Weather bound in the Orkneys

posted 21 May 2015, 00:53 by Dominic Thwaites
Everyone's complaining about the unseasonably bad weather. A series of lows coming from the Atlantic brings waves of wet, windy conditions which prevent my onward progress.

I feel as though my whole venture didn't start mid April but started in mid March. If that were the case then the weather and temperatures I've had would not have been too much of a surprise.

The problem is that the north coast of Scotland is really not somewhere where a sailor wants to hang around. By going to Stromness I have set myself up for a long 70 mile passage round Cape Wrath to the West coast. But being long, I can't go against the prevailing strong winds. This is one good reason for doing a circumnavigation clockwise. But all I need is a 12 hour window where the winds are either light or from some direction to the side or behind me (and not too strong). Also, I can only leave Stromness at certain times as dictated by the tide as it means leaving through Hoy Mouth and I can only do that when the tides are slack - i.e. every 6 hours. When the tide is running the sea is too bad for me to sail through - even if there's no wind!

Not easy. But today, Thursday morning, I can see an opportunity to leave at 2pm on Saturday. Judging by current forecasts this will give me a relatively relaxed sail/motor for most of the way finishing off with a slightly more vigorous sail around Cape Wrath to the first loch down the west coast in the rain and in the dark. Not ideal but quite feasible. Once on the West coast I can make short hops in smaller weather windows.

Since arriving at Stromness my activities have and will include:
  • Tuesday: Aborted attempt to leave followed by recovery operations, including fixing rudder
  • Wednesday: Engine investigations, planning followed by 22 mile cycle sight seeing exploration
  • Thursday: Jobs - Engine maintenance, other rudder preventative fix (it's a nasty rainy day)
  • Friday: Sightseeing on Hoy
  • Saturday: Preparations and departure, I hope
Let's see how things pan out...


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