Thursday, 21 July 2011

Sails in Stromness

As we were watching to see if the Europa would put her sails up (she did, but only a few as you can see)

... another ship, the Tecla, set off...

... followed by the Maybe ...

... and then the John Laing.

The bay was starting to look like it must have done years ago, with sailing ships coming in and out.

I went out on an Orkney Yole for a sail around the harbour. It was great fun and getting to see the tall ships from the water was brilliant.

Back ashore again, I spotted a crew member relaxing aboard the Gallant.

We then headed up Brinkie's Brae to get some views looking down into the bay.

The Europa was sailing out in the Flow, heading back to Stromness.

Ships were still leaving ...

... and arriving. The Wylde Swan took her time coming through the tide race off Graemsay.

What fantastic sights these boats make. And I should be seeing even more in Shetland very soon now.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A sea of masts

A sea of masts is how Stromness looked on Monday when I visited. There were around 9 tall ships berthed there, then throughout the day the numbers kept changing as some ships left and others arrived.

Some of the ships were just gorgeous - all polished wood and brass. This one is the Christian Radich.

We were able to go aboard the Sorlandet for a look around her decks. Again, I jumped at the chance!

She had a bell at each end of the deck.

The deck of the Sorlandet was a great place to look across at the Christian Radich, who had won the first leg of the race from Waterford to Greenock. She had just arrived in Stromness and was being readied for a "party on the poop deck" to be taking place in the afternoon.

Aboard the Sorlandet there was also work ongoing...

Lots of small boats were out, enjoying the views of the tall ships from the water. We spotted Jimmy Moar from Hoy, who had featured in the Spirit Dancer DVD!

The deck of the Sorlandet also proved to be a great place to watch as the Eurpoa headed off for another "party on the poop deck".

She was a beautiful sight as she headed off towards Scapa Flow, and we decided to watch for a while to see if she was going to put her sails up.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


The Russian ship, the Mir, was the largest of the tall ships to call into Orkney. She berthed at Hatston Pier (presumbly being too big to berth at the Kirkwall Pier or marina) where she dwarfed cars.

They were allowing people on board to have a look around the decks, so I jumped at the opportunity!

She really is tall. Last year with the Spirit Dancer, some of the crew were allowed up the rigging of the Statsrad Lehmkuhl to take photos and video of the Spirit Dancer canoe passing below. The masts of the Mir were much higher though, and it looked like 4 stops (crow's nests?) on the way up.

Even the ship's wheels were huge.

The decks were extremely wide...

 ... and there was even space to set out a stall selling a selection of 'Mir' branded goods and photos.

A very impressive ship, with the reputation of being the fastest tall ship in the race. She didn't win the first leg, though, from Waterford to Greenock, as that was won by the Christian Radich, which also visited Orkney. It'll be interesting to follow the race results to see how she does in the next leg from Lerwick to Stavanger.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Farewell to Orkney...

... for the Spirit Dancer canoe. She's a 42 foot Canadian canoe who's spent time in Orkney waters over the last 2 summers and is now off to Shetland. I've been lucky enough to be part of the crew of this fantastic vessel for the past 2 years and have a whole host of fantastic memories and good friends as a result. I'm heading up to Shetland for the tall ships and to rejoin the crew, but first she had to say her goodbyes to Orkney...

She was towed in from her temporary home in Holm, where she had been much admired (and even had coach parties stopping to look!)

I'm sure Andrew felt like a celebrity being pursued by the paparazzi...

... as 3 cars full of crew members kept overtaking him, whereupon the occupants would leap out and take photos of him passing. Other road users must have wondered what was going on...

Spirit Dancer said her farewells...

.. and was then left in the care of Northlink at Hatston, ready for the evening ferry to Shetland.

Was this the last time that the Orkney flag would be seen flying from Spirit Dancer's bow and stern?

The crew had some fun before heading off for lunch.

 It was warm enough for lunch outdoors, kindly provided by Andrew & Irene.

Food featured again later in the day, with the farewell dinner at the Kirkwall Hotel. It appears that steak pie from the Kirkwall Hotel is now seen as vital fuel for a Spirit Dancer trip!

Later, everyone's gear was packed into the canoe ready for ferry. All that people needed to carry onboard for the crossing was sleeping bags and mats, only Andrew had managed to pack his at the bottom of his rucksack, necessitating a quick repacking...

Bags were somehow stuffed in...

...along with the boxes of food supplies.

Spirit Dancer was ready for the next leg of her adventures.