Cruise in Company: Greenock - Lerwick

We slept in Lamlash. I woke up at 5h30 in the morning and we were with the keel on the ground since the yacht was heeling over to one side. We left at around 10 in the morning for Campbeltown on Kintyre. We spotted a fisher boat and asked the guys what they had as a catch. The answer was scallops, so we decided to buy some for dinner. The guy gave us the scallops but much more than the 10 we asked for and then he dove into the water to swim to our boat for the money we owed him. He was in his diver suit so we guessed he wasn't too cold. After a good sail we arrived in Campbeltown  at 14h30 and it was a gorgeous day. Sunny and warm. We went for a stroll, did some shopping at Tesco's and went to the pub. I had a cider and it tasted really good.
Then back to the boat where I had the "pleasure" of cleaning the scallops to be ready for consumption. But they tasted divinely good. Probably the best scallops we ever had. We enjoyed the quiet evening and the beautiful sunset.
We woke up quiet late today but there was no need to leave early since the favourable current would come in late. Some of us had some trouble to wake up. Not surprisingly when you know that they emptied the whole can of red wine (4 bottles). We started with sunshine and a lovely breeze.
Arrived in Port Ellen after a nice sail where we passed by the Mull of Kintyre and could see Northern Ireland which was only 10 miles away. In Port. Ellen we went for a stroll but all 8 distilleries were already closed by the time we got there. Went to the local pub for a drink. After a good game of cards won by the skipper and Tom (only by a couple of points) we had a lovely dinner prepared by our chef Katy.
On Friday we sailed from Port Ellen to Oban approx.. 58 nm. The winds were light but under spinnaker and with favourable current we made good speed but as usual arrived late to visit any distillery. We docked at the North pier right next to a restaurant and near a Danish boat that was on her way back after a voyage to the Caribbean.
The food was delicious and we went back on board with the intention to have an early night since we had to get up at 4h00 in the morning. But then we started to play cards. Katy was obviously new to the game and although extensive explanation was given, she played in such a way that Robin was nearly driven to desperation and was ready to ransack the local distillery... After we went to bed then the Danish crew had to come over our boat to get home and they had some trouble achieving this if we can judge by the racket they made. End of a beautiful day.
We had a very early start in Oban and were on our way to the Caledonian canal by 4h00 in the morning. We were at the entrance by 8h30 and started the steep climb on Neptune's staircase. All 8 locks we went through and tried to get to Fort August before 6pm but we didn't make it and got ourselves stranded in the pouring rain in a spot called Cullochy: the exact middle of nowhere. There wasn't even a pub to go to and since it was raining cats and dogs we stayed on board and tried to keep dry whilst playing cards. Another game was won by the skipper and his son. On sunday we sailed from the middle of nowhere to Inverness. It was a nice day with very little rain and sunshine. We were early but just didn't made it into the sea lock.
We went to town and discovered a nice pub The Room and a good restaurant the Corner Grill and although we had hoped to taste some lamb, it was not on the menu but the venison and steaks were great.
So on Monday morning, we went up early to be able to go through the sea lock, but were told that there was no water enough and that we had to wait until 11h00 before we would be able to go. So we decided to do some sightseeing and leave at 5h00 in the afternoon and sail during the night to Kirkwall. The start was alright until we got tangled up in a rope. We turned to get rid of it but to no avail. It was a bumpy ride all the way. We did the watch together with Tom from midnight until 4h00 in the morning. Dirk had to do his watch alone as Robin was giving food to the fishes as he was sick. Tom did take over and both Dirk and Tom did get very little sleep. We arrived in Kirkwall at around 10:30 in the morning. But first we ensured that the rope was tied up as much as possible so it couldn't get into the propeller. A diver will have to come later to undo the rope from around the keel. Now a day in Kirkwall.
We will remember our stay in Kirkwall but not for the right reasons. The information mentioned that a warm welcome would await us in the Orkneys. To start we were told that we were docked in a private marina that "had nothing to do with the tall ships" in such a way that we were wondering what a cold shoulder could be. But we decided that Tuesday would be a day of sightseeing. The crew went for a visit to the standing stones of Stennes, this site is quite impressive to say the least. After that we had a good walk where we met with the local crazy cattle and a very nice dog who was looking for some company. But the skipper had no day off. The divers who had come the day before had cleared the rope in about 3 minutes time and their charge was 200 quid. We were told that this would be doubling if not paid by the end of the day. And sure enough by 4h00 suddenly the charge was now 400. This will have a further episode in court. So in the end the skipper even ended up in the local police station explaining the situation so that we could escape the warm welcome of Kirkwall. We left in the evening for our last night sail of the Cruise in Company and to our final destination: Lerwick. First we sailed cautionately through the many Orkney Isles. They gave us a spectacular sight in the dying light of the day. We did shake the reef that was still in the main sail and headed full sail to Lerwick. It was a great sailing trip with shifting winds in angle and in force. We also had a bit of a mystery... The mystery of the disappearing toilet seat.
The night before it had come off and Tom and Robin had repaired it. But this night it came off again when I used it, but no one was informed. Whilst I was asleep Dirk asked Robin why it hadn't been repaired. The question was solved later...
We arrived at Lerwick at 8h00 in the morning. A beautiful sight with all the tall ships already docked. But we were already woken up much earlier by all the radio traffic between the harbour and the arriving vessels.
The end of our sailing for this trip. Now we will enjoy the crew activities for the next couple of days.
On Thursday we met with our liaison officer Mike and had a couple hours of sleep. We participated with the crew parade. We were just in front of a marimba band and they were playing their music for the whole parade. We received  a warm welcome from the town of Lerwick and the parade was really fun.
We then visited the local pub where we met with Ivan, who insisted that he was pissed and tried to be our guide for the next hour or so, although he seemed to have trouble finding his words. Pool was played an won by Dirk and Tom. They  had a go at the darts as well.
The Crew party was on a great spot but it was really freezing there. So after we had the food which was really nice, we decided to go back to the boat. We decided to have a go at the cards game. Well 3 games and a couple of bottles of red wine later at 4h00 the game was won again by Dirk and Tom.
Tonight  we will go to the concert of the Levellers which is on the program.
This will conclude our journey that brought us from Scotland via the Orkneys to the Shetland Isles.

Caroline
 


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