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Archive of entries posted on July 2007

Out Skerries/Unst




Out Skerries/Unst

Originally uploaded by arctica

With no recent photos taken, here is a playful kitten we met in Fair Isle. At Symbister the day dawned sunny with a N4 wind, tempting us not to linger, but make the 10 mile trip northeast to the Out Skerries. The pier is in a fine natural harbour formed between three small islands, and there we berthed after a sparkling sail from Whalsay. We met another yacht just returned from a trip to the Lofotens and the Arctic Circle, and again with local acquaintance Gibby, who very kindly arranged for us to have a complimentary salmon from the processing plant. On the dreich day following, our only full day of steady rain so far, we moved on to Balta Sound in Unst. Today proved brighter, so we motored round to nearby Haroldswick, where Mike and Anne went ashore to visit the Boat Museum – well worth a visit by anyone. We are now on passage in light airs to Burra Voe at the south of Yell, where there is a snug harbour – the forecast suggests a strong east wind tomorrow.

Lerwick/Whalsay




Lerwick/Whalsay

Originally uploaded by arctica

We motored up from Fair Isle to Shetland on a calm, sunny day and saw no sign of the notorious roost off Sumburgh Head, nor of whales, much to Mike’s disappointment. The anchor was dropped at Mousa, letting Mike and Anne go ashore to to visit the famous Pictish broch, the best preserved in Europe. Evening saw us berthed in the Small Boat Harbour at Lerwick among almost exclusively Scandinavian yachts. The morning dawned with clear skies and bright sunshine, and it became too hot to sit out in the cockpit in comfort – this while parts of England suffered severe flooding. On the way up to Whalsay we saw the North Sea Rescue Helicopter doing repeated drills, retrieving a man from the water. A race among the matched double-ended yoles was just finishing as we reached Symbister, where we met up again with /Iris May II /and her lady skipper, whom we last saw in Wick. The sunset was particularly fine – a fitting end to a grand day.

Fair Isle




Fair Isle

Originally uploaded by arctica

A fresh breeze, moderate sea and occasional sunshine made for a superb
sail from Westray to Fair Isle. The old and new light towers on North Ronaldsay, so prominent against the very low-lying island, seem to take much of the passage to approach, pass and leave astern. Bearing down on Fair Isle, the island basked in sunshine – but there was a sting in the tail. The tide had built a big roost off the entrance to North Haven, with 4 metre seas and breaking crests. It made for an exciting final approach, and a superb contrast to the calm once through the narrow entrance. Fair Isle is high on our list of favourite places and we were fortunate to time our visit for a Thursday, so enjoyed an evening of dinner, slide show and live music at the Bird Observatory.

Stronsay & Westray




Stronsay & Westray

Originally uploaded by arctica

Sailing north from Kirkwall on the ebb, we were increasingly subject to a dying breeze and a building tide. We were gradually swept further west than intended and had to contend with a 5kt tide off Muckle Green Holm (S of Eday). The sea was spectacularly boiling and noisy, and we spent a frustrating length of time in its grip before breaking free and resuming course for Stronsay. Once again we were greeted by the black guillemots which nest in crevices in the stone pier. Next morning, we all went for a cycle run, unfortunately just missing the short visit of the inter-island plane at the airstrip. Later, we took the ebb tide north and west and, with a good wind, had a fine sail to Pierowall, Westray passing through the violent roost (tide race) off Red Point at the N exit from Calf Sound.

Orkney




Orkney

Originally uploaded by arctica

We left Wick in a NW6 gusting 7 and set shortened sail for the passage
to Orkney, making 7.5kts with a little help from the tide. We sailed
thus past the Pentland Firth and up the coast of South Ronaldsay, round Copinsay and into Deer Sound, where we spent the night at anchor off Tankerness Pier. In the morning we sailed north to Stronsay and berthed at Whitehall pier, where we were joined by /Seol na Mara/ with Iain and Barbara aboard. Centre of attraction was this superb replica Bugatti waiting on the pier for the Ro-Ro ferry. Not just wheeled out for rallies and shows, it is the everyday transport of its owner, who keeps it in beautiful condition. We are now in Kirkwall for the arrival of Mike and Anne, who will cruise with us to Fair Isle and Shetland.

Northbound




Northbound

Originally uploaded by arctica

Our ports of call northbound to Orkney were Helmsdale and Wick. We had a fine sail in good weather through Inverness Firth, past the Cromarty and Dornoch firths, and up to Helmsdale. This attractive little town has a small, sheltered harbour with a visitors’ pontoon and good shoreside facilities. We arrived in Wick on the best day of the summer so far, lacking only a sailing breeze. The town, much maligned, is indeed rather grey with mostly stone buildings, and somewhat lacking in character. However, the harbour area is extensive, and has a new yacht pontoon in the outer harbour (photo), and there are plans for a full-scale marina in the inner harbour for next season. The general improvement in marine leisure activities is the silver lining in the black cloud of the sad decline of the fishing industry. We are waiting an extra day in Wick before crossing to Orkney, as a favourable wind is forecast for tomorrow.

Caledonian Canal




Caledonian Canal

Originally uploaded by arctica

The second half of Arctica’s season began with a crossing of Scotland
through the Caledonian Canal, for which Jim and Linda joined as crew.
From Corpach on Loch Linnhe to Inverness on the Moray Firth the canal
is 60 statute miles long with 29 locks and 10 swing bridges to
negotiate. At a relaxing pace it takes three days’ passage time, so we
did not hurry but enjoyed the scenery and took time for walks along the
canal banks. We berthed overnight at Laggan Locks at the head of Loch
Lochy, at Fort Augustus at the bottom of Loch Ness (where Andrew and
Alison joined us for the day) and at Muirtown locks in Inverness. We
dined handsomely at the floating seafood restaurant beside the marina -
where we restocked the next day with water, fuel and provisions before
moving on to Clachnaharry sea-lock ready for departure in the morning.
Despite some torrential downpours, we all enjoyed the passage – the
photo was taken at Cullochy lock, just after Loch Oich which is the top
reach of the canal.