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Leg 7 - Update 1
August 28, 2015, 2200 hrs, 58.14 N, 05.36 W, Log: 191,030 miles
1005.5, Cabin Temp: 66 F, Cockpit: 56 F, Sea Water: 57F
Broad reaching at
6.8 kts in 23 kt SW winds, main and genoa double-reefed
28 miles SSW of
Cape Wrath, the NW tip of Scotland
WHO WROTE THIS AMAZING SCRIPT?
As Scotland is one of our most favorite countries, we purposely planned a
few extra days off between Legs 6 & 7. Years ago writer/cruiser Beth Leonard
wrote about anchoring in front of Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye and
enjoying a classical music concert on the lawn in front of the castle. That
stuck with me and after several friends mentioned what great times they'd
had hiking and climbing on Skye, I Googled Dunvegan Castle and happily
learned that the castle rents out three cottages on the grounds by the week.
I chose the Laundry Cottage on the loch right in front of the castle and
next to the boat house and had been looking forward to using it as a base
for daily hikes. We'd both packed our traveling duffels but on the morning
Leg 6 crew were leaving we received what we thought was a joke email from
Amanda's parents, Robert and Lesley Swan saying, "Surprise! We've just flown
in from Auckland and are in Oban - when can we get together?"
John & Amanda enjoying exploring Scotland with Amanda's parents, Robert & Lesley Swan
Needless to say we ended up cancelling our rental car reservation and
travelled to Skye with Robert and Lesley in the car they had rented for a
month of exploring Scotland. Fortunately there was plenty of room in the
laundry cottage which sleeps five, and we all enjoyed the well-equipped
cottage and the free range of the castle grounds and numerous gardens.
Although nearly everyone in the UK was complaining about one of the wettest
and coldest summers on record we experienced a virtual heat wave and took
daily excursions to explore Skye's numerous peninsulas with a combination of
hikes, picnics and visits to the vast collection of artist studios. Amanda
and Lesley had a great time learning to knit socks with sourcing locally
spun and dyed wool for future projects so thankfully their studio visits
were just focused on textile and wool artists.
Although Dunvegan was rather remote we happened on a live concert in the
Red Roof Café, a tiny isolated coffee house/art gallery called the nearby
village of Glenvale. The young singer Robyn Stapleton had recently won
Scotland's Young Singer of the Year contest and was accompanied by an
equally talented young guitarist.
A highlight of touring Dunvegan Castle was the discovery of a picture of
Finlay McQueen who lived on St. Kilda, an isolated island formerly owned by
the same family that owned Dunvegan. As Robert and Amanda's family clan is
McQueen, perhaps Finlay is a relative. For many years St. Kilda has been on
our list of islands we'd really love to visit and weather permitting, we
hope to visit it next year on our return from Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
St Kilda was inhabited by 50-200 people for about 2000 years until 1930 when
the islanders were evacuated to Scotland. Some of the inhabitants came from
Harris, in the nearby Outer Hebrides where Robert and Amanda's relatives
Our five days at the cottage came to an end too soon, but we came back a
different way, stopping to see yachts transiting Neptune's Staircase at the
Caledonian Canal. Mahina Tiare base at Oban Marina on the island of Kerrera
provided us with a tranquil country fix and we enjoyed our morning runs
through paddocks of friendly highland cattle and sheep before catching the
ferry to Oban for provisioning and errands.
Hiking Skye's Black Cullin mountains
Wednesday morning, the day our Leg 7 crew were coming for safety
orientation, I got a shocker when checking the GRIB forecast files for
Monday, the day we'd planned to arrive in the Orkney Islands
(www.discoverorkney.com). Instead of the predicted 25-20 broad reaching
conditions in SW winds the new forecast stated 35-40 kt northerly headwinds.
This would make the passage from Cape Wrath on the NW tip of Scotland to the
Orkney Islands difficult to impossible. My reaction was to tell Amanda,
"Looks like we'll be going through the Caledonian Canal (which runs from
Oban, through the Highlands to Inverness). Amanda groaned. As beautiful and
bucolic as the Canal is, it's a lot of motoring and we prefer sailing the
wild NW coast.
Leg 7-2015 crew: Steve, Billy, Peter, Sue, Mike and Bob
Thankfully Amanda had been running through weather scenarios and
instantly came up with an alternative. "If we skip two of the three
overnight coastal stops along and sail straight for the Orkney we could
arrive before the gale”. I re-worked the route timing using Rose Point
Coastal Explorer with C-Map charts and the GRIB files and determined that by
eliminating all but our first night planned anchorage, we should make it to
Kirkwall Marina, the capital of the Orkney, with at least 12 hrs to spare. I
mentioned to Amanda, and to our crew that afternoon during safety briefing
that frequently the weather doesn't turn out to be as horrible as
forecasted, particularly when it is more than four days ahead. That turned
out to be true when future forecast predicted less strong winds arriving
Monday night instead of Sunday night.
Crew arrived early on Thursday and by noon we'd set sail from Oban Marina
for a tiny new (to us) anchorage at Kilchoan, just a few miles past the
famous tourist port of Tobermory. After a little motoring to start with,
winds filled in and we had a great sail into a very small bay just inland
from Ardnamurchan Point (www.ardnamurchan.com) where we found a small and
very friendly village with a craft store, small grocery and a great hike to
a view of an abandoned castle.
Croft at Kilchoan Anchorage
The boat ramp landing at Kilchoan
This morning we weighed anchor and were under way by 0530 and since then
we've had 20-35 kt following winds providing some great surfing action and
LOTS of reefing practice. We've played dodge-em all day avoiding floats
marking prawn traps and this evening have been dodging a steady stream of
fishing boats, freighters and ferries. The rugged coastline of Skye and the
area to the north have been gorgeous, alternately bathed in sun and
partially hidden by passing squalls. A pod of very inquisitive Atlantic
dolphins kept pace with us off and on all afternoon and our crew have rarely
gone below when off watch, not wanting to miss any action.
Bob and Sue enjoying their scenic watch
Bob and Steve tuck in another reef
One of the many impressive fishing vessels working near Cape Wrath
Originally the plan was to try and reach Stromness, the first protected
port in the Orkney before dark on Saturday, but we've been sailing so fast
that now we only need to average 5.1 kts to make it all the way to Kirkwall,
(www.orkneymarinas.co.uk) 25 miles further, by dark tomorrow. It's been nine
years since our last visit to Kirkwall and we've not forgotten the amazing
Wrigley sisters, Orcadian folk singers/music teachers and their coffee
house/music venue called The Reel plus exploring Scara
Brae,(www.orca.uhi.ac.uk) the Neolithic village site. So very much to look
September 4, 2015, 1300 hrs, 58.53 N, 02.53 W, Log: 191,197 miles
Baro: 1005.5, Cabin Temp: 65 F, Cockpit: 58 F, Sea Water: 57F
Holm Sound, 10 mi S of Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland
Sue takes the helm as we battle eight
knots of tidal current
We reached Kirkwall Saturday afternoon, enjoyed a
wonderful casual session of traditional Orkney fiddle, concertina, piano,
bodrum and singing that night at The Reel (www.wrigleysisters.com).
The northerly gale force winds arrived as expected Monday, and now on
Friday, they still have not let up! Our crew had a great time exploring
Scara Brae plus WWII Scapa Flow harbor on Sunday while Amanda and I took the
bus to check out Stromness.
Crew at one of the many standing stone sites
Monday we covered Diesel Maintenance and Anchoring and we all caught up
on laundry and exploring Kirkwall. Tuesday with gale force winds covering
the North Sea, our crew came up with the alternative of sailing 14 miles to
Stronsay, an H shaped island with a small population. We had some great
sailing and the anchorage at Holland Bay was protected but the beach was
very shallow due to the large tidal range which made landing difficult, so
we focused on teaching.
Billy, Peter and Bob suit up in preparation to go sailing
Full tilt action as we surf south from Stronsay
Wednesday crew were keen to go sailing again, and chose Holm, the only
anchorage downwind of us providing protection from northerly gales. As the
course was nearly directly downwind and the winds were strong and gusty, we
ended up surfing downwind touching 10 kts under just a scrap of genoa. Holm
Bay is bordered by one of several Churchill Barriers,
www.nessbattery.co.uk) causeways ordered by
Winston Churchill in 1939 after a German submarine torpedoed the destroyer
HMS Royal Oak with a huge loss of life.
Also visible half a mile to the south is the Italian Chapel. It was built
near the end of WWI by Italian POW's who were constructing the Churchill
Barriers. Every few years some of the original builders and now their
children visit the chapel from their small Italian Dolomite village of
Moena. They've repainted some of the intricate religious scenes that cover
the inside of the converted Quonset hut turned chapel and a strong bond has
resulted between the Orkney people and these Italians.
Click here to read our Leg 7 forecast.
Twice daily we receive weatherfax charts from England, four times daily
we receive updated GRIB forecasts and once a day we've been checking in with
www.commandersweather.com, all the time waiting for a break in the gale
force northerlies. It looks like a lessening of wind if we leave at noon
tomorrow, so that is presently our plan. Mandal, Norway is 345 miles
slightly south of east, but mid-passage we have a gauntlet of oil platforms
to wind through so hopefully the winds will have eased by then.
Leg 7 - Update 2
2015, 2015, 0700 hrs, 58.04 N, 06.09 E, Log: 191,508 miles
Cabin Temp: 66 F, Cockpit: 58 F, Sea Water: 63F
Broad reaching at 7.3 kts
in 23 kt NW winds, one reef in main and full genoa
58 miles from Mandal,
the southernmost tip and town in Norway
HOORAY!! NORWEGIAN COASTLINE
VISIBLE AT SUNRISE!
It took five days before gales in the North Sea
abated slightly and we could make a dash for Norway. In the meantime we held
class each morning and went exploring in the afternoons.
|Crew exploring historic Stromness
Amanda showing crew how to
service our spinnaker winch
Here's our very hearty Leg 7 crew:
Peter, 51, from Israel
I live in the Galilee in the north of Israel
with my wife and three daughters where I work as an ENT surgeon. I was born
in London, and learned to sail with my father on England's South Coast and
later in the Eastern Med. We moved to Israel when I was 12 and I later went
through naval officers training becoming a submarine officer. Since then I
have chartered in the Med, but we still do not own a boat.
Bob, 57 originally from Portland but now happily living in Port Townsend, WA.
I've been a USAF Pararescueman, and recently retired as a fireman and
fireboat captain in Portland. I own a Baba 30 on which I have cruised the
west coast but my real goal is to sail to Sweden to visit my relatives.
Steve, 59 from Winnipeg, Manitoba
My love of sailing started when I
was 14 and has continued for 45 years. First dinghies, then go-fast
catamarans and now Chapter 3 of my sailing life is now open and I have
aspirations of further reaches, health and nerve permitting. I currently
sail on inland lakes in Canada but following this expedition I plan on
chartering and seeing where that leads.
I've lived in
Mississippi most of my life and have enjoyed boating and sport fishing in
the Gulf of Mexico. When we moved to Malibu, CA four years ago we took up
sailing which my wife and three daughters fell in love with. This North Sea
passage was my first ocean passage, but I plan many more in the future.
Hey! I grew up sailing, fishing, camping and cruising with my
four siblings and mom & dad in the Pacific Northwest. Our first sailboat was
a Bluejay that my dad built. Our family still owns and cherishes the last
two boats my dad built, a Lightning and a 26' powerboat. My husband Mike and
I own a Gulf 32 which we sail in Puget Sound and BC waters. I am a freelance
editor and writer and this trip will inspire some lofty words!
My wife Sue and I live on a houseboat in Seattle and enjoy sailing the
Salish Sea. I've been a forester through a long career and am now
considering what I want to be when I grow up. Upgrading to a better boat and
extending our travels by water is certainly central to the plan!
What a wild and wet passage we've had from Orkney Islands to Norway!
Commanders Weather and the GRIB forecast called the forecast exactly with NW
winds fairly consistently running 25-30 and occasionally gusting to 35 in
squalls. We've seen far more oil rigs and support ships than in our previous
two North Sea crossings and plenty of fishing boats but the great news is
every single target we've seen is transmitting full AIS information, even
the oil platforms. This makes collision avoidance much, much easier.
A distant squally view of one of the many oil rigs we passed
Peter, Billy and Steve savoring their smorgasbord lunch that included
a sampling of Orkney cheese purchased by Billy
2015, 1500 hrs, 58.10 N, 11.27 E, Log: 191,718 miles
Tied up in Hallberg
We arrived in sunny
(the southernmost and sunniest place in Norway) at 1500 and were surprised
to find many new waterfront apartment buildings, but few boats. We enjoyed
exploring town on the sunny afternoon before having a cockpit dinner and
setting sail at 1915 for the 110 mile passage across the Skagerrak to
Sweden. Although there wasn't much wind, we had a busy night dodging traffic
and were happy to witness an amazing show of the Northern Lights throughout
Sue and Mike on the high granite hilltop behind
the town of Mandal that offers wonderful views over the town and coastine.
Tuesday mid-day everyone took celestial
navigation sextant shots capturing local apparent noon and an hour before
John, Bob and Steve
work out the noon site
1540 landfall at Smogen a fighter jet came roaring past at mast level
and repeatedly entertained us with aerobatics.
Shortly after our arrival, our friend Leon Schulz aboard his sistership, Regina Laska rafted alongside with two good friends as crew.
a popular summer harbor for
Swedish and Norwegian sailors, was nearly deserted.
all ventured off to the fish market for fresh cooked shrimp, salmon and
baguettes for a joint seafood cockpit dinner to accompany Amanda seafood
|Shrimp and crayfish
accompany Leon's baked salmon, spinach and feta and Amanda's salad
After dinner Leon pulled out his guitar and a night of music,
laughter and friendship began! We invited the neighboring Norwegians off the
next two boats along the dock.
When a Dutch yacht arrived they also
joined in. Fortunately many of us knew the words to the same songs and
anchored by the sturdy voices of Sue and Mike who have long performed in an
Irish folk group (between them they play the fiddle, guitar, concertina and
harmonica) we all followed along.
Hoo-ray up Mike rises
ear-lie in the morning! Crew line up to pull Mike aloft
Tiare leaving Smogen
Regina Laska and Mahina Tiare in company
as they depart Smogen
Bob about to be hoisted aboard whilst in
Wednesday morning before a hearty pancake breakfast
Amanda taught going aloft for rig inspection and once under way there was
just enough breeze to practice a Lifesling overboard to make the rescue more
realistic rescue with USAF para-rescue swimmer Bob keenly volunteering to
jump into the 60F water. Once in the water it was under one minute until
retrieval: Bob was in the Lifesling, MT was stopped in a hove-to position
and our crew were pulling Bob toward the swim step.
resist pulling into tiny Gullholmen the oldest fishing village on Sweden's
west coast, just a couple miles W of Hallberg-Rassy's marina for a walk
around the village and ice creams on this sunny afternoon.
1530 we'd tied up at Hallberg-Rassy and were greeted by Magnus Rassy.
Thursday morning Magnus had organized a boatyard tour for us. We were
amazed at huge new sanding and varnishing machines and pleased to learn that
HR had a nine-month order book for most models. They've increased staff to
over 120 are still hiring more.
Amanda points the detailing on
a galley cabinet front in the woodshop
Sunset over the HR marina
Our crew caught the bus to Gothenberg and now we are catching
our breath. What a good and busy season we've had - excellent expedition
members, great sailing, exceptionally good weather, a new country (Dominican
Republic) and several new anchorages.
Thank you time!
The crew at
Hallberg-Rassy for building an exceptionally strong and fast boat - still
looking and sailing great after 191,718 miles, the equivalent of 7.5 world
Tracy McClintock, our deeply-appreciated office
manager who has kept everything on track for over 25 years.
expedition members who have joined us for amazing adventures and learning.
Shortly Mahina Tiare will go inside Adams Boat Care shop for new decks,
new thru-hulls and ball valves, new LED nav lights, new foam in all berths
and cushions, some additional storage lockers, a new Seagull water
purification system, new lenses and seals on all opening ports. Although
we'd planned on replacing our original Volvo TMD31LA engine years ago, it is
still running perfectly with 14,400 hrs so we'll postpone repowering until
We're looking forward to the end of the month when we'll
join friends Vickie Vance (founder of HR Parts and former expedition member,
and Roland Olsson (long-time HR sales manager) aboard Bella Luna, their HR
43 in Malta, for a little taste of Mediterranean sailing before heading home
to San Juan Island Oct. 13th.
leg 1 | leg 2 | leg 3 |
leg 4 | leg 5 | leg 6 | leg 7