|Wed 19-06-2024, 18:00Ullapool, Scotland||Wed 10-07-2024, 10:00Reykjavik, Iceland||Tecla||21 Nights||TC190624|
Orkneys, Shetlands, Faroes. One of the highlights in the sailing season. Setting sail from Ullapool a course north is set to first visit the Orkneys and then onwards to the Shetland Islands. Fair Isle is the first stop, then on to Foula or the mainland of the Shetlands. When the winds are good, a crossing of less then 24 hours will take you to the Faroe Islands. So much unspoiled nature, amazing walks and miles on end to sail between the islands.
There are 700 nautical miles to cover, which could be done in 5 days with the right wind conditions, leaving plenty of time spare for exploration of the Faroes, Shetland, Orkney and the Hebrides, as well as sailing in Iceland on arrival.
This is a serious voyage, but with plenty of time to complete it in. This allows the Skipper to plan the longer passages in line with the most stable weather conditions, and you’ll have plenty to explore en route, and be continually learning from the professional crew.
Wildlife spotting and a huge variety of island hopping are real highlights, and Tecla is very well set up for Autumnal adventures in high latitudes, with heated cabins and highly experienced professional crew.
|Vessel type / Rig||Gaff Ketch|
Sailors with a sense of history and legend. Those who like a bit of rough in terms of challenging sailing. Those keen for an expedition-style adventure, with the understanding that the itinerary will be determined by the weather.
Classic Sailing Director Debbie joined this epic voyage in 2018 and took some great photos. She had many adventures ashore with her crewmates and was blown away by the wildlife and the ancient history on each island. The route is steeped in myth and legend and follows the old Viking trading routes.
The crew of Tecla like to immerse themselves in the culture of each place they visit, so this three week voyage allows enough time to explore each island group. The many islands of Orkney and the huge Scarpa Flow offers shelter for many wind directions, so it is always possible to explore here. Fair Isle is a bit more tenuous and the port entrances of the Faroes are downright exciting, but it is unlikely these highlights would be missed as they are part of the purpose of the voyage.
On a sailing voyage we never use the word itinerary, as skippers will always be aiming for the best sailing and shore landings for the forecast and most idyllic or sheltered anchors and ports. They are as keen as you to include some of the highlights described below, but you have to go with Mother Nature, not fight her. Included below are some potential stop-overs, but please be aware that nothing is guaranteed, and that Tecla will have to prioritise a timely arrival in Ullapool.
The crew of Tecla were made very welcome by the local community in Ullapool, and it has since become a favourite base for her. Even further North than Eda Frandsen’s summer base in Mallaig. Ullapool is North of Skye, North of Torridon and level in latitude with the Shiant Islands.
Orkney’s second largest island rises dramatically from the sea with ward hill towering 480 metres above sea level. If you anchor off Hoy the crew can hire a minibus to get to the other side of the island with its red sandstone cliffs and stacks and a walk to the famous Old Man of Hoy. There are white tailed fish eagles nesting on Hoy and most the island is owned by the RSPB. The organic Scapa Flow Ale is good too.
Stromness is a port worth exploring. The Orcadians were a hardy breed and many travelled the world as whalers, fishermen, sailors, fur traders and Arctic explorers. The standstone streets have narrow alleyways and private wharves, with a waterfront that has not really changed in centuries.
Kirkwall has St Magnus Catherdral with a Viking longship on the altar. Magnus and his men were massacred on the Island of Eday, but when Tecla crew visited it was a tranquil island with a ruined church, skylarks, farming and seals sunbathing.
Fair Isle is allegedly a very friendly place for visitors….but then you are a rare commodity in this remote island between Orkney and Shetland. Famous for its fisherman’s colourful jumper patterns and the shipping forecast, but when you meet the people it becomes as fascinating as all isolated communities. If you can’t afford a jumper the hats are rather fine.
Everyone has a skill or two and several jobs. The tiny harbour is hard to see into but is a real gem once you get inside. Steep cliffs full of nesting fulmars surround you, and seals and black guillimot swim in the turquoise blue harbour. The island is easy to walk around with puffins, skuas and many visiting birds using this tiny island as a stepping stone between Orkney and Shetland.
“We had a magical evening BBQ on the quayside with just us and a few visiting twitchers from the RSPB Bird Observatory” Debbie
Tecla was originally a Herring Drifter, fishing for Herring all around the North Sea, so she looks at home in Lerwick – once a major herring port. You can get your fix of internet cafes here or buy another hat.
Mousa is a perfect evening anchorage with a bronze age broch or double walled fortress home virtually intact to visit. In the spring storm petrels nest inside the walls and only come out at dusk. Keep your eyes peeled for otters.
Tecla generally visit Unst in Shetland for the Hermaness National Nature Reserve. Sail in past the Muckle Flugga lighthouse and then ashore you have to walk through a skua dive bombing area to get to the cliffs where the gannets and puffins breed.
“Sitting amongst the gannets was one of the best wildlife experiences I’ve ever had and I felt I was almost flying with them” Debbie again.
This is really an ocean like passage due to the lack of any land out west. Apart from a possible stop in the Westman Isles you are out in the North Atlantic and may have a gale blowing you along.
The huge high cliffs of the Faroes can be seen for miles and the highest summits are on the Northern boundaries of this proud island nation. Once you sweep into the sounds between the mountain ridges the seascape is transformed and fishing ports and towns emerge.
Whatever you might think of the whaling, the Faroes are a place of dramatic sea cliffs, swirling mists and legend. The cliffs of Slaettaratindur are 882 metres high and the tallest sea cliffs in Europe. Ashore there are Viking village remains to visit at Kvalvik. Maybe find a sauna to relax in at Torshavn. The ship will be well stocked with Dutch beer so chatting to the locals with a beer on deck, will help preserve your ‘pocket money’. Look out for the colourful turf roof houses.
Stopping on the Faroe Islands is always special. At least two or three islands will be visited, depending on wind and weather. Picture yourself on top of the Enniberg on the island Vidoy!
Much of the land ‘North of the wall’ in Game of Thrones TV series was filmed in Iceland, In summer this is less of an icy wasteland, with flower meadows, fresh water off the glaciers creating huge waterfalls, hot water geysers and geothermal natural pools to bathe in. By Autumn there is a sense that the weather is about to get interesting once more….
Reykjavik is Europe’s most Northerly Capital. A stylish place with great fashion shops, bookshops and cafes. There are now many cheap flight options back to many cities in Europe from nearby Keflavik Airport. You can get to Iceland by ferry from Denmark.
As well as coastal seas rich in cetaceans and fish, Iceland is a stopping off point for a wide variety of birdlife. Even those who cannot tell a gannet from a seagull, may find themselves developing an interest in ornithology…or at least reaching for a bird guide. Around 70 bird species breed in Iceland and over 370 different species have been spotted here. There are millions of puffins here in the summer (roughly May to August), skuas and terns that will dive bomb you if you get too close to their nests.
The Barrow’s Golden Eye, Great Northern Diver and Harlequin duck are common in America but Iceland is a good place to spot them. Gyrfalcons have been in Iceland for centuries and much prized for falconery across Europe. White tailed eagles are now protected in Iceland with about 65 breeding pairs. Iceland has plenty of bog and marshland so there are many waders, geese and ducks.
In 2019 Tecla sailed around Cape Favel to West Greenland and sucessfully transited the North West Passage with charter guests. She then sailed from Aleutian Isles to Galapagos and Easter Island, and Rounded Cape Horn for the second time. Tecla sailed around the world in 2012-13 with Europa and Oosterschelde. She crossed the South and North Atlantic, Indian Ocean, the wild seas of South Australia, raced in the Tasman Sea and sailed across the Pacific to round Cape Horn. She is a fast ship that does well in tall ships races. Run by several generations of a Dutch family she likes to create unusual sailing programmes and her crews like to explore ashore with as much energy as they sail the ship.
Ullapool to Reykjavik direction in Spring – summer
Sailing from Ullapool provides a chance for some flatter water in the lee of Skye or the Outer Hebridean Chain. The passage from say Lewis to Orkney is via the Pentland Firth and Cape Wrath so the tides run fast and can kick up rough seas. Hopefully you will get a window with tide and wind behind you! The Orkneys have a huge range of sheltered anchorages once amongst the islands. The biggest bit of open water is the 600 miles from the Faroes to Reykjavik. With modern weather forecasting you should be able to pick your timing to set off and reach Iceland in the best conditions. This voyage is quite early season, so although there is very little dark, there could be quite a bit of wind chill so pack plenty of layers and waterproof footwear. Your cabin has radiators so you can dry stuff.
The voyage in reverse is similar. Both voyages have the potential to be challenging so not a voyage it you are totally new to sailing or have any poor balance issues.
Whether you are an experienced sailor or a complete beginner, the professional crew will train you to be guest crew from the moment you arrive, with the intention that everybody works together to sail the ship. The common thread to all Classic Sailing holidays is ‘Hands on’ participation on ships that use ropes, blocks and tackles and ‘people power’ to set sail.
We cater for a wide range of ages and physical abilities and how much you are expected to do varies a bit between vessels. See the vessel tab above which explains all about the ‘sailing style’ and what to expect in terms of hands on participation. There is a lot of information about day to day life, the ships facilities and accommodation on the vessel pages.
Every customer sailing with us will need to fill in basic medical questions on their booking application. If you are not sure if your current level of fitness and agility are up to a voyage, then please ring the Classic Sailing Office on01326 53 1234 and we can chat through your concerns and possibly find options that might suit you better.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
For Joining any vessel, head to the harbour where your ship will more than likely be the only sailing vessel. Address: The Pier, Ullapool IV26 2UH
As a base for starting a sailing holiday, Ullapool rewards those who take the trouble to travel this far North. On the entrance to Loch Broom are the Summer Isles and if you head out West you come to the Shiant Islands before your reach Harris and Lewis. From here, it is a relatively short hop to St Kilda, or the Flannan Isles. The sailing grounds are virtually empty and in June it feels like the sun hardly sets. At nearly N 58 degrees latitude Ullapool is further North than Moscow. Its a long way up from Edinburgh, but not as difficult to get to as you might think.
Ullapool is nestled on the shores of Loch Broom. Whatever the weather, you are immediately struck by Ullapool’s whiteness and by its regularity of design and layout. This is a legacy of the town’s origins, being designed and built in 1788 by Thomas Telford and the British Fisheries Society to exploit a boom in herring fishing at the time.
The town is also the main terminus for the car and passenger ferry to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. The ferry operates seven days per week so all the public transport to Ullapool is good and there are plenty of accommodation options in the town.
As a base for exploring the north west of Scotland, Ullapool is ideal. It has accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets, including one of the best (and best located) campsites in this part of Scotland. And since the upgrading of most of the roads further north it is within reasonable reach of many parts of the region that twenty-five years ago would have needed a major expedition to reach.
Ullapool offers some very nice pubs, including the Ferry Boat Inn. It also has a range of shops from the smallest right up to a well-stocked supermarket: anyone on a self catering holiday is sure to be visiting the latter at some point during their stay.
For those wanting to know more about the area the excellent Ullapool Museum & Visitor Centre on West Argyle Street can be highly recommended. This is in the old parish church, and tells the story of the people of Loch Broom and the history of Ullapool.
Join Tecla in Reykjavik by heading to the yacht harbour in front of the opera house where you will find your ship. When Tecla arrives back into Reykjavik, she is more likely to be in the Old Harbour. Both are next to each other and within walking distance, you can get a bus or taxi right to the boat.
Joining location for Blue Clipper is likely to be similar to the map below.
Any changes will be communicated to you before your voyage start date. Make sure you make a note of the ship’s number found in your confirmation email in case of any problems on the day.
THIS IS TECLA standard voyage kit list. Specialist Antarctic kit list to follow shortly
There is limited storage space on Tecla so please pack all you belongings in a soft rucksack or bag.
This trip fulfilled my desire for adventure sailing as we transited the north coast of Iceland, along the Arctic Circle. Even though it was rough, the boat and crew performed admirably.
An enjoyable week in less than ideal weather conditions. The crew were competent and friendly, the catering excellent. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a voyage on Tecla.
A great mix of sailing in Scottish waters, some super hikes and an opportunity to see some of the immensely important historical sites in the Orkneys and Sheltands.
Mooring alongside in the Fair Isles was a great privilege.
The ocean passage to the Faroes was quiet but as a result we were blessed with clear skies whilst slinking in and out of the islands and some of the best coastal views one could hope to see anywhere.
The ocean passage to Iceland was a bit of a bimble until we were 60 miles off and then it got exciting. Thanks to a great skipper and permanent crew we snuggled into a fjord whilst the cruise ship ran aground in Reykjavik harbour. A good holiday, an adventure and fun.
Any initial doubts as to the number and experience of the crew were very quickly dispelled and we were impressed with the knowledge and the handling skills of the skipper and the 2 mates. Every opportunity was taken to enhance our enjoyment on both voyages and at every stage we were made to feel relaxed and under no obligation to crew the ship under sometimes testing (but enjoyable) conditions. As an observation, we must congratulate the skipper for her culinary skills under difficult conditions..........the food was perfect for the voyage.
A delight. A competent and engaging professional crew, an interesting voyage with some challenges and some great rewards. Good companions to make the log spin around.
Brilliant. I would do it again tomorrow. And good value too. The food was excellent. I loved the spicy meatballs and my wife loved the fresh langoustines.
Most enjoyable classic sailing with great food, a true sense of teamwork, great guidance and a good sense of humour. Can't get any better.
Globe trotting Tall Ship Tecla in action and images. This historic gaff ketch is our Iceland Specialist and also has Greenland Sailing Expeditions. Photos from Classic Sailing customers, ships crew and professional photographers. We hope it gives a flavour of her sailing, life on board, the people that come, her beautiful sailing grounds and what it is like to live below decks.
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