Monday, January 1, 2024

2024 - Towards Muckle Flugga?

A place name that has always intrigued me, according to Wikipedia it comes from Old Norse, "Mikla Flugey", meaning "large steep-sided island".

Before the lighthouse was automated and the keepers moved away it was the most northerly inhabited place in UK but I think what got my attention was that it is only a couple of miles from RAF Saxa Vord, and in the early 1970s when I was in the RAF and working on air defence radar with experience on the installed T80 radar and other equipment at the site there was a danger that I could be posted there, for someone single, in their 20s and doing a lot of sailing that was not something to look forward to, especially as the weather can be so bad that at various times two radar heads, one 75 foot long, have been blow away.

That should be between 2,200 and >= 3,000 nautical miles depending on the route so a worthy challenge for the year. The plan is weather dependant but I hope to leave in March (the tides will be good on the 16th - 18th, immediately after scrubbing) or early April (optimum dates c 1st or 15th but leaving over Easter does present some logistical problems) and to go west-about via Cape Wrath; I don't want another cold, difficult passage along the east coast in easterly winds that I experienced in 2021, probably getting weather bound for days in expensive marinas, it should also get me to Kirkwall, the Islands of north Orkney and then Shetland in June with long days and short nights. And on the way back I should miss the worst of the Scottish midges and have enough time to anti-foul the boat before another cruise to end the season.

Rounding Cape Wrath in 2020.
The route back will be decided later, east coast, back the way I came or through the Caledonian canal? Single handed the latter is possible but unlikely.

The other question is which way up the west coast? Going up the Irish sea it just depends on the wind but the next big thing on my bucket list is the west coast of Ireland and its tempting to go that way in case I'm not fit enough to do a round Ireland in 2025. On the other hand taking my time going around Ireland would be a a good mission for next year, perhaps in conjunction with the Jester Baltimore Challenge. I suspect I will still be pondering this when I get to Newlyn in April.

Once I get past the North Channel, or Malin Head if going round Ireland, there are a good number of places to visit or transit for the first time and others to revisit, including the sea of the Hebrides hoping for a repeat of the 2023 wildlife exhibition, The Sound of Barra (I would particularly like to see the beach airport there, I tried to fly there some years ago but the weather closed in and I got no further than Machrihanish (Campbletown) and had to turn back with a very low level flight back to Fife), The Shiant Islands and much more.

Some places on the West Coast I might visit as green anchors. In practical
terms some are going to be mutually exclusive on a one way trip, perhaps an
excuse for coming back west about if there is time. I have already visited
the anchorages shown as Red anchors  and marinas / harbours in Blue.

And some in Orkney and Shetland
Principle victualling stops are likely to include Newlyn, Ardglass or Bangor, Port Ellen (Islay) and / or Tobermory, Castle Bay (Barra), Stornoway, Kirkwall, Lerwick, Peterhead and Lowestoft. All of which should have Gaz and all, except Newlyn, have fuel on site or reasonably close at hand if needed.

Plan "A" failed before is started, now planning to leave at Easter.

To skip the preparation phase and a number of plan changes, click here for day 1.


  1. Looks like you will be back in the water before I am! Let me know when you set off and I'll wave as you pass Plymouth.

    My plans are for a 'Not The Jesters' trip to Baltimore in August after messing about off the Cornish coast early in the season.