Sunday 29th May
As of this morning, the Shetland Islands are in sight!
We set off last Friday, just after lunch - a few days later than planned as the weather decided to put a solid force 8, increasing to force 10 (gusting 60+ knots) in to our path...for the sailors under you, you know you do not want to set off in that sort of weather, for the non-sailors, let's say, although you need wind to sail, 70-80 miles/hour is just a tad too much to be fun.
We're six on board for this trip from Newcastle to the Shetland Islands, some 300nm due north of our homebase in the Royal Quays Marina. Robin, our Scotsman, and Luke, our token American (adopted Alaskan) who is our 3rd man for this Arctic season, had been on board for a week and a half and have done some great work in helping us get the boat ready. Boogie (skip) and I (mate and your faithful writer) have been here a few weeks as you might know. Cynan and Louise, our London crew, had arrived the night before and after the last fresh goodies on board and the safety briefs done, that was us off to sea!
Winds were still up and 1 reef quickly became 2 while we were all trying to find our sealegs, in between feeding the fish. We've had some fantastic sailing so far: beam and broad reaching all the way, with a bit of motorsailing thrown in for good measure every now and then.
Wildlife is fantastic: porpoises, dolphins, lots and lots of sea birds, including the beautiful gannets: a big white bird, with black wing tips and an orangey head...stunning. If I recall correctly, they are some far flung family member of the albatross. In the last month Orcas have been sighted off the south point of the Isles, so we're keeping our eyes open - would be a great start to Polar Bear's Arctic season!
At the moment we have Fair Isle on our port side and have sight of the Shetland Isles in front of us, where, so I have been told, the best fish and chips is to be had on the market square: good enough to fly there just for that as my friendly tip man indicated.
If it's good enough to fly there, it's certainly good enough to sail there, so we're hoping to get in for last orders!
Still getting into the watch rhythm, and, as you will have noticed, into the blog rhythm!
Will try and get something out every day or every other day and promise to be more descriptive as we go! So check back soon!
Sunday 29 May 2011 - 1350 BST
27nm off the south tip of the Shetlands