We had the sails up during the complete voyage of 37 miles from Fair Isle to Shetland. The wind was blowing at 12 knots, we were broad reaching and we enjoyed the sounds of the sea while our favourite sail, the gennaker, was pulling us quietly forward.

Sumburgh Head, the southernmost tip of Shetland
Sumburgh Head, the southernmost tip of Shetland

After passing the Sumburgh Head on the southern tip of Shetland, the wind suddenly increased to 20 knots. We were heeling so much that the side deck was completely underwater. Well, at least we rinsed some towels drying on the lifelines with the sea water. There were a few exciting seconds before she responded to the helm and we could turn away from the wind for lowering the gennaker and raising the genoa. I would believe in more professional terms this manoeuvre is called broaching 🙂
Nauticat 441 broaching with gennaker
Nauticat 441 broaching with gennaker

Just a moment before we had wondered why a sailboat that was a few miles in front of us suddenly made mysterious zig-zag. According to AIS and radar there was nothing that should cause it. Only later when we did the gennaker dance at exactly the same spot, we understood why. The wind stayed at 20 knots so for the rest of the journey we used genoa for sailing into the harbour of Lerwick.

When we were arriving to the harbour there was a long rope across the harbour entrance. There were a couple of guys waving their hands franticly on the pontoon. We slowly motored close to ask, what is going on. The waving only got bigger together with some shouting. As entering the harbour was out of question we were circling around and thinking about what to do. The passing ferry captain shouted to us that we could call for the port control. Voilà! Andrus asked the info from port control and heard that there were divers in the water and the pontoons can be accessed after half an hour. Usually the diving operations are marked by the flag ‘A’ from international maritime signal flags but now there was only a long rope with some men waving hands. A big regatta from Norway would arrive to Lerwick next week and the harbour was putting out some additional pontoons. We were waiting for some time at the fuel berth and soon we were able to enter the marina.

There was only one empty spot on the pontoon berth. We made her fast alongside and thus we had arrived to Shetland. We were still on the British Isles and we were flying the Scottish courtesy flag on Suwena’s right spreader because in 1472 the Islands were annexed to Shetland from Denmark. The islands were pawned for the payment of the dowry of the princess Margaret. When the final payment was later not done, the Shetland islands became the property of the King James III.

Lerwick harbour in Shetland
Lerwick harbour in Shetland

During our visit several cruise ships anchored on the sound between Lerwick and the island of Brissay. The cruise passengers were ferried ashore by ship tenders in a continuous stream. Fortunately the ships arrived in the morning and departed in the late afternoon. Especially the tender skippers of the Italian cruise line Costa Cruises put their throttle down also inside the harbour basin. You can believe that the stern waves rocked quite badly the boats moored to pontoons. Several yachtsmen called the port control by VHF for asking to put the crew of Costa Cruises under control and ask them to show proper seamanship. However it seemed that the commercial interests were weighting more than the harbour dues from random sailors and the rally continued. Fortunately the crew from Celebrity Cruises and other lines acted properly and reduced their speed in the harbour basin.
Passengers of Celebrity Cruise are tendered to the town of Lerwick
Passengers of Celebrity Cruise are tendered to the town of Lerwick

There was also MS Ocean Endeavour moored in the harbour
that to Finnish readers is better known as Kristina Katarina from Kristina Cruises. The ship’s new owners rent the cabins to oil industry’s temporary workers and simultaneously refurbish the interior at the same time for upcoming luxury Arctic cruises. One afternoon there was a knock on the hull of Suwena and a brisk Finnish “Hello”. A Finnish IT guy who have been working on a ship for several years came to say hi after seeing in marina our Finnish flag flying on Suwena’s mizzen. Time was passing quickly by chatting. He told that on Ocean Endeavour there are four saunas. From the current crew he is the only one using them so he must have some Finnishness still inside of ship.

The WIFI at Lerwick marina is a real robbery with the price of 9 pounds per day per computer. Fortunately there were some free networks as well and we could use Internet on our boat. Before we have been taking internet access for granted but not any more. We’ve always had a working broadband 3G internet dongle. Now here the only one working was Vodafone’s with the GPRS speed. So we are always on a lookout for a free WIFI.

The first week in Shetland passed by just resting. It was already a third time during the summer voyage that I visited a doctor. It felt that I just did not get any better at all. Being ill and handling Suwena’s 25 metre long mooring lines it felt like they were at least a mile long. Fortunately in the Lerwick hospital I was fully examined and received even stronger antibiotics. Maybe finally I’ll get better. We decided that we will not continue before the medicines do their stuff and I’m again at full strength.

The European Health Insurance Card is worthwhile acquisition. All EU citizens can get one for free from their local social security office by filling an application. The card entitles the holder to the same medical assistance as offered to the local inhabitants. As the public healthcare is usually free in EU, the card saves a lot of trouble when travelling in Europe. I’ve had to visited the doctor for three times: first in Ipswich, then in Edinburgh and now in Lerwick. With EU card I’ve been able to see the doctor on a same day. Of course we have the travel insurance but the EHIC is totally painless.

Now we had to replan our sailing route. First we were stuck in Kirkwall by waiting for the furlex parts for 1.5 weeks and now in Shetland we had a second delay because of me. It did not matter on how we looked at the sailing distances the truth was that we would not be able to reach the Faroe Islands anymore. We need not to say that we were very disappointed as the Faroes were the main target of the summer voyage. Finally the decision was made that we’ll continue directly to the Western Scotland and spend July there hopping from one island to another. When I was updating our cruise plan after leaving Shetland I noticed that the 1st of July was our original target for returning to Scotland from Faroes. Now it looked like we are back on our planned timetable again.

Shetland Part 1/2, 18.6. – 29.6.

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