LOST BEYOND THE SEAS by Captain O` Farrell. ( round the UK )
Taken from the log of my vessel Friend of all Nations
<lt;To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… ‘cruising’ it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.” -Sterling Hayden
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The seals on Blakeney Point earlier.
Day 1 (30 April 2013)
I let go of the buoy to start my voyage. I was casting off but it felt like the bouy was releasing me. I passed ANNEKIE, swinging at her mooring; the black hull and varnish catching the red of the last rays of a setting sun as were the seals on Blakeney point. I passed them as I moved under the muted gurgling from the exhaust of the desiel engine.
Within an hour I was sailing; the lights of Wells and Sheringham began to disappear while Friend Of All Nations dipped sluggishly into shallow troughs; just sporadic glimpses now of the last signs of land. I ducked my head low in order to see ahead of me. Under the close sheeted foresail was black space to the North. To the East and abeam of me, was a line of bright red dots that illuminated the horizon and when viewed from the West end, those red necklace lines distinctly showed the curvature of the earth; these conspicuous orbs warned aircraft and shipping of the towering wind turbines on Sheringham Shoal. They dominated the North Norfolk coast offshore, and as far as I`m concerned they represent a kind of coastal urbanisation but hey their saving the planet! I let go the wheel to vomit over the leeward side. It was a mixture of predictable seasickness from my first few hours at sea and a wretched fear of the unknown. Not so much of the voyage that lay before me but the fact I had set off without much of a plan and I was uncertain why I was putting to sea at all and of course in amongst that mixture was the obligatory diced carrot that now curdled behind in the foam.
Looking towards Skegness
Even though I had already circumnavigated the world albeit many years ago now, I had always suffered from seasickness and the sea terrified me! I was confronting two unpleasant experiences head-on in a vessel that only two years earlier had found a watery grave on the riverbed filling with mud. What was I doing? After countless years in the doldrums raising a family, I suppose I decided to spend my winnings restoring the 150 year old vessel into a seagoing thing again. We completed the restoration/rebuild in the winter and re-launched her at Reedham in March. I must have had this idea of sailing around the entire British Isles many times and the first day or night at sea, despite my sea sickness was going well. I had left Blakeney Harbour as the sun and tide were going down. Before me a chilly night with a slight wind on my beam driving me slowly North.
Friend of All Nations after the restoration.
Day 2 ( 01 May 2013 )
Amazing start to the day with a clear crisp sky and blinding sun emerging! Have lots to do today, things to sort out. Wind still in the East. Going well so I sailed back and forth on the same track – I`m in no hurry!
Friend of All Nations dashing along with an Easterly breeze
Taken on mobile phone
Day 4 ( 04 May 2013 )
Whatever happened to days 2 & 3? I had a fright when my navigation threw me completely. You read about these things never expecting it to happen to yourself. The compass was way off due to a bunch of keys being placed inside the binacle locker! So it resulted in me using my hand held GPS to get a fix and get me back to where I should be! My log writing has already become like those disappearing lights – sporadic! The wind is now much fresher and driving me at a good 8 knots. Heard on the radio last night that UKIP have managed to get nearly a quarter of the votes in the local elections. Despite meticulous work undertaken on the hull it has started leaking in one or two places and although she may take up a little more ( I hope ) I need to keep the pump running for 20 minutes every day. Sailing with two headsails, main and mizzen but I don’t think I`ll be foolish to set the topsail in this strong breeze although it is steady from the South West. Just around noon on Wednesday the auto pilot broke down just as I was passing the Humber and had three large ships to keep clear of. I managed to fix the linkage early this morning after giving up a few times previous. As a consequence I`m knackered and despite trying to stay awake, I fell asleep at the wheel and awoke when the old girl luffed and shook the dust from her sails …… It is amazing what epoxy can do! The sun is trying to shine. Bell Rock, a North Cardinal buoy is on my port beam so that must be Whitby behind me! I should be able to make Staithes in time for high water and if there is enough I plan to enter the tiny harbour and spend a day or two there I need the rest.
Day 4 continued.
Looking down the hill from Cow Bar
FROM A POSTCARD PURCHASED IN TOWN
Aground now in Staithes harbour. I entered at high water and had to tack hasardously between two rocky outcrops and Crab pot markers toward the harbour entrance as the engine refused to start. Just as I was attempting to go about I think I touched the rocks to the South albeit briefly. I managed to get her in alongside the quay by the lifeboat shed before being asked to move her over to the other side by the fishing boats. Staithes is very quaint, if it was in Cornwall it would be full of expensive fish restaurants and be called Padstow! Fortunately this has not occured here yet. I had a couple of beers in the `Cod and Lobster` which sits upon the inner harbour wall. Spoke to a chap called Shaun? something to do with the lifeboat (can`t remember much as I had more than a few!). He gave me some useful info. Being a lifeboat man he was very interested in my little ship as she had herself been a lifeboat two centuries ago. She had rescued the survivors of another lifeboat after they had capsized on the Scroby Sands off Great Yarmouth having just taken off the survivors of a Brig that had foundered there. Sadly most were lost but she spared a few souls that night. Well I managed to upload this entry on this new computer at the other pub as they have free wifi. Time to row back to turn in.
Day 5 5 May 2013
There are three types of sailors. I can`t remember who said that but I remember I fell into two categories. I was the adventurer to start with but I have metamorphosed into the romantic! It was for this reason I rowed to the pub as far as I could due to the lack of water, and left a long line to the beach so I could retrieve my tender later when I left the pub and the tide was up. Things did not go entirely to plan though. When I reached the beach the rope was gone! More to the point so was the tender. After a few enquiries, I discovered it had almost sunk and some well meaning fisherman had towed it to a slipway and dragged it out on a borrowed trailer – I had forgotten to put the bung/plug in! So I was unable to return to my ship. I spent the night in Alum Cottage just on the North Quay under Cow Bar by invitation of a couple on holiday. So many thanks John and Sally for your hospitality and full English. I can`t remember the third category of sailor but the romantic in me still enjoys a row to the pub and back again.
My tender enjoying the sun near Alum Cottage. (bung reinserted)
I wish I had loaded up all my stuff from my old computer as I had many pics on it that are now missing from my finger tips. Staithes is a model fishing village like many others around our coasts. Superficially it is unspoiled, stuck in a time warp and for a few months in the year is stunningly pleasant and I would love to live here but the reality is it is a dead place for most of the year, at least the old part is. Nearly every cottage is let for holidays hardly any locals live here. It`s fake. There is in the eyes of a growing generation now a place, just like Balamory a few years ago, that has an old sea dog ( Bernard Cribbins ) in a computer generated vessel tied up to a quayside where he spins old yarns to the children and me! Well it is time to retrieve my dinghy and leave this place. My course is to who knows where?
Day 6, 6 May 2013
After checking my battery leads to the engine starter motor, I discovered one of the leads was completely loose and that’s why my engine did not start! No sooner had I hoisted the sails today leaving Staithes and I was lowering them again! I called up Hartlepool Marine on channel 37. Will go straight into lock and pay a visit to HMS Trincomalee an old wooden wall I remember from Portsmouth and my Navy days; she was moored in Portsmouth Harbour, and reminded me of a prison hulk of which there were many during Dickens time. She is now fully rigged and afloat again………
Day 7, 7 May 2013
Alongside in the `posh` marina which is horrendously expensive. I like the berthing trolleys though I used one after doing a shopping trip and it`s good to get mains electric (luxury!)for a while. I watched a DVD I purchased in the gift shop about Trincomalee and phoned home. I`m missing the family already! When I stood `tween` decks aboard the Trincomalee, I could feel her roll as the stiff breeze caught her masts and rigging, and that is without sail! Brilliant Sunshine again today and a fair wind AGAIN! I will sail again tomorrow, this time I intend to do a long haul and make the best of the fair weather.
Day 8, 8 May 2013
Stars, I have seen them fall,
But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
From all the star-sown sky,
The toil of all that be
Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea
And still the sea is salt.
By A E Housman
I left in the early hours and have been sailing all night with no problems. Amazing shower of shooting stars at 3.30AM; its hard to believe these nocturnal pyrotechnics are the result of particles no bigger than a grain of sand. I have `bob` steering for me; the linkage seems to be holding up well. I set the topsail after I made some breakfast and I`m healing over in a slight sea but making cracking progress along the coast. The wind is still in the East but bloody well keeps backing to the North, at least that is forecasted to change but my leeway keeps pushing me landwards.
Isle of May
Out here you can really clear your mind. The space is refreshing and I actually played my fiddle earlier. While I was playing, I was reflecting on that starry night; I found the poem inside an old book in an old railway station at Wells Next The Sea. The station was closed during the 60`s and become a second hand book shop but it actually had my name on it! The author was an American and had written the book in 1914. I believe Something happened in that place; it was `felt.` On leaving, I asked the man what the room used to be where we picked up the novel. He disappeared upstairs and returned with a photocopy of a newspaper clipping. It clearly showed an old steam locomotive. It was out in the street having smashed through the building, the result of brake failure. The place where the bookshelf had been in 1879, contained the Gents and one, George Cooke, a Coachman who was sitting on the WC was killed while waiting for his employer who was on that train! Something was felt there I cannot explain.
My navigation is way out! I checked my GPS and I have made more leeway than expected as I have just seen the Isle of May way off to port, at least 10 miles further West than my intended course, I must not get complacent! At least the weather has improved, up till now, it has mostly been cloudy, good vis but this wind is pushing me where I do not want to be. I may have to put in somewhere. My glasses fell overboard this morning while I was looking at two porpoises riding along in my bow wave. One of them seemed to roll over and smile at me…blimey! I`ve only been at sea a week and I`m conversing with mermaids. I have 5 spare pairs of glasses from poundland, I`ll try not to loose them.
Day 8 continued
I bottled out. I did not want to risk rounding the headland, so bore away and made for a little harbour in the Firth of Forth in Fife ( that a lot of f`s ). I`m now sitting eating bacon, sausage, 3 eggs, beans, black pudding? And washed down with endless coffee. I`m going for a long sleep if I can get back on board without falling off a very old and rotting ladder! The weather forecast looks awful, so I may stay here a while but it is a lovely place when the sun shines.
Crail Harbour my view from the stern.
Day 9, 9 May 2013
Despite having a leaky boat you would think my priority this morning would be to get out as the tide has receeded and do something about it. What I did do however, after a cup of very strong coffee, was to remove a porthole and attack it with wire wool and finally brasso!
A walk around this town reveals a wealth of vernacular buildings of the 17th and up to the 19th Century. The Tollbooth is similar to buildings in Holland and everywhere you can see this influence including many houses with pan tiled roofs. The Tollbooth has a quirkey fish weathervane that has a reference to a local delicacy called `Crail Capon` which I was told by Tony, who helped me moor-up, was a split dried Haddock. He also said that tonight there is a folk evening in the Town Hall by an Elsa Jean Mc Taggart who is a self taught Fiddler, guitar vocalist any many other instruments besides. I brought along my fiddle but I doubt if I will get a chance to play as the singers night was last week!
Walked along the shore this morning and found some horsetails! This coast line is quite different from fossil hunting in Norfolk.
Came accross this sign which made me smile!
Day 9 continued: The wind is still blowing quite hard and the seas off this harbour do not look good! Tomorrows forcast offers a break, as the wind should ease and back around to the South west for a while giving me a break to get around the headland ( Balcomie ). Its quite low land actually, hardly what you might call a headland. I dont expect to get very far as the wind further up is forcasted to be against me! Its quite snug in the cabin; I can hear the sea crashing on the rocks on the other side of the breakwater and the rain is bucketing down now. I`m looking forward to going out to the Folk Club in the Town Hall tonight….. Brilliant night. Elsa Mc Taggart was excelent and I walked back whistling. I liked her fiddling style – Fiddling in the Tax Office was a good tune I`ll look it up when I get a chance. Night night.
Day 10, 10th May 2013
The rain has stopped! The caulking I put along the garboard strake seems to be holding up well and barely anything coming into the bilges forward now. Unfortunately the stern gland is leaking more than I would wish despite regularly screwing down the grease. I also have a small diesel leak under the fuel tank. I plan to sail 3 hours before high water and make the best use of the ebb afterwards and will try to make Stone haven before dark and will motor sail if I have to. So far I have only used it to leave Blakeney and enter Hartlepool and Here. I will use the squaresail if I can get the wind on my quarter. I have not yet tested it at sea for real and single handed so I hope it dosnt` snarl up again like it did on the way up from Yarmouth at least I had Dave and Julian to help!
11.30 At sea under motor and sail and the sea is very confused. The land is disappearing as I cross the Tay mouth…I feel sick again I don’t think I can write for long periods.
14.30 Thats better! heading North 015 and the sea is better and the wind is still on my bow but coming round as forcasted I`ve stopped the engine. Land has reappeared to port ( where else!) porpoises are befriending me again.
I have tried trailing a line for mackerel but no luck it is too early in the year I expect. I must say `bob` you are an excellent companion aboard.
1515 Arbroath is abeam now as is the wind and I`m flying! I was buzzed by two RAF Fighter planes a minute ago , frightened the life out of me.
16.40 I can see the harbour wall at Montrose and intend to hog the shore closer for a while as long as I don’t loose the wind too much. I`m going to have a go with the kite cam while she is behaving herself. I should get some really good shots with any luck.
17.20 My luck run out! I launched the kite and it promptly snagged upon the navigation light boards and ditched! Started engine again as the wind has dropped a bit but is from the South West so I have my pirate sail up and it is working well. It has a low centre of gravity so the F.O.A.N.`s handles it perfectly. She wasn’t designed with this rig. Originally she had two lugsails; the main mast had a very large one quite similar to one of the fifes that sailed these waters once. I saw one of them sailing out of Whitby when I passed the other day. She must look great under sail now I wish I could get a picture of her like this. Sunset is about 20.30 so I better get a move on, the wind is dropping and there`s hardly enough breeze to fill the sails now and I`m relying on the engine only.
18.10 Inverbervie abeam, seas flattening out.
20.00 Stonehaven ahead. Lowered the sails in a muddle and very nearly got the main sheets around the screw!
20.15 Secured alongside outerwall at Stonehaven just as the light was fading fast! I met James Brown the harbour master who was still in his office and seemed surprised to see my boat. He said I `took a chance` entering with such little water in the harbour. He seems friendly enough. I`m gagging for a meal and a pint he recommended the Ship Hotel!
Arriving in Wick the harbour light house.
I have decided to pick up the date from the computer for the sake of continuity and my sanity!
I had secured the Friend Of All Nations to an old sailing fishing vessel called the Isabella Fortuna. People are talking to me again! Shortly after arriving, I nodded off before I could finish making a drink. Two police officers arrived and woke me just as I was in that dream state zone. They asked me my name! I paused, being totaly confused and attempted to answer, to process what for me was no longer a straight forward question, that was made more challenging due to my fatigue. Before I could answer they asked me another question – my address. When you wake up under such circumstances, adrenaline kicks in, I know I appeared to be tetchy and avoiding their questions. They then asked me when I was born, to which I replied, I could not be sure. I was a baby at the time, and my parents were now dead. They had not informed me of an elder brother I had, so why should I believe the date of my birthday anyway? It was heresay! They were not amused. By their standards I appeared to be acting in a suspicious manner but I simply could not function properly. They asked if they could search my vessel to which I did not consent! They searched it anyway. After what seemed to be a fairly random investigation into a possible terrorist threat to Scotland, and unable to find bomb making equipment or any weapons, they left leaving me puzzled. I informed them before they left, I did not have a name that I was certain of anymore. That something had happened to me offshore and I had been lost at sea for a while. They looked at each other and said that they would return again after making some further enquiries.
I had returned later from buying some fresh provisions and the skipper of the Isabella Fortuna, informed me that the police had returned. He said they would wait for me as I was only going to the supermarket and he thought I would not be long. While they were waiting, an emergency call came through, so they had to leave post haste. as it is 1800 Hrs and the tide was up I thought I would leave there and then. The skipper of the Isabella Fortuna asked me where I was headed. “South. I`ll make for Stonehaven.” I replied. As soon as I was well clear of the harbour, I turned to Port and am now heading North again being carried on this fast flowing ebb tide! I had not noticed till I was at sea but I have had some parcels delivered but they are not addressed to me!!! I found them in the stern locker presumably delivered by the postman….not sure who Jonathan Scott is but its certainly not me! And the address is briefly written ` the harbour – black boat!
The Pentland Firth is really a straight and it is known for the strength of its tides; close to the Skerries they can race at a speed of 16 knots! Yesterday evening, Just as I was settling down for this next leg, a Minke whale surfaced about 50 yards in front of me. I could plainly see its diagonal white band on its flipper and the slender pointed and triangular shape of his/her head! They are quite common apparently and feed in the tidal races beyond.
I have not left at a good time. The `Duncansby Race` forms off the Ness at the Start of the SE going flood. Initially extending ENE but wheeling gradually anti clockwise; about a mile NW some 2-3 Hours later at which point it is known as the `Boars of Duncansby`. During the time of the SE stream, there is additional turbulence off Duncansby Head, particularly in the East which I discovered to my horror in the dark! The Shipping Forecast this wind to back North, hence I have had my engine running and smacking into a horrible sea. I am sailing again now under Main, Fore and Mizzen. The sea should settle later. I am now speeding West and have past John O Groats.
John O Groats
I am sailing around the United Kingdom. What does that mean? The United Kingdom? I enter this wild place to find a sheltered and tiny harbour to rest. As I approach with the wind on my starboard quarter now and running free, I am struck by the ruined crofts that have stood here for two centuries now on the windswept hills and cliffs. This place is Skullomie and its tiny harbour was built not for fishing but for forced expatriation……………
In 1807, the 19th Countess of Sutherland, Elizabeth Gordon and her husband Lord Stafford, later to become the Duke of Sutherland, were touring their inheritance, she wrote that “he is seized as much as I am with the rage of improvements, and we both turn our attention with the greatest of energy to turnips”. As well as turning land over to sheep farming, Stafford planned to invest in creating a coal mine, salt pans, brick and tile works and herring fisheries. That year his agents began the evictions and 90 families were forced to leave their crops in the ground and move their cattle, furniture and timbers to the land they were offered 20 miles (32 km) away on the coast, living in the open until they had built themselves new houses. These extreme events were duplicated all over the highlands and supported in Parliament. The news of the atrocities that took place during these dark times would not even fall upon deaf ears. This is still a remote place. Today people are losing their homes all over the UK, due to a banker driven crises. Bailiffs operating under false documents that appear to be authorized by the courts and they are acting Ultra Virus. The police often support these criminals and force is sometimes used. These events go unreported as if they had existed in a remote place like here. As Friend of All Nations now takes the ground on this falling tide, safe again for a while and protected by this old granite wall, I feel I can hear the families boarding a vessel; their anguish and ill treatment transcends the centuries. Nothing has really changed. Those agents and troopers are still out there. One day they will come for me and one day my friend they may come for you! You cannot unite anything by violence and force. The cracks run deep and in Scotland just like anywhere else the Elite class rule with an iron fist. Those laws governing people are inferior to the laws governing the tides and the winds but it was interacting with these elements that started it all. The laws upon the high seas oiled the explosion of trade around the world and fueled the greed of the few.
Just like today, Immigration is only promoted to profit the few often in a bid for cheap labour. Nearly 200 years ago, the landlords were losing ther cheap labour the products of the clearances, due to the increased Emigration! They lobbied Parliament and the Passenger Vessels Act 1803 was passed. The `spin`given was that it would improve the safely and health of those wishing to leave for a better life and protect them from exploitative shipping companies. In reality they made the price of tickets beyond the reach of those poor people who were once free to farm for themselves. Their only freedom left was to escape their slavery and Parliament prevented that! Good old freedom and democracy!
I am alone in this harbour and have not seen a living soul. The house on the hill seems to be empty as I cannot see any lights on at all. Since sailing from Wick I have not seen any other boats or shipping except for a South bound ship shortly after leaving Wick. The shipping forecast could be better but I have two choices; either to push against a NW wind around Cape Wraith and make for Kinlochbervie all in one go or stay a while at Loch `Orible` as it was known by the Royal Navy during the war. I could then visit Durness. I opened a parcel!!!!!???
……I`m underway and punching a horrible sea that has eased slightly now. The tidal effect here is awesome at times and I could at one time see myself going backwards at alarming speed but In a couple of hours I should be getting the benefit of the lee from the Western shore of Loch `Orible`.The sun is shining Hooray!
Friend of all Nations anchored in the distance. The Mckays gave me fresh eggs, bread and milk when I arrived. This landing was a beautiful and welcoming place before the weather changed.
The surrounding land that protects me from this North Westerly gale, also protects me from enemies beyond. Not the land as such of course, but the government of the day that also gives me benefits such as health and social care if I need it. Providing we sign up to it all, or our parents do on our behalf when they register our berth. The landscape is so bleak and soaked by endless storms from the North and West and it wants to become independent it seems. What does that mean? This Scotland? They may vote soon not to have Westminster ruling them that’s all. But the European Union? Who/who does Scotland think they are? They could try to stand up to the bullies in Brussels I would love to see them try! What form of `clearance ` action would result this time round should they decide to defy? This harbour, this Loch `Oribol`, used to be the assembly point for convoys during World War 2. I can make out HMS Hood out there through a grey veil of rain, just a ghost of course but just visible as watery curtains descend from the hills and cliffs of the Western Shore. The sun has retired, I now must obey the law. The law of nature that will decide my next course of action.
cont. I have moved closer in just off the beach now. I keep getting a manic wave from Stuarts McKay`s wife everytime I go up on deck.
I have just made some tea and look out of the porthole. About a hundred yards from the house on the beach is a Police landrover. The officer is standing on the beach and looking over at me. He cannot see me of course but he seems very interested. I have not committed any crime but it seems sailing around Britain without informing anyone of whys, where, when and who may not be Corpus Delecti but that element in law long ago held any relevance. There may not be CCTV here but the state has a long reach. I watch him take a photo of my boat before he walks back to the land rover and places the camera on the passenger seat and leaves the door open. He then walks over to the house. I can’t help myself and I cannot explain my actions they make no sense but I am compelled. I quickly jump into the tender and scull over to the shore in the drizzle. It is only the distance of about 50 yards to the shallows where I get out and stumble, splashing over one or two rocks and seaweed before getting to the beach. I cannot be seen from the house and so get to the camera and BINGO! It is the same camera that I have! He has even left it switched on. My guardian angel has returned! I delete the last couple of pictures and replace the camera, before starting to panic and hurry back to the Friend of All Nations. I need not have been in such haste because he must have spent nearly an hour at the McKays and left as it was getting dark. Night is drawing in early with all this low cloud and murk. I have just remembered – I switched the camera off! – maybe he will not have noticed! Despite the awful weather I must move they know I`m here.
I have just remembered something! a policeman stops me one night for having an old vehicle. He said and I quote, “The reason I stopped you sir is because there are a lot of vehicles of this age stolen.” Really!
I have also remembered something else, mainly because of a couple of pictures I found on here,….A few years ago I was suspended from work on full pay, and just for the hell of it I made a rocket for a bonfire party that to all intents and purposes looked so real that even in recent times people have asked me how far it went! This rocket was on an intercontinental ballistic scale and was very convincing.
Top Cat One as viewed from the road by the public.
It also appeared as if from nowhere one day on private property but on full view to the public passing by. I cordoned the area off with safety tape and went about my business wearing what you might expect for such a serious albeit enigmatic project and I watched the police drive by a number of times. Even when the missile appeared to be venting off liquid oxygen in vast amounts nobody came to check anything! If it had been for real and anything went disastrously wrong, the loss of life in the area could have been quite high to say nothing of what the death toll would be if it were a real weapon of mass destruction.
Today, in Britain if you are stopped for no good reason and you question it, there is a good chance the reason will be connected to terrorist suspicions. On the radio today, there was a Cobra meeting. The consequence of an individual soldier being hacked to death on the streets of London by two `Islamic terrorists` or idealistically motivated nutters. This is the first incident since 7/7. During the `troubles` soldiers were being killed by the IRA almost routinely. Cobra would have been in permanent session! The moral of this story is; if you intend to do a lot of damage to government, do not hide and try to be invisible to the authorities, do it in full view and you just might get away with it! ( they are already talking of passing new `snooper laws`!)
I must stay here longer than I would wish as a full Gale is blowing with squally heavy showers and hail. I`m not suicidal, there is no way I will get around Cape Wraith with all this going on. The leak seems to have returned to add to my troubles and has ruined two boxes of semtex.
I was invited to have tea at the McKays tonight just after I gorged myself on pancakes so had to decline the offer but Stuart said I could go over “for a dram” later which I dont mind if I do.
DAY 24 24TH May 2013
Woke with a very thick head this morning. I`m not a whiskey drinker. Apparently the Police officer (Gavin. They even know him personally) Had been asked to check out a vessel -(mine) as part of Operation/Project Kraken I think they said. Stuart had put his mind at rest it seems, so no chance of finding my cargo then! He was asked to photograph the vessel (whoops!) I did not stay too long, and left when they started asking me too many questions about myself which to be honest I couldn`t answer anyway. It felt very awkward even oiled with whisky! It looked as though I was hiding something I suppose. It looked like I was but I don’t think that I am. I do not feel as if I am. I just seem to have some weird missing parts of myself still. I am motivated by something else outside of me, the real me is there most of the time but departs from time to time as if something/someone else is controlling me.
The seagulls are driving me crazy. The noise this morning is for some reason a bit over the top. I think there is some territorial dispute taking place and to make matters worse, some of them have chosen to perch aloft and decorate the deck with the remains of Ughhhh!
Stuart let me use his WIFI this morning.
Slept and had another evening with Stuart with whiskey and Irish stew! In Scotland – you think they would at least have given me haggis. I started reading a book about Custers Last Stand. I was struck by the memorial to the soldiers who fell; reminieient of `our heros` in Afiganistan. The difference? Custers white invading conquering Army soldiers of course had absolutely no right to be killing the native population of America. In Afganistan?
The shipping forecast is still against me. While I could leave with this SE wind and slight to moderate sea that seems ideal, there are gale warnings in the West, so I dare not leave this sanctuary just yet. Besides, the sun is trying to come out…..
Cont. I took the tender about 5 miles out with a sample of the mysterious cargo that I found on board….. I took just one pack (about a pound) of PE4 and 100 metres of cordtex fuse together with a single detonator with a 12 volt battery and some wires. I placed it on a small rock on a beach. The wind would carry the sound away out to sea if it did detonate. I felt it would not as I was convinced it would prove to be a TV prop. I had forgotten how destructive that stuff was! It shattered the rock and sent shards of granite flying everywhere missing me by only metres. I do not know what to make of it all.
Weather forecast for Faire Isle was wind 6 to gale 8 becoming 4 to 5 later which it has now become, with sea very rough. Around the corner ( Wraith ), the wind would be against me so I`m still left here awaiting a break in this horrible weather – I can see why those old sailors called this Loch Orible. You only have to spend a couple of days here in these conditions and you realise. The Police Landrover was back first thing. This time there was two of them. I had moved Friend of All Nations further out again as the water was too shallow and I was worried she may ground on the very uneven bottom there. This time they did not seem to be interested in visiting the McKays and left. I wondered if someone had seen the explosion but dismissed that idea quickly, I had taken appropriate action to avoid being…. what am I saying? How would I explain all this?
The fuel leak under the tank deteriorated. There was a horrible stink of diesel everywhere together with the sour milk that spilt earlier in the trip, making me feel quite sick. Fortunately all that was required was to tighten the valve under the tank that had worked lose but that has not removed that nauseating smell. The boat is still leaking a little but I`ll have to learn to live with that now. I re-spliced the ends of the braces this morning because I had not made a good job in the first place – I used to be good at rigging work and I had looked forward to rigging the Friend of All Nations but did cut a few corners that have proved a false economy. As I was greasing the shackles on the bobstay from the tender close to the waterline, an Atlantic Seal surfaced only a couple of feet away and we looked at each other for a few seconds. I was not startled because I know this has happened to me before while hooking on another boat….I have another boat! We looked into each other’s eyes for about ten seconds before he snorted fishy breath into my face and slid beneath me.
Through the mist and rain yesterday, I thought I saw a ghost from World War 2. It turned out to be a Royal Navy fishery protection vessel that hung around for about 6 hours. It launched a RIB and I watched through binoculars as they headed towards the beach where I had detonated the PE4. However they did not do so and just went up and down a few times some distance away. Before they left she headed towards me and got within about 1 cable before turning away and made for the sea. I went on deck and waved at those on the bridge who returned my wave. It’s funny how people wave at each other when they are waterborne. For some strange reason the barriers come down that seem to be compulsory on land to all those strangers that walk by. Maybe it is the speed of life; in cars we rush along and avoid eye contact just as we do walking the pavement in a crowded town. During the cold war the Moskva, the mightiest Russian Warship sailed by us whilst anchored in the Bosphorus. Everyone waved at our prospective enemy, who were formally lined up on her flight deck. They did not return the wave but we did observe the crew placing their cameras to their heads and snapping a shot at us!
I`m making a break for it as the wind has eased to force 4 and sea state slight to mod. I`ll have the tide with me but I`ll not have the wind in my favour until I`m round Cape Wraith then all being well I`ll have a broad reach off the coast until I turn for Kinlochbervie. I reckon to be in easily before dark it is 41 nautical miles but you already know that!
DAY 31 CAPE WRAITH
Camera suspended on the end of a bamboo lashed to a whisker pole 10 metres out!
Cape Wraith, as Frazer would say from Dads Army, “Is a wild and lonely place!” The unimpeded storms from the Atlantic from the USA and Greenland travel 3000 miles to meet the angry tides at this point. The 400 foot high cliffs, some of the highest in the UK, stand up to them. It is named from a corruption of the Norse word hvar, which means a turning place which is the same as the word Cape. That means this place is so good they named it twice! As I passed yesterday between the Cape and the Duslip Rock; the sound of breaking waves were clearly reminding me of the seas destructive power if I ventured too close. I thought how lucky I was that the weather was kinder than forecast and I was soldiering on. The sea around the Cape was respectful to the hull of FOAN`s and as planned I arrived in good time at Kinlochbervie.
Safe inside Kinlochbervie Harbour
Kinlockbervie is a safe natural harbour and a busy fishing port. I called up on channel 14 and spoke to Hugh Morrison, the deputy harbour master who was just off home and he said to lay alongside the Old Fish Market Quay till the morning. A charming woman, Rachael Macay ( no relation!), the clerical assistant, just came over almost at the crack of dawn it felt, and I asked her where I could get diesel and water. She pointed to a horrible old wooden piled pier that I could not get away from fast enough as the Atlantic swell not only damaged FOAN paintwork, but ripped off some of the edges of her clinker planking. So I am now alongside the West Pontoon with power and water at last!
Kinlochbervie has become one of the major fishing ports in Scotland. Fishing boats, often based in east coast Scottish ports, land their catches here at the fish handling depot built in 1988. The fish is then transported in large refrigerated lorries to destinations across the UK and throughout Europe.
The fact that many of the vessels are not based here tends to give Kinlochbervie a rather spartan, functional feel. The centre of life is very definitely the harbour and there is not a great deal more besides to attract the visitor to the village.
Although the number of vessels has declined in recent years, the overall fleet is made up of a modern class of vessel which has diversified into new species caught in deeper water. Hugh, the assistant harbour master told me that there has also been an increase in the local shellfish creel fleet and the addition of state of the art vessels to this fishery has improved the landings. The main species caught by white fish trawlers are monkfish, haddock, cod, whiting and skate. He said the main shellfish fishery consists of lobsters, prawns, crabs and velvet crabs. Most days fish is landed at the pier and markets are usually held two or three times a week in the main auction hall which tourists can visit. So I might pop along to it later this morning as I am partial to crab.
As I lay here under a greying sky that keeps turning on the taps, I look aloft through the bars of the cabins skylight. I have a Union Flag that occasionaly is bathed in golden sunshine and framed in bright blue holes in the crud above. It flys at the end of the mizzen gaff and bursts into violent activity shaking off the rain. The Union flag, known to most as the Union Jack is our nations flag. Up here, I am conscious of the Scottish national feelings and flying (wearing) the UK`s national flag is not appropriate anyway, as flag etiquete allows only a red duster or red ensign to be worn. They may say you can take a man out of the Royal Navy but you cannot take the Navy out of a man, and to some extent that is true in my case. The Royal Navy are the only ships that are permitted to wear the Union Flag on their Jackstaff; hence the name, but few observe that convention these days. I used to hoist that flag and White Ensign with great pride and sought my national identity from it. My identity!
Such feelings of Incongruity, when people of a nation identify with symbolic pieces of bunting to the extent it becomes `them` as it were, then the infantile disease that Albert Einstein spoke of will emerge. Taking pride in a flag seems prosperous to me these days and when used in extreme situations, truly displays “nationalism to be the last refuge of a scoundrel,” as Doctor Johnson once wrote.
As `I`, `me`, lay upon `my` bunk in reverie, I can see that if a peoples identity with itself and nationhood is misplaced and separated from the `body` of the land, If they lose sight of these facts; that it is THEY that create government; that government is or should be subservient to its people and not the other way around. If the individual identifys with nationalism to the exclusion of all else, then they have lost themselves. THEY cease to exist anymore as a human being. History continues to make this mistake and human beings as flesh and blood continue to follow each other in ever decreasing circles on destructive paths. Identifying and having a love for your country and its culture is not a bad thing in itself I believe this to be a healthy characteristic but there needs to be a balance.
When a man or woman commit an horrific act, we often say they are animals, terrorists etc. sometimes that they have lost their mind. Whatever the language, it is convenient to see them in this way as not being human anymore because it can `explain` their actions to that shallow flock or mob.
( excuse the rambling now )Charles Darwin challenged the established doctrines of the day. Most of us are familiar with his evolutionary ideas. Regarding our laws, it seems they are also constantly evolving to survive, regardless of what effects it may have upon the sentient being of the flesh and blood man. The law has become a body that must survive and diversify into many other forms at ALL costs.
In most schools today you will see many flags including the European so called Union. I will not stand under it!
The United Kingdom is no more united than a knife and fork. The European Union is a further estrangement to a process of disassociation with real community. My disassociation with myself is being controlled out there by someone unknown to me and will possibly result in something that I can say with all sincerity and belief WILL be the METHOD and eventual RESULT of fulfilling a successful mission.
Fishmarket on the quay at Kinlochbervie
There is not much here apart from the harbour a few old cottages and the Spar shop where I called in to use there WIFI. I walked up the hill/mountain to get a great view out towards the Atlantic. I went off the road and looked around an old deserted croft. Inside the old hearth was an old glass photo/print (not sure what they are called) partly burnt but it was still recognisable. It clearly showed a crowned woman on a heavy wooden throne with celtic carving everywhere upon it and she appeared to be stroking what looked to be a dragon! Just like a medium sized dog. It was clearly a contrived work done in a romantic style but get this, on leaving the croft beside the door I found a large piece of charred wood with celtic carving on it and nailed to the wood was a ring! The same ring that was in the photo! I believe the picture must have been taken recently, even though it looked genuine and Victorian. I went to the fish market but NO FRESH CRABS!!!! I purchased a single haddock which a fisherman kindly filleted for me.
DAY 31 cont.
The hope of winning the lottery is a big part of many peoples lives. It gives some hope to the millions that hope to break the bonds of their servitude. I do remember doing the lottery for a few months when it first came round but then saw the light. It must have been some years later but I have a very vague memory of sitting in a room with some other people when the lottery numbers came on the screen. I seem to have someone holding a ticket in front of me saying, “ITS YOUR TICKET! YOU HAVE WON 3 MILLION POUNDS!” What I do not remember is what happened in between: I stopped buying tickets and have a very vivid memory of thinking the odds were stacked more in favour of me getting a terminal illness! And then the change of heart of actually buying lottery ticket again! Did I really buy them again or was it bought for me?….that’s it! That is what must have happened but who? Why give a ticket to me? I cannot recall anything after that major event and can only read the information contained earlier here to build a life from the fog and gap that is haunting me. There is no plan for this trip, but then I feel compelled to carry on by something beyond my own control. I have become a wanderer that feels the “routine traverse” would be more suitable to me as a cruising man not such a voyage into the unknown. I feel sick again. There is nothing to be afraid of only fear itself. I instinctively feel I am from a bed of financial unrest but the bank tells me different! I keep seeing myself letting go of that white mooring buoy and have a great wanting to secure to it again. The cash point revealed I still have £1,955,000 in an account. The name is mine in all caps. It does not feel it is me anymore. How can It be? That `me` was a slave. The new me appears to be a truly free man. There should be a warning sign in every shop and place that sells lottery tickets, “WARNING. Winning the lottery may end your slavery but are you ready for freedom when you thought you already were?”
Before turning in I had a visit from the General……http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIa5wwccFLE
DAY 32 Crossing the Minch
Weather forecast is for Westerly/ South-westerly. Not ideal at all. Sea – Rough but good vis. when not showering down! I`m going for it! If I leave at low water I`ll catch some tide to carry me against this sea that is coming at me. I have nearly 50 miles to do so I`ll motor sail and get as close to the wind as I can. I really need to be in Stornoway before dark. I have tooth ache! The first place I will call will be the dentist. Low water is just after 8 so I have 1 hour to secure for sea again and prepare some ready meals for the crossing.
11.10 It is rough but `Bob` is coping very well and so is my stomach; I seem to be able to tolerate the motion now together with the smell of diesel and sour milk! I left in a down pour but soon seemed to dodge the clouds and showers. The landscape I left behind could not be savoured, hidden as it was by oggin everywhere. I have reefed the main and mizzen and only set the foresail which is also reefed. Friend of All Nations does not carry a lot of sail for her size despite her boot and braces rig, and the gaff rig can be easily handled. Only having two centreplates in line means she is not best suited for these seas and at times slams violently down into the troughs. The wind is already getting up and getting ahead of me a little.
12.00 I have now lowered the sails and almost hove to as making progress against this is proving too much for this old boat. I`m beginning to wish I had not left Kinlochbervie.
15.00 The tide is now pushing me back again but at least the wind as eased a little.
18.00 I can see the land again. Stornoway is around the bend, wind is still against me and backing! So near yet so far. A general cargo ship, the Kaylana is close by and also for some reason seems stopped in the water. If I can get a little further across to the SW I`ll be able to reach across into Stornoway…the clock is ticking.
21.00 Alongside in Stornoway at last. Crossing the Minch was not the sail I had hoped for it was f******g awful. For the last couple of miles I set the square sail and braced her hard. She stood on her ends as I rounded into the harbour. I like to throw a pose but I had a lot to do in a short time as the Caledonean McBrayne ferry was also arriving and I was in her way! A cruise ship, the Serenissima is in town and loads of passengers were leaning on the rails with cameras as she was about to sail. The Hebridean Princess is also alongside; she was the ship that stood in for a Royal Yacht for the Royal Couple! – I actually remember something… that wedding so well; I went sailing on the Norfolk Broads on a boat called White Rose! We went there because there was no TV and therefore no possible coverage of the wedding, TO A REMOTE PUB ON THE MARSHES! What did we find? Two boat loads of Royalists out for a Royal Wedding cruise with TV and everything!
I am not liking this harbour already! Spoke to Harbour Master on chan. 12 before entering and he said to berth on the Esplanade Quay. As soon as I was secure I was asked to move again. Any harbour that likes to put the word `authority` in its name is full of jobsworths and is shit! I`m absolutely gone but I am going to find a pub. If a man can get any more lost than me tonight I would like to see them try.
DAY 33 Stornoway
Never have tooth ache on a Sunday in Stornoway. Never hang out your clothes on a Sunday to dry even if you did get a drenching crossing the Minch. Not that the weather is suitable for the drying of clothes at the moment. I went to see the Callanish stones this morning before the rain cometh. They remind me of poor dental hygiene! The effect of an all powerful church is still evident here. I`m surprised they have not removed the Pagan Stones.
I have hundreds of emails from people I don’t know or recognise.
Someone from a visiting French yacht, the THOE? just invited me over for a drink…Better not speak about…much really.
I awoke with horrible pain and I was rolling about! AT SEA! AT SEEEAAA?…I can see land! Its…..? GPS is working and I`m just North of Rum! It is happening again. How did I get here? Stornoway is 120 miles away, I`m being blown toward Skye. I will motor to get into Rum. I turned in 12 hours ago and slept like I was a dead man……I must have a veraged 10 knots!!!! The pain from my tooth has gone…
At anchor in Loch Scresort which lies to the East of the Isle of Rhum within sight of Kinloch Castle. How can we trust our memory? What is it? This personal experience in our lives that makes us unique involving our life`s interaction over time through space? Around me here I have had `time` to ponder how irrelevant I have become……have always been. This Island is old. Farm Fields is a site near Kinloch which had some of the earliest known evidence of human occupation in Scotland. Carbonized hazelnut shells were found there and have been dated to the Mesolithic period at 7700-7500 BC. At this time the landscape was dominated by alder, hazel and willow scrub a Carr woodland as they say in Norfolk, a wetland scene all so very different now. Just above this anchorage there was a beach site settlement between 6500 and 5500 BC, but that is not so long ago. How could all this change so much from a wetland oasis to this beautiful but bleak place?
The community that lived here back then took advantage of the local supplies of bloodstone, a workable material for the making of tools and weapons. I brought a piece back from my walk yesterday. I needed another perspective. I walked through Kinloch and past the eccentric castle and headed West climbing Orval over on the other side of the Island. At the top at 571 metres, I looked around me. There is nothing like a mountain view to refresh the spirit and I needed it. I was on the core of a deeply eroded volcano from the Palaeogene period. A period of time that creationists would no doubt refute but they owe their existence to this time window when mammals evolved between 66 – 23 Million years ago! The landscape was vastly different. The rocks around me were so old; they had been pulverised by frosts and glacial erosion but hey! That was like only yesterday!
On the top of Orval.
Around me there were circles about 50 centimeters in diameter that had weathered producing unusual rock sculptures. On Sròn an t-Saighdeir there are large sorted granite boulder circles 2–3 meters across on the flat summit and sorted stripes on the slopes. Lava flowing away from the volcanic center formed Bloodstone Hill that I will visit today; gas bubbles leaving holes in the structure that were then filled with green agate flecked with red. And further back in time? Before the volcano? Rivers were laying down sediments to produce sandstone rock and shale. A geological time that we humans cannot even imagine. When I was on top of that mountain I remembered something. That I once made a scale model of our solar system. It was 2 miles from the sun to the average orbit of Pluto. I cannot remember how far away the earth was exactly but it was only a stone’s throw from a twenty inch in diametre Sun! and the Earth a marble in size, the moon was just a pea several inches from it! By creating this model I could walk the solar system and `realize` the immensity of space. I cannot do this with time. Can any of us travel through time? Have I traveled through time? What have I become? The wind is in the east now and this anchorage may become exposed but the forecast is good but I shall have to be cautious. The clouds are breaking up and the sky is almost clear sunshine! To return after a days walk to find a gale blowing in and a wrecked boat on the beach…..!
Today my ship is not dressed overall to celebrate our sovereigns coronation 60 years ago. I have taken down the Union Flag and now fly the Jolly Roger! The queen is a traitor to her people!
When they made the term of Parliament a set 5 years, they took from the Queen her constitutional prerogative of being able to dissolve Parliament if it had gone off the rails. We now have no defence against Parliament’s usurpation of the Sovereign’s Royal Prerogatives which were our safeguard against such treasonous actions. The Queen has broken her Coronation Oath which, according to Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), the great 18th Century Jurist, is “…in what form it so ever be conceived, this is most indisputably a fundamental and original contract…..And to reduce that contract to a plain certainty. So that whatever doubts might be formerly raised by weak and scrupulous minds about the existence of such an original contract, they must now entirely cease; especially with regard to every prince who has reigned since the year 1688”. The contract is between the Sovereign and the British People. Parliament has no part in it except to abide by it. But, by her own admission, she is no longer Sovereign, the contract, like the Law of Treason, is completely ignored by those who presume to govern us and who have usurped to themselves the powers of the Royal Prerogatives.” The laws are constantly changing. The country is constantly changing. The people are the same…SHEEP! I wish my toothache would go. I will have to get it sorted soon. Brandy works for a while!
DAY 36 ISLE OF RUM
Cloudy start to the day. Sea calm, wind light from the East/South East. Friend off All Nations is lying at anchor pointing to where the sun would be if it were visible today. Spoke to Steve yesterday evening. He lives in a yert with his dog Zara, We spent a boozy night drinking Buckfast Wine outside the village shop and community hall with all the other locals, blasting out the Blues and folk music. Many dissatisfied individuals with life as it is on the mainland. I have an affinity with them together with a very thick head!
A very hot day – 30 degrees. The bay is very still now with the tide going out and Oyster Catchers are busy along with the Eider on the tide-line and mudflats. Despite the time, it is still very light, but the midges are driving me crazy and so is my tooth! Saw another Yert today, Cathy the shop keeper lives in it. I spoke with some of the 7 Geology Students from Glasgow earlier as we watched some red deer while I was out walking on the mountains, they are camping and here for some time.
Had a very bizzare dream!!!
Bright sunny day wind now in the west again 3-4 Good safe anchorage.
Eve of the longest Day. DAY ?
Yesterday evening I went ashore and spoke to Steve. I told him about the dream I had. He did not say much, just smiled as any bloke would at what appeared to be a bizzare sexual fantasy. We had quite a chat about many things over Buckfast wine that I was actually getting a taste for. One thing struck me about the man. He knew something but was not telling me. I could not bring myself to admit to him most of what had happened during this voyage but I gave more away than I should have done perhaps. His last words to me were, “You better make sure you secure yourself into your bunk well tonight, the wind is shifting.” It seemed odd that a landsman would consider this. The wind was off the land and quite stable according to the forecast. When I became interrogatory he just said, “I just know, I just know!” And looked into me with a glint in his eye as if he really did know something!
Anchored in the channel off Easdale Island went to the Puffer Bar but it was closed. There is a house for sale I like the look of???? Will get the details as soon as.
Past the Corryvrecan only another 457 nautical miles to the wreck site. Leviathan is still there….am lost beyond the seas.
WE ARE ALL LOST BEYOND THE SEAS!