Leading Lights

Like most of the ordinary people, I find myself in the beginning of January. Which could still mean the beginning of winter on our latitudes. In fact, it could mean many things. Theory has it the days are getting longer but in January I’m still doubting. From experience I know January is the month when jobs start to pay off. Raised panel doors get their final coat of oil and blocks and tackle are put together again.

Still when I’m writing an email at 16:00 it feels like supper time and I am easily drawn away from the business end of this devise. I wonder of into one of the folders on the desktop with a date and year on it. It is full of pictures. So are the others, and there are many. At some point I realize these are the breadcrumbs I have left in autumn to keep me on course and into the save waters of spring. Some of these pictures capture moments and some tell a story. The scene they describe is of another planet, but looks can be deceiving.

Even when the time is there to cast off I never exactly know what we will come across. It is at these moments you make the best and dearest impressions. Some years ago I bought my first second-hand camera. Like with most things I was not stopped by any form of knowledge. I needed a puffin picture and I was going to get one!

The first shots of gannets where terrible and I soon found out there was more to it than just the manual. By the time we reached Ullapool I nearly forgot I had a camera with me. We set of for our first St Kilda trip of the season and stopped at the Shiant Islands, just 40 nml west of Ullapool. Conditions where perfect, so I set of for the puffin shot. 

Creeping around the rocks with the panoramic views was already worth the effort. But when I got the card out that evening I found I had hundreds of puffin shots. Very poor if compared to some others, but perfect to me.

 These adventures look so far away! 

On our trip to Iceland we follow the British Islands north. Into the second week we arrive at Shetland. On this trip Mousa was our first stop in sight of the main land Shetland. We had spent the day crossing over from Fair isle and took advantage of the settled weather to drop anchor and see the storm petrels come in from sea. Just a perfect scene, timeless.

   Seabol, Adelvik, our first anchorage in the Hornstrandir Nature reserve the 21 of June, midsummer! The sun did not set as I went of for an evening hike which turned into a night hike. Drawn further and further up the hills the meadows began to gloom in the light of the half set midnight sun.

Flattery leading lights in the middle of Breidafjordur. Saga country all around. Sailing into the leading lights I remember a morning with a westerly gale entering IJmuiden. My father standing next to me and saying “If you are lost aim for the lower light”. I still don’t know if he was reassuring himself or me. One thing is for sure, like al fathers he was right!

"If you are lost aim for the lower light"

Ashore on many of our walks we are helped by little cairns. Most of the time I think they spoil the scene but on one foggy afternoon I found out why they stood so close together… One can never get lost this way!

   The proud white light house on Aedey Island. When the fjords are covert in snow she only gives away here presents by the character of her light. The little island  has been in the same family for 7 generations. In summer they harvest the down feathers of the Eider ducks. 

In winter the family cleans the down and some very cosy quilts are made! If it has not been raining and the ducklings are fledged, we are always welcome to walk around the Island. It gives a 360 view of the Isafjordurup. In the distance you can often see the spouts from the Humpbacks who are feeding on the surface.

The last week of our trip North in spring, we spent on the Faroe Islands. One of my main goals is always to reach the towering sea cliffs on Enniberg. The hike up there can sometimes be demanding but the views are more than worth it. If the weather allows the hike back true the hanging valley is equalled by none!

This year we visited Fugloy for the first time. It was long believed that Fugloy moved around at knight. Vikings where only to successfully anchored here if they had a firm attachment to the shore with an iron anchor. And even then they were not sure of a good night’s rest for when the trolls cast of the anchor the Island is set a drifted… Now a days the islands are stuck to the North Atlantic ridge but it is still close to impossible to anchor of its shores.

With al the adventures plans we have for the coming year, it is easy to look past or forget about the ones on our own shores.

 I don’t need to pass the Arctic circle to have a week of outdoor sailing. It is right here! Planning a passage through the Pentland firth and making the tide is great feeling. So is beating up the sound of Mull and dropping anchor under sail, or beach combing the shores of Westray looking for a lost Viking grave. The sight of eagles on Priest Isle while romping along underway for Ullapool, racing the Stornoway ferry, the views from the Shiant Island across the Minch with the highlands and Skye in the distant. It is al here and much more!

But first I have to finish my varnish job…