsdale harbour master, Alex, on the radio, only to be told that there was not enough water to get in so we had to faff about outside in the bay, riding up and down the surf for an hour before Neil lost his patience and took Fusion in. Fusion was closely followed by Sparkle! We went straight to the pub, only to discover from Sky TV that Michael Jackson had died - oh dearie me! Even worse, than that, the pub meals had finished so it was back to the boat for ships biscuits and cheese. We had a warm welcome at Helmsdale as always from Alex the Harbourmaster and we enjoyed our short stay in the scenic location. The following day we set sail, with the tide, bound for Wick and the opening of the new marina, there was not a cloud in the sky and it was scorching hot, so we motor sailed and sunbathed all the way up. This time Bill went on Sparkle and I went on Fusion 2. We approached Wick just as the newly crowned, Herring Queen was coming out of the harbour on the "Isabella Fortuna", but we declined to join in the parade as we just needed real, hot, food. We spent two days in Wick and had a super time. Fred and Angus have already given you the story so I won't repeat. Fusion 2 departed for Orkney on Sunday and we accompanied the parade of "everything that could float out of Wick harbour". I heard a local man say, "Wick will never see the likes of this again". I had to agree with him, Wick probably would never see such a spectacle again. It was amazing to be a part of it and there are a couple of photos attached for you. George Craigen of Banff Sailing Club accompanied us to Orkney, his yacht is a Bavaria 32, named, "About Time". I accompanied George on the journey from Wick to Longhope. Not that I was much of much assistance in the flat calm conditions. Our spare crew member Mr Auto Helm did most of the hard work. We got the usual warm welcome at Longhope and once we were safely moored up, we headed straight for the pub for food - yes, you guessed it, no food!!!!!!! Back to the boats for more ships biscuits and cheese. We stayed for a couple of days and the boys did some sightseeing at the Lyness museum but I saw it last year so I decided that sunbathing was a more favourable option. Whilst in Longhope we were given a guided tour of the super, new computer operated lifeboat , "Ellen Cormie" by the relief coxswain. The boat is just incredible, so high tech. The words Star Ship Enterprise spring to mind. When responding to an emergency, the first crewmember aboard her hits a button and "bingo" the computer starts up and she is ready to go to sea in minutes. Computers govern all sea charts etc. and access is restricted. There is no steering wheel, everything happens from a stick/mouse, attached to the arm of the driver's chair! I honestly expected something far inferior to the Buckie Lifeboat but, in fact, what I saw was quite the opposite! She is obviously built for the severe weather conditions that prevail in the Pentland Firth and beyond and a Degree in IT would help you if you fancied crewing her any time. The Buckie Bear, who has been sailing on Fusion 2 this summer, had his piccie taken on the Ellen Cormie (attached). He is continuing to raise money for the R.N.L.I. Off up Scapa Flow on yet another bonnie sunny day. This time Bill was on About Time and I was on Fusion 2. We were navigating up the Flow using Mairi's tea towel, purchased last summer, and it was very accurate indeed, showing the wrecks and the small islands!!! No lat. and long. Though, so best beware. We also had the plotter switched on as a back-up, just in case the tea towel went wrong or blew away. We approached Stromness and got moored up for the night. In came the fog…. We had planned to head off at 10.30am the next day so we made the best of the evening by having a meal at the Ferry. The hot, newly cooked food was fantastic and we were just stuffed! We watched Andy Murray winning a match at Wimbledon, and then we headed back for a big sleep. The next morning we set off in patchy fog, which soon became pea soup fog. Our mission was to head out through Hoy Sound and round the Old Man of Hoy, destination, Longhope. The fog soon lifted and we got right in close to The Old Man, photos attached. The weather was calm, sunny and roasting hot. A fisherman shouted to Neil, or maybe it was to me "pit yer claise back on, ye'r scarin awa the fish". Then we set off on our journey once more and the weather kicked up a hooley in Rackwick Bay, where much reefing and dropping of sails was going on aboard both boats. As we rounded the point into the Pentland Firth, the wind dropped away to nothing and once again, we found ourselves in pea soup fog. On went the radar, then as we rounded Cantick Head the sun burst out and it was scorching again with blue skies and a light breeze. We moored up again for the evening at Longhope, safe and sound. The following day we departed for Wick, in hot and sunny weather with a calm sea state. We sailed down Scapa Flow and out into the Pentland Firth in the first hour of the tide turning. Neil decided to fly the spinnaker and coupled with the pull of tide we flew along just fine. About half way across the firth we spotted ripples on the water, which turned out to be a pod of approximately 20 killer whales, hunting for fish. There were adult whales with dorsal fins of about 1.5 meters tall and babies just curling around beside them. The adults were jumping up out of the sea, head first, then landing on their backs, followed by slamming of their tails against the fish and the sea surface. They were clearly in amongst a shoal of fish and they appeared to be stunning them for the rest of the family to come along and eat. I have attached a photo but not a very good one. None of us captured the blighters on camera very well but we will never forget that scene, it was just amazing, we did get a couple of wee photos of an adult and a baby. We spent our final night in Wick and again we were disappointed that we did not find a fish and chip shop - open - so we went to the Weatherspoons place, for a change, to eat a Scooby Burger. We departed for Findochty the next day, again in hot conditions and pea soup fog. The fog cleared about 2 miles out of Wick and once again it was blue skies and sunny. We had a cracking sail back and we saw some scary flashes of forked lightening from the Lossie direction on the approaches to South side but thankfully they didn't interfere with our sunbathing for any length of time. We later heard that parts of Inverness, Elgin and Buckie were flooded that same afternoon, and we missed the downpours being out at sea. We definitely cashed in on the best week of weather in 2009 and we had the most memorable trip to Orkney, I don't suppose it will ever be that good again. Who on earth needs to pay for hiring a yacht in Turkey when you can sail your own yacht on your own doorstep, see rare wildlife and get a week of blissful weather conditions to boot? Mairi Innes Fusion 2
A Short (but typical) Mouse Tail I have arrived in a hurry without my List. I have with me a newly sanded and varnished rudder blade, so one of the things on the List must surely be the rudder. My head, over the last week, has been full of rudders. I lay claim to losing at least three under sail (one in the Forth, one in Peterhead and the other in Loch Oich, but all that is history). The problem on Mouse began shortly after she came over the Falkirk Wheel. Her rudder was catching and dragging on everything north of the bottom on the Union canal, which is very shallow. I went home with the intention of finding a shorter rudder blade. I had no difficulty in finding a potential candidate. My cellar is full of rudders, both made and acquired, for use as spares and replacements. In terms of value analysis, it is better to lose a mast than a rudder, they say. I read some chapters by Ian Nicholson, whose chapter on rudders puts boats into two main categories; blue water racers and knockabouts under twenty feet. We know where we stand there! I have chosen a short, laminated rudder for Mouse, from my collection. Found abandoned on the beach at Peterhead, at the end of last century. Mouse's original blade can be kept for use at sea, and for the time being, on the canal, the shorter blade will suffice. A river rudder. The longer, sea rudder, with its additional weight, adds to the overall balance of the boat in normal conditions, together with the lifting keel. However, as we found with high winds on the canal, with the sea rudder and retracted keel, Mouse's nose had a tendency to lift and her steerage became less controlled. Added to this of course, was the crew weight at the aft end. The answer here is more forward ballast and a haircut for the crew! The other job I remember, is the on-going saga of the loo and the table. The sun goes behind a cloud, offering a good starting point. However, kneeling over a sea toilet does not fill me with a great deal of enthusiasm, and I spend some time surveying it from a distance and drinking more coffee. The idea is to camouflage the loo with the foldaway table, which when stowed on its end, fits exactly at the head of the starboard quarter berth as a sort of bulkhead. This gives more privacy when using the heads (if you are a midget). Thinking time. I am back on the deck with the rudder blade, which I cannot get to rotate and up haul. I have shaved it to within an inch of its life with a flimsy hacksaw, upset that despite meticulous measurements it does not fit. Four ducks waddle up the towpath as I dis-assemble it for the third time. I have given up shaving the blade. Now it's massacre. Five large chunks float downstream towards the canal basin. Poohsticks! My other half rings to ask if I have any plans. I did have, I reply. He is on his way to join me. We enjoy a Chinese take-away on deck with some fine wine, and he inspects my efforts with the toilet and table. It is a difficult, if not impossible manoeuvre for someone of the adult male persuasion to pee into the bowl, he says, and goes ashore to find a tree. Firing up Mouse's trusty engine, we motor up the canal towards Edinburgh. It is a pleasant experience with the shorter rudder blade (which works in a rudimentary sort of way). The GPS tells me its position may be inaccurate. 55.58N, 003.32W. We shall see. The time, it tells me, is both 18.06 and 17.06. I will not be winning the log prize this year! Tina Harris Mouse
Vivari's West Coast Summer This year we decided that it was time we returned to the West Coast. We have sailed there quite a lot in the past firstly with Fiona's father's boat and then with various chartered yachts. Originally I had planned to take our boat across at the end of June with my daughter Eilidh as crew and then to return with Fiona for West Highland Week at the start of August. Unfortunately Eilidh spotted that the week I had chosen coincided with her eighteenth birthday and decided that she would have better things to do then than to be stuck half way down Loch Ness on a boat with me. This left Fiona and I to take the boat across at the start of June in the only week we could both get off. We left Findochty at 08:15 on Saturday 23rd May the idea being to get as far as we could towards Inverness that weekend and to leave the boat for a week. The two most obvious stopping off points were Nairn or Inverness itself as we would then be able to get a train back home to Insch. It was quite windy and we reached across Spey Bay under a partly rolled genoa, then motor sailed on past Lossiemouth to Findhorn. We hadn't been in to Findhorn with Vivari before but we used to go there years ago when we had a Corribee. We arrived about two and a half hours after high water and the tide was ebbing strongly, we got in OK but the depth sounder did indicate 0.2 metres under the keel at one point and the seals on the sandbank at the entrance were disconcertingly close. They seemed to be waving their flippers at us, probably trying to tell us to turn back. We picked up a visitors mooring, waited a couple of hours for the tide to slow down and went ashore in search of food and drink. Findhorn actually seems to be a very lively place on a Saturday night. High water was at 12:15 on the Sunday and we dropped our mooring at 10:00 being a bit more cautious to ensure there was sufficient water in the entrance, although of course this time the tide was rising so there was less opportunity for disaster. We emerged from Findhorn into a Westerly 4 to 5 with some pretty massive gusts and motored straight into it. We were just about beaten to a standstill at times and took 3.5 hours to get to Nairn where we met a very friendly welcome both from the local sailors and the harbourmaster. We arranged to leave the boat for a week and returned home to Insch by train. The next Friday night saw us back in Nairn ready to leave early the next morning. High water was at 05:00. We left Nairn at 05:15 and motored West in light winds, it was going to be touch and go to get into the Caledonian Canal before the tide got too low to get into the Sea Lock. As we approached the Kessock Bridge we heard another yacht, Blue Moon, from Findhorn talking to the Sea Lock on VHF, he was leaving Inverness Marina heading for the canal. As we passed the bridge where the tide was now running strongly against us I called up the lock keeper to see if we would be able to get in, "if you make good time" he said so we pushed on at maximum speed against the tide and then across and into the lock, there was a slightly worrying moment as the engine protested at this treatment by hesitating for a while before picking up speed astern, but it responded eventually allowing us to avoid the embarrassment of crashing into Blue Moon. We were stuck for a couple of hours in Muirtown Basin while they fixed a problem with a bridge but then followed Blue Moon up through the locks and into Loch Ness where we met a force 3 right on the nose. Blue Moon put up his sails and started tacking up the loch but we decided to motor for a while till we saw how he got on and it quickly became apparent that we were making better progress than he was. After half an hour or so we were about half a mile ahead when I noticed that he had stopped and that his mast was at a crazy angle, it looked like he had a broken cap shroud. Anyway we called him on the VHF but with no response and in due course he got his sails down and headed back to Inverness. We motored on and by about 18:30 were nearing Fort Augustus. I was below for some reason and noticed some water on the floor. "Where did the water come from Fiona ?" I asked. She thought it just came in with the fenders and I accepted that (probably because it was preferable to any of the other possibilities), However shortly afterwards Fiona alerted me to the fact that the water was coming from the engine box. A quick investigation revealed a pinhole corroded in the cylinder block from which cooling water was spouting. We carried on into Fort Augustus where we drained the water out of the engine, cleaned up the damaged area on the block and applied three layers of Super Steel Epoxy. Although it has been a nagging worry for the rest of the summer we have had no further problems. It is a clear message though that the engine has really done enough and needs to be replaced. The next day we continued on from Fort Augustus in brilliant sunshine and following a welcome pint in the floating pub at Laggan spotting a Golden Eagle as we emerged into Loch Lochy. About half way down the loch we stopped at a pontoon at Corriegour Lodge Hotel. We walked up to the hotel in search of dinner but it appeared to be deserted and much too posh for us anyway, I reckon they didn't like the look of us and just watched on CCTV till we went away. We carried on a bit further down the loch and had our dinner in the Letterfinlay Lodge instead. At 14:15 on the Monday we passed through the Sea Lock at Corpach and headed down Loch Linnhe phoning ahead to arrange a mooring at Linnhe Marine just North of Lismore. We were told to pick up any mooring that was spare and as we entered the bay were both looking ahead to identify which would be best. Fiona spotted one quite close in and I turned towards it cutting inside an insignificant looking little red buoy. As is her habit Fiona had placed herself in front of the depth sounder. I politely asked her to move, then wondered why it was reading 0.1 metres. I quickly got my answer when we hit the bottom, I turned towards deeper water and we touched bottom another couple of times on the way out. However no damage was done, and for future reference that buoy appears to mark the end of a gravel spit. The next day we motored across to the Lynn of Morvern and on to the entrance of the Sound of Mull where a nice breeze sprang up. Unfortunately it was on the nose once more. We tacked all the way up to Tobermory enjoying a friendly competition with a bigger yacht of about 32 feet that came out of Loch Aline. At least we enjoyed the competition because although it was neck and neck for a while, when the wind dropped sufficiently for us to revert to full sail we left them for dead. In Tobermory we moored up to the pontoons, which have appeared since we were last there, and went off for Dinner returning to find Daemon moored across from us with Trevor and two friends consuming fish and chips. We joined them for a glass of wine. From Tobermory we went up Loch Sunart spending the next night in Salen before returning down to Dunsfaffnage where we had arranged to leave the boat for a couple of months. Dunstaffnage to Insch is a bit of a trek by Public Transport; we ended up getting a bus from Oban to Dundee and then a train the rest of the way. This year we decided that it was time we returned to the West Coast. We have sailed there quite a lot in the past firstly with Fiona's father's boat and then with various chartered yachts. Originally I had planned to take our boat across at the end of June with my daughter Eilidh as crew and then to return with Fiona for West Highland Week at the start of August. Unfortunately Eilidh spotted that the week I had chosen coincided with her eighteenth birthday and decided that she would have better things to do then than to be stuck half way down Loch Ness on a boat with me. This left Fiona and I to take the boat across at the start of June in the only week we could both get off. We spent a few weekends on the boat during June and July and one visit came across Fiona's dad's old Boat Tarantara. This is a Northney 34 built in the late 60's and we spent our honeymoon on it in 1981. Fiona was quite upset, as the boat is looking pretty neglected; it was kept immaculate when her family had it years ago. We returned to Dunstaffnage on Friday 31st July and immediately bumped in to Calan Stewart and his crew from Lossiemouth with Tjalfe, also preparing for West Highland Week. The next day we headed round to Oban for the start of the feeder race to Craobh Haven. The start off Oban Sailing Club was pretty confused with a lot of anchored boats in the vicinity of the line. However we made a reasonable start and headed off beating into a blustery force 4 with frequent squalls, we did quite well for a while and got past a few boats but it continued to get windier and several others overtook us. Eventually as we were approaching the Sound of Luing we got struck by what we thought was a squall with heavy rain. Unfortunately this squall didn't come to an end, the wind just shot up to well over 30 knots and stayed there. Eventually we decided it was more than we could handle and we retired from the race and motored round to Craobh. Even that was a struggle. At Croabh we moored up on the outside of a big Oyster 37 or 38,went ashore to explore and bumped into a couple that Fiona knew but had not met since her schooldays. It turned out they were racing in the same class as us. There was a lot of partying going on but we managed to go to bed at a reasonable hour. After being briefly disturbed at midnight by a firework display I woke at 02:00 with a halyard clattering against our mast, I got up to secure it and was amused by a conversation on a nearby boat where a lively party was still in full swing. Somebody approached and enquired "Do you have my son in there?"-"No" was the reply "and we haven't got your daughters either, anyway Alistair come aboard and have a drink". "Oh no ", replied Alistair "I have to go and find my son, the mother of the girl he's with is really upset and wants her daughter back". The guy on the boat with the party was very sympathetic - "Oh yes, I know what it's like, that happens on our boat a lot as well". Sunday saw the first race of West Highland Week proper from Craobh to Oban. Being in the slowest class we were starting first and were caught out by the distance from the Marina to the start line, which was a lot further away than you might have expected from the sailing instructions. Anyway we started about two minutes late, spent the rest of the race trying to catch up and finished last in our class on handicap. It was pretty windy for the first few miles and we were sailing with two reefs, interestingly we were overtaken by two Northney 34's (like Tarantara) which were revelling in the conditions, in fact they ended up first and second in their class for the week. Another boat that caught they eye was a beautiful 7 Metre cruiser racer called Zaleda, with a varnished hull. On Monday there was a race round Lismore and another windy forecast. We were back in Dunstaffnage and spent too long debating whether to go or not, by the time we decided we would go we were late for the start again and playing catch up from the back. The course was a reach up the Lynn of Lorne, round the top of Lismore, a close reach down the other side and round the bottom to a finish line at the entrance to Oban. Initially the wind was at the top end of where we could carry full sail and we did quite well, we caught up a lot off Port Appin by cutting through the shallows on the mainland side, there is not a lot of water there but we were following bigger boats and reckoned if they didn't hit anything we should be OK. By the time we got towards the bottom of Lismore it was getting really windy again and luckily the course was shortened there for the slower classes. We then rolled away our genoa and motor sailed back towards Dunstaffnage only to come upon a Westerly Griffon, which had been dismasted and was in danger of drifting down on to the Lismore shore. He said he didn't need any help but we stood by until a committee boat appeared on the scene. By this time we were studying the forecast for the days ahead and saw it was to be really windy on the Wednesday for the passage race from Oban to Tobermory. We decided to miss the races in the Firth of Lorne on the Tuesday and go to Tobermory a day early. On the Wednesday we met the crew of Ajax from Lossiemouth who had adopted a similar plan having come up to Tobermory early that morning. I reckon we made the right decision, as by all accounts the race was pretty wild, we spoke to the crew of the Melges 24 that won Class 1 and they told us they'd been doing 17 knots in the Sound of Mull. On Thursday there was racing round the buoys to the North of Mull. This time we were determined not to be late and made a really good start heading straight into the lead. Unfortunately that only lasted a few hundred yards till our main halyard parted. By the time I had swapped the halyard for the topping lift we were behind again. We did quite well for a while and would have been near the front at the end if it hadn't been for the halyard. It was pretty windy again and the heavier boats were doing well. On the Friday the weather conditions went to the other extreme and after several postponements and moves of the start line further and further down the Sound of Mull the passage race to Oban was finally cancelled. On Saturday we met my sister and brother in law for a meal in the Pier House at Port Appin. The food was OK but not as good as the Tobermory Hotel. We then made our way back to the canal on the Sunday getting into the basin in a brief period between there being enough water for the lock to open and the canal closing for the night. On the Monday we had pretty slow going as far as the top of Neptune's Staircase as we were in company with an old lifeboat that was being rowed through the canal for charity. Apparently the crew had spent a prolonged session in the pub the night before and this possibly accounted for their rowing performance, which left a bit to be desired. They reminded me of the Lerwick Sea Cadets who were once described as being "like a drunk spider". Once we escaped from the lifeboat we carried on and made good progress getting as far as Fort Augustus that night, then Inverness the next night and back to Findochty on the Wednesday. All in all we really enjoyed the whole trip, we didn't do well in West Highland Week but the conditions didn't favour us and we didn't have much luck. I don't think we were outclassed and we did learn a lot. We are keen to return there but two weeks without standing headroom was too long and we need a bigger boat. If anyone wants to buy a GK24 please let me know. Bill Leask Vivari
The Importance of Log Keeping The Flexible Water Sports Clubbers have noted a significant decline in written log keeping. Due in the most part to electronic recording with gizmos, which can be lost over the side, or simply lose all their data because someone has pressed the wrong button. With no prejudice I mention this because for the last two consecutive years I have been the winner of the prize awarded for the best (or only) example of this dying art of data recording. Saturday 12 September 2009. 09.30 we arrive on the towpath in Linlithgow and the first thing that catches my eye is a For Sale sign on the canal boat next to Mouse. The other notable feature is the absence of hustle and bustle associated with the holiday season, which is all but over. The cockpit drain is blocked with leaves, but inside Mouse is clean, dry and inviting. We go to the garage to purchase fuel, and Sainsbury's for use of the facilities. 09.45 Set off east towards Edinburgh. It is hot and he has no hat. The weather is always an unknown hazard, although the forecast is hot and sunny with a mild WSW. The passage plan is otherwise uncomplicated. 10.05. Pass Park Bridge. Too early for coffee, but I make one anyway. 10.30 Obstructions in the water. Paddle and weed. I make him a hat from a tea towel but he will not wear it. This is why you need a log, to record that you have taken all necessary precautions, and offered protective clothing. Partaking in my offer is up to him, but recording it will exempt me from blame. When it gets to court. 10.55 He goes below and fetches the Blue Nun. We have reached a nice shady area. I have provided large wine glasses in lime green plastic so there is no danger from broken glass. The Nun is too sweet for him, he mutters, but continues to drink, nonetheless. 11.10 Mouse chugs along into a sunny clearing and he de-weeds the prop. We have travelled 6 miles in 1.5 hours. We are passing Winchburgh. This is why you keep a log. To determine how long the return passage will be, if you ever get that far. I wonder momentarily whether we should have a spare rudder aboard. However, these thoughts reveal my lack of attention to detail, and in my head I am jury-rigging the foldaway table. 11.25 a breeze kicks in and cools us down. 11.45 We find a large concrete slip at Stuartfield (it says on the signpost) between Bridge 28 and Bridge 27. Slightly west of Port Buchan. This is logged as another access possibility for getting Mouse out of the water. A few photos are taken and I rip the map by accident. The Christmas chocolates are still on the go, and complement the Blue Nun perfectly. 12.00 we pass Port Buchan and evaluate its waterfront as a possible stopping place for Mouse. There are toilets and a shower in a black and white portacabin labelled British Waterways Scotland. Mouse's fuel situation is causing slight concern, despite purchasing ten litres. 13.05 we park at Ratho Basin, which offers a large pub and eatery called the Bridge Inn. We go in for a swift half, and the facilities, which as it turns out, are no larger than the heads in a small yacht. He decides to go on the bus for fuel, although I am confident that we would manage with what we have. As it turns out I am right, but there is a peculiar twist in the tail. I am abandoned for a while with Mouse, and the rest of the Nun. Back on the Moray Firth they will be in the middle of the Banff regatta. I am glad we are here, relaxing in the sun. I am contemplating storing the mast at Linlithgow and staying here in the Union for another year, as I write this log on the back of the plans for trailing Mouse up the road, which by the minute become more of a logistic and economic headache. What better way to cruise into autumn, than on your own floating palace, on a peaceful canal outside a good pub, 10 miles from the capital. A spider drops into my wine. Discussing the log, I point out its usefulness in navigation, especially in time management, and how on earth we would get back to our starting point without it (and the torn map). He laughs. I cook up a bacon and sausage lunch and extract the drunken arthropod from my wine. 15.00 we reluctantly begin the return passage to Linlithgow, past the Santa Cruise grotto at 55.58N, 003.32W (according once more to Mouse's less than accurate GPS). Her little red and blue wooden compass (in the shape of a mouse) is far more reliable, giving four very accurate direction arrows. The engine is doing well, I mention. Gutsy wee thing, he agrees. By this time I am imagining that the moving shadows on the water are boats, but this is an illusion (caused by the Nun). I am on the helm and he is resting in his usual recumbent missionary position on the starboard side deck. Not so much before as under the mast. 15.15 the engine drive causes concern and our forward propulsion is halted. The ancient Mariner digs its heels in. This is where the value of a good log kicks in. You should, on this reverse passage, know where you are, in relation to where you are supposed to be. He goes east down the towpath to see what number the bridge is. Do we progress forward or back, to find a suitable mooring whilst the engine is repaired. He ploughs off down the towpath and through the jungle of weeds with Mouse on the end of a mooring line. I weigh up the mechanics. The line needs to be amidships to afford forward motion without nosing into the bank. Adjustments are made. Better forward motion eliminates the need for excessive human effort. I do the pulling. Back to the slip, where we change over and he walks Mouse back to Port Buchan. There are odd looks from passers by who no doubt wonder why we are taking a ton of boat for a walk on a string. Run out of fuel, they ask. 17.10 we berth indefinitely at Port Buchan. He goes off on another bus to fetch the car, and after removing the rogue Mariner, I fall asleep in the forepeak, only to be woken up by inquisitive children, who are verbally weighing up the attributes of Mouse. I try out the portacabin facilities that we saw earlier. I read the insurance documents. Mouse is going nowhere for the next week at least. I put the lock back on the new washboards and tidy up. There are updates from a bus stop in Newbridge. 19.30 he returns with the car. My tattered log is stuffed in a bag and bundled into the car with the engine. On the long journey north we keep ourselves alive on humbugs, having had no supper and rapidly running out of time. Petrol stations and chippers are closing up for the night. On the down side I remember I have forgotten to close the seacocks. Arriving home at 23.00 it is raining, which adds value to our day. I am forty miles into the reserve fuel tank and too tired to eat. Details: Fuel in tank appx 10 litres / 500 ml mixer Engine repair - temporary sheer pin replacement Distance travelled : Linlithgow - Ratho 14 Ratho - Port Buchan 6 Tina Harris Mouse