Harnessing The Power Of The Sea Off The Orkney Islands

I decided to take a ferry to Westray as this would pass by the tide and wave-driven devices being tested off the shore of Eday.

I introduced myself to the people in the Information Centre at Kirkwall and told them I was looking to get close to the Water-based power generating devices off the island of Eday. There simply want anything available to take a member of the public out to those devices and I was told my best bet would be to book a ferry to Westray as I would be able to see the devices on the way.

I booked the first departure and last return to and from Westry for the next day on the assumption that the bus network would link with the ferry. Like an awful lot of what I have become used to when traveling by bus, I came to learn that this assumption was wrong. You can get almost anywhere on mainland Orkney via the bus network but your time to travel is limited. You can read all about it in my article about budget travel in Orkney here.

In the same article, I also cover accommodation on the mainland in general and give a detailed look at the Scorrabrae Inn where I stayed. Trish, the hotel’s owner was easy to talk to and looked after me like family. She even got up at 6am to drive me to the ferry to Westray.

Sailing Among Orkney’s Islands

At £10 for a return ticket from Kirkwall to Westry, the one-hour each-way sailing came in very reasonably priced. I hung out on the deck in both directions lost in the utter beauty around me as our ferry meandered among the islands to the north of mainland Orkney.

The islands were rugged, beautiful, and sparsely inhabited. Ruined buildings could be seen on shore above the cliffs as gannets circled between them and our boat.

Finally, we passed the eastern shores of the island of Eday, and the huge water-based power generation machines came into view in the distance. The ferry was never close enough to make them out in any great detail but I was able to relate their shapes to what I had seen in my research.

Wave And Tide Power Generation

A huge tide machine that used the motion of the changing tides to harness the power could be seen set above the waves. As we passed, the massive wall-like contraption which captured the motion was raised out of the water. Nearby, long, yellow torpedo-shaped vessels floated in the water harnessing the power from the motion of the waves.

Harnessing the power of the tides and the waves

Though distant and not well focussed, it was great to see the future, our future, set against the raw beauty of the present and the ruins from the dramatic past of these islands.

As our ferry pulled into the harbour at Westray, at a little before 9am, the main objective of my day had already been achieved. I was elated, completely at peace and more than a little excited at a day of exploration in prospect as I made my way to the bus which would take me north.

In the next post, I will talk about getting lost on Westray and some of the things I found. This included a unique sustainable food production experiment, the sentiments of the people expressed through school windows and an old and rusty telephone box.

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