Rain, rain, rain! That could almost be the start and end of this blog but it wouldn’t be completely true, just mostly!
We have been in Stranraer for two weeks and I really do not understand how the time simply vanishes!
We had a gale blow through the day after our arrival and then another along with plenty of grey skies and rain. I can’t speak for Asha but to me, Scotland isn’t about the weather. It can’t be! It's about the people, the scenery and for boaters, it’s about the cruising ground too. Scotland provides a vast cruising ground and whatever the time of year, if you want to be alone, you can be. Likewise, if you want to be social then there are many of those options too. A good weather day is magic, a treat, truly something to behold and very gratefully received because they are not in plentiful supply but if they were then this part of the world would be very different indeed. As we know, good weather draws the crowds and crowds change a place. Do I mean change? No, I mean ruin! Scotland with reliable hot sunshine wouldn’t be the jaw dropping majestic sailing oasis that I have reserved a special corner of my heart for so if the sun doesn’t shine then that is fine by me. Quite honestly Scotland, I wouldn’t have you any other way!
Whilst in Loch Ryan there has been quite a lot of activity onboard. The trip up here highlighted a couple of areas requiring improvement. Two days were spent repositioning my chart plotter which involved much drilling, banging and cable pulling. Well, what else are you going to do when it's raining? There was also an autopilot rebuild. I got a little too enthusiastic when I was taking it apart which resulted in one step too far and a shower of ball bearings! That lead to a total strip down and a lesson on how to reassemble a worm drive. Whilst that’s all fascinating to a geek like me, I do appreciate that it’s not to the non geeky masses so I will leave that escapade there!
How about a few highlights?
Bottlenose dolphins have moved into Loch Ryan. Apparently they are not a common sight in here but they have taken up temporary residence and they are most welcome, by everyone.
They escorted us into the Loch on our arrival and they regularly appear to perform acrobatics around the boat. They will also appear next to the dinghy when we disembark Altor for shore. No, not for sure, for shore! There are three of them and they are extremely playful, interactive and simply lovely.
For me, a highlight of living this life is the isolation. When I was sailing single handed I was always alone but now I sail with Asha, I am not and yet I still feel that I get plenty of time to reflect and be quiet. I’m not sure Asha would go along with the latter but I am sure that this is a good sign for the two of us. I usually feel like I have to escape and be alone for a while wherever I am and whoever I’m with but we rub along very well and I don’t feel like that at all. Despite being on the boat together 24/7, this life still delivers the dose of antisocial existence that I love and need.
On the flip side there is the highlight of socialising and whilst this can be as rare as you want or crave it to be, Covid has impacted this further and on this trip socialising has been very rare indeed so it’s a real treat when you do get to meet like minded people.
We met Fiona and Iain from SY Ruffian in Falmouth and Wales and enjoyed some good times with them before we continued north and they headed south.
When we arrived in Loch Ryan and made our way towards the anchorage at Stranraer we were surprised to see another yacht already there. A beautiful custom aluminium adventure yacht that is home to a lovely couple called Angela and John. They are of Australian descent but are long term cruising vagabonds away from Ozzie shores.
Despite my previous ambivalence towards Captain Covid and his merry little band of malingering scaremongers, I feel that I haven’t appreciated the fact that being British or Polish and in the UK enabled us to deliver a one fingered salute, a thrust of propeller wash and then disappear around these shores as soon as the threat of imminent death to mankind was rumoured. That’s been an easy way for us to escape lockdown blues and it was only on having a socially distanced get-together with Angela and John that I appreciated the more challenging circumstances of Captain Covid et al when you are away from your motherland. Fortunately they have weathered lockdown aboard in Scotland very well, safe and sound.
They are a super experienced cruising couple and now that Scotland has eased it’s lockdown and given the green light to cruising around by boat once again, their life and indeed every other cruiser’s life here can get back to the cruising norm.
We had a few concerns and indeed there was quite a lot of scaremongering about not being welcome in Scotland during this time but we have felt as welcomed by the locals as the dolphins have been! Actually, not quite as welcome because the dolphins are nothing less than local celebrities. The moment we arrive onshore by dinghy we are constantly asked ‘Have you seen them? Are they out there today’? If it's just adults then we will say 'yes' or 'no' but if it is a family and their young kiddies are there looking at us so excited and expectantly then the answer is always ’Yes, they are there and they are super cute and really friendly’! The lie is harmless and the smiles on the children’s faces go some way to brighten the Scottish skies! I have talked before about the mysterious joy that radiates from these amazing creatures (dolphins, not kids) and it's clear that this joy spills on to land too.
Finally, being here has allowed us to order a few spare parts plus some other bits and bobs and to receive them we need a land address. Stranraer Marina has been closed to visitors but has remained staffed and Lesley, the Harbourmaster, has been really friendly and welcoming to us. We have been able to use the office address for deliveries and Lesley has been an awesome help by texting us to let us know when things have been delivered at which point we will jump in the dinghy and collect them from her office. In addition, all the locals have been extremely warm and welcoming too which is a surprise considering that the first sight they get is a hairy sea monster appearing at the top of the ladders after a climb up the jetty wall but once they see me following behind, they know everything is ok……
Looking from our anchorage at Stranraer to the entrance of the loch
The pier next to the marina at Stranraer
The fishing fleet here is alive and well
On the 30th June it was 29 degrees down south but we could only imagine that!
We had some nice days too, between the spectacular clouds!
Not sure what I like best about this photo. The scenery or our new yellow wheels!!!
Whatever the weather, you don't get this in Essex!