Log of Calypso

16 May 2024 | Kirkwall, Orkney
12 May 2024 | Stromness, Orkney
08 May 2024 | Wick, Scotland
05 May 2024 | Wick, Scotland
02 May 2024 | Inverness, Scotland
30 April 2024 | Culloden Battlefield
30 April 2024 | Inverness, Scotland
21 April 2024
08 February 2023
08 February 2023
04 February 2023
06 August 2022
01 August 2022 | Stonehaven, Scotland
28 July 2022
25 July 2022
22 July 2022 | Edinburgh, Scotland
21 July 2022 | Glasgow
19 July 2022 | Edinburgh Scotland

Orkney Part 2

16 May 2024 | Kirkwall, Orkney
Jeff & Wendy
Bothy: a basic shelter, usually left unlocked and available for anyone to use free of charge with basic accommodation.

Our “Bothy”, although not left unlocked or without charge, with its large window that looked out over Stromness Harbor, was a real gem.

Since the sun comes up around 0400, we spent our early mornings enjoying coffee and watching the harbor come to life. The occasional tourist would stroll by sometimes noticing us, but often oblivious to the great people-watching they provided.

With a firm hold of Orkney’s past and armed with raincoats as a low pressure system moved close, we strolled through the narrow streets of Stromness. We
were on our way to catch the X1 Bus for a 30 minute ride to Kirkwall, Orkney’s Capital.

The prominent steeple of St. Magnus’ Cathedral is the fixture of the Kirkwall skyline and can be seen from anywhere in town. BTW: This photo was taken on a much less “Dreich” (Scottish adj. Long-drawn-out, protracted, hence
tedious, wearisome; damp, wet, grey weather) and is courtesy of North Link Ferries.

Not unlike in the Late Jimmy Buffets’ song, “Bubbles Up”, we were told, “if you ever needed directions, just look up”.

Founded in 1137, it is built from local red and yellow sandstone.

Like most Cathedrals of its age, St. Magnus is loaded with ornate carvings, statues and monuments of remembrance.

Like this marble carving for Arctic explorer and Orkney native, John Rey.

And this intricately carved backdrop behind the altar.

In a prominent alcove is a tribute to the 835 sailors and trainees that lost their lives in the wee hours of one fall morning, in early World War II.

A German U-Boat penetrated the defenses of Scapa Flow, Orkney’s huge harbor, and shot three torpedos at the H.M.S. Royal Oak. One of first two hitting the ship but not detonating. The sudden “Thump” woke several of the trainees, but they were told it was only the old training ship “creaking and groaning” and they were to go back to bed. A short while later the third torpedo hit the ship with massive loss of life.

This brought us to the end of our stay in Orkney. At 12:15AM we start on a 7 hour ferry ride to Shetland. Good thing we have a cabin.

The Adventure Continues!

Orkney Part 1

12 May 2024 | Stromness, Orkney
Jeff & Wendy
Bank Holiday
The equivalent of a three day weekend, while traveling in the UK, this and Labor Action (Strike) are words that can disrupt travel plans for anyone using most public transportation.

Most, you say? Well, taxis still run, which are expensive, busses do not. Yet, trains do, but mostly on a reduced schedule. So how do we get to our North Link Ferry for Orkney when we were planning to take a bus from Wick to Scabster Ferry Terminal?

When in doubt, ask! The day "after" finding out about the upcoming Bank Holiday, and the day "before" heading to Orkney we spoke with the lone ticket agent in the Wick Rail Terminal.

After explaining our predicament and with seemingly time on her hands she tapped on her computer, made a few grunts, and then gave us the news. Expecting, "you can't get there from here" the simple answer was to take the 0800 train to a town near the ferry terminal, eat breakfast at a local hotel to kill some time, then catch a taxi for £10 ($ 12.50) ride to the terminal. Brilliant!

Wouldn't renting a car have been easier, you say? Well, aside from car rental and insurance costs, gas at £1.53/liter ($7.24/ gallon) and an effort to reduce stress and take in the scenery, we don't drive overseas.

We find travel much more enjoyable when we leave the roadways to someone who knows where they are going and can tell us about it while we are getting there! That is why we hired Lizzie from Lizzie's Orkney Tours to take us out and about.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Lizzie was perfect, as we "hit it off" right from the start. A native of Orkney, she spends a lot of time studying the natural history of this 70 island archipelago, 19 of which are inhabited.

Formed underwater, 400 million years ago, the spectacular west facing Yesnaby coast is rugged and diverse.

The sedimentary rock holds many fossils. This is believed to be that of Blue Green Alge.

It is also home to the hearty flowering Scottish Primrose Primula.

Uncovered by a huge storm in the 1800's, and subsequent excavation of the 5000 year old, 11 homes of the community, of Skara Brae is the best preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe.

Once a large freshwater lake the sea now erodes away at the past.

Built around 2500BC, the outside diameter of the Ring of Brodgar is nearly 360 feet making the placement of the stones almost exactly 1 foot for every 1 degree of the circle.

Stones came from different areas but all are placed so the longest flat surface faces the direction they were mined. It is speculated that seaweed instead of wooden logs was used as a slippery lubricant for the stones to travel to this location.

A Seafarering Town

08 May 2024 | Wick, Scotland
Jeff & Wendy

The seafaring history of Wick goes back to the 1700’s, when small sailing boats prowled the North Sea in search of fish.

Offloading their catch here, women working in groups of three, could gut, salt, and pack a barrel with 1200-1500 herring in minutes. Although photos often show these woman with smiles, it must have been a very hard life

Huge amounts of salt, brought from the Mediterranean, were stored in warehouses along the quay. Today, decorative iron sculptures replace the original doorways to this massive salt storage buildings.

Small boats still venture out from the inner harbor which is protected by a massive break-wall.

But, these mostly part time fishermen hunt crab and lobster and stay relatively close to land ever watchful for a sudden North Sea Storm.

A memorial was erected to remember those who never returned from the sea like the 37 who died in the Black Saturday Storm of 1848.

A large bronze sculpture was commissioned and will have its one year anniversary on May 20th.

Built in 1915 the volunteers that manned the Old Salmon Rock Lifeboat Station served as the last hope for boats and crew risking loss.

It is fitting that volunteers have been using this building to house, protect, and refurbish, one of the original Wick fishing fleet boats, the Isabella Fortunate.

Built in 1890, and retired in 1976, the Wick Society bought the Isabella Fortuna in 1997, for £6000. Finally, in 2019 work began a since then, countless hours of challenging work by shipfitters and supporters has brought this restoration experience to a successful finish.

We were told that Queen Elizabeth’s daughter, Princess Anne, was so interested in the restoration project that while touring she stretched out in one of the ships bunks belowdecks.

Rugged Cliffs of Caithness

05 May 2024 | Wick, Scotland
Jeff & Wendy
During the past week, a large surging ocean swell was created by easterly winds blowing in off the North Sea.

These wind driven waves crash into the rocky coastal cliffs creating a very confused and dangerous sea.

The “washing machine” effect made for unfavorable conditions to go out for even the large, well equipped, Rigid Hull Inflatable boats from the Caithness Seacoast Ltd.

Saturday, as the wind eased and the swell subsided yet, in true Scottish fashion as we prepared for our adventure along the coast, the fog began to roll in. But, a bad day on a boat is better than a good day at work!

So off we went and this is what we saw…

Inverness Gardens

02 May 2024 | Inverness, Scotland
Jeff & Wendy Gower

This morning started early as we prepared to leave Inverness and head to our next destination, Wick.

Our 4-hour train ride along the North East Scottish coast, would take us through parts of Scotland rarely seen by tourists.

We called it, The Scottish Outback” as it’s home to more Sheep & Newly born Lambs, Red Deer, Big Hairy Cows, and Pheasants, than people.

It did, however, give us time to work on this short video from yesterdays walk to the Inverness Botanical Gardens, enjoy.

More later,
Jeff & Wendy

What If?

30 April 2024 | Culloden Battlefield
Jeff & Wendy
This morning, after Coach Jane's morning stretch, we found ourselves at the Inverness Bus Station waiting for the 1015 Number 27 Bus.

What would be the best use of time? A fresh baked Sausage Roll at a local Cafe', yummmy!

After a 20 minute ride we were at Culloden Battlefield. Our admission, including a guided tour, were in included as part of out membership in the Scottish Heritage Society.

Here, the 2nd Jacobite Rising ended in less than an hour in what was basicially a family feud between British, German, & French Nobility.

An inadvertent shot from the Jacobite side of the field started a chain reaction that pitted thousands of multinational warriors under Scottish command against thousands of multinational warriors under British command.

No one knows the exact number killed on either side as bodies were stripped and buried in mass graves. After the British were ordered to "give no quarter"some of the captured wounded were locked in the field hospital before it was burned to the ground.

Decades later a memorial Cairn, a pile of stones raised usually as a marker or burial mound, was erected to honor all those lost on 16 April 1746.

More later,
Jeff & Wendy
Vessel Name: Ex-Calypso
Hailing Port: Morehead City, NC
Ex-Calypso's Photos - Main
Repair to Calypso's foredeck, mast step, rudder, & Seacock replacement
7 Photos
Created 3 November 2016