Log of Calypso

25 April 2017 | Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland
23 April 2017 | Inverness, Scotland
23 April 2017 | Dundee, Scotland
21 April 2017 | Dundee, Scotland
19 April 2017
19 April 2017 | Paisley, Scotland
18 April 2017 | Edinburgh, Scotland
17 April 2017 | Edinburgh, Scotland
16 April 2017 | Edinburgh, Scotland
14 April 2017 | Edinburgh, Scotland
12 April 2017
12 April 2017 | Chartwell, England
11 April 2017 | Dover, England
09 April 2017 | The English Dover
08 April 2017 | Stratford Upon the Avon, England
07 April 2017 | Portsmouth, England
05 April 2017 | Isle of Wight, England
04 April 2017 | Portsmouth, England
03 April 2017 | Portsmouth Harbor, England
02 April 2017 | Bath, England

57 Degrees North

25 April 2017 | Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Quote for the day, "The one thing about traveling when it's cold is, the more clothes we wear in layers, the less our backpacks weigh...;)"

With a 0900 bus to catch we were up moving early Monday morning. We've had a very relaxing time in Inverness staying in an entire flat, by ourselves, it belongs to our AirBnB hosts, Jennifer & Keith. It was a wonderful stay in a quiet neighborhood close to City Center. We had a huge bedroom, living room with electric fireplace, and kitchen with conduction range.

Also, Jennifer, is the Marketing Director at Tomatin Distillery,
http://www.tomatin.com/home/ and she left us a, Wee Dram, of the 14 year old Single Malt they make. We don't normally drink Scotch, but "when in Rome....."!

As a winter mix started falling and we boarded our bus our driver kindly announces, "Please fasten your seat belts". Thinking, what kind of trip was this going to be, we were off on Bus Route 917, the first leg of our trip to Dunvegan, Isle of Skye.



Halfway through this leg of our trip as we climbed into glacial mountains, the mix turned to snow, and this stuff was sticking. Thankfully as we descend back towards sea level, it cleared and we were treated with a bright blue sky. Like both Florida & North Carolina weather, give it 30 minutes and it will change. Just, in this place, the white stuff is NOT sand!


Our driver took us along the northern bank of Loch Ness, and the Caledonian Canal. We pass a small marina with both sail & power boat rentals. It would be really nice to spend a day or two on these crystal clear waters, but maybe in August!

Up and down the mountains, and through the narrow, curved roads we go. At one point we go over a single lane bridge so narrow it looked like we were going to scrape the sides of the bus. We were glad someone else was driving.


We take a 10 minute break in Kyle. This area is known as, "Kyle of Lochalsh, a land of castles, hills and lochs, it is the gateway to the Isle of Skye". A picturesque town with hotels, shops, and a small dinner advertising fresh seafood, sits right at the docks. We don't have time for a bite, but as we look around Kyle quickly gets added to the list of places to see on our "next" visit.



At the town Docks were two research sailboats associated with the Whale & Dolphin Trust. They were training volunteers for a 6 day voyage to serve as crew. The group is currently studying Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins and evidently, this is one of the dolphins northern-most habitats. More can be found at
http://www.whaledolphintrust.co.uk/index.asp

On the road again and as the wind gusts to 40 mph, we cross the Skye Bridge. The bridge, opened in 1989, crosses Loch Alsh, which opens into a sea rarely heard of, The Minch.

In mythology, this place is known as home to The Little Blue Men of the Minch. They inhabit this stretch of water looking for sailors to drown and boats to sink. They were believed to look human, aside from their Blue Color (not to be confused with the musical Blue Men Group).


Evidently, the chief of the Blue Men, upon seeing a ship would shout two lines of poetry to the captain, who must complete the verse or loose the ship to being capsized. From the top of the Skye Bridge we look at a small fishing boat making it's way back to safe harbor, poetry is probably the last thing on her captains mind!

Geographically, The Minch, opens up to the North Atlantic and is believed to have been formed, 1.2 Billion years ago, by the largest meteor to strike the U.K. This body of water is a great resource and supports both a bountiful seafood industry and maritime commerce, totaling 2.5 million tons of shipping each month.

At 1230, we arrive in Portree, it's been a long time on a bus without a bathroom! Portree is Capital of the Island of Skye but with a population of almost 2500, it's a quant village. After 10 minutes here, it's a place you could feel at home. We switch to the second leg of the trip, Bus Route 57, and head to our destination, Dunvegan.

The weather remains clear, for now, as we head toward our home for the next three days, Minnie's Rooms, https://minniesrooms We are staying with our host Mayanne, and several other guests. At Mayanne's recommendation we ask the bus driver to drop us off at her door, and at 1330, he does with a smile.


The view from our window is stunning! But soon after settling into our room and a bowl of Smoked Haddock Chowder, the rain/snow mix starts again. Such is life at 57 degrees North Latitude.

Fair Winds and Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy

5200 Bicycles

23 April 2017 | Inverness, Scotland
Inverness is a wonderful, easy going City. After a light breakfast, courtesy of our Air BnB hosts, we went out for a walk. Inverness was planned as a stop that would allow us to take it easy and, "catch our breath". We are just a few days over the halfway point in the trip, so far we have walked over 187 miles!

Since we were in Inverness a few years ago a lot seemed familiar to us. Purely by coincidence, we are only a few short blocks from were we stayed last time.


Yesterday walking from the rail station it became obvious that this is a bicycle friendly town! How friendly we would find out this morning.


Today as we neared the city center and the Ness River, yup-it flows from Loch Ness, we heard a strange whistling. On this Sunday morning, either it was a parade, riot, or....

Several people in safety vests were waiving bright flags and blowing whistles. They were directing bicycles in their own dedicated lane. This was the Etape Loch Ness, bicycle road race. Entry into today's popular race opened a year ago and reached its capacity with 5200 riders signing up in less than a day.


It's a 66 mile (106km) race around Loch Ness known for its scenic beauty and of course, Nessy. No sighting this year. The event offers a physical challenge as barricades offer traffic free roads. Many riders just compete against themselves, others like the team of 1000, got pledged donations to help support cancer research.

So, if your interested (Captain Chuck!) you can find out more at:
https://www.etapelochness.com/event/etape-loch-ness/

For us, we'll stick to walking, but who knows, tomorrow we head to the Isle of Skye!

Fair Winds & Quiet Anchorages,
Wendy & Jeff

Jutopolis

23 April 2017 | Dundee, Scotland
Friday morning we left our BnB which was a converted 1905 hospital. We were told the Flat we were staying in was part of the old maternity ward, not the morgue...;)

Since an ancestor once lived in Dundee before emigrating to Canada, we were off to find out more about Dundee's history and what it may have been like for him. The place to go was Verdant Works, a http://www.verdantworks.com which is a Scottish Heritage Site that gave us a peak into life as a Dundee Jute Factory worker in the early 1900's.

Flax is an annual cellulose plant used in the manufacturing of linen. During the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), the cost of Flax tripled and Jute was introduced as a replacement. A natural replacement, Jute was grown in India, 85% in the Ganges Delta.


Ship owners looking for something to fill their ships holds after taking immigrants to Australia would pick up huge bails, of Jute fibers, some weighing as much as 400 pounds.


These sailing ships,home-ported in Dundee would bring there cargo of Jute back to be off loaded at Dundee's docks. So did Dundee's whaling fleet, that consisted of 27 ships.

Early production required whale oil to help soften the fibers. In the beginning, both Flax & Jute production was done by hand but as the industrial revolution mechanized factories Dundee soon exploded into Scotlands 4th largest city.

By 1900, in the height of its boom, Dundee became known as Juteopolis. There were 125 mills that employed 50,000 people. This was 41% of Dundee's population and consisted of mostly women & children. Because they were paid a lower hourly wage then their male counterparts, factory managers relied on this source of cheap labor.

Working conditions were harsh in this hot, noisy, and potentially dangerous environment. Occasionally while working a 16 hour shift workers would fall asleep with their hands near steam powered rotating machinery, with tragic results.





These machines are factory training aids. They still work, even at nearly 100 years old, however they are only half the size of actual factory models.


Imagine the conditions with several machines running at once.

At home, a role reversal was taking place. Unemployed husbands would cook, clean, and tend to infants while their wives & children, would bring home the bacon.

Nothing lasts forever. Factory owners began setting up in India, close to the source of the Jute fiber. Able to pay extremely low wages to Indian workers and cutting transportation costs to almost nothing meant Dundee factories closed & workers were let go. Life, as people in Dundee knew it, was ending.

It's taken almost 100 years but an aggressive revitalization effort is taking place here. We hope to return, at some point, to see the results, in Dundee!

Fair Winds & Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy

Change in the Weather

21 April 2017 | Dundee, Scotland
On March 21, 1901, the 172 foot, Royal Research Ship (RRS) Discovery was launched into the Firth of Tay. Like the ships of Portsmouth, England & Mystic, Connecticut, she was built for battle. However, her opponent wasn't a nations enemy or whales rich with oil, she was built to explore Antarctica.

Our (Thursday) morning forecast projected cooling temperatures, possible rain, and even some snow arriving in the next day or two. So, we altered our plans and decided to walk to Dundee Law. This 572 foot peak is the remains of an extinct volcano and is a landmark of the city. It's produced remains & artifacts going back 3500 years.


The view is amazing and we enjoy getting out early to watch a city come alive. From this mornings perch it was as if we were watching from a flying drone. Below was the Firth of Tay. This large navigable river has supported Dundee's seagoing trade for centuries.


To the west is a long trestle which we came across by train for Edinburgh.


To the east, on the Tay, is the Dundee Shipyard with the North Sea beyond.


The shipyards once occupied almost a mile of the waterfront. A leader in wooden ship construction this shipyard produced a majority of the Scotland Whaling Fleet. Time & tide has now reduced the yard to work such as dismantling old oil platforms, on a portion of the acreage it once occupied.

The City of Dundee is doing a wonderful job of recycling itself. Buildings once used as shipyard workshops have been converted into high end waterfront condo's. Dry docks, sit empty with the cofferdams cracked open to allow for natural tidal flow, are brought back to life as backdrops to waterfront shopping at the Quay.

Courtesy of rrsdiscovery.com

In the city center is a huge £1 Billion, revitalization project which includes hotels, retail shops, cafes, conference facilities, new train depot, and more. Blending the new with the old, the centerpiece of this revitalization is the RRS Discovery.




Built in the Dundee Shipyard over 100 years ago, as a Barque Sailing Ship with Steam Auxiliary, she conducted three research expeditions to Antarctica.


Her hull is over 24" thick and made of several different types of wood, allowing it to flex under the pressure of arctic pack ice.

Known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, Discovery completed three significant voyages. During the first, called the National Antarctic Expedition (1901–1904), she spent two winters wedged in the ice. She was almost lost after being frozen in place, 20 miles from the open ocean and only saved after her crew cut & blasted their way out. Other voyages include, the Discovery Oceanographic Expedition (1925–1927) and the BANZARE expedition (1929–31).

The crew volunteered to serve during Discovery's lengthy expeditions. The first expedition was lead by Captain Robert Scott. He kept the crew safe and their spirits up.


There was also Edward Wilson, zoologist, artist, and assistant surgeon. His illustrations for arctic animals, including penguins were bound in book form and became the leading scientific journals of the day. Both these men would die together on a later expedition to the South Pole, around 29 March 1912

There was only one death during Discovery's the first voyage. It took place while departing New Zealand when one of the crew climbed the main mast and fell to his death waiving goodbye.


A replacement was needed and a volunteer was found. Tom Crean, born in Ireland, was a British sailor who transferred to the Discovery and started his arctic exploration career. Crean would later distinguish himself by his bravery while attached to the ill-fated Endurance that broke up after 492 days drifting on the ice.

Awarded three arctic medals Crean returned to the Navy and retired in 1920. He moved back to Ireland and opened a pub with his wife in his home town, called The South Pole Inn.

During WWII, Discovery's engines & boiler were scrapped but she continued service as a cadet training ship. In 1979, destined for the scrapyards of London, she was saved by the Maritime Trust. Finally, in 1992, she was moved to her present location and returned to her 1924 sailing configuration.

Thankfully we have another day to do more of our own exploration, in Dundee!

Fair Winds & Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy

Farewell Edinburgh

19 April 2017

What a send off as we leave to explore Dundee!

Fair Winds and Quiet Anchorages
Wendy & Jeff

Messing About in Boats

19 April 2017 | Paisley, Scotland
Born in Edinburgh, in 1859, Kenneth Grahame would later write "Wind in the Willows". Most likely unaware at the time, in 1908, that his phrase "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats", would still bring a smile to the face of serious cruisers everywhere, even in 2017.

Not wanting to miss an opportunity, Tuesday, we travelled to Paisley. Why go to a small town, on the other side of Scotland near Glasgow, 64 miles away? To see a man about "mess about" with boat stuff, in particular an anchor windlass!


In 1996, we bought a "Sea Tiger 555" manually operated Two Speed Windlass. At the time it was made by the Scottish company, Simpson Lawrence. Mounted on Calypso's bowsprit it used a 3 foot handle and Wendy, Jeff or Shannon power to deploy & retrieve our anchor and chain rode (Ground Tackle). It is a small, but major part of our overall safety plan.

Today, large boating equipment manufacturers provide only one choice when buying a new anchor windlasses, it must be electrically operated! In today's high tech world, most electric windlasses require their own dedicated battery as they draw a lot of power.

There is no argument that electric models are physically easier to operate than manually operated ones. The electric windlass allows less active boaters to buy larger boats that require larger ground tackle. All that is needed from the crew is that they can push a button and the chain comes up or goes down.

Several years ago, Simpson Lawrence decided to stop producing its line of windlasses. John stepped in to fill the void left by them to provide needed replacement parts. He now runs Simpson Lawrence Spares Ltd, in Paisley.

Started as a hobby in a backyard shed his business has grown, mainly through "word of mouth". John proudly told us that he has only advertised once, in Good Old Boat Magazine.


John soon started to refurbish Simpson Lawrence products for owners and needed a hydraulic press & other testing equipment.


Soon, he rented a 500sq-ft work shop, but it too became overwhelmed as customer requests for parts rolled in.


A few years ago he moved into a larger 1500 sq-ft workshop in a small industrial park.


John is very proud, and rightly so, of his little hobby. He has built a reputation for providing spare parts, refurbishing old windlasses, and now can provide an entirely new manual windlass. Simpson Lawrence Spares Ltd, http://slspares.co.uk

Go small, go simple, go now!

Fair Winds and Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy
Vessel Name: Calypso
Vessel Make/Model: Westsail 32
Hailing Port: Clearwater, Fla
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Calypso's Photos - Main
Repair to Calypso's foredeck, mast step, rudder, & Seacock replacement
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Created 3 November 2016