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OGA60 fleet: south along the east coasts

The fleet continues to make passage south on the east coasts of Scotland and England, scattered from Lossiemouth to Whitby . . . most will be spending the weekend on the River Tay for the second ‘gathering’ in Scotland, 14 – 16 July. Today’s cover photo shows the two bridges spanning the Tay. Furthest north, ‘Lahloo’ left the Caledonian Canal this week and is enjoying being back in salty water. 

We leave Inverness in torrential rain and arrive at the delightful Lossiemouth in full sunshine. ‘Lahloo’ feels at home in this Cornish like harbour, although the serious looking military boats are a reminder the airbase is nearby. A pint of Guinness on the harbour wall watching dolphins play offshore wrapped up the day beautifully. The lovely little Whitehills Harbour followed by amazing seabird life especially Troup Head with thousands of nesting gannets. Fab to watch the gannet and guillemot chicks at sea. We are definitely on the east coast now, low headlands and lonely lighthouses.

Richard Bailey, ‘Lahloo’

‘Indian Runner’ skipper and crew had a week away to go to a wedding, leaving the boat in Peterhead. 

The boat survived the gales well, thankfully not as strong as predicted. We left the boat in Peterhead with fingers crossed that there would be no more big winds and took a taxi to Aberdeen, spending the night in a Premier Inn before spending the day sightseeing. The Maritime Museum is excellent, particularly on the significance of oil and gas to the area.We took a walking tour with a delightful young guide who, as well as pointing out points of historical importance, showed us the really interesting street art in the city. Being home for a few days was lovely in some ways, and odd in others, a bit like living in two worlds. The bath was marvellous though!

Chris Harding, ‘Indian Runner’

‘Bonita’ is exploring the Firth of Forth before returning to Tayport for the ‘gathering’ at the weekend.

We left Tayport at high water and headed down the Tay. We had a range of options of places we could go to depending on the weather, but the wind was light and variable and we didn’t want to do a lot of motoring. We sailed round Fife Ness into the Firth of Forth. Anstruther was the most practical place to head for but I was a bit anxious as the harbour dries out at low water and reading the pilot book it was hard to find out where a boat like ‘Bonita’ could berth safely. We tried to contact the harbourmaster but he had long since gone home. With Allan on the helm we got into harbour at half tide without touching the bottom. We found all the berths indicated as being suitable for a larger boat were occupied by local fishing boats so we tied up alongside a large motorboat. ‘Bonita’ will probably touch the bottom at low tide, but it all seems to be soft mud, so I hope that will be OK. We had supper in a restaurant certified as providing the best fish and chips in Scotland. It was certainly very good, but I suspect we might have seen other places with similar certification while on our travels.

Mike Beckett, ‘Bonita’

Down in the South West, we hear from ‘Molly Cobbler’, doing the ‘cross country’ route, that the canal is now open and she’s made it to Hungerford!

Yesterday we passed more locks than the day before, but less distance. I think the whole canal which had been closed for over seven weeks has become overgrown with waterweed, presumably due to reduced disturbance by passing boats. This meant the outboard still got gunked up within minutes! It seemed futile to use it when the lock intervals in the Crofton flight are only 500 yards. The speed we’d achieve with the outboard, allowing for clearing at least once per lock, would be little different from sculling at 0.5 knots in flat water, rather more with wind gusts and current. I’ll never win a sculling race, but I’m good at keeping going, even if my technique is sometimes rather splashy! After eight locks, exhausted, we reached Bedwyn, and called it a day. Monday and it seemed to get easier, checking the prop, there was no weed at all, and we’re now at Hungerford. Tomorrow we hope to make Newbury and then onto the Thames.

Mary Gibbs, ‘Molly Cobbler’