At 08-15 we called harbour control on VHF14 for permission to leave the harbour as the ferry appeared to be getting ready to depart. We were given the all clear and headed out to catch the last of the fair tide through the end of Hoy Sound into Scapa Flow, past Graemsey Island. The forecast was for NW4/5 occasionally 6 for a time. We managed to dodge the odd heavy shower and enjoyed a great sail with one reef in the main through nice flat water, sheltered by the islands.
Dodging the showers along with the local ferry.
Happiness is a good sail in a brisk wind on flat seas.
By 10-20 we were moored off the pier at Long Hope on a very impressive brand new bright red visitor mooring ( one of two provided ). We spent the rest of the day relaxing onboard. We were now in a good position to make an early start to traverse the Pentland Firth.
Moored off Long Hope pier.
The 00-00 inshore waters forecast was for NW4/5 backing W3/4 becoming variable 3 or less later. This seemed the perfect forecast to cross the Pentland Firth from west to east. In order to position ourselves correctly in the main channel at the turn of the tide, we left our mooring at 04-50
Another early start!
Cantick Head lighthouse on South Walls island.
Our pilot indicated we should take the last of the inshore ebb ( west going ) towards Aith Hope, and then steer due south to ensure passing through the outer sound in mid channel. By 05-50 we were well on our way with a COG of 191º and SOG of 5.9kts. The conditions were good as there were no white horses, just a lumpy, slightly confused swell. With only 10kts of true wind we were motoring with the main up.
Heading out into the Pentland Firth.
By 06-10 we were between Stroma and Swona islands, the tide had definitely turned and was running east giving us a SOG of 7.7kts. Over the next 15 minutes our SOG increased to 10.3kts and the sea flattened. We were treated to great views of the Pentland Skerries and Duncansby Head and recorded a maximum speed over the ground of 10.7kts ( in just the first hour of the tide! )
We carried the fair but decreasing tide all the way to Wick and were moored in the harbour marina at 09-05.