Arbroath to St Andrews – Section 10 | Day 1

A beautiful morning in Arbroath with an early start again to allow us to exit the inner harbour on the high tide. The two Broughty Ferry Boating skiffs are set and ready to go by 0700.

We row in order of age, with Brochty taking the lead from Arthur Nicoll (Arfur) to exit Arbroath harbour exercising caution approaching the abundant lobster pots that pepper the entrance. A fond farewell to the breakwater and we can see the famous Bell Rock Lighthouse off our port bow.

Today’s distance: 17 nm
Our trusty escorts have rejoined us and we head to St Andrews with a light northerly wind pushing us along. Our route is very straightforward, due south from Arbroath for 8 nm towards Fife Ness then turn southwest for 9 nm to St Andrews Bay. We are heading initially for the first navigation buoy from Arbroath, the Fairway Buoy and from the Fairway we have a direct course to St Andrews.

We are all enjoying the beautiful morning when a cry goes up from Arfur, ‘Whale!!!‘ ‘Wear away’ was the cry, ‘Off to starboard’ and sure enough we could see the dorsal fin of a large cetacean.

Rapidly followed by the fluke – amazing!

Could this be the famous Tay whale out for a jolly to accompany the Broughty boats? We watched in awe as the tail slipped away.


Storyteller Jan Bee Brown relates the tale of the Tay Whale



Buoyed by this experience, we continued on past the Fairway Buoy and the day’s row was half over. Time for a crew change; we have never done a full crew change from rib to skiff but the sea was calm and the crews were ready for a break. First was Brochty to come alongside the rib. Tying on at bow and stern we swapped midships out. Now it was time for bow and stroke to change over with careful manoeuvring within the boat; this was accomplished with ease. The cox had decided to stay in for the whole row. Brochty was cast off and Arfur came alongside, faultlessly carrying out the same manoeuvre.

Now was the start of our last 8 nm of rowing. We were passing the Tay now and the spires of St Andrews were visible in the distance. We were keeping our eyes open for the St Andrews CRC skiff which was rendezvousing with us off Abertay Sands, just after the mouth of the Tay in St Andrews Bay. We put a call out on the radio to see if they were on the water and sure enough a call came back. They were just passing the Eden Estuary, making their way towards our position. Whilst we rowed along Tentsmuir beach, the seals watched our passage with interest – sunning themselves on the numerous sand bars. The sandwich terns were screaming above us; what a perfect day and row.

We met the St Andrews skiff and rowed in company towards the East Sands where we will leave our skiff for the evening before heading back to Dundee tomorrow. Once again we were arriving at low tide but only a neap. St Andrews Coastal Rowing Club generously met us with launch trolley to transport the skiff up the beach, past the sailing club and round the lane to the slipway and south wall, ready for the morning. The least we could do was then provide them all with a few cold beers to celebrate our arrival; the baton had been delivered in style.