From Last Week

Jotted this stuff down late last week but never posted it — I was expecting to get back to it and finish/improve it. But it’s now been so long that…$#%$% it. Here it is; take it for what it is: notes and gibberish.

2 June 2011

To paraphrase the bumper stickers: New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Symbister.  

That’s right: Symbister. Not far from Isbister, Skwa and Clett (you don’t even wanna know the pronunciation of that one). This small settlement is on a slope overlooking the harbor that opens to the northwest. Beside the road snaking up the hill, lambs actually gambol. They do; it’s true. Wildflowers bend in the relentless breeze and from the top of the hill, the views in all direction (beneath the low overcast) are spectacular.

It was on that relentless breeze that we sailed over from Lerwick today. We slipped what was left of our docklines — the chafing done by the concrete pier was shocking in its efficiency — under a fierce westerly. Before Polar Bear had even left the harbor, the bimini had to be removed and stowed below lest it wind up kiting over Bressay Island and on toward Norway.

The sea was relatively flat despite the solid 30-plus knots of wind as we rounded north of Bressay. We unfurled about 75 percent of the staysail and were ripping along, doing a good 7.5 knots toward our destination: the isle of Noss, just east of Bressay and site of a huge bird rookery in the cliffs overlooking the North Sea. Nearer the cliffs, the swell increased a bit out of the south, and after checking out the thousands of birds — on the cliffs, in the water, gliding around on the wind — we tacked and bore off toward the north and Whalsay Island. 

3 June

Dinner interrupted last evening’s typing. And a wonderful dinner it was: immediately after tying up in Symbister, a local fisherman stopped by to inquire about Polar Bear — and drop off a bag of monkfish he’d just caught. Boogie worked up the fish while Marlies worked up some risotto…et voila: a really nice dinner aboard. Anyway…

So, yeah: after Noss, we bore off toward the north before a pretty fierce wind: steadily in the high 30s and well into the  40s. The highest gust we saw was 51 knots. But because of the wind direction — from the west, from over the so-called Mainland — the water surface wasn’t too lumpy. Yes, we shipped a lot of water, but mostly from waves hitting the rail just so; there wasn’t really any swell to speak of and it was actually a quite comfortable ride. 

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