Sugar 'n' Spice - Diary June 2006

Thur 1st June

Left Amble on the tide. 3 hour trip to Farne Islands - anchored at Inner Sound anchorage of ?? island. Used all our chain (30m) plus some warp.

Spent the afternoon watching sea birds (guillies, razorbills, puffins & various gulls) drift or fly by, plus a seal colony (grey not the smaller ones we get down south) on nearby rocks. The seals in a wide range of colour thru white, mottled, to all over dark, were very vocal, & whilst a couple swam round & inspected us, for the most part they were very loth to get wet & as the tide rose there was a lot of pushing & shoving to stay on the highest dryest rock. I have to say that size counts here! We also saw flocks of homo sapiens visit the island. After being disgorged from small boats they stood in patient queues to tour the island whilst the gulls bombarded them, in several senses.

At teatime we moved on the short distance to an anchorage off Lindisfarne (Holy Island)

Fri 2nd June

Went ashore in dinghy. Wandered round harbour, castle, sand dunes, village & priory - interesting & scenic, fairly busy, but only with happy people. St Cuthbert again.

No sooner had we got back on board than the wind started reving again.

Sat 3rd June

Prompt start for sufficient water in channel out of anchorage then a mix of sailing & motoring (where has last night's wind gone?) north up the coast & across Firth of Forth to Arbroath. A small, welcoming locked in harbour with pontoons where the fishing fleet used to be! After a stroll round the Town we discovered the only open resturant, but that was already overflowing, so it was fish & chips on board!

Sun 4th June

Tidied boat & shopped, then friends - Malcolm & Pixie Moore - who used to sail out of Levington & now live in Perth - came to see us. They brought lunch (venison) which Doug cooked. It was nice to catch up with them, & they seem very happily settled in Perth.

After they left we walked a couple of miles north past a sandy bay & along some cliffs with deep inlets then back by a path slightly back from the beach with views over the Abbey gardens.

Mon 5th June

Another prompt start from Arbroath because of tide gate opening times & again a mix of motoring & sailing. We did have a spell with the kite up though! Arrived Peterhead early evening. Marina is across the bay from the Town & adjacent to the area where oil rigs are assembled, so there was a huge 3 legged monster towering over us with work going on around the clock.

Tues 6th June

Went in to Peterhead in search of spare fuel filters which we got with considerable help on their part from a firm probably far more used to dealing with trawlers & tugs than yachts. (had realised that the spares had been used for winter service & not replaced).

Usual stroll round town & fish docks. Nice lunch of smoked haddock with poached eggs - new to us.

That evening someone jumped off a newly arrived boat & said 'Hi Sylv' - it was Rob Chapman from the Orwell YC helping friends deliver their boat to the Caledonian Canal, small world.

Wed 7th June

4.30 am start. Misty day which got thicker & not much wind. We only 'saw' Rattray Head on the radar, the Moray Firth dolphins failed to show (we think we glimpsed a fin once) & I logged a ray of sunshine at 14.45 - premature as it was gone in the time I took to write it. There were plenty of birds fishing, sitting on the water, the usual gulls, guillies (including razorbills, but I have trouble sorting them out) gannets & puffins, but the highlight was to see a Artic Skua mug a gull. They were very close as the gull was circling the boat & trying to hide behind our rig (making whimpering noises), but was totally out flown by the skua. Wow.

Got to Deer Sound, Orkney Mainland 100nm trip & anchored at 8pm - lots of motoring . The sound was about the width of the river Orwell at Freston & the anchorage about 6 miles down it, all to ourselves. There was a seal colony on the far shore & occasionally one swam round & inspected us.

Thur 8th June

Lesiurly start enjoying the Sound then a brisk sail - a beat, but nice to be sailing - on to Kirkwall. Lucky to see a fishing boat enter the harbour as the entrance has been changed, despite us having the latest pilot book. Very helpful harbourmaster directed us to fuel depot just across the road & loaned us a pump to get the diesel from can to Sugar 'n' Spice's tank, done job.

Then a quick stroll along Albert Street, the main street in Kirkwall, eat on board & a visit to Orkney Sailing Club, open as they had been dinghy & yacht racing that evening.

Fri 9th June

Bus to Stenness & walked to the standing stones, then to the ring of Brodgar (2 stone circles within a couple of miles!) Barnhouse Stone Age Village & Maeshowe. Built before 2700BC a stone & turf burial chamber the Vikings raided it & wrote graffiti in runes on the stones. Curlews closer than we've ever seen them.

Sat 10th June

Domestics am then a walk south from Kirkwall to a silver sand beach, & back via a pretty stream. More curlews & oystercatchers on grassland, a odd location to us.

Sun 11th June

Biked to other neolithic sites, Wideford Cairn & Cuween chambered cairn then to Finstown & round south of West Mainland (Orkney)

Mon 12th June

A round tuit day.

Tues 13th June

Hired a car go south via the Churchill Barriers, over Burray & S Ronaldsay. Looked at the Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm, amazing artwork inside as it was built by Italian POW's using scrap material, more silver beaches at Sands of Wright & Scapa Floe from the WW2 batteries at Hoxa Head. Had lunch at the little ferry town of St Margaret Hope then drove on to Burwick in the very south to look at mainland Scotland.

Finally back Mull Head (near Deerness Sound where we first anchored) to walk round the Headland, looking at the Gloup - an enormous blow-hole - & an old chapel on the Brough of Deerness, almost cut off from the land.

Wed 14th June

Looked at St Magnus Cathedral.

Took midday tide the 24 miles to Westray, Pierowall Harbour. Along the coast the chart said 'unsurveyed'!! the fishing boats didn't seem to know this! Several other boats in Pierowall.. Investigatory Stroll.

Thur 15th June

Walked from Pierowall to Grobust beach, then uncharted bit of map to west coast & followed coast path around Noup head, past 'seabird' city with its vast tenements of gulls, guillies, gannets puffins etc. Parking space definately at a premium on the cliffs. At the lighthouse our path took us past heathland with a colony of Artic terns who decided to buzz us with a sort of growling cry, despite the fact we were actually on the road. Then just outside Pierowall another Historic Scotland site - key from farm opposite -Noltland Castle, very grim & forbidding.

Fri 16th June

Moved to Papa Westray & anchored of pier at Moclett.

Walked round most of island, starting with a traditional farm museum, then the oldest known N European dwelling at Knap of Howar (3800BC) with a low entrance that you crawl through - amazing that you can access these sites with no restrictions. Then on along the W coast where we saw skuas (Great & Artic), were buzzed by the terns again, down the E coast, more sandy bays & seals to St Tredwell's chapel - now abandoned - on an islet on an inland loch. Finally past some spitting fulmars (yes they really do, but why nest next door to a style that people must be using several times a day?) & back to the boat.

Sat 17th June

Early start from anchorage. Some motoring, some sailing, lots of rain, vis poor & picked up several very large tankers on radar before we saw them. The birds entertained again especially the skuas.

73nm trip & early evening tied alongside Scalloway Boating Club's private pontoon. Very friendly Club.

Sun 18th June

Explore Scalloway - Sundays are not a good day to arrive at new places as most things are closed or limited services

Mon 19th June

Wet. All day.

Caught the bus to Lerwick & explored. Harbour looked crowded & uncomfortable.

Tues 20th June

Looked round Scalloway Castle (get key from hotel - a very large key).

Then walked uphill out of town over the moors & back along the coast. (book said 4 miles, seemed more).

Moved boat to other side of pontoon on our return.

Supper at the Fisheries College canteen (virtually next door to SBC) which is run as a resturant in the evening (de Haf) - unsurprisingly specialising in fish dishes.

By mid evening forecast gale had arrived with accompanying rain.

Wed 21st June - Mid Summer's Day

Windy start so jobs & round tuits.

Round Scalloway Museum in afternoon, mostly about the 'Shetland Bus' - the small mostly Norwegian, fishing vessels that took agents & arms to Norway in WW2.

Swapped burgees with Scalloway Boating Club - a really welcoming Club.

Sat out at Midnight - there do not seem to be special celebrations for mid Summer's day - but it was certainly light.

Thurs 22nd June

Topped up water & diesel watched by a seal who apparently lived in the diesel berth getting backhanders from the fishing fleet, & then sailed just under jib (lazy!) the 7nm to Skeld. Doug immediately found the Shetland's smokehouse (don't tell Mr R) so we shalln't starve. The Voe is steep sided & at the harbour is almost the first time we haven't had a mobile phone signal - you have to walk up the hill.

Fri 23rd June

Walked through Skeld & along the coastal cliffs, bays & fields (we discovered field means hill in Shetland) of Silwick, Westerwick & Culswick. Finally to the granite broch (Iron age fort) of Culswick perched on a mound overlooking the sea cliffs. Suberb location - we saw it from the sea the next day. Then back by a more inland route. The lone farmer we encountered switched his tractor off to engage in conversation. We have discovered we need to add extra time to the walks to allow for these chats - the people are so friendly & interested. (walk about 11 miles)

Sat 24th June

On again the 21nm to Housa Voe on Papa STOUR (well we had to didn't we?), an island off the western end of Mainland (Shetland). A lovely secluded anchorage with huge stacks & sea caves at its entrance & seals checking on the visitors.

Sun 25th June

The forecast is good for today then a long period of unsettled so we have decided to head South after looking at the island.

Walked round a large part of Papa Stour - across the airstrip (tuesdays) & uphill, giving a great skua a very wide berth, to Neolithic Chambered cairns or burial chambers, but upsetting the gulls & terns who thought they were their domain. Then round Hamna voe, past some old watermills driven by water funnelled from a inland loch, old crofts & a prehistoric site & back to the boat.

Mid afternoon set sail for Outer Hebrides.

Early evening isle of Foula abeam. Huge towering cliffs with weird stacks some with tunnels through them, & the usual avian tenants.

Some lovely sailing .

Mon 26th June

At sea. The 'night' barely happened although the sun did set.

& I did the ‘night’ watch in half an hour!

Two visits by (I think) white beaked dolpins in the small hours about an hour apart. Lucky us! In both cases they stayed & played by the bow for about 15 minutes, & we think there were at least six each time but it is very difficult to count them.

Wind light – Doug is fishing!

Passed Cape Wrath.

Changed plans & headed to Loch Inchard & anchored for night. Very peaceful


Tues 27th June

On to Stornaway – 50nm

Lots more vessels than we have seen for ages & the military are playing ‘war’ games.

Berthed on quay astern of Northern Lighthouse Board’s vessel Pharos ( we know Patricia – Trinity House)

Wed 28th June

In Stornaway . Jobs in morning.

Then in afternoon a lovely walk to Lews Castle & grounds. The grounds were such a change with statues, rhododendrons & walks but sadly the castle is no longer safe & is boarded up.

On our return moved boat to inner harbour as strong winds forecast for overnight.

Thur 29th June

Depart Stornaway for 33nm trip to island of Scalpay off Harris.

Several visits from dolphins, one as we left Stornaway then more as we closed Scalpay.

Fri 30th June

Walked round the island – about 8.5 miles – to the coast with Bonnie Prince Charlie’s cave (only we never found it), the lighthouse, & highest point (via several bogs).

We had company for most of the way having been picked up early on by 2, & then a 3rd dog. When we thought they might be deterred by a style they were over it ahead of us & we finally gave up & politely held gates open for them .

We felt a bit guilty when we got in the dinghy & they looked very dejected.  I hope their owners weren’t expecting a long walk that evening.