The celebrations continued all day. Tea and bacon butties from the Wick Society in the morning, followed by events organised by the local RNLI in the afternoon. There were stalls, cake stands, face painting, tombolas etc all along the quay, followed by lifeboat demonstrations, children doing Scottish dancing, and marching bands playing the bagpipes. There was also a barbecue in the evening.
Everyone was amazingly friendly and we met a number of other couples doing round Britain trips so were able to pick their brains. We also met the harbour master of Lossiemouth where we are going tomorrow . It seems that quite a few people had sailed over especially for the celebrations, so it looks like there might be quite a flotilla of us going there tomorrow.
The wind came up in the night, but we felt very secure in our anchorage. We still had reasonable internet access, so Richard downloaded a last weather forecast before leaving at 7am. It was probably a mistake, because there was a new strong wind warning. We were already fairly confused about what to expect from the tides going past the Pentland Firth, so this new warning made us extra cautious.
Putting the stay sail up once it is already windy is tough on the person who has to go onto the foredeck (i.e. Richard) so we put it on before leaving the anchorage. We also started with two reefs in the mainsail. Both precautions were totally over the top as it turned out, but the sail, while uneventful, was frustrating. We spent the whole day reefing and unreefing because it was so difficult to predict what was going to happen. Still we managed to sail virtually all day, only putting the engine on for two short periods: once when we had to avoid a tanker, and once when the wind died completely on us in the very confused seas around the Pentland Skerries.
Narrow entrance into Wick Harbour
We arrived in Wick, right on schedule, around 15.30 (UT). Fortunately, we had already booked a space and were expected – because the whole harbour was full of yachts – all decked out with flags for a weekend of harbour celebrations. As soon as we had the boat tidy, we were invited to a drinks party on the quay given by the Boat Section of the Wick Society – an organisation that promotes the heritage of the area. They had restored on old fishing boat called the Isabella Fortuna, built in 1888, and were raising money for her upkeep. It seems that people come back year after year for these “Harbour Days”, and we were just lucky to happen upon it.
Yachts all “dressed” in Wick Harbour
We are now aiming for Wick, but the wind today was southerly/south westerly, which would be dead on the nose for most of the 45 miles to Wick so it is not a practical destination. We didn’t want to stay in Kirkwall, so, after filling up with fuel, we sailed/motored a short 7 miles of the route to Wick to anchor in Deer Sound on the north east side of Mainland Orkney. This had the advantage of getting us on the way, and at the same time getting us through the narrow channel out to the east of Kirkwall which has very strong tides which restrict the time one can leave. We left in glorious sunshine and a light wind. Richard got the mackerel lines out and we settled down for a gentle sail. Ha Ha! That only lasted about 20 minutes. Then, true to form, everything changed very rapidly. We were encased in cloud and incredibly heavy rain. There was no way we could turn back because the tide was so strong, so we just had to carry on, absolutely soaked. Still the mackerel were happy and we caught one very quickly.
Richard cooking mackerel
Fortunately, by the time we got the anchor down in Deer Sound, things had cleared up a bit. We got cosy down below, turned the heating on and left everything dripping while we spent the afternoon with our books. At least I got my wish of a last night at anchor and Richard got his mackerel supper…
The Bulgarian dentist in Kirkwall seemed to be very professional and sorted me out quickly, leaving us with a free day in Kirkwall. With no rain and sunny periods, it certainly looked better than the last time we were here – but shopping held few attractions, so we caught the bus out to St Margaret’s Hope on South Ronaldsay so that we could see a bit more of these lovely Islands
St Margaret’s Hope
It was a beautiful bus journey – the hills are not high, but at the top of one we could see virtually the whole of Scapa Flow in one go. We also drove the length of the Churchill Barriers, seeing the rusting hulks of ships scuppered in the various eastern entrances before the barriers were built. St Margaret’s Hope was a very small, pretty, village, but there was not a lot there; the inevitable craft/souvenir shop, a pub, and a sandwich bar. It was the journey that was important, so after a cup of coffee and short walk we simple got the bus back to Kirkwall again.
After a trip to the Kirkwall Tesco and supper on board, we spent the eventing in a local pub with Paul – the owner of Agus, who we had already met in Stornoway/Kinlochbervie/Talmine Bay/Scrabster. He was stuck in Kirkwall waiting for some engine spares. Annoying for him, but nice for us to see him again.