Kirkwall Marina 58:59.25N 2:57.5W

Frans & Sarah Toonen
Wed 28 Aug 2013 18:06
Wednesday 28th August. Wind: a mere force 2. Weather: Overcast but dry. Sea state slight with swell reaching 3m at times.

Decided to leave Fair Isle today because the forecast was for a couple of rainy days and then strong winds thereafter. Winds were forecast to be westerly but as we left for our south westerly direction towards Orkney we had the wind perfectly on the nose…. so motor on for 6 hours. Captain was ok with this as he had a book to finish so he could put his feet up with that and Sarah could keep a look out. We motored across the Fair Isle Bank and made landfall west of Sanday. At this point we were able to set the sails (book was finished) and wind shifted a bit and increased to force 3, had a great trip doing 6-7 knots over a calm sea along the coast of Sanday, across the south of Eday, Egilsay and Wyre before having to turn up into the wind and motor into Kirkwall marina. The marina is deserted so no problem finding a good spot to secure our lines for the coming blow. Harbour Mistress (female Harbour master with hair like a lighthouse, but very nice) says summer ends at the start of August usually and she's not wrong as it is cold here. 

Highlight of the day was this little chap landing on the aft deck and staying about 20 minutes. We think he is a Pipit but we are not sure if he is "Tree", "Meadow" or "Rock" variety and so we have emailed the Fair Isle Observatory to see if they will identify him for us.

Land based activities commenced with a walk up to the hill above Kirkwall where 'Highland Park' still make whisky the same way they have for 200 years…well nearly the same except 80% of the barley is malted and dried in a factory in Aberdeen before being shipped in and mixed with balance which has been processed traditionally and smoked over peat cut locally. The firm have enough peat left for 300 years but presumably if they increase production they will run out faster. The tour was interesting and Frans could not leave the factory shop empty handed and left with an 18 year old. As Sarah doesn't like whisky she bought a tea towel.

Friday - we headed out to Hoy by bus and ferry to visit the Scapa Flow naval museum at Lyness. This was very interesting indeed and we learnt a little about the important contribution to both World Wars made by the personnel there. The scale of the naval operations was vast. 

We are hiring a car tomorrow and will tour around West and East Mainland covering fully all other areas of interest.  If the weather develops as forecast we will set off towards the Caledonian Canal on Monday most likely.