10 September 2019
Our August sailings included a youth charter to Norway and a celebration of Shetland's historical fishing links with Faroe
August started with a trip in collaboration with the One Step Beyond group. We sailed to Uyeasound and met a group of seven teenagers, aged 13-15 from Unst, Yell and Skeld, and embarked on our trip to Norway. This was a huge adventure for all on board, and for some their first trip abroad.
We set off with a northerly wind (force 5-6) and moderate wave conditions, so we were able to have a proper sail. As soon as the sails were set the engine went off, and didn’t come back on again until we were in the fjords, 180 miles later. During this trip, the trainees got stuck into the onboard duties of keeping watches, cleaning, and cooking, while also learning about the boat, sailing and practicing knots.
We arrived past the Store Marstein lighthouse after dusk and sailed into the harbour in the dark, admiring the mareel in the wake from the boat. The wind had dropped right down so we enjoyed a lovely calm evening. The trainees who had been seasick during the crossing were starting to come around, and everyone enjoyed a night of sleep on a calm boat!
We had tied right alongside a peerie cafe so in the morning the crew enjoyed ice-cream and coffee before the short hop over to the next island. Here we had some time to relax, so the trainees launched the dinghy and rowed around the bay to explore different islands. The sun was shining the following day and we made the most of it by heading further north to Alverstraumen, a very small island just big enough for one concrete pier, a few trees, picnic bench and a diving board. We went swimming, built a campfire and toasted marshmallows, and danced strip the willow and an eightsome reel while Maggie played a few tunes. There were songs and stories a plenty too.
Rain was forecast for the next days so we went into Bergen to see the big city lights. The trainees had a great time exploring the city, trying out laser tag, zip lining, and heading up the cable car for the stunning views at the top of the mountain. That evening we all went out to experience the local cuisine where we tried scallops, reindeer and halibut.
Before we knew it, it was time to head home. We had a good wind for the trip, which meant we had all the sails up and reached upwards of 9 knots. All the trainees had found their sea legs and knew their way around the Swan. We had enough time to make a stop in the Skerries, where the trainees tried their hand at fishing, explored the lighthouse island and even caught a film in the Skerries cinema. The trip ended in Unst, with lots of smiling faces and fond memories.
In mid August we set out on an 11 day trip to the Faroe Islands. This was a full house below decks, with 15 people on board including some international passengers. We had a calm sail up through the Shetland coastal waters before reaching the open sea. As we passed Whalsay, Ivan Reid’s drone snapped a great picture of the Swan with four sails up.
The trip to Faroe took around 36 hours. Overnight, the seas got rougher and the wind dropped, so we unfortunately needed to motor sail most of the way. A day later we arrived in Torshavn, the Faroese capital, motoring into the harbour with the sunrise. We were berthed alongside the old parliament, and everyone took the opportunity to explore the city while we were there.
During our stay we had the opportunity to experience some Faroese hospitality. We were invited to a champagne reception with the Torshavn deputy mayor, where we tasted some traditional Faroese cuisine. Later on, as we sailed into Suderoy, we were met with a harbour escort and invited to a dinner at the city’s sail loft.
We also had chance to learn about the shared history of cod fishing between Faroe and Shetland, as our crew included John Goodlad, who travelled to Faroe to launch his new book, The Cod Hunters. The book explores the stories of Shetland and Faroese fishermen, and the ways in which the cod industry impacted both regions. We attended three book launches, which included readings, a Q&A session with John, and some traditional music from Maggie and Natalie Scott, one of our passengers who had travelled from New Zealand. Swan also had a visit from a Faroese television crew, who filmed a short news segment about the book and Swan’s trip. Given the focus on cod, it seemed fitting that we tried our hand at some fishing, and we were rewarded with a fish dinner for everyone on board.
After 6 days in the island, we turned back towards Shetland ahead of some foul weather heading for the North Sea. The wind was with us and we managed to make it all the way from Faroe to Yell on a single tack. We took the chance to pass by the Noss head cliffs, with their impressive gannet colonies, before we made our way back to the familiar berth on Albert Dock in Lerwick.
A review of Swans recent trip to Faroe with local author of The Cod Hunters book, John Goodlad. Although a regular visitor to Faroe, this Swan trip had a special theme, celebrating the strong historical fishing links between the Faroese and the Shetlanders. Mr Goodlad spoke at three very well attended events, in Torshavn, Sandoy and Suderoy, with readings from his book about a time when many Shetlanders fished for cod around Faroe from sailing smacks.Read More