I have mentioned sailing and rowing in a previous blog, however there are other leisure activities which take place in and about the harbour. One of my favourite pastimes is to walk up the Staney Hill behind our house and observe the harbour traffic, as well as the sunrise over Bressay.
When I went to school in Lerwick in 1961, if you wished to go swimming in Lerwick you would have to take to the sea; the most used place was the Wari Gio, located at the Knab. Situated at the foot of the cliffs at the Knab, and in open water with little in the way of shelter, swimming was restricted to short summer months, when the weather was favourable; even then the sea was very cold — as I found out when I was younger on the beautiful sandy beaches of my childhood home of Burra Isle! The other two favourite swimming locations were the Dinghy and Grottie Buckie sandy beaches at Sound in Lerwick, again open water. Nowadays there are a few open water swimmers who take to the sea in the harbour; I notice they mostly wear wet suits!
Jet Skis were quite a favourable pastime in past years however they appear less frequent nowadays.
I noticed an unusual sight while walking along the sea shore at the Sletts; although not on the water, just quite close to the cliff edge, a scrambler was testing out his manoeuvres. As you may know, motorbikes are very popular here, so perhaps this is unsurprising. Scramblers are often seen at the Sands of Sound too.
By far the most popular maritime activity is observing the local aquatic wild life which visits the harbour. In recent summers there has been a huge interest in boat trips to visit the sea bird colonies of the cliffs of Noss, a small island close to the southernmost entrance of Lerwick harbour.
On route to the cliffs it is quite common to see plenty of seals and often a dolphin will make an appearance. Otters are becoming more common however when I spot them on my harbour walks I usually have left my camera home! If you are really lucky you may spot one of the Orca pods, which enjoy hunting the local seal colonies. Just recently at the mouth of the harbour Catherine and I observed a pair of Humpback Whales they appeared to be busy feeding. It was truly spectacular.
In an earlier blog I mentioned the Eastern European Klondike fleet, which were a fixture mainly in the 1980s. Unfortunately one or two foundered at the harbour limits and in the summer months I have observed divers visiting these wrecks. Our crystal clear, unpolluted waters are perfect for visiting dive teams.