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Archive of entries posted on June 2009

The Sun Shines On

The Sun Shines On | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

In Fair Isle we tied alongside ‘Milvina’, a Canadian flagged aluminium
yacht with Canadian/Scottish owners, which overwinters at Ardrossan.
Invited on board for a sundowner, and later a nightcap, we enjoyed a
very sociable evening with her crew. It was southwards again next day
for Orkney, where we spent the night at Stronsay pier. Big spring tides
(Summer solstice) meant we had only two feet under the keel at low water
and had to be careful not to get hung up on our warps. On our way down
to Kirkwall we didn’t allow sufficiently for the fierce 5+kt cross tide
off Muckle Green Holm at the mouth of Westray Firth, and were carried
well off course north of Shapinsay. Entering the Wide Firth, north of
Kirkwall, we heard on the VHF a Dutch yacht calling the Coastguard for
assistance as the Skipper had a suspected broken ankle. The Kirkwall
lifeboat was despatched and we saw crew being put aboard to assist her
in to the marina, and the casualty to a waiting ambulance. Happily, it
was a case of only a sprained ankle. We have lost count of the number of
consecutive sunny days with light easterly winds (photo) and are now in
Stromness, awaiting the arrival of Seol na Mara on her way north.

Lerwick to Fair Isle

Lerwick to Fair Isle | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

‘Boys’ Week’ was a great success, but the return of the Mate saw a
great step-up in the standard of catering aboard. That evening, we
found a live music session in the Douglas Arms and the Skipper
contributed a few moothie tunes to the proceedings. On a beautiful
morning, we turned up at Tingwall Airport for our day trip to Foula
(with its two Marilyns) but were warned that thick fog was expected and a return flight could not be guaranteed. Reluctantly, we called off the trip and later kicked ourselves as no fog materialised much north of Orkney. However, we enjoyed a walk into Scalloway and a picnic in the sun on the waterfront. Jim caught the overnight ferry to Aberdeen and next morning we departed for Fair Isle, keen to be off agaain, but sorry to miss the Taste Of Shetland event and associated activities about to start in the tented village on the pier. The photo is of Sumburgh Head just before we rounded it to the west to avoid the ‘roost’. At Fair Isle, we enjoyed a sociable evening with the Canadian/Scottish/English crew of ‘Milvina’.

South from Unst

South from Unst | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

Next morning, the forecast of an impending southerly gale propelled us
into a quick ascent of Saxa Vord, the most northerly Marilyn, and a
short visit to the fascinating Unst Boat Haven museum, before departing
south to Whalsay. Sod’s Law of the Sea was at work again – now that we
had changed direction, so had the contrary wind. We sat out a bad
weather day in Symbister, but visited the restored "bod" (trading booth)
from the days when Shetland traded with the Hanseatic League, based in
Bremen. On the pier we saw this example of wheel clamping Shetland
style! We then returned to Lerwick for Bob to catch the ferry home,
leaving Jim and the Skipper based there for a few days until the Mate
returns. A ferry trip across the sound, a walk across Bressay, and a
short hop on the RSPB rib took us over to the nature reserve of Noss,
with its spectacular cliffs and seabird colonies. Today we bussed to
Hamnavoe on the west coast island of Burra and walked back to Scalloway
and over the hills to Lerwick. The weather was showery, but we dried out
comfortably between showers.

A Long Day

A Long Day | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

A crew changeover saw the Mate off home for a spell, and Jim and Bob
joining ship in Lerwick. Our first port of call was the Out Skerries,
where we enjoyed an evening of wonderful sunshine in this peaceful spot
(photo). We then crossed over to Burravoe at the southern tip of Yell,
and climbed its Marilyn – Hill of Arisdale. This was the Skippers 600th
Marilyn and qualified him for entry to the Marilyn Hall of Fame.
Burravoe pier has been deserted on previous visits, but this time four
fishing boats were berthed (it being a Sunday). This led to an early
start next morning as the boat alongside which we were tied fired up its
engine to leave at 0530. We were over on Fetlar by 0900, anchored at the
west of Tresta Wick, and were soon on the way up Vord Hill. Off again on
our return, we went north to Unst, and joined Southern Cross and a
Swedish Malo at Baltasound pier. Apparently three visiting yachts at the
pontoon was a first. As it was a beautiful evening, we went off and
climbed Valla Field, returning to the boat at 2130 to start making
dinner. It was a long and very enjoyable day.

Back to Lerwick

Back to Lerwick | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

Another early start saw us round Fitful and Sumburgh Heads and in to
Lerwick by lunchtime.A few hours later we were joined alongside by
"Southern Cross", a yacht from the Solent we had met on a few occasions
in previous years. She had been on passage from the Faeroes to Norway
but was driven south to Shetland by the northerly gale. The recent
Marilyn-bagging activity had taken final toll on the Skipper’s
lightweight summer boots, which were replaced with something sturdier.
We made a visit to Scalloway (photo of Shetland Bus memorial) and
lunched on scallops in the excellent "Da Haaf" (old Norse word for
ocean) restaurant in the Fisheries College. A Swedish three-master at
Scalloway pier made a fine sight for visitors from the cruise liner
berthed in Lerwick. The following day we hired a wee car and toured the
north and west, allowing the Skipper to nip up the last two mainland
Marilyns. Later we had a sociable evening with Sue and Matthew from
Southern Cross, blethering until midnight when it was little more than
dusk in this higher latitude.

Down the West Coast

Down the West Coast | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

An early start saw the Skipper cycling the three miles back to Roe Sound
for a pre-breakfast ascent of Mid Ward on Muckle Roe. Then we sailed
round Muckle Roe and in through the wonderfully named Swarbacks Minn to
the sheltered waters and voes within. The NE 5/6 continued to blow, with
a forecast increase to 7/8, so we made for the pier at the head of Aith
Voe and berthed inside it in complete shelter next to the Lifeboat. Sure
enough, the wind got up and white horses raced past the end of the pier,
but we were scarcely disturbed, apart from the howl of the wind in the
rigging. A lull for a couple of hours was enough for a quick ascent of
Scalla Field, above East Burra Voe. Fine sailing in the continuing NE
wind took us across St Magnus’ Bay, through the Sound of Papa Stour,and
down the dramatic coast of cliffs, caves, geos, stacks and skerries
backed by green pasture land – a softer landscape than the barer north.
After a night at the neat little marina at Skeld we sailed on south to
the Bay of Scousburgh (photo), excellent shelter from the north, with a
white beach at its head where a large group of seals were basking. From
there it was a doddle to climb the Ward of Scousburgh, with its horrible
summit of masts, extensive buildings, roads and a scrap car!

Shetland Voes and Anchor Woes

Shetland Voes and Anchor Woes | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

From Symbister, Whalsay we went north through Linga Sound, round Lunna
Ness and south to Dales Voe (photo), a fjord-like voe below Dalescord
Hill, which was duly climbed. We left again immediately to catch the
last of the ebb tide through the turbulent Yell Sound, but it was still
slow going against a persistent northerly wind. We crossed the head of
Sullom Voe, with its huge oil storage tanks, tanker berths and constant
flame stack to Gluss Voe, where we anchored for the night – good holding
but rather exposed to the north. More hard northing was made the next
morning to reach Fethaland Point, the northmost point of the mainland,
at slack water and gain the benefit of the flood tide down the west
coast. We intended to go in to Hamna Voe, but decided it was too rough
to attempt the tricky entrance on a first visit. Plan B saw us rounding
Esha Ness and crossing St. Magnus’ Bay to the island of Muckle Roe,
where we entered Roe Sound. Despite an extremely shallow entrance to and
limited room within the inner pool, we attempted to anchor, but thick
kelp prevented the anchor from holding, so we had to move on to Plan C.
This meant a short move north to Mangaster Voe, where again thick kelp
prevented safe anchoring, but we were able to pick up a vacant mooring
just behind the innermost fish farm.

Shetland Marilyns

Shetland Marilyns | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

From the anchorage at Sumburgh we climbed Fitful Head, near the cliffs
of which the oil tanker Braer came ashore some years ago. The main road
crosses the end of the recently extended airport runway, and we were
briefly held there on our return as a plane took off. A S4-5 gave us a
fine sail north, passing inside Mousa to view the Broch, and out to Noss
Head to see the bird cliffs towering above us. A sizeable sea had built
up there which added to the dramatic situation. In contrast, it was
peaceful in Lerwick where we berthed in the Small Boat Harbour, meeting
up again with Willie in Quaver. We were the only two Brits among the
Norwegians, Finns, Danes and Dutch. A short ferry crossing took us over
to Bressay, where we climbed the Ward, groaning at yet another set of
hilltop communications masts. A better walk the next day was from
Cunningsburgh to Royl Field (photo of Foula from there) and along the
hills forming the spine of the south mainland to Scrae Field. This part
of the island is so narrow that we had views of both east and west
coasts. Andrew left us at the end of his trip and we made the short trip
north in perfect weather to Whalsay and took a visitor’s berth in
Symbister, a harbour busy with inter-island ferries and inshore fishing