Cromarty Firth


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Following an early-morning departure from the Orkney Islands, we rode the current south to Cromary Firth and found ourselves in an oil rig graveyard. With oil prices declining over the past few years, many North Sea oil companies have reduced production and towed some rigs to the protected harbor at Cromarty Firth. Some have a skeleton crew on board to maintain the equipment, others have been shut down completely and a few have been disassembled for scrap. What an unusual anchorage.

Below are trip highlights from October 6th, 2017 off the northeast coast of Scotland. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps

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9.3 Knots

We faced a little bit of adverse current as we exited Scapa Flow, but soon were in a positive flow and running at 9.3 knots. We were expecting this section of the run to be rather rough since the winds had been blowing so strongly from the west for the past few days, and had prepared the Dirona for heavy weather conditions. But we hardly took any spray over the bow and conditions were remarkably good. The only challenge was catching the right tidal conditions meant we needed to leave the anchorage and cross Pentland Firth in the dark.
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Duncansby Head

We’re starting to see a little light as we pass Duncansby Head just past 7am. The light there is visible for 22 miles and we could see it clear across Pentland Firt as soon as we exited Scapa Flow.
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Noss Head

The Noss Head Lighthouse near Wick entered service in 1849.
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10.1 Knots

We’re getting an excellent push from the flooding current and are doing 10.1 knots as we pass Wick.
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Fish Boat

The fish boat off Wick was a catamaran. That’s an unusual hull choice for a fishing vessel, but it does have a lot of deck space for its length.
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Forward Thruster Issue

In checking the thrusters a couple of days ago, the wires had been wiggled slightly and the forward left side thruster wasn’t working. The cause is the wires are pulled too tight and putting tension on the connection. We reinstalled the wire properly in the socket and ensured it was not pulled tight.
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Oil Field

We’re eight miles off the Beatrice Oil Field. The small three-platform field was discovered by Mesa Petroleum in 1976 and now is nearing end of life. The field was named for the wife of Mesa’s founder, American businessman T. Boone Pickens.
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Oil Rig

One of the oil rigs in Beatrice Oil field.
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Beatrice Wind Farm

All those radar targets eight miles to our southeast likely are from the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm at the Beatrice Oil Field. Construction began on the 84-turbine wind farm earlier this year and it is expected to be fully operational in 2019.
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Tarbat Ness

The light on Tarbat Ness was completed in 1830 after 16 vessels were lost in a November 1826 storm. The lighthouse is another Stevenson family design, engineered by Robert Stevenson.
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Little Tarrel Castle

Little Tarrel Castle originally was built in the mid 16th century.
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Scottish Space Program

When the structure visible beyond the rocks off North Sutor first came into view, Jennifer thought it looked like a rocket and launch pad. James joked that it must be part of the Scottish Space Program, but it’s a jack-up oil rig.
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Oil Rig Graveyard

As we got a better view into Cromarty Firth, we could see more and more oil rigs inside. With oil prices declining over the past few years, many North Sea oil companies have reduced production and towed some rigs to the protected harbor at Cromarty Firth. Some have a skeleton crew on board to maintain the equipment, others have been shut down completely and a few have been disassembled for scrap. What a bizarre sight.
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Deep Explorer

The offshore oil supply vessel Deep Explorer in Cromarty Harbor. We were reminded very much of Dampier, that serves the fairly substantial oil and gas industry in that region of western Australia.
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Pilot

As we entered the harbor, Cromarty Harbour Control radioed us to let us know that the Deep Explorer was about to get underway and to give it space, so we were well off to the far side. Then the pilot boat came over to make sure we knew. Then shortly before we anchored, Deep Explorer radioed us as well.
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Current

Strong tidal current is nearly pulling this buoy underwater. The current was quite strong where we anchored as well.
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Anchored

Dirona anchored near the oil rigs in Cromarty Firth. We never thought we’d be anchored next to an oil rig, let alone several.
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Port Vila

We were amused to see this rig registered in Port Vila, the capitol of Vanuatu. This was our last port of call before arriving in New Zealand in 2013 during out Pacific crossing.
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Supports

The only thing left of this rig was the supports. Presumably the rest has been disassembled for scrap.
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Underneath

Looking up into one of the rigs from underneath. They sure are massive.

Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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