Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Pentland Firth

Copinsay Island on a nice, calm day

[Kyle]Okay, we were not exactly in the dreaded, deadly, killer Pentland Firth, which separates mainland Scotland from the Orkneys, but sorta nearby. We actually gave the whole mess a pretty wide berth and passed by uneventfully a few miles to the east.

The first thing that happened on the day of the passage up to Orkney was that I crawled out of bed, wiped some condensation off the window and saw that the boat and the docks were covered in ice. It had hailed enough the previous evening to leave a layer on everything and it had subsequently partially melted and refrozen. It had kind of a non-skid look to it, which turned out not to be the case at all. We had to walk very carefully as we got the lines off and left the harbour. At least the sun was out (for now). By the time we left the protective walls of the harbour, the ice had melted and Footprint was just wet.

We made our turn north along the coast. I went forward to raise the mainsail. As I did, sheets of ice that had been shaded in the folds came down upon me, breaking on my head and shattering on the deck. Man, I sure do miss tropical sailing.

The wind slowly decreased until we pulled everything down to keep it from driving us nuts and we motored well clear of the Skerries (pronounced {by Kyle}: scaries!) The famous currents were all over the place. I doubt we would have been able to make any reliable progress under sail in light winds. In strong winds, with any waves against these currents, this place would be a really sloppy mess. For once, I was glad to motor by while the dragon slept.

The sun stayed out over the water and it actually got so warm that I got down to one layer, the top part being a short-sleeved t-shirt - outside, no less. It was Winter yesterday!

We entered Shapinsay Sound, we were rewarded with both wind and current and were slingshotted through the narrow gap between the Orcadian Mainland and Stronsay into Wide Firth, just outside of busy Kirkwall Harbor.

No comments: