Gale Warning – Viking – NE8

We were sailing along in a lovely NNE 4 breeze yesterday when at 11.30 am the Met Office issued a Gale Warning – Viking, NE8 soon.

X marks the spot of Velvet Lady and we were heading right into Viking. Soon means in 6 to 12 hours time and we still had 48 hours to go until we would be clear of Viking. Time to look at those all important preparations for harbours of refuge. Where would you go?

The nearest option – and importantly within reach in the shortest time – was the Shetland Islands and so we set off on the opposite tack towards Sumburgh Head. It wasn’t long until the wind shifted and we were reaching in ever increasing wind making the sails smaller and smaller as we went. By 1900 the wind had reached 30 gusting 40 knots just to help us on our approach to the anchorage and by 2000 we were all secure at anchor in the Bay of Quendale just north west of Sumburgh Head.

Long ago I was taught – to escape the wind and waves just put a large lump of land between you and the wind – so that’s what we did! It is ‘sheltered’ but there are still waves all around us. Wind dial still registering 32 knots. Glad we are not outside.

I say ‘sheltered’ but even a quarter a mile off the beach there are waves all around us.

Lets hope tomorrow is a little better – now, where are the cards?

Getting ready for the Caledonian Canal

5 years ago we were sitting here in Oban looking at the weather forecast and thinking ‘hmmm, perhaps it would be better to go through the canal’. We even got as far as buying the chart. Whilst we were being pinned onto the pontoon in a gale and were not even about to leave the marina we started doing the sums and worked out that by the time we got through the weather would have improved enough to go the direct route to Bodo anyway. Since then its been a dream – but from tomorrow onwards it becomes reality. Tuesday evening guests arrive, Wednesday morning safety briefing, Wednesday afternoon off to Corpach. Thursday morning enter the canal and …. we promise regular updates.

Long warps – ready

fender boards – ready

fender cloths – ready

large fenders – ready

Off we go then – let the adventures begin

6 Places for the price of 4 – Family Friendly booking

New – book the whole boat to sail in Norway and bring the family.  Slap bang in the middle of the school holidays, 3 – 13th August.

Starting in Floro and ending in Bergen the trip along this coastline offers plenty of opportunities to explore new places.  Sognefjord, the largest fjord in Norway is at the heart of the route – with a group booking you can choose to spend longer in this fjord or simply not go at all! 

Family friendly – with a group booking our minimum age is 12.  We have space for up to 6 people in 3 twin cabins with bunk beds.

For more information see

Dublin to Oban. Cruising the Hebrides

After studying the weather in Dublin, we decided that what we really should do was make a dash up the Irish Sea and around the Mull of Kintyre before the wind settled itself in the North West.

31 hours later after a brisk and bumpy sail in SW 5-7 perhaps 8 we anchored in Craighouse in Jura. The North west wind came as promised giving us a lovely beam reach along the coast to Port Ellen. This week was Islay festival week and by huge co-incidence it was Laphroaigs open day. We spent the morning ashore and returned to the boat ready to catch the evening tide through the Sound of Islay

The tide sluiced us through at a max speed of 10 knots and we anchored late at night in West Loch Tarbert. Next day it was off to the sound of Mull and a peaceful anchorage in Loch Aline before ending the week in Dunstaffnage. 288 miles later time to settle down to a game and a whiskey! Pity its a bit blurred. The game is Carcassonne and Jen (on the left) won.

Plymouth to Dublin via Waterford in South East winds

Waterford City marina – a great berth right in the centre of the city.

Our whole programme this summer has been written around each trip having more time and thus giving us the opportunity to visit new places. The unusual south east wind last week gave us a great start as instead of visiting Port Pendennis Marina – our usual stop we anchored in St Mawes instead.

Ideally located for a 5 am start we headed off early with the tide and managed to carry fair tide right around Lands End until 2pm. Just a short close reach left and a couple of tacks at the end until we were anchored in St Ives.

Wind still south easterly ,St Ives proved a great starting point for the trip the next day to Waterford. We arrived at Dunmore East at the entrance to the river Suir a mere 24 hours later just as the tide began to flood. 3 hours later we were tied up right in the centre of the city. I have always thought of Waterford and Crystal in the same sentence and not much else so was amazed to discover more about its history. Ireland’s oldest city founded by the Vikings in 914..

Then for the last leg of our journey – Waterford to Dunlaoghaire – 120nm with the wind on the nose. Great progress when the tide was in our favour, but slow progress when the tide was against – we just managed to not go backwards as it was Springs!!

We’ve now had a few days changeover time ready to head off tomorrow. In the past Dunlaoghaire has only been a pit stop but this time we also managed an afternoon out in Howth for the Dublin Bay prawn festival and an afternoon in Dublin enjoying the sights from a green hop on hop off bus