Week 21-23 2019 Shetland, Orkney to Scotland
20 May – 9 June 2019 425 nm
Week 21 20 – 26 May 2019 Lerwick – Papa Stour 120 nm
Shetland is only 60 nm from south to north cape, and making 120 miles in one week means a lot of around and between islands. On top of that Papa Stour is only half way south on the west coast, on our return trip, starting from Lerwick half way south on the east coast going north.
20 May Monday Lerwick
Woke up around seven, (eight Norwegian time) after a good but short nights sleep.
The German boat we were rafted to told us when we came last night that they will leave at nine. Not to disturb them we moved Moon forward to the now free space in front of the German boat before they started to get ready. Then breakfast and just as we were ready to start to investigate procedures here in Lerwick, a women from Customs came and we had a nice talk at the dining table down in Moon.
Then to harbourmaster to pay for one night, 21 pounds without electricity (which is 7 pound plus 2 each day, meaning 9 pound if you only stay one night!)
Then groceries. A big Tesco store and an almost as big Co-op is available within walking distance from the harbour. We visited Tesco before noon and the other in the afternoon using Google maps. Well stocked and we got some exercise too.
The grey houses and the surroundings without trees remain us of Falkland Island, especially as most live stock are sheep here too.
Before dinner a local sailor that Björn met on the pontoon came aboard and had a look at Moon. He had been visiting Koopmans design office at the same time they were talking to us, repairing Moon in Malaysia, and because of that he new a lot about our adventures.
He then drove us to his Koopmans. An Al 52 feet with centreboard, berthed in the local marina.
Tired after the passage we had an early night after dinner in Moon.
21 May Tuesday Lerwick – West Lunna Voe 25 nm
After breakfast we had to decide where to go. The weather forecast gave no real answer. But we had to stock up and get fuel before any decision could to be made. Tesco and Co-op gave us enough groceries and after 500 litres of diesel we left Lerwick shortly after noon motoring to the north. In spite of counter current we came all the way to Yell Sound, where we anchored in West Lunna Voe, a landlocked anchorage that had been used by the “Shetland Bus” fishing boats that took refugees from Norway to England during WW2.
As we had dinner the rain started.
22 May Wednesday West Lunna Voe
Rain most of the night and a north westerly strong wind.
Grey morning with rain off and on. Had a shower before breakfast, which is a challenge when the rain is pouring down outside. Humidity and condensation doesn’t improve adding extra moisture!
But most of the condensation comes on the frames around windows and when not at sleep during the night it’s easy to wipe it up now and then.
During nights we close the door between the saloon and bow cabin, where we have the hatch under the dinghy open for ventilation. The temperature in saloon comes down and thanks to the minimized temperature difference between outside and the salon the condensation is minimized.
The weather kept us inside the boat all day, catching up things that had been left behind during the crossing and the busy Lerwick visit.
Both the weather and the unwelcoming shores kept us from using the dinghy to go ashore.
23 May Thursday West Lunna Voe – Baltasund, Unst 26 nm
A quiet night with undisturbed rest.
The weather looked good for a trip north. Due to the tide we weigh anchor already before breakfast.
Unfortunately the wind was only enough for sailing the first hour. On top of that we had of some reason miscalculated the current. But we got some sunshine half way to Baltasund.
Lots of abandoned houses along the shores, most of them without roof and only stone walls left.
The tree less landscape remind us of Aleutians and Falkland Islands. It’s really fantastic.
Coming to Baltasound we found a place at the wharf, tied to the wharf with long lines outside a small sailboat. Ashore we found a local that after a chat took us in her car to the small boat museum in the next village.
Very interesting museum, showing us several different small fishing boats from the time when all boats were pulled ashore on the beach when not in use. Some made in Norway.
The long walk back to Baltasund was good and we saw many birds and amazing views. In Baltasund we finalized the trip with a pint at the local little hotel just above the harbour.
24 May Friday Baltasund – Culli Voe 18 nm
Up early to take advantage of the sunny weather. The plan was to go around the north cape and pass Muckle Flugga. The enormous gannet colonies up there was the magnet.
Coming out between Unst and the protecting island east of Baltasund, we got the now giant swell against us together with the wind. The conditions were not favourable, especially as the tide will be bad around the cape if we were delayed by the wind and swell.
Having been there 2001 on route to Faroe Islands we decided to turn south.
After three hours we anchored in Culli Voe, same harbour we had planned to stay in, but coming from north west after rounding the north cape.
The sound between Unst and Yell is narrow and has great tide. Important to time the tide and choose a route in shallow water to try to avoid ripple and standing waves.
25 May Saturday Culli Voe – Hamar Voe 36 nm
We had an early start to get through the sound before the strong wind against tide started.
Managed to find a route close to shore in shallow water to avoid the races and overfalls in the sound. Ok we didn’t get much following current as we were travelling in counter current water, but that’s much more comfortable and safer than through the over falls to say the least. We managed to reach open water and turn south west before the predicted northerly wind started to blow stronger. But this spring is odd! The wind only lasted half way, and the rest we had to motor in lumpy sea.
Into the fjord we had chosen to anchor, the wind came back and we had a fun ride all the way into the protected anchorage in a landlocked arm of the fjord.
A few farmsteads and a lot of sheep on the surrounding hills. The birds were active and the song was very enjoyable.
26 May Sunday Hamar Voe – Papa Stour 15 nm
Sunshine when we woke up and a light breeze across our pond made the conditions for today sailing very light.
Breakfast and then weigh anchor. Motoring out of the fjord we had no wind across the boat. The following wind was as weak as our speed! Out on St Magnus bay we tried to sail, we were only to cross the bay to reach our next anchorage on Papa Stour.
Had a fishing line behind the boat, but no luck. After an hour our patience was gone. We reeled in and started the engine.
Shortly before two we anchored in Hamna Voe, a big landlocked bay on the south west corner of Papa Stour. The entrance is a bit tricky, but that’s what makes the bay completely landlocked, and the depth in the lagoon is ten to five meters with room for several boats, but we were alone.
After a coffee we launched the dinghy and went ashore.
Last time, almost twenty years ago, we were lucky to have no wind and no swell, a very unusual situation. Remember there is nothing until Newfoundland to west! Then we could use the dinghy to get into the caves and tunnels, not possible to reach during swell because the swell hit the roofs!
Now we did a long walk and saw all that from above. Lots of fulmars on nests at the steep cliffs everywhere, but no other birds had started to build nest.
Back at the dinghy around five after more than six km walking up and down on the sloops, having to take care of the Skuas that were plentiful and very protective. We used our old experience and had a stick lifted above our head to prevent them to dive on us. Worked very well and we got no attacks.
As we arrived to Moon the rain started. Everything is about timing the weather!
Half an hour later, as a roasted lamb was in the oven, the sun came back and we got a beautiful sunshine in between the clouds. (The lamb was not one of the many we met ashore, it was bought in Lerwick so still a Shetland lamb)
Week 22 27 May – 2 June 2019 Papa Stour, Shetland – Kirkwall, Orkney 137 nm
27 May Monday Papa Stour
Some wind and rain during the night but almost sunshine as we woke up.
The forecast for sailing to Fair Isle wasn’t good during the start of the week, making us having a day at anchor. We took the dinghy ashore after breakfast. This time we toured the little “village”. Lots of abandoned houses and some converted to summer houses. A few farmsteads but we didn’t see a living soul. Even the little ferry terminal was closed. Got a feeling that the last person to leave locked and through away the key. But the sheep and birds were plentiful and we had a nice walk
Back in Moon we had a shower and lunch in the cold sunny weather between the drizzles. The weather is certainly governing our activities.
28 May Tuesday Papa Stour – Scalloway 22 nm
After having had a quiet morning with some squalls and gale force we weigh anchor and sailed for Scalloway. Half way we had good wind and direction, but had to use the engine the last couple of miles.
Moored in the yacht club onto a perfect pontoon, the height was just to our cap rail. Very unusual and very convenient. Only us and a 43 foot charter sailing boat with a crew of seven people where at the pontoon. We feel very spoiled when we see crowded boats close up!
Did a walk into town and had a pint at the hotel pub. Next to us was a couple from Florida and they told us that several Americans had seen the TV series “Shetland Police” and just had to visit the islands. We ourselves have recently seen the two latest seasons to get in tune with the dialect, which is English but not really!
Before we walked into town we started the laundry machine and after dinner in Moon we had done two machines including drying.
29 May Wednesday Scalloway – Voe of North Houss 10 nm
Had a quiet night at the pontoon and after breakfast we took the bus across to Lerwick to get provisioning. The shops in Scalloway seamed to have problems with being too close to the big malls in Lerwick.
First we visited a friend in Lerwick marina and then a tour to Co-op for groceries. The bus stop was almost as convenient placed as the one close to the yacht club in Scalloway.
Back in Moon we sorted our findings and then a short walk to visit the castle in Scalloway, finding a lamb shank at the butcher going back to Moon.
Late afternoon we cast our lines and motored a few miles south to be in a better position for Fair Isle tomorrow.
30 May Thursday Voe of North Houss – Fair Isle 33 nm
The wind didn’t start until nine, but shortly after that we were under sail and could sail all the way to Fair Isle in a fresh breeze from west.
Very nice to be able to see the goal, in spite it’s more than thirty miles away. Back home we are used to Denmark and its low ground. Here it’s like Norway with high mountains that can be seen from far distance.
The little harbour was empty when we arrived and we choose a spot out of the space for the ferry.
Soon came Strawberry, a Swedish boat we saw in Lerwick, and rafted on Moon.
And soon after came a French RM1200 and rafted on Strawberry. While all six were talking down in Moon about our experiences from sailing Scotland, having a welcoming dram, a man came and told us about a big yacht coming soon. We had to move to the ferry space and then raft on the big yacht, because the ferry comes at eight and stays over night.
After moving the boats we took a walk up to the lighthouse and were back just in time to move as the ferry approached the harbour. When everything had calmed down we and Strawberry were rafted on the big old sailing ship and the French guys were rafted on the ferry. Neither the ferry nor the big ship are going to move tomorrow.
31 May Friday Fair Isle – Otterrswick, Sanday Orkney 36 nm
Some swell in the harbour during the night due to lack of wind, in spit the swell in the ocean was across the harbour entrance. We took a long walk after breakfast to the south side of the island.
Unfortunately the bird centre had a fire in March and was completely burnt down together with the hostel and pub. Coming back to the harbour we visited the puffin colony. Nice close-ups on the cute little birds, very similar to the Pacific Horned Puffin.
After lunch down in Moon we decided to leave for Orkney. The main reason was the coming two days with southerly or westerly winds. On top of that two cruise ships were announced for tomorrow!
Shortly before two we were on route to Orkney. West side of Fair Isle had several colonies of Northern Gannet that we admired coming free from katbatic winds rushing down the steep hillsides.
Finally we were free from land effect and could sail an open reach towards Orkney. Full speed as the wind increased during the afternoon from near gale to full gale. Moon had most of the time more than eight knots through water, but over ground it varied with the tide. We had rain most of the time until shortly before anchoring at Sanday, Orkney.
The approach to Sanday became quite spectacular as we had two knots tide against following gale force wind and swell. We are during this type of situations very happy to have a hull of Koopmans design!
It was a tired and wet helmsman that was happy that the anchor sat well at the first attempt. The heater had been running for the last hour before anchoring, making Moon a warm and welcoming boat for a wet cruiser.
An hour after the anchor was set the wind decreased to a fresh breeze and we had a reasonable quiet night.
1 June Saturday Otterswick – Papa Sound, Stronsay 19 nm
Slept better then on Fair Isle although this anchorage was quite exposed. The new wind from west increased and we had strong breeze already in the morning. The wind driven waves was only half a meter why Moon almost didn’t move. It was cold so the heater had to work both for heat and to dry our wet clothes from yesterday. The rain stopped and a pail sun took over. The forecast for the coming days didn’t look good, headwind and lots of rain.
After checking the charts, wind and tide we left the anchorage for a clockwise turn around Sanday. The island bears it name and we had the opportunity to study the long sandy shoreline for a long time due to counter current of up to 5 knots Further south we thought we would have the tide with us but no It meant we would not be in time for the tide to Kirkwall today and choose to anchor in Papa Sound in time for dinner.
2 June Sunday Papa Sound, Stronsay – Kirkwall 17 nm in rain and strong breeze
Woke up to a rainy morning as the east, south east wind started. Yesterday while studying the tide charts we decided to do a clockwise turn around Stronsay but at that time the forecast showed southerly wind. Now this morning we found another possibility due to the more easterly forecast we now had. Following very close to Stronsay north coast behind all small islands we avoided the tide and could hoist the sails and had a perfect sail with the tide all the way to Kirkwall. Well in some areas between islands the tide changed direction up to 60 degrees and that gave us some odd headings to keep our COG.
By noon we were tied up at the pontoon in Kirkwall and had our lines taken by Strawberry.
Shortly after we left for Highland Park distillery together with the crew from Strawberry. The tour was nice and informative and we bought a bottle to put in our backpack together with two nice glasses (included in the entrance fee ). Later this evening we agreed to rent a car together with Strawberry for tomorrow. The forecast was not the best but at least not rain all the time and quite strong wind for the afternoon.
Our life is very dependent on wind direction and the tide.
Week 23 3 – 9 June 2019 Kirkwall – Ullapool 171 nm
3 June Monday Kirkwall
We woke up to a clear sky but dark cloud to the south, unfortunately in the direction of the coming weather, bringing us some rain and strong wind later today.
We rented a car after breakfast together with our new friends Per and Klas from Strawberry.
As this was their first visit to Orkney, we became both driver and guides remembering our visit to the islands 2000.
Little rain on our trip across Mainland to Stromness, the second biggest village/town on Orkney, after that we had mostly sunshine and a southerly gale.
The guys enjoyed the narrow main street in Stromness and wanted to spend more time here. But after a local lunch we continued, this time to Skara Bree an old settlement that was discovered when a storm freed a part of a building, covered in a deep layer of sand.
People lived here for five hundred years some five thousand years ago. Well before the Pyramids were built in Egypt!!
We continued our trip in ancient times, passing “Setting Stones” and reach “Broch of Gurness”, another but much later settlement. The Broch itself is the centre defence tower in the village and was ten meter high with double walls. Between the walls a stair led up to the top, from where it was easy to defend themselves, being high above the intruders. In the centre of the tower there was room for the villager to live and work during the attacks.
It’s sad to learn that mankind always seems to be fighting each other! Especially sad in these populist times where modern nationalism increase the gap between people and nations all over the world.
The strong wind against the tide out in the sound Eynhallow Sound just north of the Broch made our impression of the settlement even greater.
Back in Kirkwall we left the crew of Strawberry and continued to the supermarkets for heavy shopping to make full use of the rented car.
Back in Moon we stored all findings and controlled our lines and fenders. Moon had the strong gale across with the pontoon to leeward, not the best situation. But with all our fenders and good shorelines we were safe, if not hundred percent comfortable.
Had dinner together with Per and Klas at an Indian restaurant in town and later a paint on a local pub as this was the last evening with our new friends.
4 June Tuesday Kirkwall – Rousay 11 nm
The wind decreased during the night and we woke up to sunshine and moderate breeze from south west.
We returned the car after breakfast and did a last photo tour through town, trying to get free angles between all tourists from a huge, ten stories, Cruising Ship at the cruise dock. The population of Kirkwall triples, at least, during these occasions and there are congestions everywhere, not only busses involved.
But they were not interested in details like deteriorating sandstone in the Cathedral, so we managed to get our photos.
Yesterday we had thoughts about how difficult it obviously is for people to live together without fighting. Today our thoughts are about this small community gathering so much money and efforts to build such an enormous Cathedral, not to mention the “Castle” for the Bishop next door. Normal people were poor and struggling to survive! But again, this is what we have seen all over the world in small communities with several churches built in modern time.
Back in Moon we had coffee and did some writing waiting for the wind and tide to change.
We did a last minute shopping in town after lunch and then left the harbour after a last farewell to Strawberry. They were to leave tomorrow for Norway and then back to Gothenburg.
Shortly after six we were anchored in shallow sand bottom, well protected from the westerly wind by Rousay Island. The island is very green with many sheep and cows. Lots of stone walls between the different life stocks but only a few farmsteads/houses.
5-6 June Wednesday – Thursday Rousay, Orkney – Loch a’Chadh-fi, Scotland 94 nm
The tide and the direction of the wind govern most things in Orkney, so even for us.
The wind was ok already early morning, but we had to wait until after noon for the tide to be able to pass through the sound between Rousay and Mainland.
In the worst part of the sound we had four knots with us towards the Atlantic swell from north west, creating spectacular over falls across the sound. We managed to find a passage where the over falls were only o few meter high. Moon has really a well designed hull. Keeping her perpendicular to these enormous waves, she hardly got any water on deck! Thanks to the tide we could motor very slow through the waves and still do more than six knots over ground, making the bumpy passage only a few minutes long.
We had a reefed main to stabilize Moon and soon coming out to sea and free from the race in the sound, we could turn towards Cape Wrath, the north west cape of Scotland, and unfurl the head sails. We had beautiful sailing in good speed until seven o’clock in the evening. The wind disappeared and we had to use the engine for the rest of the night.
The sea state was reasonable ok and the only interesting things during the night was meeting three ships close to Cape Wrath. One cruise ship came up from behind with a CPA less than hundred meters. We called him and he was aware of our CPA in twenty minute and that he would change course well before that time. The other two ships, one a HMS navy ship, we were the one to change course now being a powerboat and having the other two ships on our port side.
Coming around Cape Wrath we had following current of three knots in almost the same direction as the swell, making the rounding an unusual comfortable one. This is our third rounding of the cape, but the first going west. Every time we have been fortunate to be able to time the weather and the tide and not seen any of the very rough conditions described in pilots.
Going south along the coast we found an inlet and anchored just in time before the tide turned north.
Six in the morning we anchored in a very well protected loch where already two boats were anchored. We learned later that they had left Orkney in the morning yesterday, using a sound further north where the tide changed to west in the morning.
We had breakfast and then went to bed to get some ours sleep before continuing south.
6 June Thursday Lochh a’Chadh-fi – Loch Roe 25 nm
Woke up just before noon and had lunch before we weigh anchor. We were eager to take advantage of the tide and no strong south wind. We had found a loch in a comfortable distance to the south and it looked very interesting as we had a very detailed chart that told us that it was possible to get further in, although the “normal” chart had “no water” in the passage to the inner pool.
Coming in to the loch we turned into the outer pool and then carefully navigated between two underwater rocks to the inner pool. We anchored among seals resting on the many cliffs around us. Very green sloops with some trees on the hillside, thanks to the protected surroundings. The overnight passage made us go to sleep early and we had a very quiet night.
7 June Friday Loch Roe – Loch Inver – Loch an Eisigh 3+5 nm
We woke up to a crystal clear sky and almost summer high temperature outside.
First time this spring we heard the Cuckoo and this one compensated that by singing the whole morning.
The water around us was like a mirror and only meters from Moon we had some seals cubs on the rocks. They had to move several times as the tide changed, not to get wet.
When we had enough of this beautiful scenery we weigh anchor and motored in to nearby marina in Loch Inver, which is the next Loch south only three nm away.
Found a convenient placed T-birth where we moored. Found the two sailing boats we had anchored behind yesterday and talked about the passage and the formalities for the marina. We then walked into the village after trying to find the Harbour master.
Very small village, but there was a pottery that we visited during our walk. Very hot inside as they had just opened the kiln full of ready items. On the way back we found a small grocery shop. Back in Moon we decided to leave and anchor in the next Loch.
We anchored in a more open bay, but protected from the swell and the little wind from north. Again it was very green surroundings with trees here and there. Green as in contrast to the outer coastline where everything is barren and grey-brownish and definitely no trees. Those areas are very look alike some of the most barren areas in southern Patagonia, west of Cape Horn.
8 June Saturday Loch an Eisg-Brachaid – Isla Ristol – Loch Kanaird 12 + 9 nm
Sunshine and pretty warm already early in the morning. This bay’s Cuckoo had a different melody, but we know it was a Cuckoo because sometimes he forgot and sounded like a “normal” Cuckoo!
Before noon we weigh anchor and motor sailed in a soft breeze to a small island where we had lunch.
The wind increased and we could sail almost all the way to the anchorage for the night. We were aiming for Ullapool, but the wind died and we found a much better anchorage behind an island six nm before Ullapool.
The evening was nice but we got a very unnecessary squall with hail just as we were ready to take down the main.
We used the evening to study the pilots to know were to go and now it’s up to the wind to deliver!
9 June Sunday Loch Kanaird – Ullapool – Loch Kanaird 12 nm
We weigh anchor before breakfast to take advantage of the morning breeze.
We were heading west, but coming around the protecting island there was almost no wind.
We opted for a trip into Ullapool to get some provisioning and exercising walks.
We motored into the deep fjord/Loch and took a buoy in the harbour. Launched the dinghy and the outboard for a quick ride into the pontoon that was only to be used for temporary mooring. Met the harbour master and we were allowed to use the pontoon and the buoy for some hours without payment.
Ullapool in sunshine and not much wind was perfect for a walk up the mountain. Coming down two hours later we visited Tesco, the big grocery chain in Scotland.
The village is very picturesque with white houses. The waterfront is very “English” with no house on the shore side of the street. We had an espresso in one of the many cafés on the waterfront together with lots of other tourists. June has come with much more people travelling around.
Then took the dinghy back to Moon with all our findings. The sky looked very dark and rainy further inland and we left to reach our previous protected anchorage hopefully before the rain. The harbour in Ullapool is affected of the swell and it was rolly, in spit very calm weather.
To leave as fast as possible we towed the dinghy with the outboard attached. That’s not very efficient! The motor is too heavy and the dinghy gets heavy to tow. But we manage to get away and had no rain.
Having anchored we took the dinghy ashore and took another walk on the fields along the bay in the now sunny weather.
Back in Moon we hoisted the motor and dinghy to be ready to leave early tomorrow.
Annika & Björn