Summer Cruise 2014 – Schuuper – Part 3

24th July – 16th August. Gairloch to Blyth via Orkney

After a great ECSW and many family affairs we found our way to Newcastle station for the complex return trip to Baddachro – and the train was running late, which meant we would miss all our connections aaghh ! A little known fact that we found out in Edinburgh, is that if you miss your connection, East Coast will get you to your destination. For us that meant they picked up a £115 taxi bill!! Back on boat everything tip top. 25th July, slipped our mooring and motorsailed for Stornoway. 13.00 Orca whale crossed our path, diving one side and reappearing on the other, where’s the camera when you need it!
17.00 arrive at Fabulous marina with attentive staff. 25 Scandanavian yachts coming and going. Picked up a Twingo hire car for next day. Toured Lewis from the Butt of Lewis and its artists to the amazing standing stones at Callanish and Broches of 3000BC. The Iron Age house on the beach at Bernera was so atmospheric and blended into a small green valley – you could almost see the children playing and smell the peat fire.

Ironage house on Lewis Lewis Standing Stones

Lewis has its own pace and while it is clearly at the forefront of IT for home working it seems to absorb and involve these ancient areas. The Stornoway pipe band then rounded off a great day while we listened from the cockpit. Damp Sunday morning walk around Lews Castle, huge renovation work turning it into the University of the Hebrides. Left Stornoway at 13.00, as soon as we cleared land a steady NE wind came in and we could just lay the Summer Isles. 35 miles on one tack doing 6kn in 10 mph of wind with hardly a touch on the helm – sailors delight. Sailed straight in to Tanera Beg, Summer Isles and found three other yachts just where we wanted to anchor. Oh well – Climbed ashore to watch the sunset and scurried back fairly quickly to the boat, midges rule – ok ! Other yachts departed in the morning so we had lazy day in the sun. Seems we missed the strong wind warning as Tuesday dawned with lots. 3 reefs in for brisk sail up to Loch Inver. Passed Orca again, and a Sleat Yacht motoring South, exposing keel to the waves. Berthed and realised we were bow on to Medmerry. Alan Brunton, Stuart and Kevin returning from West Highland Week, made a windy stay, quite lively. Alan demonstrated extraordinary cooking skills, or so it seemed after a good deal of gin.

Thursday 31st July left for North in lumpy confused sea, motoring into N 2/3 not good for hangovers. 14.00 abeam Cape Wrath, visibility good so eased off through inner channel towards Eribol. 17.00 made our way through zig zag entrance into Rispond bay, a delight to stop and anchor after such a lumpy bumpy sail. Lamb steaks, new potatoes, ratatouille made for a delightful quiet night in.
1st August no sailing today, lots of wind outside. Peter had brief excursion ashore to find Rispond Lodge being developed into holiday complex (?), visitors not welcome. 2nd August left for Orkney wind NE but forecast E so tried for 2-3 hours, small waves on top of long waves, we were getting nowhere so returned to Eribol. Anchored in Aud Neakie for a change, just as well we did as NE gale ‘soon’ forecast. Changed engine oil, just to keep amused. Anchor and angel held well with full chain and rope. Next day 11.00 set off again for Orkney with repeated prospect of wind going to the East. Didn’t happen. Returned to Eribol. 4th August, 06.30 wind in the SW so up and off. Pole out to level the boat through remainder of seas. Black clouds behind but pushed on for Orkney. Constant flow of shipping heading through to Pentland Firth. Wind moved to WSW so gybed for better line, entered Stromness with a ‘gust up our chuff’. 55 miles in 9 hours.
5th August provisioned boat, excellent butcher, but no fuel at marina, waiting for delivery. 12.30 left to catch tide for Westray in SE 4/5. Fine sail past wave experiment area – odd new addition ‘willi’ – not sure that will generate anything other than a headache. Fast sail up Westray Firth and through Rapness Sound, almost total reliance on chartplotter as it all happens so quickly. Boomed out for Pierwall. Great welcome with pontoon berth inside small working harbour. Had a fascinating time the next day, should have been longer as so much to see and do. Crab factory, art and crafts, birds, archaeology- a fascinating dig discovering evidence of prehistoric life with more than 20 buildings possibly 5000 years old, in a circle. Decided to move on to Papa Westray. Picked up a mooring marked ‘yachts’, delightful spot in deep pool in shallow bay, scary but sandy.

Pierowall Archaeology Orkney Bird Life

07.00 Left mooring bouy heading for Stronsay, tides really do rule the timings around here. Beautiful morning with flocks of duck overhead. Sailed through inside Calf of Eday, a bird sanctuary. 08.30 flocks of geese rising from the Island in glorious sunshine.09.00 Out of Sound of Eday with ferries to the left and right, well mannered and gave space (we heard later one skipper is a member of Kirkwall SC). Unhurried entry into Whitehall Harbour, complex route in, but good anchorage. It used to be a huge herring port – back in the day. Late full breakfast in cockpit overlooking a rather ostentatious religious retreat. Busy little ferry taking black robed clerics back and forwards, all waved. Walk ashore, Island rather glum after Westray but wonderful meal and sunset in cockpit with birds flitting and flapping as the tide covered their islands. Next day another 07.30 start to catch tide for Kirkwall, beam reach across Eday Sound in the morning sunshine with toast and marmalade, bliss. Fast reach across Westray Firth, down Vasa sound, and into Kirkwall Marina (not harbour as VHF operator, also a member of Kirkwall SC, informed us, we apologised later).
Enjoyed the delights of the ‘big city’, then a visit to aforementioned KSC which went on later and later and later…. There’s no stopping their hospitality! Next day Sue to airport and home, Peter to County show, totally soaked but interesting.
Sunday 10th August, Quentin arrived on the late ferry from Aberdeen; Monday 11th August, Nick Kincaid arrived from the airport, unfortunately KSC not open, but beer and meal ashore.
The wind had been strong all weekend, keeping travelling Yachts in. Strong but settling NW on Tuesday, so fuelled up and set off for Westray. Close-hauled up Vasa sound, and eased off for fast reach across Westray Firth. Passed strange experimental tidal power generation rig. Looks like a giant polo held in place with 4 legs. According to team on shore; the experiment is running successfully. Beat up to Pierwall, on Westray. Wed 13/8 pleasant walk ashore to Noltland Castle and dig on links. Picked up Crab from the processer, then left for Papa Westray. Fabulous Crab on toast, anchored in the rain. No-one interested in rowing ashore…17.00 Up anchor and gingerly eased out of bay, with less than 1m under the keel. 20.00 Picked up mooring in Bay of Carrick inside Calf of Eday. Read the story of John Gow, the Orkney pirate, who met his end in…. Bay of Carrick.
Thurs 14/8 08.50 Dropped mooring and sailed out into the Sound of Eday. Picked up the first of the flood from Stronsay Firth; speed up to 8.3 knots SOG. Zig-zaged out into North Sea, and were soon bowling along south. Met other yachts coming out of Kirkwall. Checked out the spinnaker, to make sure we passed them all; they were 40 footers! 20.00 Lost the opposition in towards Inverness, we moved nicely South in a pleasant N force 3. 40 miles to Rattray Head.

Quentin and Nick on board Schuuper

Fri 15/8 02.00 two reefs in and jib halved in advance of front; doing 9.6knots SOG off Peterhead. Pole still out to stabilise boat. Quite busy, with ships turning and moving; interesting set of lights ahead. Turned out to be ‘Tall Ship’ Cruise ship motoring up coast. 04.30 off Aberdeen; altered course towards St Abbs in anticipation of wind forecast SW 5.
08.00 Still moving well off Montrose. 10.00 Wind died; changed course to Farnes.
21.00 Through Staple Sound, tide just turned against. Lots of stories from Quentin about cruising the Farnes in Squib, and others.
22.00 Motoring past Craster, red light visible on Weather station off Blyth.
23.30 Abeam Coquet; wind finally serving.
Dolphins came out to meet us at Newbiggin Point- Welcome home.
Sat 16/8 02.40 Tied up in Blyth. Finished the Rum bottle. Thanks Davy for keeping my berth!!

257 miles in 41.5 hours; good trip; good crew.
1500 mile Summer Cruise, without a hint of trouble; good boat.
2700 miles since we left Blyth in May 2013; good to be back.

Peter and Sue Lowrie
Peter and Sue Lowrie 2014