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Sunday, 7 June 2009


I forgot to mention in yesterday's post the incident with the Graemsay ferry last week. Apparently last weekend it hit a submerged wreck (the "Inverlane") in Burra Sound (the channel between Graemsay and Hoy). The boat sailed on and nobody was hurt, though I think it made a big "clunk" noise and startled crew and passengers alike. Divers inspected the hull of the Graemsay and apart from a scratch and a bit of a dent there seems to be no major damage.

However the outcome of this incident is that the Graemsay ferry now has to sail East of the island to Hoy and back (instead of the usual route West-about) which adds about 15 minutes on the Stromness-Hoy-Stromness journey. This doesn't cause much of a problem usually but for the first sailing of the day the time has been brought forward by 15 minutes as the delay made the kids arrive late at school registration.

A survey of Burra Sound will now be conducted, but who knows if the ferry can resume it's original route as there are actually SEVEN wrecks, which appear to have become unstable. These wrecks are as a result of Word War II fortifications of Scapa Flow which was the home base of the British Navy. Various booms were laid across the channel at entrances to Scapa Flow, and old ships were sunk (known as "block ships") to prevent submarines gaining access. However in October 1939 a German submarine got through the defences and sank the ship the "Royal Oak", which remains a war grave in the Flow to this day. After that tragedy the Churchill Barriers were erected linking what had been small islands (Lamb Holm, Burray, South Ronaldsay) to the East Orkney mainland as well as acting as submerged barriers. Other block ships and booms were used as defences too.

Nowadays the wrecks are used for recreational diving, and in the summer several dive vessels sail daily from Stromness Harbour. Once the harbour was home to the herring fleet, now it's used mainly by recreational boats, as is the case I'm sure in many harbours around the UK shores.

PS - we didn't get the snow forecast for this weekend. In fact it's been a lovely warmish day!


  1. Exciting times! And great links with all the history and all the maps. I was able to find all the places we had seen. Great memories.

  2. It's always fun revisiting happy memories isn't it! Hope you come back again one day and can visit me too!