June Blog

1 July 2019

Our Skipper, Thorben Reinhardt, and Mate, Maggie Adamson, reflect on a busy month

June saw an awesome couple of trips. Starting with a full boat of 15 people, we sailed from Stromness down the west coast of Scotland aiming for St Kilda. Being a 10 day trip we had time to explore the west coast whilst waiting for a weather window to land on St Kilda. Our first stop was Stornoway, where we ate lots of black pudding! The next day brought a force 7 on the beam, and the Swan came to life dancing through the flat seas in the Minch. We sailed through the Shaint Islands and spent the night in Gairloch. The weather window was a couple of days away yet so we headed further south. With very little wind, we did some fishing on the way catching Olick, Cod and Pollack which made a lovely soup for dinner in Portree.

Swan Approaching St Kilda
Swan approaching St Kilda

Through the next few days we made our way to an anchorage just south of the Sound of Harris, ready to leave at first light for St Kilda. The morning brought a nice force 4 wind and we had a great sail, with all sails set and the engine off for the 40 miles, watching the speck on the horizon morph into the famous cliffs of Hirta. The sun was just burning its way through as we set anchor and launched the dinghy for shore.

The atmosphere on board was brilliant, with everyone settled into sea life and excited about the last couple of days. One highlight occurred as we were leaving St Kilda, when we spotted 3 basking sharks circling close to the boat, it was amazing to watch! It was now time for the 200 mile journey back to Orkney, which we did in an overnight sail and were joined by dolphins and Pilot Whales along the way. Our last night in Stromness was full of music, singing and sharing stories from the last 10 days - a fitting way to finish the trip.

After three days of cleaning, provisioning and planning, we welcomed our new group on board. 8 nights cruising around the Jewels of Orkney and Shetland saw us visit Swona, North Ronaldsay, Eday, Sanday, Fair Isle, Levenwick, Mousa, Whalsay, Skerries and Burravoe. There was a change at the helm as our skipper Thorben headed off for his well earned break and handed over to Maggie.

Swan berthed alongside Fair Isle Ferry
Swan berthed alongside the Fair Isle Ferry

After initial briefings we sailed through Scapa Flow, past Flotta and south towards Swona. The tides at Scapa Flow’s south entrance are amazing at around 8knots. We anchored in a picturesque beach on South Ronaldsay before an early start to catch the tide around the south and up to Eday. This sail saw all weathers, with lovely sunshine and torrential rain as we tied alongside the pier at Eday. It cleared up later, long enough for a tune on deck while the sun set. After a challenging sail to Fair Isle, we had a great welcome with the ferry men saving us a space alongside. There was an international feel in the harbour, with visiting Sweedish and French yachts. Our passengers were delighted to go fishing with our engineer Ian and catch skate and mackerel, which was enjoyed for dinner.

We hoisted the sails and the sun shone on our trip north to Levenwick beach. We sighted a minky whale as we rounded Sumburgh Head and Orcas in Mousa Sound. We saved some mackerel to throw to the gannets as we rounded Noss, which was an impressive sight as they dived close to the boat. After a night in Whalsay we goose winged our way over to Skerries with the foresail and Jib on opposite tacks. Our last stop was Burravoe, where we had tea at the old haa and a tune at the hall. We set full sail for our return to home port, enjoying the sight of dinghies racing at the Lerwick Regatta as we tied alongside Albert Dock.

We are now preparing for Tall Ships - always such a thrilling and memorable experience, joining the immense fleet, the impressive ‘Parades of Sail’ and all the activities in guest ports. After race one, we will ‘Cruise in Company’ - a non-competitive sail exploring the beauty of the Norwegian coast from Fredrikstad to Bergen.

If this has inspired you to sail on Swan, check out our upcoming trips.

If you like this, take a look at our other blogs:

September 2019 Blog

August 2019 Blog

July 2019 Blog


Want to get involved in maintaining and operating a traditional wooden sailing vessel? There are a number of different ways you can volunteer to safeguard, care for and sail this unique heritage asset.

Learn more

Latest Posts

Sail Training Shetland are inviting applications from young people aged 15 – 25 to take part in The Tall Ships Races 2024 this summer, with a series of free Taster Day Sails available on Swan in April to whet the appetite in preparation.

Read More

The Swan Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of Emma Miller as its new Community Links Officer. Ms Miller brings a wealth of experience to the role, which will help the Swan continue in its mission to encourage Shetlanders onto the sea for sail training experiences.

Read More