Tern's Travels

Pacific Seacraft 37

Vessel Name: Tern
Vessel Make/Model: Pacific Seacraft Crealock 37
Hailing Port: Falmouth UK
Crew: Larry & Manice Stabbins
06 September 2017 | Islay, Argyl, Scotland, 54.58N 005.57W
28 August 2017 | Tobermory, Mull, Scotland. 56deg.25.1N, 005deg,30W
28 August 2017 | Caledonian Canal and thereabouts
21 August 2017 | Fair Isle, 59deg N
21 August 2017 | Shetland Isles, 60deg N
19 August 2017 | North Sea
03 August 2017 | Alesund
03 August 2017 | Kristiansund to Alesund
27 July 2017 | Trondheim area
25 July 2017 | Torget, view of hole from 65.22N 12.01E
25 July 2017 | Alsten and the Arctic Circle
25 July 2017 | Svartisen Glacier, Norway
25 July 2017 | Vestoford, Norway
12 July 2017 | Tranoy, Norway
06 July 2017 | Tromso, Northern Norway
06 July 2017 | Bjarkoy, Northern Norway
06 July 2017 | Northern Norway
27 June 2017 | Storvagan, 68.12.6N, 014.27E
Recent Blog Posts
25 September 2017 | Irish Sea

Homeward Bound: Northern Ireland to Cornwall, late August

After short walk, showers and catching up with washing at the very pleasant small marina in Glenarm, next day we caught the tide for a fast sail down to Bangor and went into the enormous, very expensive car park of a Marina at Bangor at the entrance to Belfast Loch. We left the next day for Ardglass [...]

06 September 2017 | Islay, Argyl, Scotland, 54.58N 005.57W

Islay and Argyl: whisky galore

Pilgrimage to Islay, August 18 - 24th

28 August 2017 | Tobermory, Mull, Scotland. 56deg.25.1N, 005deg,30W

Tobermory, Mull

We hope to visit the west coast of Scotland and the Hebrides and, hopefully, the Orkney islands on a future trip. Meanwhile here is a picture of Tobermory from the harbour, with

28 August 2017 | Caledonian Canal and thereabouts

Caledonian Canal east to west and on to Mull

Caledonian Canal, 10-14 August, Loch Ness defeats us and Mull, 15 - 19, even more rain and wind.

21 August 2017 | Fair Isle, 59deg N

Fair Isle

Fair Isle: Birds and Crofts, August 6th-8th

21 August 2017 | Shetland Isles, 60deg N

Shetland Isles

Shetland Isles, 31st July - 5th August

Homeward Bound: Northern Ireland to Cornwall, late August

25 September 2017 | Irish Sea
Larry Stabbins, fair much of the time.
After short walk, showers and catching up with washing at the very pleasant small marina in Glenarm, next day we caught the tide for a fast sail down to Bangor and went into the enormous, very expensive car park of a Marina at Bangor at the entrance to Belfast Loch. We left the next day for Ardglass but, as seems to be becoming more frequent, with a fair tide and good forecast, changed plans and headed for Holyhead, instead thinking we'd be ok entering after dark as it's a big commercail harbour. However at 2300 off Holyhead with a big foul tide and no wind we changed plans again and decided to carry on to Fishguard. We could see a frontal system approaching the northern Irish Sea while the SW of England, and Cornwall in particular, was about to have a heatwave, so getting south asap seemed a good plan.

Fishguard was a surprisingly nice anchorage for a day sitting out the strong south westerly winds and though we didn't go ashore, it was WARM! and SUNNY! Next day we left at 5am to catch the tide around St David's Head knowing we had three tide gates to negotiate before Falmouth. All went well and we had a good fast sail as far as Land's End where we arrived at Longhip's Light around 1am with no wind, so back to motoring again for the final leg. We arrived at Durgan on the Helford River in time for lunch and a very peaceful night at anchor in our favourite local anchorage.

Overall we had a another wonderful summer. Norway is spectacular and stunningly beautiful in places, the Norwegians were friendly, helpful, generally lovely and seem to have huge respect for seafaring people; fishermen would come to the boat just to talk. The midnight sun was wonderful and the weather generally pretty good though with such good forecasting now it's easy to avoid the bad bits. The sailing is pretty easy really, bouyage is excellent so the tortuous passages through the skerries are just challenging enough to be satisfying. The down side is the vast amount of motoring. The leads are too confined for beating and Tern isn't a boat for short tacking anyway so when there's no wind we motored to make progress.Norway is also eye-wateringly expensive and the food is some what restricted. I was expecting lots of great seafood but what you get is lots of cod. So we're going south next. We really enjoyed Shetland and Fair Isle and would like to explore the Outer Hebrides but maybe later.

Islay and Argyl: whisky galore

06 September 2017 | Islay, Argyl, Scotland, 54.58N 005.57W
Manice, pesky SW winds when trying to go SW
Pilgrimage to Islay, August 18 - 24th
The weather finally settled sufficiently to allow us to dash to Oban on the afternoon tide of Friday 18th . We just had time to replenish our stores and calculate the tidal gates before the journey south. There was no favourable wind forecast, just a lack of wind on Sunday 20th then ceaseless SW wind for the foreseeable future. So at 0630 we reluctantly motored south with a strong tide helping us through the Sound of Luing. Indeed, we hit a top speed of over 10 knots and made such good progress that we covered the entire 60NMs to Port Ellen on Islay in the one journey, finding ourselves with no more than a knot of tide against us as we passed Jura. Islay to Glenarm in N Ireland, across the North Channel is 32NM and so can be done on one tide making Islay the ideal place to await a weather window as there is so much to see and do there. I say "so much" but it mainly involves visiting one or more of the 8 distillers of the finest single malt whisky in the world.
We like to get the feel of the places we visit but Islay was more of a pilgrimage and we duly booked into the Lagavulin tour and spent a wonderful afternoon comparing and contrasting the whisky distilling process with that of Tobermory, our warm-up distillery. When it came to the tasting at the end of the tour we were introduced to half a dozen Lagavulins and allowed to choose which one we would like to try as our dram. Larry chose the 16yr old classic as he just wanted to be sure that was the one he wanted to buy. I tried a special Festival edition which was utterly delicious and I found out, when we went to the shop, that it was also their most expensive product at £128 a bottle! They even gave us the dram glasses engraved with the Lagavulin logo; a great value tour for £6 each!
We could have visited more distilleries but we didn't want to confuse our memories of the Lagavulin experience, so we took a grand bus ride to the north side of Islay and gazed across to Jura, which has to be one of the least populated, inhabited islands in Argyl, just mountains and deer forests (and of course, a distillery). After a good walk we were able to catch the bus to Bowmore , chatting all the while with a native granny of Islay, covering health, education, agriculture and of course, the Whisky industry. It doesn't take long to walk around Bowmore but we found the Harbour Inn had a scrumptious menu so treated ourselves to lunch. The bus ride back to Port Ellen crosses the peat bogs which have enough peat to maintain the whisky industry's requirements for smoking the malted barley for at least 15,000 years!
Tides and wind were finally favourable to get to Glenarm on Thursday 24th August. The passage involved another dawn start and the wind was just too far south of west to be able to sail but we motor sailed and with spring tides to help us, we broke our speed record and went at over 11 knots for about an hour. Farewell Scotland, hope we return soon.

Tobermory, Mull

28 August 2017 | Tobermory, Mull, Scotland. 56deg.25.1N, 005deg,30W
Manice, more rain and gales
We hope to visit the west coast of Scotland and the Hebrides and, hopefully, the Orkney islands on a future trip. Meanwhile here is a picture of Tobermory from the harbour, with
its iconic colourful buildings along the waterfront.

Caledonian Canal east to west and on to Mull

28 August 2017 | Caledonian Canal and thereabouts
Manice, SW gales
Caledonian Canal, 10-14 August, Loch Ness defeats us and Mull, 15 - 19, even more rain and wind.

Although we were disappointed to not go around Cape Wrath and though the Minch, on the other hand there is great incentive to return to Scotland and spend a whole summer in the Western Isles, Hebrides and visit the Orkney Isles. The forecast was for depressions and relentless SW wind so even the canal was a bit of a challenge as it goes due SW down the Great Glen. By now, being old hands on the Caly, we were prepared for the locks and swing bridges and we planned to spend the first transit night at Fort Augustus and catch up with our friends Fergus and Mole on Friday 11th.Once through the first morning of lock passing we started motoring down Loch Ness into a stiff SW wind. It's very shallow at the NE end of the lock and after spending half an hour driving into waves and wind and making only 2-3 knots despite a roaring engine we gave up and turned back to Dockgarroch. After two Atlantic crossings and a return trip to northern Norway, in which time we never once had to turn back, Loch Ness had defeated us! We humbly stayed in Dochgarroch until Saturday and F&M were able to visit and have a Norwegian lunch on board Tern (Fergus lived in Norway for 9 years so appreciated the typical food). In the afternoon we were taken for a DRIVE in their MOTOR CAR to visit a Bronze Age burial ground: beautiful, fascinating and nowhere near the sea! F&M had evening commitments so in the evening we treated ourselves to dinner in the local restaurant which specialised in Scottish food, absolutely delicious and great value. It was so nice to be able to eat out, which we found completely unaffordable in Norway.
Fortunately the gale went through and we were able to cross Loch Ness on the Saturday when the highlight was spotting a Golden eagle diving for a fish. The rest of the canal crossing was straight forward if rather wet and windy.
The options for where to go once on the west coast were many and varied, but with a brisk SE wind and another gale due we made for Tobermory on Mull. It's a wonderful harbour and the main town on Mull so we had plenty to amuse ourselves in the three days we were there. Sadly the weather was so bad that we didn't see much of the rest of the island. However, the distillery is a spit from the marina and a tour of it got us in practice for the forthcoming trip to Islay which we were promising ourselves.

Fair Isle

21 August 2017 | Fair Isle, 59deg N
Manice, luckily fair on Fair Isle
Fair Isle: Birds and Crofts, August 6th-8th
Fair Isle is midway between Shetland and Orkney and has a stunning little harbour on its east side where yachts are welcomed as long as they don't get in the way of the Good Shepherd ferry.The sail across The Hole was delightful in a good NW breeze which died off as we got in the lee of the island making the entrance to the harbour relatively calm. There were puffins sitting in the water all the way into the harbour but I have been pretty unsuccessful at getting any decent photographs of them- they dive under water just when you get near enough for the picture! By the night the harbour had all the yachts it could handle: 5, with the Good Shepherd on the slip where it had been hauled uo during the recent gale.
There is a famous bird observatory which attracts the majority of visitors to Fair Isle. There are resident populations of some birds which the observatory folk keep a census of and there are the migratory birds which are observed and logged rigorously. The quietest time for the migratory species is early August and the "Obs" is closed and the staff on holiday at this time, which was the time of our visit. Looking on the positive side, we were able to wander around when there were hardly any other visitors and see the resident birds outside the breeding season, just a quiet time on Fair Isle. So we now know a bit about puffins, skuas, rock doves, Northern wheatears, fulmars, shags and Fai Isle starlings, to name but a few. During the year hundreds of species pass through Fair Isle as it's such a handy stop off, some stopping to breed, others just passing through.
So the Obs is central to Fair Isle's culture as is the crofting way of life which most of the residents
pursue.As on Unst, everyone wears several hats and there are never enough hours in the day and no one is ever bored. The people were all extremely friendly and happy to chat, which was a bit surprising as they live in something of a gold fish bowl, no one can do anything without everyone knowing! If you're interested there is a pair of documentaries on BBC 4 about life on Fair Isle (Living on the Edge)- we met many of the people in the films even though we were only there for a couple of days. We would like to visit again, preferably in the spring to see the real bird action!
As usual we decided to move on because there was a good forecast to get to Inverness. We had been hoping to go south around Cape Wrath but with endless depressions queued up in the Atlantic and trotting across Scotland we gave up on that plan and were just grateful for a window to get to Inverness and go back through the Caledonian Canal. Orkney would just have to wait.
Although we had to motor for the first half of the 145NM passage the sun was shining and the wind was a light northerly, just not quite strong enough to sail. It was due to increase, which it did and we had a great sail all through the night with a full moon then continuing down the Muray Firth with a fair tide. We were able to go straight into the canal as the tide was just high enough as we arrived at the sea lock and by 0930 we were berthed in Seaport marina at the start of the "Caly".

Shetland Isles

21 August 2017 | Shetland Isles, 60deg N
Manice, sunshine and gales
Shetland Isles, 31st July - 5th August
The first thing that struck me when we woke in Unst was that there are no trees. All the northern isles are virtually without trees due to the windswept climate, the moorland peat had to provide thefuel for cooing and warmth and rock was the main building material. Walking to the small village at Baltasund we passed a derelict cottage with wooden beams which must have been salvaged from ships. The land around the harbour is still divided into crofts although most of the crofters have other jobs aswell as it's very difficult to survive purely by crofting. The small, tight-knit communities away from the mainland are populated with industrious, self-sufficient folk, all of whom seem to have several jobs or roles in order to keep island life thriving. Unst has the honour of being the most northern inhabited island so you can post a letter which is hand stamped with the "most northern post office" stamp, or visit the most northern pub (sadly closed at present) or visit the most northern brewery, happily very much open, and so on. The village shop has a bakery, a help yourself cafe where there is always a cauldron of soup on the go. The tables are covered with writings, drawings and photos about the history and culture of Unst and the walls are covered in maps, guides, information and shelves with books for swapping or reading in the cafe as well as local crafts for sale. So Unst was fascinating and very much worth a longer visit one day.
There was a deep depression forecast for Thursday 3rd August but meanwhile fine weather due. We had been recommended to try and visit Out Skerries, the small group of islands furthest east of the Shetlands, so despite no wind, we motored there on the Tuesday. In fact, no wind is good on Out Skerries, so for once we didn't resent it! Out Skerries is indeed a very special place, now the 30-odd inhabitants still living there are all old age pensioners, but on a sunny summer's day it is teaming with children and young parents who visit their old family homes and children spend time with their grandparents. We moored to a fishing quay and were made very welcome, including being given 2 crabs! The grandad fisherman wouldn't take any money but just wanted to be remembered as that kind man from Out Skerries.In the short time we had we talked to several locals who were all happy to share their stories and views, and what wonderful accents and turns of phrase- they were lovely! We told them we knew Patrick Winterton, who, together with a friend, had set out from Out Skerries to kayak across to Norway, indeed a memorable moment in the history of Out Skerries.
The weather window was short so we scurried across to Lerwick, again under engine in no wind, but at least we could whale watch and were rewarded with the passing of a pod of orcas.
Lerwick was in full sun and gorgeous when we arrived. We knew it couldn't last, but we were fairly comfortable in the Albert dock on a visitor pontoon and in a good position to walk around the town despite it being windy and rainy throughout most of our visit. The museum is superb and we were in town at the time of the Fiddle Frenzy, a summer school for Shetland-style fiddlers. There is a wonderful concert hall/arts centre where the Frenzy was based and in the evenings there were concerts, followed by a "session" in the bar. We went to a wonderful concert of, yes, fiddle music, which included jaw-dropping solo performances by the "young fiddlers of the year", two girls, 13 and 14. The sessions were also awesome with about 50 fiddlers sitting in a semicircle and playing one tune after another, one person would start a tune and the others would all join in, everyone seemed to know the repertoire.
Lerwick also has the main outlets for Shetland wool products, from knitting supplies to finished garments so I was never short of interesting browsing and even a bit of shopping.
We were very impressed by the infrastructure in the Shetlands and provision of arts, culture, sport, education and social care. This is due to the wise spending of the oil industry income and it is so refreshing considering the degree of waste and corruption which often seems to follow in the footsteps of such industries. Norway was similar in this respect and it was interesting to have visited both areas.
By Saturday 5th August there was a good breeze from the north west and we were able to sail to the south end of Shetland mainland, anchor for the night and set off for the 30NM trip to Fair Isle, passing the "roost" (turbulent stretch of water) around Sumburgh Head, the southern tip of Shetland and across the stretch of water known as The Hole to Fair Isle.
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