1045 BST 28th June
We are still in Stromness.
Chris and Caroline left for Wick on Monday. Frances took a flight out of Kirkwall to Inverness to get a flight back to Heathrow.
The wind is still unsettled and Stromness Marina has filled up today. The latest arrival is a large Polish flagged Delphia. They arrived about an hour ago.
I had supper with Candy and David Masters. Their sailing adventure has been quite a story, which they relate in the most modest and laid back way. Candy had 30,000 NM in the Pacific and Atlantic before meeting David. They are generous, funny and kind.
On Monday I visited the Stromness Severn Class lifeboat with Candy and David. The full time RNLI employee John Donaldson kindly showed us round their immaculate boat.
Yesterday I took the bus back to Kirkwall. Candy and David had booked a tour of the upper floors and the tower of the Cathedral.
Me and ‘Talisker 1’ seem to be marking time. With a misbehaving jet stream I am in a quandary as to what to do next. The weather is very unsettled.
1345 BST 2nd July DIARY
So much history I don’t know. Lord Kitchener died just off the west coast Orkney When HMS Hampshire hit a mine. Only 12 survived in atrocious weather. Kitchener’s body was not recovered. I read a survivors story in the museum. There can’t have been any subterfuge. The survivor was told to prepare accommodation for Kitchener and his staff about an hour or so before Kitchener boarded the ship. The survivor said they had no time to prepare properly and the vacated cabins for Kitchener and his staff were still in a scruffy state.
I’ve just done an oil and filter change. David kindly hoisted me up the mast to see what was wrong with my deck light. I then hoisted David up the mast and he fixed it beautifully.
Another gale went through yesterday evening and last night. There is a window opening up on Tuesday for Faroe but there is virtually no wind and I don’t want to motor for 200 nautical miles.
‘Endeavor’ is thinking of Fair Isle but it would probably mean motoring. I would love to go to Fair Isle again so will probably go with them.
2245 5th July DIARY
We sailed to Fair Isle yesterday with ‘Endeavor’ both in sight of each other for the whole 80 NM. Hilariously, half way to Fair Isle from Orkney I was offered chicken stew by ‘Endeavor’.
Yes please. With ‘Talisker 1’ on auto helm and Candy immaculately helming their ship the stew was passed over by David on the end of their boat hook in a stronger than I thought plastic bag. I couldn’t get the strong bag off the boat hook and tried to break the handles of the bag. The bag resisted admirably. David told me I could NOT have his boat hook. As I grappled to get the bag off the hook I had visions of us both in the water.
Candy said she would have picked us both up but whether we would have caught up with ‘Talisker 1’ motor sailing under full main and genoa was a mute point.
The chicken stew was delicious.
It was a long day with very light winds from the N and NW. But the sky was clear and it was quite warm. The scenery and these waters are breathtaking. We passed over the wreck of HMS ‘Hampshire’ with the Kitchener memorial high on the Marwick Head cliffs overlooking where ‘Hampshire’ sank in terrible weather in 1916 having struck a mine. Only 12 survived and Kitchener was never found. It’s astonishing that anyone lived. In all probability most would have been rescued in benign conditions.
These waters, so calm today with a long Atlantic swell that occasionally obscured ‘Endeavor’s’ hull, are for the most part as bad as it can get around the UK with all of the strong tidal streams that can even turn, in certain places, a relatively calm day, into an unforgettable experience.
HMS ‘Hampshire’ sank in weather that defeated the two Destroyers that were charged to accompany her. Unable to keep up with ‘Hampshire’ they had to hastily retreat to Scapa Flow having been battered by the seas.
But WE made Fair Isle and both boats motored in quite close underneath the cliffs on the west coast of the island to admire the cliffs and extraordinary bird life.
North Haven was pretty full of yachts from Norway, Holland and Sweden. There were also a couple of boats from Germany and Austria. For the second year in a row ‘Talisker 1’ was the only red ensign until a blue ensign flying a RCC pennant arrived in a smart Nicholson the following day.
We are rafted to ‘Endeavor’.
Today was wonderful and Fair Isle is as good, if not better, than last year.
David and Candy launched there large tender and invited me for a trip round the east side of the island. I wanted them to see Sheep Rock that towers out of the sea.
It was wonderful on a warm calm day to see the island from a small powerful inflatable. Not many explore the coves and cliffs from the sea. The bird life and seals seemed unconcerned by our presence and the seals are just ….. well inquisitive.
We eventually entered a narrow cove where we could land and David and Candy filled the rib with debris and rubbish of every sort. A rubber boot. An all in one offshore work suit! An assortment of lobster pot floats and plastic and of course plastic bottles of every size. There was fishing net and rope and the corpse of a bird caught in netting. So much trash in such a small space no wider than 50 metres.
We returned to North Haven overloaded. It had been a spectacular morning.
Tonight we went Puffin watching on the cliffs. I thought there might be a window to leave tonight for Faroe but it might have been possible if I had left at midday.
Tomorrow we sail to Lerwick. I still hope to make Faroe but the window of opportunity seems to be rapidly closing as I still have to sail home from here. I do like being home too…
1030 BST 8th July DIARY
Just spent our second night in Lerwick.
We sailed from Fair Isle in the company of ‘Endeavour’ and a Norwegian SV ‘Horizon Hunter’. Robert is sailing alone as well.
Fair isle was overcast and the wind was SSW 4-5’s. We sailed well to the east wanting to pass Sumburgh Head 1.5 NM to the east. We would arrive at Sumburgh with the current still running quite swiftly NW. Robert was well to the west and asked me why I was heading so far to the east. I was explaining to Robert on VHF channel 6 only to get a call from the ‘Good Shepherd lV’ (the Fair Isle supply boat), inbound to Fair Isle from Shetland, who told me there were no issues off Sumburgh. They must have thought I was thinking overfalls. I knew they were not an issue! Anyway … we passed Sumburgh Head 1.5 NM to the east!!
Eventually turning north off Mousa we poled out the genoa and the visibility deteriorated and the wind was finally dying and the visibility very poor as we passed the southern tip of Bressay. With engine on I switched to channel 12 and it was nice to hear Lerwick Harbour so conscious of the presence of the three yachts. A cruise ship had already passed us and then a coaster was making her way out as we made our approaches. Lerwick Harbour wanted to make sure the coaster was aware of ‘Endeavor’ in the fog. Nice!
I don’t know what to do at the moment! Perhaps go home? Or Norway again!