Kirkwall, Orkney

Day 50  Mon 18 April:  After a restful Sunday exploring the fascinating town of Kirkwall, time for at least half a day of excitement. Extremely strong winds all day today. The Lerwick to Kirkwall ferry was cancelled. For similar meteorological reasons, my original plan to visit Longhope Lifeboat (a ride across very unsheltered stretches of Orkney, including a 6 mile ferry crossing to Hoy) was postponed. Plenty of time tomorrow. A day to stay local.  My first outing into town to stock up with essential provisions for the next 48 hours was probably a tad irresponsible. I soon realised that choosing to ride a light weight, unladen bike, even for just a mile each way in frequent 50mph gusts, was verging on the dangerous. But this was serious mission. I had run out of fig rolls. The gaps between heavy showers were too short to risk walking. So, a brief battle against the wind, a rapid raid on the Kirkwall Co-op and a wind assisted ascent. Mission accomplished in under 20 minutes, restocked with the FRs plus a few non essential extras.
The second outing was the big one. Kirkwall Lifeboat Crew training exercise, 18:00hrs. It was good to see Dupre again, having met him at Barra Island Lifeboat Station where he was on relief cover for their full time mechanic. Many thanks to him and the rest of the crew for such a fascinating insight into an important crew meeting and training session at an All Weather Lifeboat Station. It would be indiscrete to reveal all the goings on but I can assure you it was a very good blend of professionalism and good humour. Thanks again to Dupre (Mech), Stewart (Cox’n), crew members Ingram, Paul, John, Magnus, Ally and Lee. Particular thanks to Graham, 2nd Cox and much more, including photographer extraordinaire, for taking me with him on his photo shoot of the Severn Class Lifeboat being put through its paces in rough conditions. I think his camera, with that mega zoom lens costs and weighs more than Fondo. It was a pleasure and a privilege to meet you all.
Interesting fact of the day: The replacement MTU engines now fitted to many Severn Class Lifeboats are descendants/developments of the WW2 German Panzer tank, replacing the original Caterpillar engines. You’re free to share that pearl of wisdom at your leisure.

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