The main ferry that connects Papay to Kirkwall on Orkney’s main island calls in just twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. It’s the main lifeline for the island as it’s the only way that, for example, cows can be sent to market and cars can be transferred. It also carries the food supply for the Community Coop which is the only shop on Papay. So you can imagine that Boat Day is a big event here. The daily plane carries the post and small parcels but only has room for a certain amount, so most stuff has to come on the boat.
I understand that most islanders get most of their food from the local shop which they might supplement with vegetables from their own garden and, in some cases, with eggs from their own chickens or ducks. You can sometimes buy eggs from a place that’s a little north of the airport too.
My daughter Mel and her family do things a little differently by getting a Tesco delivery from the main island once or twice a month. Each time they shop, one of them flies to the main island and goes to Tesco. At the till, they pack the groceries into boxes which are stored and delivered to the next Papay boat. So it’s normal to go shopping 1 or 2 days before Boat Day. I did this for them earlier in the month. filling 6 large banana boxes with their groceries.
Having done the Tesco shop, you then have to turn up at the New Quay when the ferry comes in – or soon afterwards. The groceries are divided into frozen, chilled and ambient and delivered in large containers that are brought ashore by a fork lift truck. You transfer them tho the car and finally drive them home for unpacking.
This is the ferry that arrived today – and also the ferry that we’ll be taking next Friday as we head home.