Category Archives: The Tall Ships Races 2011

Part 2 Of An Orkney Tall Story

Tall ships in Stromness Harbour
Following on from Graham’s previous blog, we arrived early on Monday morning in Stromness so that we could park the car before the roads were shut for the day’s festivities. Graham headed off for the RSPB office and I wandered the sleepy streets of early morning Stromness.
I decided to have a coffee at the excellent Cafe Bar and sat outside in the sunshine. I noticed after awhile that the Stromness Lifeboat seemed to be giving people trips out into Hoy Sound and back. Intrigued, I went over and managed to get on the last trip before the Lifeboat was required to pick up the Shopping Week Queen and deliver her to the waiting crowds on the Pierhead.
On board the Stromness Lifeboat
It was an exhilarating ride, and gave a hint at the power these boats are capable of. Crossing back over its own wake provided some exciting bounces over the waves, which set kids and adults alike off squealing. It was great fun, capped off by coming in alongside the visiting tall ships, giving great views of these beautiful vessels.
Returning on the Lifeboat – tall ships with the ferry Hamnavoe on right
 Discovering that the tall ship Sørlandet was open for viewing, I decided to have a look around. I had a scary moment when I got a bit stuck trying to get down the gangway steps onto the boat. The steps angled backwards, and my injured ankle doesn’t bend that way. Thanks very much to the young couple who offered to help and made sure I got down okay, which I did eventually!
On board the Sørlandet
 It is indeed a beautiful ship, and the intricate rigging is fascinating. I watched a sailor climb up the mast and out onto a spar, balancing on the rope all the way out to the very end. Obviously a head for heights helps in this work.
Sailor working on the Sørlandet
The Shopping Week Queen and entourage arriving in Stromness by lifeboat
I watched the Shopping Week Queen and her entourage arrive by Lifeboat, speeches were made, and the 63rd Stromness Shopping Week began! It’s a week of activities and fun, mostly for the kids, culminating in a parade and fireworks.
Speech! Speech!
After lunch with friends, I met up with Graham and we headed home. For the first time since moving to Orkney, I was too hot and had got a bit too much sun, but it was a lovely morning. I hope the Tall Ships return next year.
Some of the tall ships visiting Orkney
Kathie Touin

A tall story from Orkney – but it’s all true

Statsraad Lehmkuhl in Kirkwall

Kathie’s husband Graham Brown writes:

Orkney is a great place to live

Greek chorus: “Yes, yes, you’ve told us before.”

But, really, it is. And one of the warming aspects of life here is the way the community joins together for special events.

The Orkney Folk Festival, St Magnus Festival, the agricultural shows, Stromness Shopping Week – and other events – all bring people out into the fresh air or the concert hall to meet, drink, talk and enjoy life.

This weekend is another example. The Tall Ships Races 2011 is visiting Orkney, which means some of the world’s most beautiful vessels are moored in Kirkwall and Stromness, and sailing between the two.

The vessels are an inspiration to see. But, more than that, once again the event brings the community together.

Kathie and I went to Kirkwall on Saturday morning to watch some of the ships leave for Kirkwall, and then over to Stromness in the afternoon to watch them arrive.

Being Orkney, the streets were alive with folk, food, drink, music, dancing and general good humour. We weren’t home until after midnight which, for us, is way past bedtime.

The events linked to the tall ships continue throughout the weekend – one of our friends is very excited about going to see KT Tunstall in Kirkwall tonight, having seen The Saw Doctors on Friday night.

On Monday I’m volunteering again at the RSPB office in Stromness so Kathie is coming with me to have another look at the ships, to meet Glasgow friends for coffee (after bumping into them yesterday) and to experience the beginning of Stromness Shopping Week. It will take a whole blog to explain what shopping week is all about, so for now here are some more photographs of the weekend’s fun.

Kirkwall City Pipe Band in Kirkwall
Kirkwall Harbour
The pilot boat watching the Statsraad Lehmkuhl
The ships depart Kirkwall for Stromness
Statsraad Lehmkuhl in Stromness – the ferry Hamnavoe in background
The Vatersay Boys play in Stromness
Safe at harbour in Stromness – Gulden Leeuw (left) and Sorlandet
The intricate rigging
Drinking in the rain outside Stromness Hotel
Stromness in the rain – hometime for these youngsters

All photographs by Kathie Touin.

Graham Brown