Friday/Saturday July 27th/28th Kirkwall

Sat 28 Jul 2018 09:47

Friday/Saturday July 27th/28th Kirkwall

58:59.3 N 002:57.4 W

Comment from Peter Y, “1200 nautical miles due south from our most northerly point.”

Having arrived in Lerwick around tea time on Thursday we scoffed fruit cake (kept back since June and past its sell by date but absolutely delicious) and briefly explored the town (limited) and had showers. Planned a bike ride for Friday to explore further, and ended up in the Royal Hotel for a delightful dinner. The waitresses scored higher than the food, being charming young lasses, the decor was definitively faded grandeur, and the food was filling but standard. The Shetland mist, a local take on Cranachan with rum instead of whisky, was delicious but I was told in no uncertain terms that it was not up to Kirsty’s standard!

We all had a good sleep on board, aided by the beers and wine no doubt, and awoke to a good breakfast in claggy weather. Many forecasts were consulted but the final paper version from Peter Y showed clear evidence that if we wanted to get to Orkney before the end of the week we should go NOW!! That meant abandoning Peter E, but as we knew he had a woman in every (correction, this) port, we didn’t feel too bad, and it was very clear that this was the only day with suitable winds. ie not too much or too little or in the wrong direction. Sailing is a tough game for weather watchers, or maybe that’s why Peter E likes it so much!! Anyway, we left quickly at 11:15 with his help, and had arguably the best crossing of the major ocean passages. Good wind, mostly reaching, some sun, rain, rainbows, thunder and lightning (very very frightening) and a super fast passage, in fact so quick that we had to slow down to 2 knots to wait for darkness to lift (darkness was a novelty and it took a long time to find the buried search light abandoned several weeks ago) at 3 am!

We operated a 4 hour on and 2 off system as the weather was too lively for one up, so there were always two of us on deck. A certain amount of reefing and de reefing, we had some very good sailing with little slapping, being on a reach most of the way. A few gannets and guillemots, but not much in the way of wildlife, and no yachts, just a couple of ferries and cargo ships. Surprisingly warm, we were all amazed at Scotland being so mild and balmy, but I guess that’s the current UK heat wave, about which we have heard so much but seen so little. The wind got up to around 30 knots (force 7) in the stronger gusts but was averaging 20 knots (force 5) which made for some exciting reaching at speeds of up to 8/9 knots. Of course you were able to increase the speed simply by sailing the boat in the wrong direction which we all did as it became dark. Then Virginia decided it was simpler to turn on the auto helm rather than have Peter shouting numbers at Patrick which became increasingly irritating to the off watch team member. The auto helm did a much better job of keeping to the course too!!

Meals were delicious considering there was no preparation. Some left over beans and chicken made a yummy soup served in mugs at lunch time, and dinner (“the best meal of the trip”) was Mac cheese with plenty of Norwegian cheese (did we really need 1 kg for four days without Kirsty!?!!) and eggs to make it a little more solid. (Good tip if you’re in a hurry) Unfortunately due to a low supply of 3 minute macaroni there was only one bowl each and then it was the snack box. Until Virginia remembered hidden crisps at 0300 as we motored in so slowly. We found a spot and were greeted by a Norwegian guy (“I was just going to the toilet”) who took our lines and tried to hold us in when we were being blown off. Peter jumped the chasm and together they pulled us in as Patrick complained about lack of throttle-no engine power-very slow idle. Soon we were alongside in the only easily accessible spot and sheltered from the forecasted strong winds. 100 miles exactly in a little over 16 hours and with some very slow progress in the last couple of hours was a very fast passage.

Whilst I immediately crashed out (where is the white wine I asked!?) the boys found some beers and finished the crisps, in the haste of which yogurt was knocked over at the bottom of the fridge....but doubtless they were soon asleep too. I awoke to lots of wind in the halyards but we were very sheltered and there was no rubbing or squeaking like there so often is in a boat. It was warm and cosy and nice to know we were safe and sound whilst the weather was outside,

This morning we have enjoyed a full breakfast with Patrick cooking. “Where is the salt?” Indicated the frequency of his galley slavery, and apparently after breakfast we are looking at the throttle cable and control. We need Daniel back to assist Peter, who has already fixed the heads again before breakfast. What enthusiasm! How will we continue to Ardfern without him?! For four weeks Sea Fever will rest here in Kirkwall before the final haul home with the new young crew of Lizzie and boy friend Will, over from California at the end of the month for Mary’s wedding.

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