10thJune.  We are limited by our draft (2m) as to which harbours we can enter, so although there are a couple of small harbours on the north-west coast of the Moray Firth which look very attractive, they are not an easy option for us. So instead of several short hops up the coast, our best option was a straight course from Whitehills to Wick, passing close to the east of the oil installations and west of the enormous wind farm which is being constructed to continue the production of energy.  Another constraint in this part of the world is wind direction: if the wind is from the east, it can be difficult to get into Wick harbour.  The forecast this week is for a strong north-easterly, so we decided to get to Wick today, as the wind was from the north and very gentle. So gentle that we motored (with a bit of help from the sail) all the way.  

We kept to our one hour off, one hour on watches today. That – and the calm – made the journey less tiring. There was a convenient nearly-straight route between the redundant Beatrice oil field and the new wind farm – fourth largest in the world. We made sure we kept at least 500m off the oil installations and outside the wind-farm – it is legal to pass through a completed wind farm, keeping >50m away from each turbine, but we’ve heard the guard boats don’t like it so we kept clear. (The chart wasn’t entirely clear to us, so we googled recent notices to mariners for advice and kept clear of the latest ‘under construction’ wind farm area too).

There were few pot-buoys and little to do, other than read books, listen to podcasts, and watch the north coastline of the Firth appear on the horizon with its high cliffs and headlands. There were plenty of birds around; the guillemots and razorbills who decide to take off rather than dive are comic in their attempts to get airborne and then crash-land with a somersault. Jonathan also spotted a hard-to-identify bird; it looked like a Skua although, apart from a white stripe on each wing, it was almost jet black. Any ideas? We both also caught tantalising glimpses of a whale surfacing – presumably a minkie.

Arriving in Wick, we found that the northerly cardinal is missing and there is now a clear leading line (marked by two orange triangles to line up) which has been installed since January this year (not in the pilot books) and we entered the harbour and tied up with help from yet another friendly harbourmaster.  We’re here for a few days now, until our next crew arrive at the weekend.

  • Distance: 57 NM. Motor-sailed 8.5 hours
  • Wind: NNE 0-3