WE ARE OFF!!
MAY 6TH 2023
Its May the 6th – the day of the Kings Coronation. We find ourselves moored in the Caledonian Canal. There is not a breath of wind this evening and more importantly not a midge in sight. I’m in home territory having spent the best part of 35 years living in this part of the world. I’ve missed the hills but no match to the adventure we have planned.
Arriving at this point has not been straight forward. Our planned sea trials from Ipswich prior to our 22nd of April departure date never happened – tweaking of major work on the stern gland replacement had us motoring no further than the bottom of the Orwell and back but when we did finally leave we had confidence in all the work that had been done by Foxes on Asante over the past year.
Our plan was to head to Inverness via Ostend – as one does! The wind was not in our favour so we had a steady motor over. A visit by President Macron just after our arrival meant that the port was then closed and we had a 48 hour layover before battling our way back to Ipswich – yet again head winds. From Ipswich a 190 mile passage up to Newcastle during which Ian found he was bailing out 8 litres of water in the engine compartment in a 12 hour period. Not good. We made a call to Foxes on our arrival and what hero’s – Mark drove immediately north to help us. It transpired that the O ring on one of the heat exchangers had not been put in during its summer major overhaul – not a job undertaken by Foxes I may add.
From Newcastle we went north to Holy Island. Still headwinds. The three clients that were now on board were beginning to wonder if we had sails – as was I. The night at anchor was peaceful and the seals popped their heads up as we headed out the following day. Onward north to Peterhead and finally we got the sails up albeit briefly. 45 minutes in total. A weather system was heading south so we wanted to get in before it hit so the engine was on again. Peterhead. What an experience. We had gone in to the marina back in 2019 when going round the UK on our previous 46’ yacht but Asante is near enough 60’ all in and with a 2.5m draught the marina was not an option this time around. Peterhead Harbour Master directed us deep into the fishing fleet basins. I had never realised it was such a warren of channels, We finally ended up against a harbour wall facing the daunting challenge of climbing a slimy, oily, rusty and rarely used ladder. One of our guests was a retired fireman and he and I were tasked with the climb. He thought I was joking when I said ‘go’. All he could think of was his years of carrying out ‘risk assessment’. This task would certainly not have passed.
Peterhead north to Inverness was once again a long motor as still the weather wasn’t in our favour. All until the last couple of hours when we sailed down the Moray Firth. The passage under the Kessock Bridge is always a heart stopper. You do your sums on the air draught/clearance but you still hold your breath. 9ft to spare doesn’t look much from the deck.
We said farewell to our guests in Inverness and here we are having a quiet potter through the canal for a week.