Lochinver to Scalloway

Iomramh 2011.

Lochinver to Scalloway, Shetland.

Photos: Scalloway & Pappa Burra Island

We motored out of Lochinver, about 8.30am. The weather was fine and we sat on deck admiring the Scottish Highlands.

When we got out to sea we raised  our main sail, then our head sail and finally our ‘goose-wing’ sail. This last was a desperately complicated process, and caused the captain to swear long and hard at all his crew. My part was sitting in the cockpit winching various ropes in turn but without being able to see where the ropes were going or the effect of pulling them it was difficult to get it right.

At 10.00 am we set watches – two four hour stints. Ken and I were on 10.00 am to 2.00pm, 6.00pm to 10.00pm, 2.00am to 6.00am. As we progressed the weather got worse. The sea got very rough, the wind rose and it got very cold.

The first watch was grand we watched the Scottish coastline from about two miles out. By the time we reached Cape Wrath – the north-western tip of Scotland, we had sailed almost the full length of western Scotland and have hardly seen any farm land. All heathery mountain and no livestock, nor much forestry.

The second watch was less pleasant, the wind was too strong and the sails had to come down, one by one.

There was a tentative proposal, for a while, to call into Papa Westray, northern Orkney. But this was scrapped in favour of sailing through the night, for Scalloway.

I came on for the third shift, with practically no sleep for the last 20 hours, the sun was just rising (in the north?). By 3.00 there was a blue sky and almost full daylight. While on watch we are meant to be keeping watch for fishing boats or anything else in our path and make sure the boat is on course, watch the weather and call the captain if anything goes wrong.

On this watch it was particularly unpleasant. Every couple of minutes the boat tips violently to an angle of 45o and we are constantly showered with spray. It is cold and our ‘seats’ are not comfortable. We subdivided the  second part of the watch into 1 person for 1 hour and by this I got to bed early, for three hours.

Despite everything in the cabin being wet, including beds, I slept well until 8.30 am at which time we were entering the port of Scalloway, in pleasant sunshine.

Scalloway is the second town of Shetland and is about the size of Kilrush, except they have only one pub (and a hotel) and they have one church for every person – approximately!

The plan now is to stay in Scalloway for three days and then sail for Faroes.