My attempt to leave the island on Friday night and experience some rough seas was thwarted by the cancellation of the NorthLink ferry to Aberdeen due to inclement weather. So unpacking my drawing materials and waterproofs I went walking the cliffs of Burra in deep snow and freezing wind, but a stunningly beautiful jagged coastline, with late afternoon sun on sparkling snow, deep blues and turquoise water, and otter tracks to follow (they might have been rabbits..). Having watched a fishing boat making very slow progress of rounding the coast in the heavy swell, before turning back, perhaps the ferry captain was right.
Saturday the ferry sailed, so after a night sea voyage – also prolonged due to heavy swell in Aberdeen harbour – on Sunday night I finally made it home. Having a cabin to myself on the boat meant that I was able to sit and draw out of the window – which meant that I was much closer to the water than when standing out on deck with all the smokers. This was the opportunity I had been waiting for – a moonlit rough sea and to feel as well as see and draw the movement of the sea. It meant that I had far less sleep than I should have done given the ensuing long drive back down to Somerset, but feeling the boat rolling I couldn’t bear to miss the sight of waves swelling and breaking around us. Spreading chalk and charcoal over everything, it was a fitting trip back.
My blog will continue from Somerset... but I am returning to Shetland in October for a month. Prior to this I will be travelling to Norway to visit my Norwegian oceanographers and mathematicians partners to talk extreme waves.