September Blog

8 October 2019

September marks the end of our 2019 season and we have been home around Shetland, working with schools, carrying out routine maintenance and our last sail of the year, from Lerwick to Scalloway.

Our month started with a trip highlighting the effects of marine pollution to school kids in Yell and Unst. We were pleased to have Julia Barton onboard the Swan who runs The LitterCUBES project, which aims to raise awareness of plastic pollution in our seas.

Workshops were held both on the vessel and in classrooms, as Julia showed the bairns how to take water samples, by dragging a plankton net behind the Swan.

Collecting water samples aboard Swan with Baltasound School Pupils

We had a mix of primary and secondary children with us, who were fascinated by the microscopic creatures they discovered in the sea. On one of the trips, our engineer Ian Nicolson caught a feed of mackerel for lunch and the kids were really interested to see the filleting on deck. In the afternoon, we sailed right up to the pier before the engine came on and a lot of happy faces left the boat. We also said our goodbye’s to Julia in Mid Yell as she had more workshops to lead down in Lerwick the following morning.

The next day we slipped lines in light winds and pulled the full main sail up in Mid Yell, turning off the engine and heading South for Lerwick. The wind filled in nicely, about a force 4 and we hoisted the Jib, Foresail and Mizzen to make a comfortable 5 knots. Natalie Scott from New Zealand was also crewing with us and we sat on deck and played some fiddle tunes in the sun. As we came past Rova Head we saw the Skerries Ferry heading North and later on, Ivan Reid sent us a great picture of the Swan dancing along at 7.5knots! What a brilliant day that was, sailing all the way into the harbour as the wind freshened even more, tying alongside in the pouring rain, exhausted, but with huge grins on our faces!

After this trip we had a bit of time in Lerwick so we caught up with some maintenance. This included varnishing the hatches and saloon table, oiling the helm and flagpole, tarring the rigging and light boxes, re-serving any chafed lines, painting the cabin floors and heads and cleaning our drinking water tanks. We were also able to tick off the routine servicing of the main engine and generators from the work list. There is always something to do on a traditional vessel like Swan!

This brings us on to our last trip of this season, where we had eight passengers onboard from as far afield as Australia and as local as Lerwick. We were blessed with fine weather as we completed the safety briefings in the sunshine before slipping lines and heading south. The wind was forecast to be mainly Southerly for the weekend so there was not much pure sailing for the first day but the sea was calm and the light winds made it a smooth trip down to Mousa Broch. This made it possible to anchor there for a couple of hours. The dinghy was launched and the people that wanted to go for a look, boarded the tender as Thorben took them ashore. That night we anchored off Levenwick beach and we watched a lovey sunset with the wind dying away to leave a mirror-like sea into the night.

Taking the dinghy into Mousa

We left the next morning with a bit more breeze than the day before. After we got the last necessary motoring stretch out of the way at Sumburgh Head, we hoisted the jib and bore away onto a reach around the South end of Shetland. Although there was more wind and waves this day the sun was still shining and there was a lovely autumnal light. Our passengers took a lot of photos and were finding their sea legs. We had a much better real sail up the west coast and that night settled into our new anchorage in Bigton Wick at the north side of St Ninians tombolo. The tender was launched again and folk went onshore to explore before dinner.

On Sunday the wind conditions were similar to the previous day so we took the decision to make the most of this, initially heading North West. Hoisting four sails with a reef in the main this time we were sailing at around 6 knots. When it was time to turn in towards Scalloway we gybed around on a close reach, sailing past the Green Holm before starting to lower the Mizzen and Jib first. As we came into the channel, we lowered the foresail and lastly the mainsail before coming alongside the pontoon at the Scalloway Boating Club where you will see the Swan tied up for the winter months.

This season has gone past incredibly quickly with a lot of great memories and stories to tell. Thanks very much to everyone who has joined the Swan for a trip this year and to our many volunteers giving up their time to make this happen. It’s great sailing this amazing boat, meeting all the people, young and older, throughout the season, and seeing new places. Thank you!

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

August Blog

July Blog

June Blog

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