Travelling: Shetlands


As already told before; I very much wanted to visit these misty, mysterious isles far out in the north. For what? Well, nature over there is really splendid and exciting, fe the bright light! The same intensity like we have in October. The islands are not crowded and those who live there are friendly. They don't have too many commercial meanings like people in the Mediterranean have. And the inhabitants of the Shetlands like the Dutch people due to their experiences in the past, when Shetland was the starting point for the Dutch herring fishery in early summer. The isles are situated at 60° north and 2° west. The average temperature in January is about 6°C and the average temperature of the 'hottest' month -July- is approx. 11°C. It may rain very often, but the sky clears very quickly. There can be lots of wind, yes! You are not allowed to think it's windy below 7 Beaufort... It's not an area for the 'sailors-on-the-lakes' nor sun seekers. But I've been there a few times and it never has been boring. I met very beautiful weather and also some time with rain. That's not so worse as it looks like; the showers, passing by with beams of sunlight, create many splendid views. And when the wind is northerly, the skies will be that clear as you never saw before. The visibility may increase until 80 kilometers! That you only will meet in the north! Well, look to the pictures, maybe you then might understand why I love these isles...

Map of the Northsea Kornwerderzand - the locks to the sea
But if you want to be there, you have to make a real journey across the Northsea. In my case of course with my own yacht. How comfortable that might be, you'll never know at the beginning and you only may hope the best out of it... Up till now I was that lucky to sail to the isles with southerly winds and returned with northerly winds... But others weren't that lucky and then the isles are far, far away!

Shetlands on the horizon Bressay Sound
Sumburgh Head
After sailing for a couple of days to the northwest and precisely navigating, we get a glance of the isles, early in the morning. Weather is nice at sea, but the isles are overcast and rainy..... Terrible thing? Not really! Even then you can make nice pictures. Thus we sail along Shetland's most southerly cape 'Sumburgh Head'. 'We' in this case, are the boat and me...

The rocks of the little isle "Mousa".
Bressay - steap rock
...and then,... the little isle of Mousa lies on our port side. There are some remarkable rocks on the north side and there also is an ancient living tower, built in the stone age. The falling rain of a passing shower just creates the right decorum! - On the starboard side the steep rocks of Bressay rise from out the sea.

Bressay - Lighthouse
Above: Bressay's lighthouse, standing at
             the entrance of Bressay Sound,
             looks like the bow of a ship.


                            Right: Bressay Sound,
                                       as seen from
                                       the isle of Bressay.
Bressay Sound

Bressay and the Isle of Noss
At starboard side; Bressay and the Isle of Noss
Now we enter the Bressay Sound and after we passed a bight in the leading channel, we see the waterfront of Lerwick, the capital of the Shetlands. The tiny little town is very nice and the inhabitants say; 'Lerwick is grounded by the Dutch people' due to their trades to the islands and the start of the herring season.
Lerwick and Bressay in background.

Back sides of the houses on the water Lerwick - Commercial Street 'Quo Vadis' moored at a buoy.
Normally I berth in the harbour of Lerwick, but because my father suddenly died, I had to fly home and return after. I found Shetlands' people knowing that already. They advised me to berth on a local mooring in the Bressay Sound. There's no all weather safe anchorage or mooring in the Shetlands. If the wind starts blowing, a heavy swell will be there soon. That I experienced too. In summertime, mostly there won't be a problem, but you shouldn't keep your yacht there unwatched. On the Faroes you will find some safe 'winter harbours'.
Lodberri back side

These pictures are made around 1900. It is amazing how many Dutch fishermen were awaiting the beginning of the 'herring season' there. That started at the 24th of June. The Scheveningen 'bomschuiten' were very wide and slow ships with a flat bottom. Because Scheveningen had no harbour, the ships were sailed onto the beach. A few strong gales destroyed many of these ships. On the picture of the wintery gale, you very well can see that it can be very bad. The swell runs freely into the harbour. You can't lay then alongside the quay. The ships anchored therefore in Bressay Sound and wished the best of it.

A lodberri is a kind of storehouse built on and partly in the water, at the backside you see heavy doors. The buildings are very solid and strong. The ships moored alongside and the goods could be taken over. Not much has changed since as you can see on the coloured picture of the lodberri below. You see the same building as you see on the black-and-white one, made a century ago. Only the chimney disappeared. I saw that the back wall is about one meter thick! The owner of the blue schooner on the background lives in this Lodberri. He is a very well known personality on these islands!
Wintery storm Lugger and "Bomschuiten"
Above: Vlaardingen luggers and Scheveningen
             'bomschuiten' awaiting the start of the
             herring season in Bressay Sound.
Left:     A strong wintery gale sweeps Lerwick.
Vlaardingen lugger "De Goede Verwachting" Scheveningen bom "Vrouw Kniertje"
Middle left: The Vlaardingen lugger 'De Goede
Verwachting', driven from her anchors, comes
close to strike the lodberri.
Above: Scheveningen bom: 'Vrouw Kniertje'.
Below left: Lodberri as it is now; not much
changed since.

Beautiful summer! I was there four times and beautiful weather. Of course, sometimes I met a rainy day. Oh well, Lerwick has a nice bookshop and museum in which you can see all kinds of things, found in two Dutch V.O.C. ships; the 'Kennemerland' and 'De Liefde'. Both were shipwrecked at the Outer Skerries. In that time they sailed around Scotland, because Dover Street was impossible to pass through windward and to escape from the Dunkirk pirates, but this was risky too...

Lerwick Harbour Bressay Sound, berthing in the light.
Ruined house... View from Bressays' summit..
The young people leave the islands; their parents houses stand alone after they died and cannot be sold. So these houses grow into ruins...
With northerly winds the sky is that clear, that when standing on Bressay's summit, the lonesome isle of Foula, sitting on the horizon, is very clear to see... Distance is more than 80 kilometers!

Dore Holm Submarine cave
ponies Puffins

Next page   arrow to right

[ Sign my Guestbook] - [Read my Guestbook ]
[Guestbook by]

Search for

Last updated on December 10th 2003 by: