9thJune.  After a day’s break to avoid a wet and windy journey, we left Peterhead at 7.30am. The wind was (again) in the north, so most of the journey was motor-sailing. We’ve found Nova does this quite efficiently close-hauled – we can gain a knot of speed and ease off on the throttle, even with a very light breeze. 

We needed to get round Rattray Head (8 miles north) at slack water or just after as the ebb starts to flow north – it’s a key tidal gate with strong tides so we didn’t want to get it wrong.  There was considerable swell left over from the previous day’s weather, so we stayed almost two miles off the headland. Weighing in at around 10 tonnes, Nova is very steady and ploughed through the waves with no difficulty.

Long sandy beaches and low coastline, punctuated by lighthouses at Rattray Head and Cairnbulg point gave way to high cliffs as we turned west into the Moray Firth.  We hadn’t expected such dramatic cliffs. The number of gannets increased and we saw them flying back to their colony at Troup Head with seaweed in their beaks, presumably for nest-building.  Little villages appeared (Pennan, Gardenstown) tucked in between high cliffs. We passed the larger settlements of Macduff and Banff, with an impressive bridge crossing the river between them. 

Whitehills harbour was our destination, which we reached at 2pm, to be greeted by Bertie the harbourmaster, distinctive in his pink jumper. He takes photographs of visiting yachts as they arrive and presented us with an SD card for us to download photos of Nova (that is welcome because it is hard to take a yacht selfie)! The community-run harbour trust decided some years ago to develop the harbour as a leisure facility and we moored up to the long visitor pontoon in the outer harbour. The inner harbour is mainly for local boats. Shower facilities here have been spotlessly clean here – Whitehaven clearly makes an effort and deserves its good reputation as a welcome harbour.

Nova arriving at Whitehills harbour

We were tired when we arrived. Although today’s distance wasn’t as far as on other days, we’re finding that sailing short-handed for many hours a day is exhausting, even though conditions haven’t been difficult. After a walk round Whitehills, a drink in the pub, refuelling at the quay (aided again by Bertie) and supper on board, we headed for bed early: we planned a 6am departure the next morning. 

  • Distance: 43 NM. Sailed 1 hour, motorsailed 5.5hours
  • Wind: NE 0-3