Orkney or Shetlands????

Exiles

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Hello

I am planning a trip from Copenhagen to Reykjavik in the near future and have a couple of questions I need answered before my pilots and cruising guides arrive.

I am wondering if anyone has experience with sailing this route or from Scotland to Iceland. I would like to know if you suggest sailing through the Shetlands or the Orkneys?

Up to this point I am slightly favouring Orkneys to make it as far to the west as possible as early as possible as the winds tend to be predominantly from west and I want to make it to Reykjavik.

I have read to avoid Pentland skerries by going through Skapa flow but cannot find any information about protected harbours or yacht clubs in Skapa if I need to leave the boat for a few days/change crew etc. Or is it better I just avoid Orkney and stop in the Shetlands? and where is a good place to stay?

Thanks all!
 

Kelpie

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I haven't visited either yet, but am planning on going to Orkney this summer so have been doing a little research. Stromness would probably be the ideal place accessible from within Scapa where you could leave the boat- there is a relatively recent marina and apparently good facilities there.
Remember also that Wick now has a marina and I think would have the advantage of not having such a tide gate at the end of the passage.
 

puddock

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If it was me, I would probably be looking at Wick also. Excellent sheltered Marina, with flights & train or bus, to Aberdeen for 'crew change flights' etc. On top of this you will get excellant LOCAL advice for passing through the Pentland Firth (or not as the case may be).
 

Exiles

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Hi all thanks for the advice!

I was looking at Wick but then realized that plane tickets were the same price to kirkwall. Thank you for the advice regrading stromness I will check out the marina.
 

PeterR

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The Orkneys are a great place to visit and if you want to change crew Kirkwall is very near the airport but if you want to go to Stromness the bus service to Kirkwall is good.

Be very careful with the tides and try to avoid being there at springs. Going east to west through the Pentland Firth it is impossible to avoid the race at the Merry Men of May and should only be attempted in settled weather. You can avoid transiting the whole of the Pentland Firth by going through Scapa Flow although the only way to avoid the Pentland Skerries is by giving them a very wide berth. Once in Scapa Flow the tide is negligible until the narrows in Hoy Sound.

If you go direct to Kirkwall you avoid the Skerries and the Pentland Firth but on the passage west you still have to negotiate Burger Roost and the overfalls out of the sound which can both be pretty spectacular at springs even in calm weather.

See Orkney Marinas site for details

http://orkneymarinas.co.uk/sailing_orkney.asp
 

Fascadale

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I think your choices are between Stromness in Scapa, Kirkwall and Lerwick.

To get into Scapa, and Stromness, from the east you would have to time your arrival very carefully. The tides through the Pentland Firth are fierce

The Clyde Cruising Club sailing directions advises being at point 1 nm east of Duncansby Hd at slack water (Dover +0115) to pick up the NW going tide.

After a c.400 nm passage from Denmark it might be wise to make Wick a place for a brief stopover so as to be able to accurately time your arrival at Duncansby Hd.

To get into Kirkwall from the east you need to get through the String which can be lumpy in places but is much less of a challenge than the Pentland Firth, best done with the tide but not impossible against it (up to 2.6 kts at springs)

There are no problems getting into Lerwick from the South.

Both Sromness and Kirkwall have good little marinas. Stromness is a very beautiful little town. Public transport on Orkney is excellent so the airport should not be a problem from either Stromness or Kirkwall. More restaurants in Kirkwall. Lots of really high quality touristing to do, stone age stuff, WW1 and WW2.

Lerwick does not have a marina as such, you go alongside, often rafted up in the Small Boat Harrbour. Attractive town, bit of a trek to the airport. Lots of quality touristing to do, brochs, a very good museum etc

I would be happy to have to wait over in Stromness, Lerwick or Kirkwall for a few days, but if given the choice I would prefer Stromness.

To continue onwards to Iceland, Stromness is best placed. The Sound of Hoy is a tidal gate but easily timed from Stromness and once through that you are in open water. Leaving both Kirkwall and Lerwick for the west require more timing, greater distance and more planning.

Taking it all into account I would go for Stromness. But, if I was making a passage from Denmark I would make for Wick first so as to better time the passage across the Pentland Firth and into Scapa.

Interestingly, The Hudson Bay Company had a base in Stromness

Stromness
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Stromness Marina

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Kirkwall Marina

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The Small Boat Harbour, Lerwick

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