Fair isle a must-see place

We left Stornoway for a 138 Nm overnight sail to Kirkwall, Orkney, rather strong wind with good speed but cold, so hot chocolate with a generous addition of dark rum gave comfort and warmth to the body during the night shift. We arrived Kirkwall early morning, still cold and grey weather.


The town itself is rather small, but have a very impressive cathedral St Magnus Cathedral, built mid-1100s,

The bishops palace had been an impressive building as well

Kirkwall street view

It was not the queen they celebrated but school holiday

Before we left, we bought some local crafted beer, as well as a bottle of local Rum, but they should stick to making beer!


Left Kirkwall for a short trip to Pierowall harbour on Westray small place ca 24 Nm north Kirkwall

We went into Pierowall harbour which is very tiny harbour, but well protected on the north west side of Westray. We had looked forward to visit a local Pub, but no such was to find

Pierowall harbour

The disappointment was soon gone as a fishing boat came in loaded with fresh Crabs and lobsters, we bought some at one for us attractive price. 20 pounds for three large crabs and a one kg lobster, we were happy, and I got the impression that the fishermen thought we paid well too.

A feast on one Crabb and a Lobster, we saved two of the crabs to the next day.

Old magazine building

Traditional phone booth need some TLC.


We left Westray the day after for fair Isle only about 47 Nm away and the wind allowed us to sail about half of the way.

Fair Isle

Approaching Fairs Isle

We were lucky and found a free spot at the rather rough cay

There was one boat at anchor as well, but there is not much room, so I think it will be difficult to anchor another boat.

Fair Isle has two “Harbours” North and South Haven

North Haven from North on the other side of the bar is the South Haven, but that is an anchoring only.
South and North Haven looking north

We stayed a few days and several boats came in and for some time we had two boats outside us and the swell picked up so not 100% comfortable with the situation.

First boat outside Kerpa. I’m very surprised and a bit annoyed when other boats approach and ask if they can moore outside us, usually only 2 or 3 small fenders out not unusually also very dirty and sometimes even punctured. and then they use old sheets to more the boat with. The non stretch mooring ropes creates unpleasant jerks and squeaking sounds along fairleads and cleats. One wants to be friendly, but from now on I’m very firm, I say you are welcome to moored outside our boat if you have adequate with fenders and when they use the non-stretch mooring ropes I ask them to replace them and if they do not have that, I offer them to use some of mine ropes after informing them, that next time use proper ropes when mooring along another boat.

Fair isle is known for its abundance of birds and the most popular ones are the Puffins, so our first excursion on the island was of course to see Puffins. There were plenty of them and they were not afraid for us, so we could come very close to them.

A creative way to use old fence wire. Very nice we thought.

We wanted to take a closer look at the north lighthouse which we saw from the water when approaching North haven on fair Isle, so next trip went north

Beautiful scenery on our way north

The north Light house

Out on the cliff there is an old impressive foghorn

Impressive old Fog horn

Time for a picnic before exploring the bird cliffs

The white stuff you see on the small cliff fare away are birds!

A few Pictures on the beautiful scenery on the way back to Kerpa

The next day we decided to go south

 and found out there is a school on Fair Isle, in total only 5 children in the school.

Fair isle School
Fair Isle Surgery

Fair Isle House

Fair Isle south Light House

There are a lot of Sheep on the Island

Fair Isle is a fantastic out-post, very beautiful, a very harsh place to live on and well worth a long detour to visit, but you need a reasonable good weather forecast, the wind and weather shift rapidly in Scotland, so one has to be prepared for rough weather, the harbour will probably be untenable at moderate wind as swell build rather quick, however Fair Isle is not fare away from reasonable shelter either at Orkney or going north to Shetland Islands (n.b. Fair Isle is part of Shetland Islands) which will be our Next stop on St Ninians Island a wonderful place

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