5th July to Stromness at Last

Reveille brought a breathless morning heavy with leftover rain, sunlight battling overcast. A journey is a string of moments in life which live on as memories of all hues, light to dark. Tired, dying Kinlochbervie will remain a special memory of friendship and kindness, the greatest of gifts. Thank you particularly Barry 2 Boats, a great artist, kind Willy who works on rigs and biker John with 2 suitcases strapped to his 37 year old steed.

Which way was the sea for Heaven’s sake?! A moment to restore the mental gyro, not an uncommon requirement for this skipper, before Team A-Jay headed up Loch Inchard to salute the flaccid morning with the mainsail. A friendly soul shouted good luck from the shore – and reminded me of a trailing fender – as we swung North round Bodha Roin for Cape Wrath 10 miles off.

Fire in the galley is to be avoided at sea I thought watching spilled egg ignite as the toast grilled and the cabin filled with smoke. When very tired, listlessness becomes a constant companion where even the peeling of a potato or onion becomes too much, so tonight we would make a concerted effort.

The coastline marching past looked like that of Sark, crumbly imposing, softened with green; later it was all hunched shoulders and curves. Guillemots seem to travel in pairs, watching intently from their water perches until Team A-Jay entered their comfort zone. Then it was bums and wing tips up, splashily wriggling down to safety.

I guess Cape Wrath, looking more lounging crocodile than dreadnought from the South, never sleeps for as we approached the waves increased and the cold NE wind touched 20 knots off the headland. Still it was satisfying to fly with the tide @ 8 knots and Espresso lifted the skipper’s spirits as we passed inside Duslick Rock, which scowled darkly through a white froth of agitated water.

Team A-Jay entered Kyle of Tongue and dropped anchor in Talmine Harbour in 5 metres, six and a half hours out, having followed Barry’s navigation advice to take an inside route South of Rabbit Islands. The showers had stopped and it was calmly peaceful in the tiny harbour.

The still morning was hidden in a cool white fog cloak and the boat barely moved; a lazy morning before mid day departure for Stromness 45 miles NE. If I could put a little place in my pocket for a special day, Talmine would be in one pocket and Badachro in Gairloch the other – with sunshine in my hands.

I had called a lovely lady at Stromness Marina to confirm my arrival and the forecast – we had a 24 hour window before the rain and gales arrived. This morning Mr Rocna was happy to join the party and although we could see less than 1/2 mile, we set off with extra waypoints, the spare GPS and hand bearing compass to hand.

By 1500 visibility had improved and the trawler we had been shadowing on the radar emerged 1.5 miles off port beam. Edith Appleton, whose book I was reading, nursed soldiers in France during the Great War. I was caught by a vignette.  One day she had been comforted by a stressed orderly responsible for burials; how can I cope if I don’t know who is officers? Surely it matters not – they are buried the same? No they’re not – men is ‘ammered, officers screwed! Unbelievable!

It is a rare event that Team A-Jay has to be reigned in from her stately progress but we had to get the tide right entering the Mouth of Hoy, Dover HW + 5 hours 50. A confused metre high sea marched out of the NW, doffing its white caps whilst the wan evening sun lit the vertical grated green brown flanks of imposing Hoy and its Old Man, 12 miles East.

A flotilla of busy little Puffins greeted us as we entered the Sound, all but one brave soul tipping bums to the sky and diving in panic. Skuas are real bruisers, perfect foils to this terrifying scenery and harsh conditions. One adopted Team A-Jay and seemed to defend its territory in case it provided dinner.

We docked at sunset and by morning the strong winds and rain had arrived.

By ajay290

2 comments on “5th July to Stromness at Last

  1. Good choice John, Talmine and Badachro I’ll go with both those! Would you believe I have swum in Talmine harbour, just below the wall that joins the rock to the shore. Are the lovely old wooden boat wrecks still on the beach?

    Fair winds and sunshine I hope.


  2. Amazing! Yes there is a broken backed old wooden drifter on the beach. Photo to follow if I can manage on this tiny tablet. Yesterday morning I could not see that beach. It was a scary exit☺ As I write this it is blowing a hooly and has been raining very hard. All part of growing up and being British! Toot toot

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