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Into the Shetlands, Saturday, Sept. 15

Into the Shetlands, Saturday, Sept. 15

Left Norddepil, Faroes at 6am, all hands on deck to raise sails. Very fresh westerlies but a change coming in the next 36 hours so Gijs wanted to get to sea early to have a clear run to the Shetlands before the winds changed. All sails raised, a quick breakfast and on watch at 8. Breeze very fresh from the West and as our course was roughly East South East down came the normal jib and up went the large jib as well as the main and mizzen topsails, Tecla then carrying her full suit of sails; large jib, foresail, main and mizzen sails and main and mizzen topsails. It was a downwind run and the ship blasted its way through the swells and waves at between 8 and 9 knots all day.

 Norddepi Harbour, Faroes

Norddepi Harbour, Faroes

 Clearing the headland to leave the Faroes

Clearing the headland to leave the Faroes

Saw whales in the afternoon, two who appeared only momentarily a couple of hundred metres to starboard, fin whales I think, whose broad backs were almost a purple tan colour, who followed us briefly then submerged and were not seen again.

The distance we had to cover when we got underway at 7am was about 180 nautical miles and we had been plowing steadily ahead all day. After a bouncy, rolling dinner, back on watch at 8pm with the wind slowly dropping in intensity. Our passage was much smoother with the reducing wind but by the end of our watch we still had about 44 miles to go. Gijs started the engine to help us on our way and when I came on deck for the 8am watch we were clearing the lighthouse which is on the most northerly point of the Shetlands and which marks the most northerly point in the UK.

We anchored at the bottom of a narrow inlet, Barra Firth which can be seen at the top of the pictured map, where we were to spend the night. Most of the people aboard took our zodiac to the shore and planned to spend the afternoon hiking the landscape, the weather mixed rain and sun and quite windy. Predictably, I stayed aboard and worked on the blog and on some pictures. Not the weather nor time of day for any kind of photography so I didn’t feel as if I was missing anything by remaining on board. My emphasis on this trip has been shooting the land from the ship; there’s no shortage of shots out to sea from the land but I’m enjoying turning the tables on the usual images of these islands particularly as it’s how they would have been seen by the Vikings and since we’re tracing their wake on this trip, it’s entirely in keeping.

 Burra Firth at the top of the island

Burra Firth at the top of the island

Once more a stable dinner table and bed but an early start to the following day, Saturday, since we were up at 5 to raise sails. There is a gale forecast which might be coming into our area later in the day with the winds, still from the west, switching from the south and in our teeth, hence our early start.

 Northernmost point in the UK. If you look closely to the left of the lighthouse you can see two ladders on the side of the island. Climbing these plus the lower one you cant see is the only way to get to the lighthouse from a boat for people and supplies.

Northernmost point in the UK. If you look closely to the left of the lighthouse you can see two ladders on the side of the island. Climbing these plus the lower one you cant see is the only way to get to the lighthouse from a boat for people and supplies.

We had about 50 nm’s to cover and spent the day banging our way south under jib, foresail and reefed main and mizzen, and listening to weather radio but fortunately the gale did not make its presence felt. Arrived in Lerwick, the capital of the Shetlands at about 5, tied up, secured the sails and lines and relaxed. I set off into the town about 7, walked around, interesting old town but not quite the set of the Shetlands tv series and found a steakhouse. A very large, rare ribeye steak, a salad, a couple of glasses of good red wine and a long phone chat with V and peace was once more restored to the kingdom.

Tomorrow being Sunday, we start the final week of our trip.

 Anchorage at Burra Firth

Anchorage at Burra Firth

Shetlands to the Orkneys, Tuesday Sept. 18

Shetlands to the Orkneys, Tuesday Sept. 18

Leaving the Faroes, Thursday Sept. 13

Leaving the Faroes, Thursday Sept. 13