“The currents here are notorious and there may be strong winds and high waves. We need to time this leg carefully,” Ivar warns. We sailed from Norway to the Shetland Islands in the far north of Scotland. This sailing area is renowned for strong winds that can occur here, especially in the autumn and winter seasons. Potentially dangerous for us, but with great potential for renewable energy, in particular “marine energy”.
Challenging Sailing Conditions
From Shetland we plan to sail to Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney. We carefully study the tidal patterns and weather forecast. Although tides normally alternate every six hours, due to geological conditions significant local differences can occur. At the same time tidal currents are predictable because they result from the positions of the sun and moon, which are known. To avoid a strong headcurrent and a rough sea we consult our location-specific tide table that specifies the currents between the islands.
We time our departure to benefit from the currents and arrive before the next low-pressure system with strong winds arrives. If we fail to do plan properly, we may encounter steep breaking waves, which are dangerous for yachts.
Along the way we sail between islands where the current is strong and gives us an extra push. We arrive just in time before the tide turns and the low-pressure system arrives. Before falling asleep we hear the howling wind wrecking havoc around the boat. These extreme conditions are exciting for us, but very favorable for Orkney, as we’ll soon learn.