Lerwick, N60°9′ W1°9’…..same latitude as South Greenland and St. Petersburg; chilly but more blue sky in our few days then the previous 2 months.
Day One was designated a ‘Saga Admin’ day – slow ahead or astern or stop and no matter if we forgot what was meant to come next. The Second Mate, busy arranging a hire car, asked a local for guidance on a suitable watering hole for old buffers, and was promptly whisked off by car to the museum, which has an excellent restaurant atop it.
It was decided that Lerwick should be taken by storm that evening, so it was to be best ‘bib and tucker’, Viking helmets and bed by 9.
Sallying forth we caught the eyes of our lovely neighbour who halted the crew’s progress to take pictures before the crew could continue on its way. The pleasant dinner was mildly spoilt for the skipper, as he watched the second mate enjoy the menu selection he would have preferred in retrospect. It ended companionably with the exploration of a single malt and the swapping of tales, perhaps a little tall by bedtime.
The skipper and second mate were in agreement on one thing though – it was better to be a “when I …” than a “never was ….”
Looking around the Small Boat Harbour it was obvious that Team A-Jay was in hallowed company for there was some serious ocean going ‘heavy metal’ lounging about: mostly 40 feet minimum, man sized cordage, baggy wrinkle and wind vanes seemed ‘de rigeur’.
That is except for the tiny rowing boat with a skipper almost as old as the Second Mate, who had rowed over from Norway, as you do. Tough lot these Vikings – good genes too.
Day 2 and the road map was conspicuous by its lack of detail and the skipper’s cry “IT’S NOT ON THE MAP” was reasonable, loud and frequent. This was good news for the skipper, who was navigating, as it absolved him from any responsibility for forthcoming geographical embarrassment, as he could claim a place or road was not on the map, even if in retrospect it was.
The crew headed South into the green bosom of Stornaway alighting at Sumburgh Head where Puffins entertained and the museums enlightened.
Blue sky and sunshine added the final gloss and rendered frequent geographical embarrassment less of an issue.
Coffee with Shetland ponies and a ball chasing Labrador at the Spiggie Hotel (discovered by happy accident) was a treat and Scalloway provided a perfect venue for lunch, where Norwegian language seemed as common as the local.
Stornaway is my kind of place; it’s an island, true but there is enough going on to give it a buzz, a vibrancy. It’s alluring with pretty Norwegian style dwellings, soft green contours and shimmering voes; but there is a wildness beneath the surface, easily unleashed on land and at sea.
The second mate, clearly a romantic, could imagine a Norwegian style house at the edge of a voe, a Cornish Shrimper bobbing at the jetty beyond the garden, long doggy walks in the hills ….. me too, in the sunshine. But then, as the lovely lady in the Spiggie Hotel said – “you can get 4 seasons in a day”. Indeed, she had just had a couple cancel their booking because the weather next day would be too much for their light aircraft.
Plans are but ideas, to be refined, changed on a whim or because fresh data, such as weather forecasts, impact. Sitting on the poop deck in weakening evening sunshine, the Skipper’s master plan to head South straight to the Scottish mainland was brought forward 24 hours, in deference to the weather gods. But tomorrow – who knows?