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24th August, 2013


The first day in Leith had been one of the ‘Har’, the fog that comes in and settles over the Firth of Forth. The next day, however, was clear, although mainly overcast. We sailed just after three in the afternoon, to ensure we had passed back through the lock as high tide was approaching in the river. With only a few meters to spare on either side it was a delicate operation and one which many passengers came out to watch, probably waiting to see whether there would be a grand bump or two. There wasn’t.

As they all disappeared to get changed for dinner, we set course for the north east, passing the Isle of May and Bell Rock a few hours later. The forecast was not great and by the morning it was overcast, raining and the visibility was restricted at times. I dressed in waterproofs for the docking in Kirkwall, but the rain eased just a little as a careful approach was made towards the berth. The large pilot boat was there to give us a ‘shove’ if we needed it, but a gentle on shore breeze, ‘God’s tug’, was all we needed to assist. Passengers seemed unperturbed about the grey, in fact expressed pleasurable surprise when the cloud lifted sufficiently so that we could see the tops of the low green treeless hills in the distance, a bonus in this part of the world I was told.

The tours, which included the Italian Chapel built by prisoners of war, the Standing Stones of Stanness and Scapa Flow, went off around the island and nothing was missed because of poor visibility. The Pacamacs however, had been out en mass and looked somewhat damp on their return. Down on the dock much work was going on in front of the ship where huge water turbines were being prepared ready for installation in the seas nearby, where the very large ocean tides would be harnessed for that new ‘must have’, renewable energy.

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The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.