Quarantine at Longhope


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We spent much of our two weeks at Longhope, Orkney in twelve days of quarantine required for entry into Scotland during the pandemic. The days aboard passed quickly, and were somewhat reminiscent of our time spent the previous year at the Isle of Gigha during the Scottish lockdown except that instead of the local fishfarm workers, it was the Longhope RNLI lifeboat checking on us.

We also spent much of that time in a dispute with the Scottish Border Force over quarantine requirements. We are very careful to follow the laws of every country we visit, and prior to leaving Farsund reviewed the guidance on the Scottish government’s web site and contacted the small-boat reporting hotline to ensure we were compliant. And the Scottish (NHS) National Health Service had approved our quarantining at anchor.

The Scottish Border Force, however, said we had to enter a ten-day hotel-based quarantine program available only at one of the three major Scottish airports. From our location in Longhope, this would have required we take at least two buses and two ferries, plus additional contact with locals in order for us to moor the boat and board Spitfire. This would not have been in the best interest of anyone’s health. We weren’t sure how Border Force could take a position in contradiction with the Scottish NHS or the other government departments we checked with, but on our tenth day of quarantine they did accept the NHS-approved quarantine at anchor.

International travel has become much more complex with countries hastily passing new pandemic-related laws that often result in border official’s interpretations conflicting with public-facing government-documented regulations. This is one of several reasons we’re looking forward to doing some easy cruising in our home country on the US east coast.

Below are highlights from March 1st through 14th, 2021. 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 mvdirona.com/maps.

3/1/2021
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Hoy Head
The ferry Hoy Head departing the berth at Longhope. The crew returned our enthusiastic wave.
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Sunrise
A fabulous pink sunrise in Longhope.
3/2/2021
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Happy Hour
Happy Hour as the sun sets at 5:30. We’re continuing our Norwegian tradition of having happy hour outside. We don’t feel cooped up inside the boat at all, but we always look forward to spending some time outside at the end of the day.
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Burning
The local residents seem to do a lot of burning here—smoke plumes like this are a common sight.
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NASCAR
We’re long-time NASCAR fans. When living in Toronto in the 1980s, we often drove to the eastern US to watch NASCAR races in Michigan, North Carolina and even as far south as Alabama. The last live race we saw was the Daytona 500 in 2017 prior to crossing to Europe. Recently NASCAR has started posting some of their full races on YouTube shortly after they have completed, so we can now watch them in Europe at our own pace. This is the field coming into the pits at Homestead, Florida.
3/3/2021
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Long-tailed Duck
A flock of striking long-tailed ducks swam past the anchorage today. They are just wintering here from the Arctic, and are most commonly seen in the UK in northern Scotland.
3/4/2021
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Snail Shell
We heard a thump up top on the flybridge sole above the pilot house and went out to check that nothing was amiss. The sound was from this snail shell that a bird had dropped from high above to crack it open.
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New EPIRB
Opening up our new ACR EPIRB that came in our parts shipment from the US in preparation for install. The old one needed a new battery and hydrostatic release mechanism, so it was time this 11-year-old piece of safety equipment to just replace the entire 10-year-old unit.
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EPIRB Installed
The new EPIRB installed on the stack where the original was.
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Old EPIRB
Our old Kinnard EPIRB after removal. This system has an expired battery and needs a new hydrostatic release, and the spring-loaded release mechanism, visible in the center of the picture, has cracked.
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Happy Hour
Happy hour on day four of our Scotland quarantine. It feels a bit like our time in Gigha during the Scottish lockdown, where we couldn’t really go anywhere. But we always have lots to do, so this is no hardship for us.
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46 Amps
We’ve put 1,076 hours on the generator since the cylinder head change and at 7,818 hours it continues to run well. Here the generator is holding a 46-amp load (gauge at right) at 1728 RPM (in orange slightly left of center).
3/5/2021
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Main for Autostart
The generator is due for yet another valve adjustment and we need to cool it down for the job. That won’t happen at anchor when the generator is in frequent use, so we instead switched over our autostart system to use the backup generator, the main engine. The main engine picks up the load for one charge cycle and we adjust the valves once the generator is cooled. The yellow checklight at bottom left indicates that we are in an abnormal state, in this case, the main engine is set to be the active generator.
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274 Amps
The main engine, early in the charge cycle, driving 274 amps at 24 volts (bottom left gauge) into the house battery bank.
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Valve Adjustment
The generator cover off to perform the 12th valve adjustment on our generator at 7,823 hours.
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Boat Yoga
James in the “supine brow stretch” boat yoga position inside the flybridge brow to replace entertainment system weather cover at the flybridge helm. The old cover, at left on the shelf, had broken at the hinge and we are replacing it with the new cover, at right, that came with our parts shipment from the US.
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Radio Out
Replacing the cover required removing the radio entirely, a bit of a job with so many connections at the back. But it’s out and now replacing the cover is straightforward.
3/6/2021
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Sunrise
Spectacular orange sunrise over Longhope.
3/7/2021
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RNLI
The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) is an amazing life-saving group. They are supported by donations, and most of those out there risking their lives in maritime rescues are volunteers. The RNLI serves the UK and Ireland, and operates in some very difficult sea conditions. The Longhope RNLI station in the Orkney Islands has made many daring rescues, but will always be remembered for suffering one of the worse losses in British lifeboat history when all eight crew were killed during a rescue in a severe winter gale.

On our previous visit to Longhope in 2017, we got to spend a few hours with the the Longhope RNLI crew and learned a lot. They gave us a tour of their their lifeboat, the Helen Comrie, took us for a private visit to their excellent lifeboat museum, and even drove us around the area to see some of the sights. They remembered us from that visit and this afternoon stopped by for a most enjoyable long chat after returning from a practice session.

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Helen Comrie
The Longhope RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) lifeboat Helen Comrie heading out on a training run.
3/8/2021
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Hold the Donut
Spitfire enjoying some cream-filled donut, hold the donut.
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Side Floodlight
Dismounting the side floodlight to adjust the angle. Bright floodlights all around really help orient us when operating in tight quarters at night, and we wanted a little more forward angle on the side lights. It appears that James leapt into that position, but he’s actually suspended from the crane by his climbing harness.
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Reach Trick
To adjust the angle on the side-facing floodlight, we needed to drill a new hole for the mounting bracket at the tip of the stack winglet. But access to the nut for the bolt holding it in place is through a pie-eye near the base of the winglet. We can’t reach it by hand to hold the nut in place and also wanted to add a washer, so used two-sided tape to hold the washer against a wrench, with blue tape to hold the nut in the wrench. Even that was further than James could reach without an extension, so he had to put an extension on the wrench. Then he could reach through the pie-eye and secure the bolt. It still wasn’t an easy job, but near impossible without this sort of trick.
3/9/2021
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Storm System
One of several storm systems are on the way, with winds gusting into the high forties tonight. Conditions will settle somewhat tomorrow before the next system arrives.
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Storm Arriving
That first storm system is arriving. The barometer (upper left) has been steadily falling the past 12 hours and in the past three hours the winds (top right) have shot up from around 15 knots to gusts up to 41 knots.
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Wind
The winds are from the south and despite the small fetch, the seas are really kicking up (clockwise from top left: forward, aft, starboard and port).
3/10/2021
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51 knots
The storm came and went overnight (wind graph at upper left). At the height, we recorded gusts to 51 knots with the wind steadily above 30. Normally the noise from these high winds would wake us up at night, but with the inlet for the master stateroom ventilation system plugged, the stateroom is significantly quieter and neither of us woke up once. We should have plugged it years ago.
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Buldak Ramen
Norwegians generally are not known for their predilection for spicy cuisine, and and we’re big fans of hot food. So when the clerk at Asian Food Market in Bergen recommended we only use a small amount of the spicy sauce when making Buldak ramen, a dish we’d not tried before, we appreciated the warning but thought nothing of making it full strength.

The noodles are delicious, but OMG are they hot. We ended up adding only half the full amount of sauce in subsequent servings and it still is insanely spicy. The dish, introduced in 2012, is one of the spiciest ramen sold in Korean and became famous due to the Fire Noodle Challenge, where people posted videos of themselves trying to eat the fiery dish as quickly as possible. And the version we purchased is the 2x spicy version, even hotter than the original.

We were surprised to learn a scale exists calibrating hotness, the Scoville Scale. The original spicy noodles are rated 4,404 Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), about the hotness of a jalapeno pepper, and the ones we purchased are rated 8,706 SHUs.

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Next Storm
The winds have fallen to around 15-20 knots after last night’s storm. But we’ve got another major storm coming and expect gusty winds into the 40s for the next few days.
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Virus Spread
When we departed Norway in late February for the UK, we knew that we were leaving one of the safest countries in the world from a COVID-19 outbreak perspective and heading to one faring much worse. But the UK is actually now doing better now, with 8.9 cases per 100,000 compared to Norway’s 11.
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Thorsvoe
The ferry Thorsvoe departing from Longhope this morning. The first week of our stay, the ferry Hoy Head made this run, but it’s been on the dock in nearby Stromness for the past few days. Several years back, the Thorsvoe also took up the run when the Hoy Head was damaged on the dock at Longhope during a major winter storm.
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Mark Steel’s in Kirkwall
Colin Whittaker recommended we listen to British comedian Mark Steel’s in Kirkwall, the capitol of Orkney. It was hilarious. Steel does an excellent job of digging into the history of a place and poking fun at local customs and history in his BBC radio series Mark Steel’s In Town. We’ll have to listen to the Portland episode.
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Helen Comrie
The Longhope RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) lifeboat Helen Comrie returning from an evening training run.
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963 mb
The winds (upper right) and seas have been picking up as the next storm system arrives this evening, and the barometer (upper left) has fallen to 963 mb.
3/11/2021
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51 knots
The winds were steady in the high 20-knot range all night and in the past three hours have really shot up. We recorded a maximum gust of 51 knots so far.
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Hamnavoe
The ferry Hamnavoe en route to Stromness, Orkney from Scrabster on the Scottish mainlaind. That must have been an interesting ride across the Pentland Firth with 40-knot winds blowing.
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55 Knots
The winds peaked with a maximum gust of 55 knots, are now are settling somewhat, but will remain strong for several more days.
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Heeling
The high winds continue. Big, heavy Dirona for the most part isn’t moving around too much, but we do occasionally heel over in a big gust as visible from the bow and stern views (upper left and right).
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Storm Continues
The storm is continuing into the evening, with winds consistently in the high 20-knot range and frequent gusts above 40.
3/12/2021
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Thorsvoe
The ferry Thorsvoe on the morning departure from Longhope. The winds are blowing from a more westerly direction where there is more fetch, resulting in fairly large waves as is visible in the foreground.
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Laundry Day
Laundry day on Dirona. This is a simple task that depends on a lot of gear: the watermaker, generator, hot water heater and, of course, the washer and dryer. The watermaker continues to run superbly after the recent reman, as does the generator since replacing the cylinder head. The generator now has 1,136 hours since that major service. For laundry, we have a GE Spacesaver stacked model that has performed well over the years. We’ve replaced a few parts, but they generally have been inexpensive and readily available.
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America’s Cup
We’ve been really enjoying the America’s Cup racing taking place in Auckland, New Zealand. The two boats in the finals, New Zealand and Italy, are both strong in different conditions, so each race hasn’t been especially close. The starts have been exciting and so far there hasn’t been any passing after the start, but the two teams currently are tied.
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Sharpening Knives
We received a Chef’s Choice knife sharpener as a wedding present way back in 1990 and used it heavily over the years in our houses and later on board Dirona. It eventually wore out and we recently replaced it with a model 15XV. It works even better than the original model, and our knives stay very sharp.
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Happy Hour
Happy hour in the cockpit, celebrating our last day of quarantine in Scotland.
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Sun and Rain
A rain storm passing in front of a bright sunset over Longhope.
3/13/2021
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Oil Change
Performing the 35th oil change on our Northern Lights 12kW generator at 7,885 hours.
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Firmware Update
Windows Update is always exciting, but nothing is quite as exciting as seeing it do a BIOS update. We took a picture of this, because we thought it might be the last words from James’ Lenovo. Fortunately it lives on.
3/14/2021
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More Wind
The winds settled a bit yesterday, but are on the rise again and we’ve seen gusts to 51 knots in the past 3 hours.
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Weather Outlook
Departing Orkney westbound is complicated by strong currents and frequent storms, with few sheltered anchorages along the north coast of mainland Scotland. But it appears we’ll get a brief window between weather systems tomorrow afternoon, with favourable current, to make an overnight run around Cape Wrath at the northwest tip of mainland Scotland.
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Wing Fuel Filter
We annually replace the fuel in the dedicated wing engine tank, and change the fuel filter. Normally the fuel and filter is reasonably clean, but this time it unusually dirty. In addition to changing the fuel and the fuel filter, we also took apart and cleaned the Racor 500 fuel filter housing.

The fuel has a black dust in it and it’s only been there for a short time. We’re not sure what caused it, but suspect that fine sediments have built up over the years in the day tank and it was brought back up into solution when the boat was bouncing through the Pentland firth at 17.4 kts and, at one point, healed over 20 degrees. The filter is fairly clean, so either this black dust passes through it or not much has yet built up in the filter. Likely the latter.

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 mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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