Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Ark Royal - Pink Gin or Pink Gun?

On hearing that the Ark Royal was coming to Scapa Flow, an idea sprang to Johnny's mind. Yes, it was January ... but it could be quite fun to visit her - we might even get invited on board for a pink gin in the wardroom! The idea was mooted on the OSKA forum and before long, 3 folk of a similar mind "volunteered", all who could skive off work on Tuesday 27 January 2009. The initial weather forecasts were not great, but the morning of the 27th dawned with sun and a mild South Westerly that was due to die away as the day progressed.
Guided by Orkney Harbours information, Johnny, Peter Dave and Jackie met at Houton at just after 9am but actually launched from Swanbister. We were later told that the Ark Royal had been asked to "move on". We headed straight for the Ark Royal which was now anchored NE of Flotta. We made good time, despite a detour to avoid the path of the "Samco America". Cheery waves from the crew initially welcomed us as we approached from the starboard. However, as we rounded the bow almost within touching distance, we were politely informed by a lady officer (with gun) that a respectful distance of 500m should be maintained around the "warship". We deferentially backed a little further away but still managed a few good photos between us.
Quite a few other boats had come to visit, both officially and otherwise. In addition, there were several small boats decorated with a White Ensign circulating around the Ark Royal. We chose not to argue with these guys either! We reckoned that were nearly 20 boats visible on the Flow
After having outstayed our welcome, we decided to visit the "Samco America" which had now dropped anchor, a couple of miles away. The crew of the tanker seemed somewhat less interested in our presence (although it has to be said that to the best of our knowledge they were unarmed). It still looked a very unequal contest between Jackie and the bow of the tanker

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