Stirling to Campbelltown

Wednesday 20/2

We left Stirling for Campbelltown. A short drive or so we thought. 1-2 hours was really 4 hours.

Scottish mist and rain.

A windy road north along Loch Lomond then south along the Irish Sea to Campbelltown and to Springbank Distillery. They have lost many of their other local distilleries but have just managed to keep three so they can be recognised as a distinct area. No good being bunched in with Highland Malt whiskys when you are on the sea.

Poor road and rail access has directed the downturn of this area. Springbank has chosen to remain original and hand made. The most handmade in the world! They do their own barley malting and smoking with peat. Almost no mechanisation of the process and no added caramel colouring.

Thursday morning we get an early ferry to Islay. You can see it across the water.

Malt Whisky Trail – Elgin to Stirling Castle

Monday 18th

Blue sky again. Sun streamed in onto the breakfast table.

Enjoyed haggis and black pudding with a big Scottish breakfast.

10 minutes drive to the local marina. Wind is icy. Two men are aboard.

Ready for the Malt Whisky trail.

The local one at Elgin is Glen Moray. Charming old place and tempting whiskys.

Tour and tasting for just the two of us. Really liked their Peat PX Single Malt but £80

Tried to visit Aberlour ; a note on the window advising one of a staff training day today. Makes 12,000 miles seem insignificant!

Went to Macallan distillery in its spectacular new building with earth covered domes to reflect the nearby hills.

Nice scotch but the marketing and image exceeded the scotch.

Interesting how the shape of the distiller changes the flavour. The shorter pot still gives more oiliness and deeper flavours.

Snow dusted the nearby hills.

Tuesday 19/2

Today we went to Stirling castle which was really interesting.

I wonder why some of the stones are built to jut out like a ladder? Some flat walls also had stones laid prominently in a random pattern.

We also went to a battle site nearby to see a 3D simulation of the Bannockburn battle and then played the battle of Bannockburn commanding the soldiers our way. This time the English won!

Patricks birthday, so another excuse for a pint or two.

We sniff out the Golden Lion just below the castle. Their Cronies restaurant had an interesting dinner menu. We chose black pudding with pork belly followed by venison steak with honey roasted root vegetables. Delicious.

By now we had nearly forgotten about an unfortunate meeting with a local cop. Fortunately he gave us a warning re brake lights not working. Good to know that thank you but we don’t have the right wee screw driver.

Bed at a nearby BnB.

UK 2019. Landed

Saturday-16th Feb

Straight through customs like a local, then ‘I can see you! ‘ said Patrick who came to meet me.

Luggage dropped into the car parked at Osterley station then back into London on the Piccadilly line.

All the characters from Monopoly came to life! We walked through Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace & on to Westminster Abbey.

It was magnificent! So many statues and tombs. Walking through history! The oldest part was a contrast in scale.

O

Thé Queen was flying the Union Jack so she was home

And yes the London buses are still red

A pint for lunch. Soon it’s 4pm and back to the car for a 1.5hr drive to Leicester where Patrick lives. Below is our car outside Patrick’s abode on Beckingham Rd.

Sunday -17th Feb

Bugger. Forgot the sunnies.

The sky is blue and air warm.

Off to the Spey River area in Scotland to wander through the Malt Whisky country

Sunday lunch is at the Sandford Arms pub in a wee dozy village.

It’s school holidays here so Patrick has a week off. We drive 800km up to Elgin through the Highlands and Cairngorms National park. The moon is glowing on thé snow

Sunday night at Elgin we were lucky to find Laichmoray Hotel after our air BnB let us down on a chilly evening at 2030!

We enjoyed the brisk air and walked into town for an Indian meal in an old church. Still open and really tasty food. Used lots of fresh herbs and chutneys. Yummy!

Tasmania & UK

The next few chapters will be from the top and the bottom of the globe.

Werner is embarking on a sailing voyage with Halcyon2 tomorrow. The Wooden boat show in Hobart and his nephews wedding in Bendigo are the features.

I am flying to London mid February to house sit. My son Patrick is already relief teaching in Leicester and has bought us a car. Soon after we house sit together.

Late February we are invited to a community dinner that the locals have monthly. This will be with the owners of my first house sit. It is in Otley north of Leeds in a 17 century manor house with geriatric pets. Even the dog is too old to come walking with us. It looks like beautiful country. It’s hard to believe that in the same era of building that home they were hanging people they deemed as witches!

In April I move to Sancreed near Penzance. I guess Patrick will be back to Frankston by this time. This will be my home until November. I have a separate cottage (photo below) to enjoy while the owners come and go. My furry family will be fun and I am already enjoying pen friendship with the home owners.

It would be nice to have visitors if you can find your way to Cornwall.

Gold Coast to Lord Howe Island…… AND home safely

Gold Coast to Lord Howe

We enjoy good northerly winds of 18 to 35 knots. Following seas give a comfortable ride but the 2 to 4 meter swell rolls the boat so one feels like a theme park ride has bolted with us!

Our progress is better than expected doing 5 to 9 knots and winds stay favourable but after two days we realise we could arrive before dark the next day so we motor sail. Indeed we arrive just intime for the local police to guide us into our mooring. 2 days 6 hours.

Hooking up the mooring was unusually difficult so I’m glad I had Werner and David to manage that.

Halcyon2 was now safe while we took the dinghy ashore to explore the island. Initially on foot then graduating to bicycles. Local hires were very reasonable at $9 per day. No need to lock as it’s a trusting place. So nice.

Some days were so windy that we hesitated to go ashore. Waves in the lagoon washed into the dinghy most days. Lucky it was 24 to 26 degrees.

We find a good local store to have coffee. This became our regular drop in place.

Saturday 24/11

Dinghy near drowning. Strong winds bring strong waves. We were running out of beach to beach it. A stern chain and an anchor looked promising. 

Poor dinghy was tossed and swamped after just one coffee. 

Bale out and dry the motor. What’s missing???

Onto the next bay with less wind and more beach. 

Lucky I’m with resourceful people. 

We cycle the length and breadth of the islands roads. Watched planes land and birds play in the thermals near the dramatic southern peaks. 

We eventually find it safer to anchor the dinghy out rather than be tossed on the beach. 

The Island Trader spent a few days at the jetty attracting many fork lifters and items to deliver the supplies. 

Sunday 25/11

Halcyon is moored according to explicit local instructions. It was heavy work attaching two separate ropes to the eye under the buoy (and wondering how long before they would fatally chauffe). Wondering also if they had seen how user friendly other moorings were in Whitsundays or The Hawkesbury. 

Mooring ropes inspected just in time. Worn through in two days. Chain now attached in an authorative way, the details of which I spared myself. 

Then off to the island for a walk. Up to the northern hills from Old Settlement beach via a stepped path to Kim’s lookout and on to Mount Malabar then around to the ridge hovering over Ned’s beach then down a grassy hill back to the jetty. 

Spectacular views from many perches. 

Dear dinghy was floating patiently on its anchor when we returned. 

Monday 26/11/18

Lord Howe island has us captive. High winds are promised for the week until Friday. Day by day the predicted and the reality compare. Windy and windy. 

We meet the local meteorologist Amy and concur. 

We stay aboard and Werner gets the old Singer sewing and other shipshape chores done. David splices some rope and reads. I read and cook. 

The wind is unrelenting. 25-30 knots plus gusts. 

Wednesday evening. Dark and stormy. The staysail is flapping in 58knots!!! It has wine glasses and ropes were tangled. No time for waterproofs.…..,…..

The sail is saved! 

The lightening show is incredible. Fork lightening that spread across the sky and down like Xmas decorations in a jungle. 

The extreme wind persisted. 

Tuesday 27/11

We meet Peter and Ollie while having coffee. Later we drop in and enjoy a chat at their hotel while sharing lunch. Peter had sailed all over on boats with magnificent proportions and owners while his earlier career was in distilling and winemaking. Ollie stared in architecture and used it in clothing design. Earlier she enjoyed 4 years in png in 1980’s. They were also waiting for weather to sail home on a lovely 1950’s wooden boat with Phil. There is an annual gathering of wooden boats on Lord Howe. Wi fi was shared- hard to live without 

Wednesday 28/11

We wake to silence! 

Funny how that can be deafening. 

Werner up early. Sail is changed to Yankee then a snorkel after breakfast. Just near our mooring was a hole with fresh water spring. Beautiful corals. Different ones to the Whitsundays. 

‘SHARK’

A 6 foot reef shark spoils the moment. 

Guess he was friendly….as we are still intact. 

Over in the Coral Gardens near the outer edge of the lagoon we are impressed. Big purple coral, fine white flowing coral and tan tall mushroom like coral are among a few we saw. Sorry no photos atm of corals. 

David had a paddle and with the water so clear it was easy to see meters down. 

Later on the island….A little walk in the rainforest then up to the liquor shop then drop in to Peter and Ollie (Olwyn). More enjoyable time with fellow captives. 

Thursday 29/11

Continued strong wind. I’m learning to estimate force by the amount Halcyon heels over at the mooring. 30 knots needed for starters then up to 58 or 60 knots and we are spinning on the chain. The Predict Wind programme had grey gust areas of 50 knots nearby so they got it right. 

Friday 30/11

Still only 0200, 0300, 0330 and still being rocked by wind. 

Saturday 1/12

Day onboard Halcyon2. 

David ventures to coffee shop and Joys for apples and yummy sourdough bread. 

Sunday 2/12

A calm morning!!! On y va or snorkel. 

We snorkel this time in the northern bay and the deep hole off Settlement beach. See a stingray and a doubleheader fish. No lacy coral around the yellow marker as hoped. Apparently springs bring fresh water here. 

David paddles the kayak for the morning via Tomo’s coffee of course.

1500hrs Simon clears us to depart. We are on our way by 1530hrs. 

We sail west to utilise the breeze. There are two fronts with a mixed zone in between. Amy, from thé LH I weather station said one should expect some storms along this line so last nights storm was expected. 

The westerly arrives later and we adjust course more northerly then again when the south easterly blows in tomorrow evening. Predict wind has been pleasantly accurate. 

Now in a blue, near doldrums space for at least 24 to 30 hours so motoring. Rolling action sometimes eased by a sail but not enough wind. 

Sunset. Last chance to personify waves on the horizon. Is that a whale or a boat? Life of Pi could have a sequel. In the dark thé chart plotters miss all the flying fish and dissolve the ocean into numbers. 4000m deep and 201 nm to go. 

Venus and the moon shine through some light cloud. 

Diesel fumes linger in the pilot house so I open the side windows. Such a mild night. 

Still no ships seen on AIS. 

One evening on the return passage it is calm enough to put the table out the back and have cheese and beer. Such a changing place. 

If the sea was a person it would have a diagnoses like multipolar! 

We arrive at Southport at 0200hrs. 2 days and 10 hours. 

Anchor. Sleep. 

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Take two

1200hrs we lift anchor again. I’m We had a big lunch; last supper style.

Kwells x2 taken at 1030 hrs and more in the helm pocket along with phenergan.

Wind still from the east but should turn soon to northerly.

Boys relax and do fine sail adjustments while I’m at the helm first. We are definitely going somewhere!

Take two

Yes we were on the road to Lord Howe yesterday but after my persistent seasickness despite a maximum dose of Kwells the boys thought I’d not be fit for duty. I had Injected myself with phenergan and it was starting to work but they turned back. Actually they were nauseated too …….

Tuesday is a new day and the northerly breeze should arrive at lunchtime, so we plan to depart then. Following winds are much easier on the body. Meanwhile we are in the doldrums.