16: Stromness to Long Hope, Hoy, 30th July
Shipping forecast, 30th July 05.20: East Fair Isle: N or NW 4 or 5 becoming variable 3 to 4; occasional rain; moderate or good
Orkney was the turning point. From here I felt I could relax a bit; we would be on the homeward leg with the harder part behind us. There are fewer places to stop on the east coast but the navigation should be pretty straightforward, tides are not that strong, and the prevailing wind should be off the land giving more sheltered sea conditions. From pilot books and talking with other skippers it was evident that on the eastern seaboard of Scotland there are places that don’t want you and where you will not be welcome and other places where quite the opposite is true. Fraserburgh, Montrose and Stonehaven are names which came up as being in the former category and best avoided. Wick, Peterhead and Arbroath on the other hand go out of their way to welcome visiting yachts. From our experience I can certainly recommend the latter two as providing excellent and reasonably priced berthing. I cannot speak for Wick as we did not call there but have heard good reports and see no reason to suppose that it would be otherwise.
There was one remaining hurdle to be cleared however before reaching easier sailing on the homeward leg. We must cross the Pentland Firth, the notoriously turbulent and dangerous channel between Orkney and mainland Scotland where the tides run between eight and twelve knots and are reported to reach sixteen knots at springs close to the Pentland Skerries.
Having come so far however we wished to see a bit more of Orkney before turning south and decided on a visit to Long Hope Bay at the south end of Hoy.
This would also provide a good jumping off point for crossing the Pentland Firth on our next leg south and tides were taking off from springs by this time so leaving it another day or two would mean lesser tides.
We refuelled before leaving and departed Stromness at 10.30 hours on the 30th July, completing the short passage in calm conditions under power and arriving to pick up one of two vacant visitors’ mooring buoys off Long Hope village at 12.50.
There is not a great deal there but the mooring is free of charge, a shower is available in the public loo on the quayside and the shop nearby can supply basic requirements. If you have time to spare there are fine walks around the cliffs and bays on the west side of the island. There is no public transport apart from a taxi service.
The entrance to Long Hope is conveniently marked by Martello towers on each side, right of picture. You must however first round the red can buoy (visible just left of the shroud) marking a spit running out from the nearer point.