Wednesday, June 12, 2024

2024 June 11th Day 74, a tough trip to Loch Eriboll.

I was away a bit early, a little before seven but, not unexpectedly, when I could see down Hoy Mouth it was white from side to side with breaking waves so I held off until 08:00, the planned time to enter. 30 minutes before the tide turned foul but when the Rost (over falls) have largely subsided.

The Pilot gives general instructions for going west at this stage of the tide, the text suggests following the north shore to avoid the worst of the Rost, this would be essentially obligatory if heading north to Kirkwall and optional if heading west. Elsewhere it is noted that the west going tide is strongest to the north, great to help you through quickly but likely to make for rougher water especially with a strong wind.

The chart shows a fairly large area on the south side that is normally out of the Rost and when I got there is looked reasonably smooth so I opted for the southerly route that, judging by the way a 40 foot boat was pitching on the northern route, regularly showing her keel as she pitched, gave me a slightly smoother ride.

A 40 foot yacht on the northern route.
Entering Hoy Mouth 10 - 15 minutes before slack water.
Best viewed full screen.
The “Old Man of Hoy” as I left Hoy Mouth at
slack water.
It was quite rough as I left Hoy Mouth with the wind at F5 that quickly increased to F6; about 2 hours out things took a turn for the worse, which I did not expect as when I have previously been in these waters the sea was more confused close to the islands, this time a rough sea was coming from the north and leftover waves / swell was coming from the W - NW, when a “set” from one direction arrived at the same time as one from the other the sea became very bad. At this point the autopilot could not really cope and after getting knocked well over and at the same time getting quite a lot of water into the cockpit over the weather dodger I steered manually for over an hour before things improved.

There was a repeat of this at about 12:30 when the tide, previously on the starboard bow swung to be dead on the bow and I had to hand steer again, fortunately that lasted less than 2 hours although I was expecting it to last longer, until the tide changed. Even with the manual steering, after working so hard the autohelm gave the batteries a real bashing but most charge was restored motoring down Loch Eriboll.

The wind decreased to F5 at about 14:00 and the rest of the trip was uncomfortable but not bad except rounding Whiten Head entering Loch Eriboll. Once out of Hoy Mouth the rest of the trip until just before the loch was made reaching under the reefed headsail.

The run down the first mile or two of Loch Eriboll was a little rolly at times as big sets came down but the anchorage at Ard Neackie is fine as the wind first backed to the west and will be when the wind turns east.
This old Sadler was also stuck in Stromness after a trip to
Norway was abandoned, it was berthed next to me for several days.
They arrived a couple of hours after me after battling the adverse
tide through Hoy Sound in the late morning and then making
good time with better tides and two of them to helm manually.
08:00 and already a couple of site seers, coming to
a lot more are likely during the day.
What they are stopping to look at, lime kilns centre left.
Today, Wednesday, I am staying at Eriboll as the wind is in the west, seas are likely to still be high - not something you want off Cape Wrath - and on Thursday the wind should be easterly, and with the tide an hour later it should be relatively straight forward to get round the Cape and a reasonable distance down the west coast.

If the ECMWF forecast model is right I’ll then have a at least a week of fair winds to move south, the UK model is not quite as positive but still good. Fingers crossed!
Tracks to and from Stromness.

57 miles in 13 and a half hours, all spent at or near the helm.

2024 Stromness to Loch Eriboll


  1. Sounds like an unpleasant day at sea.

    I might see you in Cornwall in July!