Welcome to Scotland – passports please

After another long overnight journey we’re now tucked safely away in Peterhead marina on the tip of Rattray Head, Scotland.

In contrast to the solitude of the Farne Islands nature reserve, where we spent the past two nights at anchor on the Northumberland coast, Peterhead is a stark, busy and highly industrialised port. The main industry here is oil, and catering for the tankers that deliver it.

After negotiating the breakwater entrance, and finding the marina, a member of the marina staff came down to help with our mooring lines. He asked where we’d come from and when we said that we’d sailed for twenty four hours direct from the Farne Islands, he told us that as this was a port of entry we should take our passports to their office once we had settled in. We dutifully did this and the appropriate forms were completed by the marina manager and signed by me – the skipper.

It did seem strange that we were asked for our passports when entering Scotland, and we did remark that we’d been to France recently and hadn’t been asked to produce anything, but better not to question these things too much; after all, give a man a uniform….

About an hour later, the young lad that helped us moor was passing by and said “The Farne Islands are in Northumberland aren’t they” – I confirmed this and asked if he’d been Googling the place we’d come from. He said that he had, and then apologised for making us complete the passport forms after arriving from England. He simply heard the word ‘island’ and assumed we’d travelled from somewhere a little more exotic.

Like many of the places we’ve visited the locals here are extremely friendly. The local shop owner kept us entertained with a fisherman’s tale of a storm which raised a 60ft wave that lifted one of the local’s boats clear over the breakwater and into the harbour. He also gave Helena an I a free milky bar each – usually reserved for children but we seemed like ‘a nice couple’.

Sadly though, Peterborough isn’t an exotic destination. To see what I mean, consider the corner of the port that the marina is in (click on the image to get a better view):


So where’s Amalia? you ask – just there in front of the massive yellow topped tanker. Oh and what’s that to the right of the tanker? – they’re fuel silos, this is where the big commercial vessels come to fill their fuel tanks. No a little further to the right – Ah, that’s a prison. No not that, even further to the right – oh the big chimney, that’s the top a massive gas fired power station.

So, as friendly as Peterborough has proved itself to be, we’ll be moving on tomorrow morning and heading west to Lossiemouth.

As an aside, some of you may remember the Fast Show’s Bob Flemming – the character with the ever nagging cough. In case you were wondering what ever happened to Bob, it would appear that he’s dropped his Devonshire accent in favour of a Highlands one and has been in gainful employment as a harbour master here at Peterborough. Our conversation on the VHF radio this morning started something like this:

– “Peterhead Harbour this is sailing yacht Amalia”

– “Amalia this is #ahhemmm# Peterhead Harbour”

– “Peterhead Harbour we would like permission to enter the port and to proceed to the marina please”

– “Amalia there is a lot of  #ahemmm# traffic in the #haack# port currently so #ghurrrm# please do not enter, do not #ahaaar# enter, there is a tanker preparing to #ahemm# leave, you will need to #phwoooar# call us back in fifteen minutes.”

I know it’s silly, but I’m sure this will be the most memorable VHF conversation of the trip.

If you don’t have a clue who Bob Fleming is, watch this classic clip:


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