Monday, 11 July 2016

At Kirkwall, the Orkneys. A bit off the beaten track. Which requires explanation.

Adolf was deeply seasick (first time in his life, says the man)  for 2 days to St Kilda, and again approaching the Faroe. Lost a lot of weight, looked deathly, a death mask lying there, both times. Nearing the Faroe a short lived gale sprang up from the north, and the chop was severe. I did not have the heart to beat upwind against this for 80 miles to Vagar. Also, the stern gland got ruined sometime after St Kilda, with water entering the hull at 1 litre per two minutes. Too much pumping to tolerate for the rest of the trip. I have a severe aversion to the cost of things Scandinavian - something like 4x the same in the UK. Plus a gland can be obtained much faster in the UK than at Faroe. Kirkwall & Stornoway lay 150 NM, respectively SE & S of us, so we bore off for Kirkwall, the easier sail in the N gale. And that is how I come to be in this cafe, a pint of Scottish hard cider to hand.

Conditions have overall been rougher & colder than I've seen on other trips. Cross seas from Ireland to St Kilda gave the boat a nasty motion. After that, a few shortlived gales, not long enough to build up the seas, but enough to make for messy waves. Mostly overcast, little sun.

Leaving Clifden we stopped at Inishkea North, an island abandoned in the 1930s. Walking around the machair we saw an old man emerging from his house. He came down, we chatted, and he invited us in for tea. A lamb ran up and went to him like a dog. A pet, a real friendship here. Brian was the man's name, raised on Achill, and practiced medicine in Dublin until retirement. A fine man, much refinement. Last November he moved onto the island and has not left since, the only soul here, a hermit living the solitary life, pursuing the precepts of Buddhism, much like his ancient precedessors, the ascetic Christian monks who lived here in the 5th-10th centuries. Brian's lamb clearly was used to being in the house, as shown by its unhappiness at being shut out at the entrance. The lamb had a name: Babs. Brian and Babs. There is a great children's story here.

We were relieved to get to St Kilda and off the turbulent seas. Adolf recovered quickly from his seasickness. I found roseroot, Rhodiola rosea, growing in rocky nooks & crags. It is an excellent herb for supporting deeply tired people - a specific for adrenal fatigue. I prescribed some for Adolf, a few whole stalks daily, and he found it helpful. We explored, finding several plane wrecks from World War 2. Found a lot of skua chicks - the mothers divebombing us told us when we were near one. Went on two long walks, to the far end opposite Soay island, and up the highest mountain, Conchair. Enjoyed looking at the abundant traces of the peoples who once lived here.

After St Kilda, no land until the Orkneys. We got in yesterday evening, just in time to miss the final between France & Portugal.

we had a feast last night and broke out the first of the red wine. The food is superb - nothing like having not one but TWO French cooks aboard. Insane! Rene is a superb mimic - among other things he mimed going to the head (bathroom) in a gale - he had us howling with laughter. i sure got hammered - I remember rather pleasantly wobbling & weaving a bit around the empty town at 2 am (all good Protestant souls were in bed).

A mechanic came in this afternoon & should have ordered a new gland by now. Hopefully this will be done by week's end.


  1. Hope all goes well. saw your change of route today and was wondering. Good to know it's not too serious. Martin
    hey man, like the bit about French food..We are having a house warming party on Saturday night. Send us thoughts!! you'll be missed. You write well. when are you starting a book !! lots of love. Sophie

  2. Rien de tel que de la bonne cuisine pour remonter le moral des troupes. Et profiter de cet arrêt forcé pour reprendre des forces. Portez vous bien tous les 4. Merci à Jim pour le téléphone.

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  4. The rock looks like a head of whale

  5. Not the worst place to be diverted to, Kirkwall !
    Sounds like you are out of luck with the winds. Just like us with Northerlies all the way along Lofoten towards Tromsoe.
    Enjoy the cider and good luck !