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20th June, 2017


I normally say something like “sunrise this morning found us….”. Well sunrise this morning was at 0358 and I know I am an early riser but that was verging on Nocturnal!!

Anyway we made our approach to the pilot station with 2nd Officer Fiona having the “con”. As we slowed down to embark him from his pilot boat Fiona ordered the testing of the engines astern and a full movement of the rudder – this is part of our standard arrival procedures.

With the pilot on board at 0700 we proceeded in through the off lying islands and entered the inner harbour. We passed a beautiful hotel, Balfour Castle on the way in, which looked stunning. Re-focusing back on arrival I took the con from Fiona once we were in inside the inner harbour and pointed towards the berth. The wind was at 20 kts along the line of the berth so perfect for manoeuvring head in to the wind.

All was well as we made our approach to our berth and with stern lines ashore I was starting to thrust the bow towards the dock when a large squall came though and the wind freshened to 35 knots. The bow started to pay off away from the dock so we needed to slack our stern lines and then use a rocket launcher to send the heaving line ashore. Once we got this line ashore we sent our headline and after a “fight” the ship was alongside.

Kirkwall is located on the largest Orkney Island and is the seat of the area’s government. It is also the site of the 12th century Cathedral of St Magnus. Warm ocean currents give the islands the mild climate that makes the area Scotland’s most productive farming region. Agricultural products include oats, turnips and potatoes. There is also a thriving Beef and Dairy business.

Kirkwall is the gateway to some great archaeological sites, including the 5,000 year old chambered tombs of Maes Howe, the mysterious Standing Stones of Stenness and the Stone Ring of Brodgar.

I decided to pop out on my bike again and was joined by Jan, our new Hotel Director. We cycled hard for 1 hour in very windy conditions and we were very pleased to have the wind on our backs for the return back to the ship.

At 1630 everyone was on board, and for departure I gave Chief Officer Navigator Hugo the chance to drive out, which he of course relished. We were clear of the harbour by 1825 and on our way to Seydisfjordur.

Captain Julian Burgess

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