Warp Drive / Just Another Day

Day 43 – Arbroath to Stonehaven – 2nd July – 28.6 nm

The campsite man is pleasant and we have a nice chat. He corrects me though when I reply that I am paddling around the UK – I am paddling around Scotland, the rest doesn't matter he tells me – there’s no smile in his eyes, he’s serious - unusual.

It’s not FFS early, but it’s early enough. We return to Victoria Park, it’s peaceful and very pleasant as an early morning mist slowly burns away.

I head up onto the cliff-tops once again and things look much better, there’s still a tell-tale band of white foam along the base of the cliffs, but it shouldn't be a problem – the sun is out after all.

I can’t be bothered to drive back to the beach at the south end of town so we take our lives in our hands and carry the boat gingerly across the slippery rock ledges for a sneaky launch through a narrow gulley. I paddled by here yesterday, before I turned back, so I guess it still counts? Team Manager frowns unhelpfully.

There is still a swell running but there is no wind. It takes a bit of fortuitous timing to leave the gulley safely, but I'm soon out into deep water and happy to be paddling once again, under sunny skies - 07:45 OTW.

The cliffs drop to the rear, leaving Dickmont’s Den and The Deil’s Heid behind is probably not a bad thing I reflect. The swell makes enough rebound to keep me awake and I am happy to accept that I made the correct decision when I turned back yesterday. Conditions are much better today but it’s still enough to keep me a distance offshore, yesterday could have ended in tears I reckon.

Lunan Bay is a sandy oasis lying rebelliously in the rocky coastline, it looks like a pleasant spot but it’s not on the destination list today – hopefully.

I close on the shiny lighthouse at Scurdie Ness, by Montrose, and once again I spot my mad female stalker waving furiously out to sea, that lass is going to get locked up one of these days...
Montrose Bay resorts to bit of one-upmanship as it extends its quiet sandy beach for twice the distance of Lunan Bay, before the low rocky coastline begins again.

We are on split-shifts once again; this morning’s landing options are probably going to be a selection from Johnshaven, Gourdon or preferably Inverbervie. The tide turns on time, but a little quicker than I expect and as the swell lifts I find myself in a bit of a scruffy tide race off the rocky ledges at Johnshaven. The map shows a rather narrow gap for an entrance to JH, this is confirmed by the Team Manager who stops for a look on her way by. The swell isn't big but it’s enough to mean that you don’t want to get too close to those ledges. Landing through the gap doesn't sound like the cleverest option.

I'm pushing against a knot of tide now and the swell is breaking along the ledges in a sort of  ‘you ain't landing here’ reminder. Team Manager calls to say that the beach at Inverbervie is dumping but has a gap - if I'm quick. Oh yeah, I’ll just pop it into Warp Drive then.

Before I can get there I receive another call, the beach has just closed out – ‘You Snooze - You Lose’.

Well, it sounds like a harbour landing in Gourdon then. There is an impressive break on a reef just outside the harbour, I do a Major Tom, skirt the reef (by miles) and then follow a small, blue crab boat in. The reef was one of those micky-taking, wind-up ones – you get all worked–up and all dressed-up, to then have a perfectly flat paddle in of course.

The sun is out and we sit on the edge of the harbour, watching Gourdon life go by in a flurry of fish-processing and loud cars. At the same time there is something of a paradoxically sleepy air about the place. After a morning on the water the ‘Award-winning’ Fish and Chip shop (sorry, restaurant) sounds the perfect lunchtime option.  I can’t see that they would have won any awards where I come from...

Team Manager heads off on her bike for a ride in the sunshine while I take a wander around Gourdon and do the scruffy traveller impression as I clutter up the place with drying kit. 
Eventually our harbour-side idyll has to be broken by a return to the water – Stonehaven next. On the way out of the harbour I overhear a couple of tomb-stoning lads discussing the fun that would be had if they grab and capsize me as I pass. They run down the wall and jump, but forewarned is forearmed, a hard-right rudder and a couple of quick strokes and I’m soon beyond swimming reach – up yours ugly. I don’t feel as guilty now about washing out my pee bottle in the harbour.

The tide runs well now and I'm ticking along nicely at six knots. As the sun disappears, it grows a little chilly and with the grey skies things suddenly seem less fun.
As I watch the rocky reefs slowly morph into low cliffs, the swell now starts to rebound. The conditions aren’t big but they become quite confused. I can’t see a pattern to the chop at all, the swell seems to constantly vary in size and frequency, and it comes from all sorts of directions. The boat wallows and slides around tediously.  Eventually things are big enough to put a kaibosh on admin breaks and so I head in to Stonehaven to eat and to consider my short term future. I watch a sea kayak / lifeboat exercise (I think) as I eat.

I was hoping for a Newtonhill finish today, but after a few minutes of luxury in the still water of the outer harbour and a wuss-call with Team Manager I decide to call it a day.

Just another day.