Stornoway Arrival


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After completing quarantine at Longhope in Orkney, we returned to Stornoway to refuel, provision and accept several deliveries. Departing Orkney is always a bit of a challenge in needing to time the strong tides as well as get a good weather window. We made the journey in two legs, with an 81-mile, 10-hour run to Bagh na Fionndalach in Loch Laxford followed by a 46-mile crossing of The Minch to Stornoway.

We moored in Stornoway at our “usual” berth next to the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) lifeboat Tom Sanderson with Lews Castle in the background. It was really great to be back in Stornoway. Perhaps because we haven’t been home to Seattle for well over a year now, Stornoway is starting to feel a bit like home. The town is one of the few places we’ve visited three times over the past four years. It’s a super-convenient place to provision, and when times are better and tourism is allowed, there’s a lot to see in the region.

Below are highlights from March 15th and 16th, 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.

3/15/2021
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Conditions
As expected, conditions have settled down considerably overnight with the winds now around ten knots as a small high-pressure system has arrived. Everything still looks good for an afternoon departure from Orkney with favourable current to round Cape Wrath tonight.
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Gas Flare
The gas flare from the refinery on the isle of Flotta mimicking a sunrise.
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Impulse
Impulse under sail towards the port of Longhope.
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Martello Tower
A Martello Tower was built on the south shore of the mouth of Longhope in 1814, with a second across Hoxa Sound. We visited the tower and Hackness Battery, on our previous visit to Longhope in 2017.

Martello Towers take their name from Martelle Point in Corsica, Italy where in 1794 two small cannons mounted on top of a round tower fended off an attack by two British warships with a combined firepower of 106 guns. The British were so impressed that they built over 100 such towers around the south and east coasts of England in the early 1800s when Napoleon was building an invasion fleet. Only one other Martello tower survives in Scotland, at Leith in Edinburgh.

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Lighthouse
Looking back to the Cantick Head Lighthouse as as we head out into Pentland Firth after departing Longhope.
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Cliffs
Dramatic cliffs along the west coast of Hoy.
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Speed
We hit a maximum speed of 12.9 knots as the current flushed us out of Hoxa Sound and continue to ride the current westward making 10.7 knots (middle, left). We’re running a 2100 RPM to get around Cape Wrath before the windw pick up shortly after midnight. At that RPM in flat water, we’d normally be doing 8.7 knots.
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Magdalena
The ship Magdalena entered Pentland Firth from the North Sea around the time we departed Longhope. The vessel is running only slightly faster than us, so has been in view most of our trip. We’ll be rounding Capt Wrath in about an hour.
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Negative Current
The current changed to flood (eastbound) as we neared Cape Wrath and we’re now making only 4.4 knots. We expect this to improve as we round the corner. The winds remain calm at 6.5 knots.
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Bagh na Fionndalach Anchorage
Our anchorage in Bagh na Fionndalach in Loch Laxford in 77 ft (23 m) on 275 ft (84 m) of rode. We initially were planning to anchor at Fanagmore Bay to the west, but the basin was full of fish traps and aquaculture. Fish traps are everywhere here—we really relied on our floodlights to avoid them as we picked our way in. The current improved and we got in about when we expected at just past 11pm. We’ll get a good sleep tonight and when the winds settle down tomorrow afternoon, we’ll head to Stornoway.
3/16/2021
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Bagh na Fionndalach
Morning view from the anchorage at Bagh na Fionndalach. The anchorage is quite scenic, but we arrived in the dark last night so couldn’t see any of it until this morning.
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Aqua Star
The fish carrier Aqua Star arrived this morning to the fish farm just north of our anchorage in Bagh na Fionndalach.
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Eilean A’ Chrotaich
We departed Bagh na Fionndalach into a fair-sized swell that settled down as we crossed the North Minch. This is the rocky islet Eilean A’ Chrotaich on the outskirts of Stornoway. The Scottish coastline is rugged but beautiful.
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Stornoway
A first view to Stornoway. Perhaps because we haven’t been home to Seattle for well over a year now, Stornoway is starting to feel a bit like home. It is one of the few places we’ve visited three times over the past four years.
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Isle of Lewis
The CalMac (Caledonian MacBrayne) ferry Isle of Lewis moored at Stornoway. With most of Scotland still in full lockdown, the ferries are running in a very restricted mode, supporting essential travel only.
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Survey Boat
Survey boat working the Stornoway harbour.
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Lews Castle
View to Lews Castle, built in the mid-1800s, as we approach the Stornoway inner harbour.
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Volt Processor
We were surprised to see the Volt Processor of Fosnavag moored in Stornoway. Fornovag is in the Heroy municipality in Norway, where we toured Westplast boat yard and shopped at the Meny grocery store in the tender.
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Stornoway Berth
Our berth in Stornoway, with a 32-amp power and water available. We haven’t been in a marina with water available for several months (the Norwegian marinas we visited shut off the water during the winter). And the last time we had a 32-amp power connection was here, nine months ago.
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Tom Sanderson
Dirona moored in our “usual” berth next to the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) lifeboat Tom Sanderson with Lews Castle in the background. It’s really great to be back in Stornoway.
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Packages
We haven’t placed an Amazon order since the last time we were in Stornoway. We had a lot of packages waiting and the port delivered them right to the dock for us. This is the first load of several coming over the next few days.
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Inner Harbour
View to the Stornoway inner harbour from the cockpit during Happy Hour. It’s a wonderful place to be and we’re really happy to be back.
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Evening Views
Evening view to Stornoway (clockwise from top left: forward, aft, starboard and port).
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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