After a quiet winter in the capable hands of Fox's, and particularly Lee the marina manager, in Ipswich, Moana was ready and rearing to head north for more adventures in Scotland. Gordon, Kate, George and Wynne kindly joined for the delivery trip up to Inverness Marina ready for entry into the Caledonian Canal in early July. Fueled, watered and provisioned with homemade fruit cake, lasagne and stew we had a lovely evening meal at the Butt & Oyster before setting off into the Orwell, on the ebb, the following morning. We gave quick wave to the crew aboard Achenar, the brand new 885/10 on her commissioning tests, before turning to port along the Suffolk coast.
The tide and wind were with us up to Great Yarmouth and Moana made good progress into the North Sea before nightfall. We were ready and waiting to negotiate the wind farms, oil & gas platforms and survey vessels which litter this busy inshore area. 'Windy' predicted favourable winds for most of the trip and it didn't fail to disappoint until we reached the Firth of Forth. A Force 7 arrived at around midnight on our 2nd night with more north in it than expected. To avoid too much 'Scandinavian easting' we close-hauled and motorsailed on a port tack until it blew itself out by breakfast time. A uncomfortable night in the port berth for Gordon & Kate with some heavy breakers on the hull :( Gordon was a trojan after starting the trip under the weather following a bug (and maybe a bit too much socialising during the recovery period?!).
Passing Rattray Head and Fraserburgh, the weather improved, the wind backed and the swell subsided in the lee of the Moray Firth. It was a lovely sail overnight and into the dawn on the approach to the neck at Fortrose. So much so that George made the right decision to take a silky smooth 8 knot port tack at towards the Dornoch to prolong the pleasure.
Unfortunately the Dolphins didn't show for us in the tide rips off Fort George and we had to motor the final 5nm through wind against tide inside the Inverness Firth.
The Kessock Bridge was our final landmark before Inverness Marina. We had 5m air draught clearance at HAT, probably about 8m on the day, but as always the mast looks far to high on the approach and a sharp intake of breath by all the crew as we glide underneath. The wind gusts of 25-30 knots, flood tide and confluence of the River Ness made an interesting approach to our tight berth in the marina.
All hands sprang into action and we were soon safely docked, comfortable and secured on the main pontoon. Thanks to the friendly and extremely helpful marina staff, particularly Craig and David, we were feeling at home and Moana was soon ready for her next step into the Caledonian Canal and beyond to the Western Isles. After a well earned drink or three, a few odd jobs, a rendezvous with Richard Stinson, a friend of Wynne's from his Puma days, and a superb meal at the Mustard Seed, it was into the hire car and back South through the breathtaking Highland Scenery. A fabulous job from start to finish by all on board and another truly wonderful experience and memories to share for life. Thanks to all x x