Sunday, 7 June 2015

A fishing trip

I had visited Shetland in August last year and thought it would be nice to sail up and do a spot of fishing near Muckle Flugga. As I had no firm plans in mind this would be part of the "cruising plan" for 2015.

After an uneventful winter Eddie Joe and I left for the run up the east coast. The weather as anticipated ranged between bad and uncomfortable. This meant an overnight stay in Peterhead before heading to Orkney. We left the blue toon for an overnight run in light winds with the wind freshening as the new day came in. A water leak at the exhaust elbow had to be repaired with epoxy to allow the engine to run. We sailed the last 40 miles at good speed with 30 knots of wind, rain and poor visibility. We were heading for the island of Sanday to spend a night and take in their part in the annual folk festival. We were only a mile away before we saw Sanday and it was quite windy. Wary of running the engine we did with constant checks to see if the epoxy was holding, it did so we got sails down and made in for Kettletoft pier. Sanday does not get many yachts but the pier was comfortable with power and clean toilets and showers nearby. It also has a nice pub a shop and a hotel, the whole package really! We had a Great Northern Diver 10 ft from the boat in the

    Eddie enjoys the white sand beaches of Sanday.

We were made very welcome and participated fully in the “Sanday Soulka” This event happens 4 times a year where the community setup all sorts of entertainment to amuse locals and visitors alike. We toured the island courtesy of Soulka organiser Liz Brown visiting the “sights” of Sanday. This included archaeological digs, heritage centres and artists’ studios.

This site and several others have been uncovered from thousands of years ago and best guess is they are for having hot baths in!

The concert at night was tremendous with several bands playing traditional music. Weather next day was grim so we were happy to stay another day and took part in the whisky tasting and the bowling competition.

The engine repair though temporary was holding and I was tracking down a new part which I would have sent to Lerwick. We had a forecast of SW 4 to 5 occ 6 which was good for a run to Fair Isle so we headed off with a very positive memory of Sanday. A great sail in the Atlantic swell had us at FairIsle in no time. After getting past the cruise ships we got a comfy berth and wandered up to the bird observatory. This is a modern building providing a centre and accommodation for visitors to enjoy the island.  We had a meal and talked to some very nice people learning a bit more about the dedicated almost addicted twitchers! A lovely island which I’d like to explore more of.
    Fair Isle

Aros More tied up in front of The Good Shephard which when a northerly gale is forecast gets winched up a slip for safety

Next day we were off again for Lerwick in a fresh westerly wind. We kept clear of the “rost” at Sumburgh and headed up the east side. The wind died so on went the engine for the last 10 miles lots of bilge checks later we arrived in Lerwick. Next day I got the aluminium part expertly welded by a very helpful  man at Ocean Kinetics. We got showered and laundered at the Lerwick Boat Club which provides great facilities for visitors at reasonable cost.  

Lerwick is a great wee town with great facilities and friendly people.

Eddie had to head away on the ferry so Joe and I headed north to Unst to dangle our tackle for a cod! We went into Baltasound which despite looking a bit grim was very welcoming. We spent a good night chatting to the local Firefighters who were having a beer after their training night. They also told us likely spots to catch some fish. 

Baltasound pier, driech but friendly

Next day up with the tide and we started to fish. It was quite clear the cod were suicidal and we both had several with Joe getting a 22 pounder. Most averaged about 10lb. We tried to catch a Turbot but did not manage. Trying for them was a great respite from pulling big cod from 70 metres! All fish except 2 for the pot wee returned to fight another day. We anchored up in Burra Firth right at the top of Unst. A bonny spot indeed. After a bit more fishing next day and back to Baltasound to meet Colin and Davy who were coming up to sample the cod fishing. Joe and I played it low quay waiting to see how they fared pulling them form the deep! Colin had a 15lb Coalfish right away then started to get fish after fish. We took it in turns to fish which was good on the arms. Anchoring again and a mega fish n chips tea was enjoyed in lovely surroundings. 

Biggest of all Joes 22 pounder

Colin's monster Coallie

Davy said that would do him nicely

Even I got one

Muckle Flugga the most northerly point of the UK 

Ready for frying!

The weather forecast was looking a bit grim so we headed down the west of Unst through Blue Mull Sound against a growing foul tide and into Mid Yell. The pilot book suggested shops, pub and leisure centre. We hoped for a meal ashore but I’m afraid the pub had no food so Fray Bentos prevailed! With the forecast giving 9s we made a sprint down to Lerwick and enjoyed bus trips to Sumburgh and some good fiddle music. 

The crew head off on the bus to Sumburgh

The lads went off on the ferry leaving me to chill and do some little jobs before Eddie and Brian arrive for the trip west.