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Thread: Oil Rigs, Picts and Dolphins

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    Cool Oil Rigs, Picts and Dolphins

    Oil Rigs, Picts and Dolphins



    While Jenny was engaged on an epic cycle ride from Gretna Green to John O'Groats, I helped immensely by tagging along on the latter stages with my boat, and going out on any interesting paddles when I could. On the Inverness to Cromarty leg, I spotted a couple of potentially useful paddles I could do that day.

    And so I found myself on the beach at Rosemarkie on the Black Isle at 8.30 one sunny morning. The plan for the morning was to paddle down to Chanonry Point, then cross the Moray Firth to Fort George. In the afternoon I would go up to the Cromarty Firth and paddle out round Sutors Stacks.


    Part One - Morning in the Moray Firth.





    Rosemarkie beach. (Note distant oil rig, it will feature later on in this tale.)





    Launching.








    Out on the water on a beautiful day. (Beautiful so far, anyway.)





    Looking back at Rosemarkie.





    Coming up to the lighthouse at Chanonry Point.





    Somebody standing right on the point. Interestingly, the water was wilder on the inland side of the point, as the westerly wind had built up quite a fetch.





    I was hoping I might see some dolphins off the point. But this is the nearest I got! (I had timed my visit around high tide to avoid disturbing the dolphins while feeding, so I guess that's fair enough.)




    The currents were indeed strong.





    From Chanonry Point, I headed across the narrows directly towards Fort George. The falling tide pushing through the narrows between the two headlands made for a bumpy ride, but quite fast with a bit of a tailwind.






    Fort George ahead.








    Fort George was built after the Jacobite rising of 1745, to prevent any further uprisings of that sort. It was built to a star design and is said to be the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, if not Europe. It is still garrisoned by the British Army, and it seems to have worked, as there have been no Jacobite incursions for many years. It costs 9 to enter by land, and 0 plus a bit of honest sweat to enter from the sea, though scaling the walls could be tricky and there are still cannon pointing out at you.

    I, of course, took the sea route.






    Landing outside the walls.





    A map and some information. I was careful to stay outside of the firing zone.





    Heading back across the straits to Rosemarkie, I found easier water by avoiding the narrows this time. However I had to adjust for quite a strong tidal current pulling northwards out to sea. The current made this fixed marker buoy look as if it was zooming along southwards with a wake behind it.






    Approaching the Black Isle again. (Not a real island - it's a peninsula, but a fine place nonetheless.)





    Is that a beach cafe that I see before me?





    Yes!





    Suitably refreshed, I headed back to where I'd left the car.





    Fasten seat belts for landing.





    Beached.





    Random John O'Groater on the shore.





    In Rosemarkie is the Groam House Museum of Pictish Art. So I had a wee look there, before heading on to my next paddle of the day.





    An accurate rendition (a stone rubbing - which is no longer permitted!) of the Shandwick Stone, showing various men and beasts, and what I like to think could be a Pictish dolphin (though some call it an elephant - nobody knows for sure, and those who made it aren't saying).






    After this cultural interlude, I got in the car and drove up to the village of Cromarty for my next paddle.



    TO BE CONTINUED.

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

    Crow Trip Log

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    Part Two - Afternoon in and out of the Cromarty Firth.







    Driving up to the tip of the Black Isle brought me to the Cromarty Firth, graveyard of oil rigs.





    More dolphin (and oil!) related material. I was hoping I might see some dolphins up here, as they are known to frequent the mouth of the Cromarty Firth as well.





    And then on to the charming village of Cromarty.





    Here was a link with the great Hugh Millar (no, not Alvin Stardust!), who I came across last year when researching the history of the tunnel through the heart of the Bass Rock (more on that here.)





    His cottage (the thatched one).





    So, the plan here was for a paddle out of the mouth of the Cromarty Firth and round to the Sutors Stacks on the cliffs.





    Here I am.





    Back in the water again.





    Nigg Bay oil platform yards ahead.





    Now heading for the Sutors.





    And then out to the open sea, with heavy rain ahead.





    South Sutor.





    North Sutor.





    Just round the corner, I spotted the oil rig I had seen in the distance earlier in the day.





    And some First World War gun emplacements on the cliffs.








    I had the option of paddling on, alongside the cliffs. But I'd never been to an oil rig before. And it wasn't that far out to sea, was it. Not really. So I changed course and headed out to sea, following the allure of the bright red metal thing, gleaming in the sun.









    Rainstorms were passing by with alarming frequency, but so far I'd stayed dry.





    After a fair bit of paddling, I was closing in on the rig.





    Made it. Now for a look around.





    There was quite a strong smell coming off it, not sure what it was - maybe a mixture of guano, and er.. oil?





    At any rate, it was an impressive construction, and I'd never seen one close up before.








    I stayed in the wave shadow of the rig, which was handy, but I didn't want to venture too close under it as it probably wasn't too safe.








    This was about as close as I wanted to get.





    An expression of mild apprehension, as I contemplate the potential dangers of an abandoned oil rig.





    Looking up.





    OK, seen enough, time to get back to safety of the shore.





    The trip back to shore wasn't too bad. Until the rainstorm hit.





    If you can ignore the discomfort of getting cold and soaked, it's quite interesting to watch the patterns that raindrops make on the sea.





    Back at the cliffs.








    And then the sun came out!





    Looking back at the rig and forts.








    Buoy and rainbow.





    Broken rainbow by North Sutor.





    Dodging submerged rocks.





    Back at Cromarty.





    So, an exciting paddle, but still no dolphins!

    It had been a day of two halves though, both great paddles and each quite different.



    Looking round Cromarty that evening ....

    Seen better days, done better things.





    Artist's impression of Sutor Stacks.





    Me and memorial.





    Next day we caught the Nigg Ferry, heading northward. Jenny to continue her epic pedal to John O'Groats, me to seek some paddling up on the north coast.







    Fortunately, I had none of the above in my possession.


    There was just about room for one car, and a bike. (It's the old Renfrew Ferry, as old Glaswegians like me might recognise.)





    But what has she spotted in the water?





    Dolphins!





    OK, these aren't brilliant pictures of them, but they were great to see in real life, leaping and plunging in and out of the water, in a pod of about half a dozen.





    They moved really fast, zooming back and forth across the firth.





    So, we got to see them at last and it was well worth it.


    The ferry dropped us off (quite precipitously in my case as it's a very narrow ramp you have to reverse off it, in a wide car), and then headed back to Cromarty.





    And Jenny set off on the next leg of her journey.





    While I drove off in search of a paddle on the wild North Coast. But that's a story for another day.

    Gordon
    Last edited by Crow; 11th-June-2017 at 10:06 PM.

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    Glad it wasn't a deepwater rig


    Never kiss a man in a canoe

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    Suspect the shark scared away the dolphins.

    Another good 'un...
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

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    Nice trip, just wondered why you don`t use a drysuit/bib and cag on the sea?

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    Quote Originally Posted by G&T View Post
    Glad it wasn't a deepwater rig



    It may not have looked exactly like that, but at times it felt like it.


    Anyway, looked up that film, it sounds quite good - Sector 7 (Korean: 7광구) is a 2011 South Korean science fiction action 3D film.

    Armed with nothing but a few guns and the knowledge of the creature's minor susceptibility to flame, the remaining workers must work together to kill the beast before it hunts them down one by one, and escape the oil rig. But with its incredible speed (despite its size), its lightning fast, spear-like tongue, and its nearly impenetrable hide, they may not stand a chance.


    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    Thought you might have been referring to Deepwater Horizon, another film I haven't seen.

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    Great Bloggage! My favourite pic is the expression of apprehension!

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    Well done Gordon and Jenny, paddling and pedalling though independently seems to work well for you folks.
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

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    Excellent entertainment Gordon....as usual! It is reassuring to know that just like those Dolphins I've adapted to cold climates by also growing a layer of insulation
    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Suspect the shark scared away the dolphins.

    Another good 'un...

    Cheers, Mal.

    Actually if I had got near them I'd never have kept up with them. They move at heck of a speed, and were zooming from one side of the firth to the other and back, in seconds.

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    I was paddling with a small group off Cornwall once, when two bottle-nosed dolphins came to look us over, swimming round us about 15 feet away, and diving under us. A great experience, but they are by big animals when you're sitting in a kayak and they come that close!
    Not in Oxford any more...

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    Its a long time since I was on SotP but definitely worth returning for a Crow blogg!

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    Fantastic !!
    Thank you for sharing

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcs View Post
    Nice trip, just wondered why you don`t use a drysuit/bib and cag on the sea?
    Thanks, Malcs.

    Good question. It all depends on weather and conditions. I don't wear a drysuit very often as I tend to overheat in them. Unless conditions are really bad, in which case I'm not likely to be out anyway. These days I prefer separate cag and trousers, as I was wearing on the Cromarty paddle above.

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob. View Post
    Great Bloggage! My favourite pic is the expression of apprehension!
    Cheers, Rob.

    That's why I usually stick to shadow self portraits!

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al. View Post
    Well done Gordon and Jenny, paddling and pedalling though independently seems to work well for you folks.
    Cheers, Al.

    Yes it worked well (especially for me as I didn't have to pedal all that way. ).

    We're currently on South Uist in the Outer Hebrides now, where we're managing to get some good paddles and pedals in, though it's windy as heck.

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    Quote Originally Posted by mayobren View Post
    Excellent entertainment Gordon....as usual! It is reassuring to know that just like those Dolphins I've adapted to cold climates by also growing a layer of insulation
    Thanks, Bren. Yeah, I think that happens to all of us in the end.

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    Quote Originally Posted by maryinoxford View Post
    I was paddling with a small group off Cornwall once, when two bottle-nosed dolphins came to look us over, swimming round us about 15 feet away, and diving under us. A great experience, but they are by big animals when you're sitting in a kayak and they come that close!

    Wow!

    That must have been quite an experience.

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamC View Post
    Its a long time since I was on SotP but definitely worth returning for a Crow blogg!

    Much appreciated, Graham.

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    Quote Originally Posted by cr500dom View Post
    Fantastic !!
    Thank you for sharing

    Thank you!

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    Another well told story. And Jennny's blog too but I couldn't post anything.
    http://www.davidwperry.blogspot.co.uk/

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    Wonderful Mr Crow. Very atmospheric - I particularly liked the rain on sea and moody shots just after...

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
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    More tales of derring-do... glad you got to see the dolphins in the end, must have been quite special.
    If I could only paddle like a doggie oughta paddle

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    Another great adventure. I'm glad you get your priorities right on these mad marathon cycles. Car and canoe.
    Nick

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Perry View Post
    Another well told story. And Jennny's blog too but I couldn't post anything.

    There's a reason for that, but thanks very much!

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Starr View Post
    Wonderful Mr Crow. Very atmospheric - I particularly liked the rain on sea and moody shots just after...

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk

    Cheers, Pete.

    Well I probably was in a mood after that rain.

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    Quote Originally Posted by BaldMan Jump View Post
    More tales of derring-do... glad you got to see the dolphins in the end, must have been quite special.

    Yes thanks, it was magical. Never seen them so close before.

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Nick View Post
    Another great adventure. I'm glad you get your priorities right on these mad marathon cycles. Car and canoe.
    Nick

    Thanks, Nick.

    Yep - definitely my priorities.

    "Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

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