SHETLAND’s very own historic tall ship the Swan arrived back in the isles at the weekend after having been stuck in Norway for three weeks due to poor weather.
The 67-feet restored herring drifter sailed in Lerwick Harbour on Sunday afternoon after a 36-hour journey from Bergen in what was the first weather window since 14 September.
Skipper Thorben Reinhardt said the planned trip from Bronnoysund to Lerwick, crossing the northern North Sea as autumn approaches, had not been possible as safety is the most important consideration in journey planning.
Instead the Swan made her way south along Norway’s stunning coastline to near Bergen before she was eventually able to make it across the North Sea at the weekend.
Reinhardt said the initial outbound trip to the Lofoten Islands, along the Norwegian coast, had been fully booked with ten paying customers – bringing a huge financial boost to the Swan Trust.
“If you are dealing with the northern North Sea at this time of year you have to be careful and cautious, and that is exactly what we did,” he said.
“The weather situations over the last three weeks for crossing the North Sea from the east to the west were pretty bad.
“Most of the time was spent making our way back from Lofoten Islands down to Bergen, a passage of more than 500 miles.”
Those on board the vessel who had time to stay a little longer than originally booked were welcome to stay on board while others made their own arrangements to return home. “We are always advising our customers to take out travel insurance,” Reinhardt said.
Some Swan Trust volunteers were flown out to Bergen to help bring the vessel home safely.
Chairman of the Swan Trust, councillor Peter Campbell, said the organisation had unfortunately missed two bookings while the vessel was stuck in Norway, one at Peterhead and a weekend of Shetland cruise.
“While we would have anticipated the potential for a delay, one would not have expected it to last this length of time,” he said.
“There seemed to have been a pattern whereby when the weather improved on the Norwegian coast it built up on this side. It was just working against us all the time.”
The Swan will make her final trip of the year early next week when she will be taken round Sumburgh Head to her winter berth at Scalloway.