Early winter blues – part 1

Well, summer has faded into the distance. The sky is blue (today) and the wind is chill and I’m still boatless. But the summer has not been without some sailing.

In July, I followed the Swallow flock to Mylor and helped them mess about in boats for a day or two. The bridge engineer put up with me in his yacht for a couple of days, particulary when the wind howled across the bay. The pontoons pitched and rolled. Mooring cables frayed and at least one yacht (not a Swallow) ended up ashore. Meals were eaten in the hostelry, verbal kites were flown. Projects discussed and not quite abandoned.

August came and I flew to Bergen where it was a sunny 30 degrees. I joined Tim on Acheron to assist with sailing her back to the UK. He’d had an adventure that summer, taking her from Milford Haven up to the north of Norway. (He’s written a blog on the trip but it seems to have disappeared from the cloud).

Bergen was eye wateringly expensive for us poor Brits so I was glad only to spend one night there. Just astern of us was a smailish motor boat, with one person aboard. The sound of his one man disco kept us awake most of the night, so we left in a bit of a daze, almost in flat calm conditions.

During the day, the wind freshened from the South and Acheron sailed happily along under full sail. Just before dark, I suggested we took in a reef and received an “old fashioned” look * from the skipper. I turned in for I was not due on watch for a couple of hours. I woke to the sound of winches being wound and people moving on the deck. The reef was duly taken in.

The motion had become uncomfortable – desptie the Southerly wind and the general westerly course, we were being overtaken by two different sets of swells, one on each quarter. When the peaks of both swells coincided the boat was high in the air (one could have seen for miles if it wasn’t dark) and when the two troughs conincided it seemed that the wave crest towered above us.

Oil rigs appeared on the horizon – big blazes of warning lights, navigation lights and flare stacks. A cruise ship altered course for us. Eventually darkness gave way to daylight. And so the trip went on. Up to the crest, down to the trough. At about 4 pm land was sited ahead and by 6 we were looking for a berth in Lerwick.

We spend several days crusing the Shtland Islands and rounded Muckle Flugga so we could say we had been round the most northern part of the British Isles. Saw killer wales in a sound and gannets by the squadron. We sailed to Fair Isle in gusty conditions and then fled south to Shetland. I had to catch the ferry from Kirkwall to Aberdeen, leaving Acheron (as I thought) to sail south through the Hebrides on her way back to Milford Haven.

The trip to Aberdeen was rough – I found out that Westerley gales had forced Acheron to stop at Stromness and then make her way south on the east of Scotland, finally crossing to the West coast via the Caledonian Canal. In the meatime I had reached the end of my journey and was reunited with the owners agent. We discussed my next project……..


* E.g. one that told me not to be so silly