17th-18thJune. The weather has been very mixed – patches of glorious sunshine and quite a lot of heavy rain showers. It’s cold too – around 10 or 11 degrees – so we have been well dressed up in thermals and rain gear. We left our mooring buoy at Longhope mid-morning and sailed under genoa only in the stiff breeze (this made for very comfortable downwind sailing) past the oil terminal on Flotta and over an area of Scapa Flow where many of the boats of the German fleet were scuttled in 1919. Turns out we are here for the 100thanniversary of this event, on Friday 21stJune, so we are hoping to go to some of the commemorative events in Stromness. We sailed across the north east corner of Scapa Flow and picked up the single visitors’ mooring buoy off St Marys, a village close to the Churchill barriers. Fully equipped with raingear (which turned out to be very necessary) we went ashore and walked across the barrier (now carrying the main road) to the tiny Italian chapel, created from Nissen huts by Italian PoWs who were building the barriers in the 1940s. Its beautifully painted and all the internal fittings were made out of scrap metal and wood: a testament to creativity and dedicated to peace, with an altar painting that showed the Christ child holding an olive branch.
From here we split forces: Nigel and Anne walked the 5 or so miles across three small islands joined by causeways to Hunda Sound, our overnight anchorage. Jonathan and Caroline went back to Nova and motored across the short distance to Hunda which is sheltered from the southerly wind that was forecast.
The walk took us across two Churchill barriers, where we could see the remains of ‘blockships’ in the water. These were old ships, deliberately sunk during WW2 to prevent submarines entering through the sounds between islands. They weren’t sufficient, however, and Churchill ordered the barriers to be built to block the sounds permanently. The pieces of old wreck contrasted starkly with the golden sand of the beaches. We arrived at the shoreline of Hunda Sound just as Nova dropped anchor, so were soon back on board to get dry and warm and enjoy supper on board.