Preparing for Pentland…


This bit is probably more of interest to our sailing readers…

The plan is to take Heydays up to Wick and then over to Stromness on the Orkneys. Just a little matter of the tides, currents, skerries and general nastiness of the Pentland Firth. Timing the crossing in a small boat is crucial and the various almanacs, cruising guides and sailing directions are full of dire warnings which don’t exactly sit on the fence…

Tide flows strongly around and through the Orkney Islands. The Pentland Firth is a dangerous area for all craft, tidal flows reach 12kn between Duncansby Head and S Ronaldsay…. Tidal streams reach 8-9kn at sp in the Outer Sound, and 9-12kn between Pentland Skerries and Duncansby Hd. The resultant dangerous seas, very strong eddies and violent races should be avoided by yachts at all costs.

Our original plan was to sail round to Macduff to scrub Heydays bottom and treat her to some antifoul and then get up to Wick by 26th March. This would have taken us across the Pentland Firth at 5/7 Springs…just about do-able according to the tide and current predictions on ‘AnyTide’ and Navionics. However, Reeds Almanac and the Cruising Association both suggest much stronger tides (due in part to the ‘super springs’ at the end of the month). Wise counsel (John) and the fact that we are doing this for fun not a dare, finally persuades us to take a more relaxed cruise along the coast up to Wick and then cross the Firth nearer the neaps at the start of April. Paul will join us, but our wives have elected to fly straight to Orkney!!

Our aim is still to spend some time in Orkney and then get Heydays over to the West Coast (Stornaway, Kinlochbervie…ish) by end April ready for 4-6 weeks in the Western Isles, gradually working our way south.

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