Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Loss of Power

Thursday 26th May 2016

I planned to catch an early tide and sail round to Westerly or round to Kirkwall. A big Farr 65 moored near us left at 06:00 but ran aground. As we prepared to leave we were quite smug that we would have no problem with our lifting keel. I reversed out of the berth into the space between the moored boats but then, to my horror, found that I couldn't make the engine work. The throttle cable had snapped!

We were drifting down onto the sterns of moored boats, when Mark had the bright idea of diving into the engine room and controlling engine speed manually. Just before we hit anything I was able to manoeuvre out and around the boat that was aground into the harbour, where we dropped anchor out of the way of shipping. We tried to diagnose and fix the problem ourselves but it soon became apparent that we needed professional help. The Harbour Master kindly put us in touch with Hamnavoe Engineering, and Ralph put aside his other jobs and met us back on the dock. There followed a frustrating time trying to fit a new cable, complicated by the difficulty in gaining access to the binnacle, because of the amount of cable squeezed into the small space. This was clearly going to take some time, so Colin and Sue sensibly left us to it, and hired bikes to cycle to Skara Brae - a not insignificant journey!

Later we had a visitor from the Orkney Yawl Association who had brought their club boat round for a sail. She was a beautiful craft very wide in the beam with a canoe stern and a gunter rig. I was offered a sail but, to my lasting regret, I turned them down in favour of staying for our supper which was ready to serve.

The Orkneys - Wednesday 25th May

Wednesday 25th May 2016
Today is crew changeover day with Justin catching a 16:45 ferry to Scrabster and Colin and Sue Watts arriving by plane to Kirkwall this afternoon.

However with a morning ahead to explore the island we called a taxi to take us to the Ring of Brodgar standing stones and from there to the Neolithic village at Skara Brae.

The standing stones at the Ring of Brodgar
The museum was excellent, but most amazing are the actual houses, now roofless, and re-exposed to the elements 5,500 years after they were occupied. A sandstorm had apparently buried the houses and the settlement which had been occupied for 600 years was abandoned. the stone furniture, beds, food stores etc were impressive. We also looked round the grand house at Skara Brae, kept as a period piece.
Neolithic stone dwellings at Skara Brae

Back in Stromness we said farewell to Justin and welcomed Colin and Sue on board.

Monday 22nd May 2016

Monday 22nd May 2016
The morning was occupied with grocery shopping, buying a chart of NE Scotland from the Stornoway Shipping Company, and filling 490 litres of water. Then we slipped our mooring and headed to the fuel dock where we took on 157 litres of diesel - the first since Bangor in Ireland.

Once again the weather was very calm and we motored out into an amazing sea of light with fishing boats apparently floating in the sky, and pods of dolphins slowly curving through the water. They may have been sleeping, and they did not come to play with us.


Our destination was Loch Inchard and the port of Kinlochbervie, but as we progressed well I decided to head straight for the Orkneys, passing Cape Wrath while it was in a benevolent mood As we passed in the sunset, a shaft of sunlight illuminated the lighthouse, against the black 800 foot high cliffs of the Cleit Dub'h, and we toasted the Cape with a dram of Oban whisky and some Belgian chocolate.
The black cliffs of Cleit Dubh and Cape Wrath, safely astern

I took first watch until midnight, and the sky still showed a red sunset streak at that time, and then the moon rose preceded by an intensely red Mars.

Tuesday 23rd May 2016
When I came back on watch at 05:40 to relieve Justin it was daylight, and the Orkneys were visible twenty miles away, with the significant shape of Hoy dominating the skyline, withers cliffs of 1040 feet.. Astern the mountains inland of Cape Wrath were still visible 50 or more miles distant.

 As we tacked back and forth into the headwind we could begin to see The Old Man of Hoy silhouetted against the sky, finally coming into Hoy Sound past the experimental tide power buoys just before their tide turned against us to deny entry.
The Orkneys appear on the horizon
The Old Man of Hoy appears in the distance

I called Stromness Harbour Control on channel 12 and we were allowed to enter, and found a finger pontoon to berth on.

Stromness seemed deserted as we strolled through the stone streets, amongst neat stone houses, and found our way to the Museum. It had interesting displays of ships and the local explorer John Rae, who had explored the Arctic learning survival skills from the Inuit.

We ate and drank well in the Ferryboat Inn, kindly treated by Justin, and then retired to bed exhausted.




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Sunday 22nd May 2016

Richard was out rowing this morning on the calm loch, looking very relaxed. Sadly we had to say goodbye in Stornaway and made our way there to moor up in the harbour. It is a lovely spot, with a castle and lovely grounds coming to the waters edge, just across from all the colourful fishing boats. the new pontoons certainly make this an easy harbour to stay in.

Justin appeared looking leaner, footsore and weather beaten, having walked up the islands from South Uist where we had put him ashore. Lauri, whose plane was later in the evening, kindly treated us ago a splendid Sunday lunch.

We fought off sleepiness and tackled various jobs, fixing the kitchen sink which had come unstuck from the work top, and replacing the copper "fuse" for the centreboard hydraulics which had been punctured when we hit a rock on Loch Uiskevagh.

Sunday 22nd May 2016

Richard was out rowing this morning on the calm loch, looking very relaxed before breakfast.  Then we raised anchor and motored in calm weather to Stornoway.

Sadly we had to say goodbye to our crew and made our way there to moor up in the harbour. It is a lovely spot, with a castle and beautiful grounds coming to the waters edge, just across from all the colourful fishing boats. The new pontoons certainly make this an easy harbour to stay in.

Justin appeared looking leaner, footsore and weather beaten, having walked up the islands from South Uist where we had put him ashore. Lauri, whose plane was later in the evening, kindly treated us all to a splendid Sunday lunch.

We fought off sleepiness and tackled various jobs, fixing the kitchen sink which had come unstuck from the work top, and replacing the copper "fuse" for the centreboard hydraulics which had been punctured when we hit a rock on Loch Uiskevagh.

Saturday 21st may 2016

We left Scalpay and sailed in light winds towards the Shiant Islands. The wind died and we ended up motoring through a glassy calm with amazing light from a dramatic cloudy sky lit by patches of sunshine. The number of sea birds increased dramatically with rafts of guillemots, puffins and razorbills interspersed with solitary gannets.

The light reflected off the sea was extraordinary and the islands seemed to hang in the sky. We found a mooring just off a rocky beach under dramatic cliffs crowded with sea birds.
Moored in the Shiant Islands

The weather looked as though it might change at any moment, so a party of 5 went ashore immediately, managing to land safely in the surge of the swell onto the rounded boulders on the beach. Richard and I scrambled up a steep grass cliff to reach the viewpoint on the crest, looking far down to Tin Tin, and across the islands through swirling clouds of birds.

Leaving the islands behind we headed northwards to find shelter in a remote anchorage in Loch Mariveg. Anchoring required several attempts, and in thinned we laid a second anchor out to control the bots swing between rocky cliffs. The evening was very calm with a lovely sunset glow and we enjoyed rowing and clambering up the surrounding hills.
Loch Mariveg

Friday 20th May 2016

We had a slow start with a full Scottish breakfast the Loch Maddy hotel. Then we set off into much easier conditions of 25 knots topsail under genoa only northwards towards Harris.

Once across the Sound of Harris we explored a little loch called Roday, anchoring close under a cliff to have lunch in eh sunshine, but rolling heavily in the remnants of the swell that crept into they. The old church here is the burial place of the standard bearers of the MacLeod clan, and is reputed to have fine architecture, but sadly we didn't have time to venture ashore.
Loch Roday
Once under sail again the wind dropped to 15-18 knots and at last we flew our new spinnaker which gave us 7.5-8.5 knots in 14-15 knots of wind. However getting the Parasailor down proved difficult at first, with Mark hanging his whole weight on the rope to snuff it and then getting lifted off the deck!

Richard helmed us through the rocks of Loch Tarbert to North Harbour on Scalpay Island where, after 3 attempts, we managed to get the anchor to hold in thick weed. The harbour had fishing vessels moored on one side and some houses around the other end. A beautiful sunset rewarded us and we sat on deck until the night chill drove us down to the warn cabin where Mark had prepared a delicious supper. Meanwhile I set an anchor alarm in case the wind blew up and our anchor dragged in the night.
North Harbour, Scalpay Island