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Old 17 August 2003, 05:37   #11
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Day 3. Bangor to Kyle of Lochalsh.

A much smoother crossing of the Irish Sea. We passed some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Even our 'round the world' sailors said it was the best we have ever seen.

We went up Jura sound and then yours truly drove the boat through the Corrywreckan Sound. Why? Well thath's what I was thinking, it is the site of one of the world's only 5 permanent whirlpools. What am I doing here? Anyway the 'Old Hag' was in a benign mood so we lived to tell the tale.

By now my camera had been battered to death so we will have to wait for the photos.

We continued on.

Just around Ardnamurchan Point we came across two massive basking sharks. It was a lifetime experience. The water was so clear. One shark went right underneath Cyanide. You could see it so clearly.

The other swam from Magellan Alpha towards Cyanide and went right alongside. All of this was captured on Video. You can see it at the next Ribnet gathering! What an exparience. The bigger shark was about 5-6 meters long and it's mouth over 1m wide! The whole trip was worth this experience alone.

We saw porpoises, dolphins and seals as well.

Keith (jaques cousteau) Hart
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Old 17 August 2003, 05:48   #12
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Day 4. Kyle of Lochalsh to John o'Groats.

Quick synopsis...

Sunny start. Spectacular scenery. Dolphins, sharks, seals millions of seabirds.

Cape Wrath. Truly awesome. The sea - huge, confused, exhillarating...here I go again.

The Pentland Firth. Massive and very powerful tidal races. Huge overfalls and standing waves.

Cyanide has an argument with the St Margarets Hope Ferry. We have right of way but they keep going. At the last minute we both move. We see passengers on deck, who have all gathered at the deck rails to see our boats, all fall sideways as the ferry veers to port. He he he. Great fun.

Magellan Alpha picks up a lobster pot and runs out of fuel at the same time!

We go into JoG harbour. Meet up with a local fishing skipper who lets us tie up alongside and offers us a lift in his van to our hotel.

We pile in the back of a VERY small and smelly Ford Transit with all our gear. As we alight with our kit the local police arrive. Someone has reported two strange boats arriving. We climb out of the van and the officer of the law decides we are illegal immigrants from Albania. I try to explain. He can't understand my Brummie accent and thinks I am talking in Albanian!

We are about to be arrested when Mike manages to convince him we are kosher.

Still it was alright in the end.

Food, drink and a good nights sleep followed by a 'full Scottish'. Ahhhh this is the life. Hmmmmmmmmm the Pentland Firth is looking fierce...

Keith (oh err) Hart
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Old 20 August 2003, 11:32   #13
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Well folks we did it!!!

Check out the local newspaper report:

http://www.orcadian.co.uk/morenews.htm

More later.

Keith (extreem sibber) hart
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Old 21 August 2003, 05:36   #14
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Okay so first part of the story then....

We arrived in JoG on Saturday night having rounded a VERY fomidable Cape Wrath. We ate drank and...were thoroughly knackered.

Sunday dawned. The Boss arrived with SIB in boot so it was unpacked and assembled and launched into the harbour. BE, MG & DG went to a ride in the 'North Coast Marine Adventures' big ally Ocean Dynamics RIB on their wildlife trip. Can you believe it, we travelled by RIB all the way from the south coast, we get to the north coast and then they PAY for a trip on a RIB!

Well folks they said it was great and were very impressed with the big RIB.

That evening John Kennett flew into Kirkwall and my pal in Orkney picked him up from the airport and drove him down to the South Ronaldsay. Cyanide was despatched to cross the firth to pick him up. Just a quick trip...errrr

Oh dear, the wind had freshened and the Duncansby Race was running. This provided the most 'exciting' sea conditions of the trip so far. Even the JoG ferry was going the long was round to aviod it. Well we picked up JK (yes folks he really does exist) who changed into his drysiut and off we went on our return trip. This time WE also took a longer route back but it was still rather 'hairy'.

That night the wind got up and it rained and rained. I was in bed but was not sleeping very well, strangely enough. The day dawned, just! I ate a hearty breakfast and some diplomatic person metioned hearty breakfasts and condemmed men! Thanks chaps.

So down to the harbour we went. I donned drysuit and helmet etc. Noel, my trusty crew member (essential ballast) donned his drysuit etc. We started the engine (blast it worked first time - no excuses there then). How did I talk myself into this I was thinking.

Hmmm, the sun had come out, the wind had dropped. No excuses there either.

So we cast off from Magellan Alpha and trolled around the harbour waiting for Cyanide and Mag A. Before I realised we wer actually outside the mouth of the harbour and in THE PENTLAND FIRTH. We were on our way.

The Orkney Islands looked VERY far away and the harbour at JoG looked suddenly a very desirable place to be.

Well I had studdied the charts for months, it was now slack tide and I knew I had just about 1 hour (if I was lucky) to cross the Duncansby Race before the tide came on again.....

More later...

Keith (with fantastic support crew) Hart
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Old 21 August 2003, 12:37   #15
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The Men (and ladies) at Scapa
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Old 21 August 2003, 12:58   #16
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More proof...aproaching Scapa Pier...
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Old 21 August 2003, 13:01   #17
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The men themselves...
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Old 22 August 2003, 05:52   #18
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Across the Firth - Part II

Keeping the island of Stroma on my port side I headed north in the general direction of South Ronaldsay. There was a swell at first and then it got more choppy. Noel (official ballast) was bouncing around in the bow as I opened the throttle and pressed on determinedly. There was no way I was going to stop in the middle of the firth.

JoG retreated into the distance and the stories of the 'Swelkie' whirlpool at the top end of Stroma, ran round my head. (Legend has it that 'The Swelkie' is caused by two old witches grinding giant quern stones under the sea to the north of Stroma) Magellan Alpha and Cyanide followed me, one on each side. I must say that it was a great comfort having them there.

By now JoG was a dot in the distance and so was South Ronaldsay. My little boat felt very little indeed. We were by now much further from the land than I had ever been.

I had the chart I had studied so much fixed in mt head, and with a little confirmation from my Silva compass and statistics from my GPS I was confident that I was heading in the right direction. Then a glance at the gps told me that were were right in the middle of The Pentland Firth, and time was fast ticking away. In about 30 minutes the tide would begin to flow again. I did not want to be caught out exposed when that happened.

Noel had bounced and ballasted like a real trooper. He said he was okay to carry on so once more it was full throttle and away we went. At last South Ronaldsay began to look closer.

We passed Stroma and the smaller island of Swona. Both now deserted. We could see the 'ghost houses' on the little islands. Some of which were abandoned with everything still inside.

On we pressed, flanked by the big boats.

Flotta came into view and we turned slightly heading to Hoxa Head and Hoxa Sound, the entrance to Scapa Flow. It became rather choppy again as we approached Hoxa Head as there are several currents that meet there. Still Noel hung on. Still I kept the throttle open.

As we passed Hoxa Head we entered the sheltered waters of what must surely be the greated natural harbour in the world - Scapa Flow. We had made it, almost anyway, we had crossed The Pentland Firth. Another 12 or so miles in the sheltered water and we would be at Scapa Pier.

The sun was shining. The wind was calm. The scenery was a magnificent open panorama of islands and clear blue skies.

I decided that it was safe to pause for a few minutes to rest. Noel had not complained but I know he had received a real battering.

"We've done it", I yelled over to the crews on Cyanide and Magellan Alpha. "Don't let anyone ever take the pee out of my little boat again."

Well after a few minutes we continued, stopping only to pay our respects at the 'Royal Oak' memorial buoy. A few minutes after that we were at Scapa Pier and were met by the local press and radio.

Well you know shy little me! Just a few interviews etc. whilst the other intrepid expeditioneers looked on.

We had done it. Noel Loughrey and Keith Hart has crossed The Pentland Firth and Scapa Flow in a small soft inflatable boat. Mission and ambition achieved.

My favourite soundbite..."It was one hour of sheer terror followed by 45 minutes of sheer pleasure."

Well we could NOT have done it without the magnificent help and sound encouragement of all my support crews:

Magellan Alpha - Mike and Di Garside
Cyanide - Brian Elliott and John Kennett (yes he does exist)
Film camera - Karen Hart
Photographer - Natalie Hart
Orkney Support Crew - Ian and Coleen MacLeod and family
Mainland Support - Marjory Hart
Quicksilver crew - Noel Loughrey

We fed and watered and then continued on with out exploration of The Orkney Islands.

More of that later....

Keith (xtreem Sibber) Hart

PS Known locally as 'SIB Man and his side kick Ballast Boy'
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Old 22 August 2003, 09:07   #19
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Quick Update

Cyanide and Magellan Alpha are currently in Kirkwall Harbour. We were unable to leave the island today due to severe weather conditions. It was so bad that even the large Stromness to Scrabster ferry was cancelled.

24 hour forecast:
Wind: west 7 to gale 8, slowly easing 5 or 6, later veering west to northwest 4 or 5.
Weather: scattered showers dying out.
Visibility: good locally moderate at first.
Sea State: rough to very rough decaying moderate locally slight.


This is NOT the sort of weather to be out in the Pentland Firth!

So we are waiting out the storm and expect to set off about 05.00 hours Saturday morning. We will then attempt to make the loooong journey down to Amble in Northumbria. A BIG leg.

Keith (Corrywreckan - been there, done that) Hart
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Old 27 August 2003, 13:09   #20
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And just to prove we were in Orkney.

Here is Cyanide under 'The Old Man of Hoy'.
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