The Island of Sheep

By the time we got back from St Kilda , we had been out in the wilds for nearly 3 weeks , and even Lynda’s amazing catering was struggling , so after a brief foray to the Shiant islands to top up on puffin hours ( watching , not eating them you understand!) , we headed for the bright lights of Stornaway to restock. To some extent we needed to stop and think “where next” as well . Should we continue round the top to Orkney or perhaps go back South via the West coast of Ireland? As usual , it was the weather forecast that decided matters ; the wind was resolutely in the South or South East so that Ireland , and to a lesser extent Orkney , would be upwind. The Faeroes however would be downwind. It would have been criminal to waste it ,so after a few days to enjoy the delights of Stornaway, we set off North.

From The Faeroes

Why the Faeroes you might ask. Well previous exploration of Norway and Shetland gave us an introduction to the history of Viking summer voyaging in these Northern parts, and the Faeroes were the next stepping stone these intrepid sailors took on their way to Iceland , and probably America. Then again some 500 years before the Vikings , there is some evidence that Irish hermits sailed this way. An Irish monk called Diucl wrote in 825 AD “ Many other islands lie in the Northerly British ocean. One reaches them from the northerly isles of Britain by sailing directly for two days and two nights with full sail and a favourable wind the whole time……(Hmm, he obviously had the same forecast!)…… Most of these islands are small, they are separated by narrow channels , and for nearly a hundred years hermits lived there, coming from our land , Ireland , by boat.” As for St Brendan who called it the Island of Sheep , he used to return there every Easter ( which he celebrated in May, the start of the Northern sailing season.) Lastly the islands are populated by a race which by and large trace the male lines to Scandinavia , and the females to the Hebrides – that’s quite a trip to go on just for a date! Surely if that lot could manage it , so should we !
In the event we beat the monks time by a good 12 hours ( although other boats setting out with us took a full 2 monkish days ) courtesy of 18 hours of a good two reef breeze and the rest under spinnaker in brilliant sunshine and the warmest conditions since leaving Southampton. Yet Even with GPS we very nearly missed our landfall ( next stop Iceland?) as a strong cross current to the South of the island swept us to the west whilst the southerly wind piled up against the cliffs and condensed ,forming an invisibility blanket that kept us guessing where they were until we were within a mile or two. I seem to remember St Brendan had the same problem.

From More Faeroes

So now we are here , moored alongside a huge quay in Tvororyi, a town on the southern most island of Suderoy. Little brightly painted houses stretch either way along the shores of the fiord , and the bits of land we can see through the fog look most impressive . The locals are extremely friendly , but its time to turn in and find out more about this little Atlantic archipelago in the morning.

From The Faeroes

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