Friday, 25 July 2014

The truth about life as Scurvy Crew

This is Vincent. 

We woke this morning in the small harbour of Scrabster.  Little did I know then of the daunting task ahead.  I joined Martin on board exactly eight days ago.  We have faced torrential drizzle, storm force sunshine, killer dolphin pods and squadrons of murderous puffins yet nothing had prepared me for being asked to write a guest blog.

Where to start? Do I tell you the truth about life as scurvy crew under Captain Soons? Do you want to know about the bonds of friendship forged with others Shanghai'd somewhere along the Scottish coast?  Or do you want to hear recommendations as to the places, too numerous to tell, where we have received such warm welcome and hospitality along the way?

The highlight of today must be that for the vast majority of the journey we were under sail.  The excitement could be tasted.  There is a totally different feeling when the engines go off and you stay at 6 or 7 knots just because the wind is in the sails.  You don't bounce around less but the bounce seems somehow to reflect nature rather than to be in competition with it.  It is not quiet but it is quieter and the noise is a whoosh of water more than a whir of motor.  Within fifteen minutes of pulling out of Scrabster we were under full sail.  They only came down when we were head to wind through the Straits of Hoy into Stromness at six o'clock this evening.

Of course the great thing about being under sail is that in theory those under power cede you right of way.  Martin did have to call this chap up to ask him if his intentions were honourable and fortunately they were as he was about ten times our size.

No such niceties were necessary when later the Scrabster to Stromness ferry passed us next to the Old Man of Hoy - which somehow started off Martin and Les singing the theme tune of Z-Cars.  I haven't yet dared seek explanation.

Having yesterday undertaken a long stretch from Kinlochbervie to Scrabster with a pause in the very beautiful Loch Eriboll we had a slow start today.  Not leaving until 2pm gave us the chance to replenish gas and stores and see something of Thurso.  We all agreed it is the Northernmost town on mainland Britain.  As I check this on the map I am reminded of another observation we have shared - that wherever you go across the country the place names have new and interesting connotations.  Within spitting distance of Thurso I have just spotted Brora!  I like the clothes, I never realised it was a place. 

And so another day draws to a close.  As usual it is late at night.  The skipper is double and treble checking his plans.  We tease him for his thoroughness but we are all very glad of it.  A sumptuous meal has been eaten and a big thank you must got to Maggie, Neil and Sarah at the Hamnavoe Restaurant, who were full but found room to squeeze the three of us in and then gave us what may well have been the best supper of the trip so far. 

Tomorrow is, as they say, another day.  We will no doubt have to fight off the killer whales and pirates once again but at least your blog will return to its usual erudition.  Anything else I can do before I turn in Skip?

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