Passage Planning notes: Possible landings into mouth of Spey, onto shingle beaches on either side of Spey mouth, Portgordon harbour, Buckie harbour. The only certainty is Buckie harbour with Portgordon slip presently heavy with stones and around Spey mouth requiring flat calm with no surf.
Speymouth to Portgordon – 2.7 miles
Portgordon to inner Buckie Harbour – 2.4 miles
With the sun virtually shining and more virtual calm seas, Lossiemouth have completed their row across Spey Bay to the mouth of the River Spey. The baton has been passed from the safety boat to Findochty Watersports Club and our skiff Morag, accompanied by our second skiff Morven and a small fleet of other craft, yachts and dayboats, making for a mini flotilla. We are carrying a number of additional rowers onboard some of our club members boats allowing us to row and rotate our rowers with crew changes at suitable intervals.
Morag was named after Morag Reid; her husband, Bert, was our guiding boat builder for the project. Morven was named after the hill we see across the Moray Firth from Finechty. Morven is also used as a girls’ name, maintaining the letter M theme.
We did build another one, called Mairi – but that’s another story!
From Speymouth, we row past the small town of Portgordon, avoiding an off-lying rock near the harbour entrance. A colony of seals on the beach to the east of Portgordon are not too interested as we are far enough from shore not to disturb them. Many of the rowers and boat crews are watching out for the first visit of the day by our friendly dolphins who are usually more than happy to put on a water display for us.
Next along the coast is the commercial port of Buckie. A VHF channel 12 call to the harbour office gives clearance for the skiffs to enter and row to the far basin where the Buckie Lifeboat William Blannin is lying. We like to keep on first name terms with the crew as you never know…! But joking aside, the RNLI station in Buckie have been very supportive to us and we would like to think us to them. They have facilitated training in water rescue to ribs and to the main lifeboat and have guided us in the recovery of persons, both conscious and unconscious, from the water into a skiff. We may someday have to self help but anticipate there being more likelihood of coming across some other person in difficulty in the water.
About Findochty Watersports Club
Formed in 1983, Findochty Watersports Club (FWSC) is based at the pretty, well sheltered harbour of Findochty, locally pronounced ‘Finechty’. Findochty is on the Moray Firth and is about three miles east of the large fishing port of Buckie. The club caters mainly for sailing boats, but all types of boats are welcomed. Members boats include motor cruisers, angling boats and commercial fishing boats, two club-owned St Ayles Skiffs, Canadian canoes, sit-on and sit-in kayaks.
Our first skiff, Morag, was started in February 2014 with the launch in October 2015. Morag was on the water whenever the open waters of the Moray Firth would allow. We attracted additional club members to the point when we decided we had sufficient numbers to build a second skiff. Morven was launched in April 2019. Our skiffs have visited the west coast at Sheildaig and Castle to Crane on the Clyde, the River Thames on the Great River Race and many of the other clubs along our beautiful coastline.
How do you feel when you are out on the water?
* Relaxed; challenged; rewarded; love the water
* It is a feeling of freedom, fresh air and camaraderie
* When I’m out on the water I feel relaxed, I enjoy the camaraderie between the crew, I feel in touch with nature but respect the power of the sea
* Utter contentment, whether it’s rain, snow or sun
Who got you into coastal rowing?
* I was asked if I wanted to help to build a boat. With a career at sea with merchant navy and marine consulting plus sailing my own boat I thought, well, I have done most things with the sea but never built a boat. I was keen to learn.
* I was at a Banff Marina day and the girls from Portsoy pinched me off a yacht and gave me a pink life jacket… as if by magic, three months later, at the FWSC AGM a couple of folk were very interested in building a skiff. The rest is history.
* I heard about the project to build our first skiff and wanted to be involved in it and follow on to make rowing a pastime and sport
* Elaine fae Lintmill got me rowing at Cullen
What do you love about these coasts and waters?
* What’s not to love about Scotland coasts and waters?!
* Stunning coastline and dolphins
* Rowing around here just puts a smile on your face!
* I like the diversity of our coastline with harbours that we can row to, sandy beaches that we can land on, and rocky passages that we can navigate through. Then, of course there are the dolphins which sometimes appear and may put on a display for us
* In a skiff, exploring on a bonnie day with a good crew is the closest thing to perfection I’ve ever found!