Scoresby Sund Expedition 2022
Days 69. 18th August 2022
Position: Stornoway, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Weather: Windy with sunshine and showers
My last proper post was made in Raufarhofn, Northern Iceland. I did compose a quick post when we had our pit-stop in Seydisfjordur on the East Coast but never found any Wi-Fi before we shot off. We called into the East Iceland port of Seydisfjordur because we felt the winds off the south coast were going to be uncomfortably strong (F7). Our sail down to Seydisfjordur was a trip of many surprises.
The notorious Langanes headland proved to be very docile even though we arrived there three hours before slack water. It is so often the case that the notorious headlands prove to be easier sailing than the doom laden pilot books imply. However, our sail down the coast became rather interesting with winds gusting force seven just when you would have expected some lee from the land. We eventually triple reefed the main and reefed the Yankee and we were still crashing along with the lee rail under.
We had to spend a few hours waiting on the Customs Officer to visit the yacht before we could go ashore. We managed to get a nice meal and a couple of beers in a busy local café (Café Laura?) before getting a few hours sleep and setting off very early the following morning.
I posted a couple of times from the sat phone when I got the chance. The trip took 5 days and was 500 nm so an average speed of 4.1 knots. The first two days were rough and we were close hauled but last two days were fast sailing with a building northerly wind. We finally arrived in Stornoway with a triple reefed main and poled out Yankee making 5-6 knots.
So here I am, now alone on the Good Ship. Ray flew out last night. Our attempts to get a Stornoway White Pudding breakfast and a big Indian Meal were thwarted. White Pudding doesn’t seem to be quite so easy to eat out, for which I am very grateful. As for the Indian Meal, we were a bit surprised to find all the restaurants were closed by 21:30, but that was entirely our fault by having the extra beer in the pub.
We last sailed into Stornoway together in 2006 after weathering a gale hove-to offshore on another return trip from Iceland. We were hoping to sail to St Kilda or even Castle Bay but the wind was such that Stornoway became our port of refuge. It is pretty much bullet proof, and the approach is simple. Ray was keen to come here this time because there is an airport, and the mainland trains are currently on strike.
I had some reservations because our last visit was marred by an unfriendly pub, some urban vandalism and very grim weather. That said, I am very much warming to the place this time.
There is a new marina with plenty of berths and super friendly staff. Prices seem fair and there are all the facilities you need. Just a short walk over the road are excellent shops including a fresh fish stall and top-class butchers. There is castle set in lovely grounds across the river and in town there is an Arts Centre with a band playing tonight.
Now that I have the boat to myself I can spread out tools to do various jobs and get a hose onboard to clean the bilges, I job I actually enjoy, but I’m a bit weird in that respect. It is a massive relief to be back in Scotland and I can have a few days without needing to worry about the weather.
Grit arrives middle of next week and as the weather looks rubbish until then, she won’t be missing anything. I can occupy myself with various tasks, a bit of gentle running and maybe some sightseeing. If I run out of things to do there is always the brass to polish.
The Big Stardust Mystery – Solved
If you have followed the blog for a while you may remember when we got showered with “Stardust” on our return from St Kilda. The post went like this:
“While on watch I noticed the cockpit was rather dirty so I set about cleaning it, wondering where all the black grit had arrived from as the beach on St Kilda was clean white sand. A few hours later I was cleaning it again. Then I was sweeping up below with a dustpan and brush soon filling the pan full with green-black dust. This was becoming a a real mystery so I kept some in a glass jar.
At one point there was a big pile of grit on the companionway stairs.
The only possible explanation is that we were covered in meteor dust or star dust! Well that is a first for me.”
That was last year. I bottled some of the Stardust and took it home. I was going to get some lockets or small glass jars and give it away as Christmas presents to my friends. I also thought of giving some to children that I knew to take it in to their geography classes. As it happens I am rather glad I didn’t.
Once again we found the deck and cabin being covered in “Stardust”. We were again off the coast of Scotland but it is later in the year and further north so it seemed a strange coincidence.
The only other common factor was that Ray was on board. Ray’s Dan Fellows oilskins were bought in 1996 for our transatlantic trip. It transpires that they are disintegrating and an investigation of the hem between the lining and the outer shell was full of, guess what, yes black dust! I am very glad my friends haven’t got lockets with Ray’s crumbling oilies hanging around their necks.
Finally some arty bits
Stornoway is not prim like Tobermory. You could say bits are maybe a tad scruffy but that does make it much more interesting!