As we approach the first anniversary of moving into our wee Orcadian home overlooking Scapa Flow, I can categorically state that there's been very little shipping at anchor in the natural harbour during the past year.
Yeah, there's ferries steaming back and forth: the Pentalina makes the trip to Gill's Bay several times a day; the Hamnavoe occasionally graces the Flow with her presence, if westerly gales make for unpleasant sea conditions on t'other side of Hoy; and a peedie Orkney Ferry chugs back and forth between Hoy, Flotta and Houton. And, ok, there was a small coaster that broke down a while back and was towed into safe waters until spare parts could be sourced, but that's about it really.
So imagine my consternation, one evening earlier in the week, when this was parked in the view...
She's the RFA Fort Victoria, a Royal Fleet Auxiliary oiler replenishment ship. According to the local paper, prior to a recent refit at the Cammell Laird yard in Birkenhead, she spent a good deal of time in the Indian Ocean helping to track down pirate groups off the Somali coast. A snowy Hoy must make quite a change!
Then, a couple of days later, another vessel hove to in the safe anchorage...
This is the crude oil tanker Alsace, which due to the sodium lights just visible in the above photo, looks like a whole street when she's all of an orange glow at night. Again, The Orcadian, our local paper was on the case.
I wonder what will turn up next?