Stornoway Departure


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We departed Stornoway at the end of March for Northern Ireland. With the area’s frequent weather systems and strong currents, finding a window to run the entire way was a bit of a challenge. During a brief period of forecast improved conditions between two weather systems, we made a 30-mile run south to Scalpay. After the next system passed through, we could then make an early-morning departure for an overnight run in mostly positive current and light winds to reach the entrance to Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland at low water slack.

The lighter winds didn’t turn out quite as predicted en route, and we ended up 20-knot south winds running against a several-knot ebb current. This was mostly not an issue until we reached the tidal race in the Sound of Shiant, pictured above, where for a short distance the waves were at least twelve feet and very tight together. From there we had an easy run through the Sound of Scalpay and into a sheltered anchorage at South Harbour on the Isle of Scalpay.

Below are highlights from March 30th and 31st, 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.

3/30/2021
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Dirona
A final picture of Dirona in Stornoway shortly before we depart for Ireland, with one of the local seals just visible in the foreground.
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Lews Castle
Lews Castle in the mist as we get underway from Stornoway. We really enjoyed our third visit and wouldn’t be surprised to find ourselves here again in a few years.
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Waterfall
One of many waterfalls spilling down the east side of the Isle of Lewis, viewed as we run south for Scalpay.
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Laying Traps
One of the Stornoway fishing fleet out laying traps off the Isle of Lewis.
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Waves
The morning’s southerly winds were predicted to turn northerly as we were underway, but the weather system stalled and instead we got 20-knot south winds running against a several-knot ebb current. This was mostly not an issue until we reached the tidal race in the Sound of Shiant where, for a short section, the waves were about 12+ feet and very tight together. Several times green water reached the windscreen.
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Pitch and Roll
As we passed through the tidal race in the Sound of Shiant, we were pitching and rolling to 18° (lower left below depth and speed). The pitch and roll graph is visible slightly above and to the right.
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Sound of Scalpay
Houses on the Isle of Harris to our north overlooking the Sound of Scalpay. The cloud level is right at the hilltops behind.
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Commercial Facility
Commercial facility beside the old ferry dock used before the Scalpay Bridge was completed.
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Old House
Old traditional cottage on the Isle of Harris.
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Scalpay Bridge
The graceful Scalpay Bridge, completed in 1997, connects this isles of Scalpay and Harris.
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Beinn Scorabhaig
The workboat Beinn Scorabhaig at Scalpay North Harbour. This boat has frequently been in Stornoway the past few days.
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Scalpay Village
View to Scalpay Village and North Harbour as we pass around the west side of the island.
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Structures
We haven’t been able to figure out what these structures ashore on Scalpay would be used for.
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South Harbour
Entering our intended anchorage of South Harbour on the Isle of Scalpay.
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Scalpay Anchorage
Our anchorage in South Harbour on the Isle of Scalpay in 40 ft (12m) with 180ft (55m) of rode.
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Scalpay Views
Views to the scenic anchorage at Scalpay (clockwise from top left: forward, aft, starboard and port).
3/31/2021
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Fruit
We typically have fruit with our breakfast and today it’s fresh berries.
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Winds
We’ll stay at Scalpay for two nights while some strong winds pass. Conditions should be good tomorrow for a run to Ireland.
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Route Planning
In preparation for our passage across the Atlantic, we’ve been comparing different routes to the US from the Azores at right. The most obvious route, where the blue boat icon is shown, is an 1,800-mile great circle route to Bermuda, then a 600-800-mile run to the US, depending on our landing choice. The problem with that route to Bermuda is that the winds predominately blow from the west, on the bow, and the route is often in the path of the the storm systems that move northeast across the Atlantic from the the US east coast.

So we we’ve been comparing the weather on that route to a few other options, including a 1,900-mile run south to the latitude of Bermuda and then turning west, or two possible routes much further south to Florida, skipping Bermuda altogether. The two Florida routes are 2,760 and 2,900 miles, so we’d be at sea much longer, but if the weather appears much better in general, it might be worth the extra miles. We still need to gather more data to make a call though.

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41 Knots
The expected winds have hit and we’ve seen gusts to 41 knots in our anchorage at Scalpay.
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Dirona
Kenny Morrison, the Local Authority Harbour Master, sent us a warm welcome along with a picture taken from his house of Dirona at Scalpay South Harbour (click image for a larger view).
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South Harbour
The afternoon sun lighting up homes above Scalpay South Harbour.
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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