Departure to the Faroes is approaching soon

Scoresby Sund Expedition 2022

Day 17, 18 and 19 – 29th June 2022

Position: Moored Ullapool, North West Scotland

Wind: Calm. Sea condition: Calm. Weather: Sunny with Rain Showers

Plenty of company in Ullapool

You may be wondering why I am staying so long in Ullapool. The original idea of adding some extra time at various stop-over ports was to allow me the ability to choose the best weather conditions to depart. Sadly, that doesn’t really happen because I can’t depart until my crew arrives! Then we pretty much have to leg it and take whatever the weather gods deliver. Jannicke will arrive on Saturday, and I intend that we leave early on Sunday. It could be a fairly brisk sail with maybe Force 6 gradually turning into a bit of a head wind. It’s early days, things may change, who knows. We will take what we get.

Ice Chart for 27th June showing the fjord entrance still blocked with fast ice (red)

The ice situation is improving although the entrance to Scoresby Sund is still blocked with fast ice. My preferred departure day from Husavik in Iceland is 23rd July. I’m not too sure why I came up with that date, but Tim reassured me he had also been told it is the best day. Apparently, it requires one storm to break up the ice and another one to send it on its way.

In the meantime, I have been strangely busy. Everything takes a bit longer on a boat, so time drifts by nicely while little tasks are achieved.

  • I’ve been sewing a couple of seams on my mainsail and adding some small patches. I should have done this over the winter, but I didn’t, not quite sure why.
  • My Black Welsh Sheep Pullover needed a massive elbow darn which is underway right now. It’s not going to be very pretty but it will work.
  • I’ve re-tensioned all the rigging and finally added the split pins. There were lock nuts to secure the rigging screws while we sailed up the coast.
  • There were various IT jobs like tuning Navtex to Icelandic stations, testing the sat phone to receive the ice charts and working out how the Garmin Mini Inreach actually works, which is still a bit of a puzzle.

And then there is the social side of things. I seem to know more people in Ullapool than in Rotherhithe! Yesterday I walked up to Johnson and Loftus Boatbuilders to see what was going on. Tim is away at the World Gig* Rowing Championships – typical of Tim – but Dan was there to show me over the impressive Zulu fishing boat that they are restoring.

*Wrong! They are not Gigs which have six Rowers and a Cox but they are Skiffes (pronounced skiffs) which have four Rowers and a Cox. The boats are always made by the local communities which sounds like a wonderful idea. Thanks Jo for pointing that out!

The mammoth task of restoring this Zulu class fishing is well underway. They hope to launch next summer.
The massive timbers require heavy woodworking machines
Some serious machines here, capable of turning large trees in useful planks

I also had a peak at Megan’s stout Suhali yacht before lending a hand clamping up a Douglas Fir mast.

Lending a hand clamping up a mast. Rob, Dan centre with a Kit Kat, and Joe at the far end.

Dan gave me a lift back to the village but the wind had got up and after one attempt I gave up trying to row back to the boat and we retired to Dan and Charlotte’s house for a fish supper to wait for a lull in the wind. Eating fish and chips seems to be an excellent way to remove epoxy from your fingers. Eventually Greg towed me back in Paul’s red boat. Thanks Greg, Paul and Dan.

Today I met up with Adrian who owns Vertue No2 called Sally which is 80 years young and in fine fettle.

Adrian rowing back to Sally

Vertue No 2 Sally in sparkling condition

Although both yachts are Vertue Class boats, they are different in many respects. Adrian’s boat actually pre-dates when the class became known as the Vertue Class. The freeboard is lower and so too is the coach roof. Sally has wider and clearer side decks because the coach roof is narrower. There are no guardrail wires, but the boat is small and there are plenty handholds. It was fascinating to see a true original boat in original condition.

Adrian has tootled off back to his mooring up the loch and I am enjoying the last of the evening in a very peaceful and, at long last, calm Ullapool harbour.

6 responses to “Departure to the Faroes is approaching soon”

  1. Best of luck Alasdair and have a safe trip. I look forward to receiving updates on this blog.

    Mark from BMF Blackheath

    1. Thanks Mark, I’ve just voted on the new BMF name. I went for Military Outdoor Fitness, how about you?

  2. Exciting times ahead Alasdair… loving the updates & photos.
    Good Luck & feast on all those meals whilst you can.
    BTW… The World Pilot Gig Championships are always held on IOS & happen over May bank holiday.
    We reckon Tim must be attending the Skiffe Worlds… or St Ayles Skiff International. Skiffs are lovingly known down here as the ‘Tippy Boats’ 🤗 by our youngest crew & her mates!

    1. Hi Jo, I saw one of the boats and I reckon “Tippy Boats” is about right. I have just found this: “The venue for Skiffie Worlds 2022 has been decided by SASI to be held in Kortgene, The Netherlands from Saturday 25th June until Saturday 2nd July 2022. After Ullapool, Strangford and Stranraer, it is now Kortgene, a small village next to lake Veerse Meer in the province of Zeeland where the rowing championships will take place.” Apologies to all you fine Pilot Gig Rowers! A cruise ship has just anchored in the bay so I wont be eating ashore today but plenty of nosh onboard. The search for a shower continues, the sea is warm but rather too many jelly fish for a relaxing swim. Hope all is well with you. When are you departing? Alasdair

  3. Fair winds and following seas Alasdair,
    What an adventure!
    Looking forward to reading about it.

    1. Thanks Matteo! You must be near Plymouth now?

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