We had a short day on the water today but it was stunning! All the best European cathedrals are right on the water and very few are lucky enough to see them. I hope some of my photos turn out, but I know they won’t be able to reveal the magnitude of the caves and slots we paddled through today. The most impressive was a set of three closely spaced, parallel passageways straight into vertical cliffs for 100 yards. The first passageway was open to the sky and as wide as road. The next was roofed and so narrow you couldn’t paddle. The third was also roofed and big enough to drive a freight train through. Just stunning! Many other caves and passageways riddled this stretch of coast and we were thoroughly distracted from our goal of reaching Stroma and rounding her north end before the tide turned. When it became clear we wouldn’t make it, we turned back to try a different stretch of coast. We’d parked at the top of a slipway next to a house and the owner had chatted with us before we left. Everyone wants to be sure we know that Pentland Firth is the most dangerous and treacherous piece of water in the UK (maybe the world!). Anyway, Ronny invited us in for coffee and sardine sandwiches for lunch. We got a history lesson and heard tales from the days of the Vikings, pirates, and Inuits washed up in their kayaks. His house was once occupied by a seaman who used to pilot ships through the treacherous Firth. If the weather was fair enough, the pilot would be dropped off on the other side - about 30 miles - to walk home. If the weather was poor, he'd be stuck on board until the ship reached America where he'd work until he found passage back. The sandwiches were much yummier than they sound (or maybe we were just hungry).
Jake shopped this afternoon while I napped. He returned with the “pasties” he’s been hoping to find. Apparently his mom used to make these things – bread dough stuffed with meat, potatoes, and cabbage - and he’s been hoping to try a traditional pasty here, where the recipe originated. We tried one the other day, but it wasn’t “authentic” in Jake’s view. “How will you know when you get an authentic one?” I ask. “Because it’ll be like my mom’s.” These turned out to be close enough.
We walked around town which I thought would take 20 minutes and took about 8. We’re hanging out in the local Pubs in the evening with emails and navigation homework. I’m adapting to this lifestyle pretty quickly. Cheers!