NEWS FROM NORTHERN LIGHT CHARTERS :: JULY 2008

Tue 1 Jul | Ghastly gale  Yeuch! Horrible weather this morning (gale force winds in places) so Zuza stayed put in Loch Nevis. In the afternoon they sailed to Plockton going underneath the Skye bridge again. The tide was fairly high and the top of the mast was fairly close to the underside of the bridge…close enough for Tim to think he wouldn’t attempt this manoeuvre on a high Spring tide!

Okay, so we’ve had the longest day and it’s all downhill from here but would you believe the photo right was taken (outside our house) at just a few minutes before midnight last night?! Right: clouds at midnight by Mark Henrys

Wed 2 Jul | Diversion to dentist  So, you’re crewing a boat and your filling falls out. Ouch! What do you do? Duh?! Sail to your dentist’s surgery of course! Zuza sailed into Portree today for two fillings – water for the boat and amalgam for Heather’s tooth. A pair of sea eagles were seen outside Portree. Next to Acarseid Mhor (Big Harbour) on the island of Rona. A family of red-throated divers were spotted and Heather saw an outrageously cute baby otter.

The Shiants delivered lots of photogenic birds this morning including rafts of razorbills and in the evening Zuza anchored near Isay in Loch Dunvegan where common terns, Arctic terns and an Arctic Skua were seen. Right: reams of razorbills at the Shiant Islands by Heather McNeill

Thu 3 Jul | Marvellous minkes  We haven’t seen too many minke whales this year. There are definitely fewer of them about compared to numbers of dolphins. Zuza guests were delighted to see today five minke whales off Waternish Point on Skye (below left). One was really huge – about 35 feet – most likely a female as these are the biggest. Guests commented that they heard the noise of the whales blowing before they actually saw them – that’s the beauty of sails as opposed to an engine – near silence in which to enjoy the marine environment. Photos below: (left) bird and whale-watching at the Shiants (right) minke whale by Zuza off Waternish Point, Skye, both by Heather McNeill

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sat 5 Jul | Cook changeover  Ylva is having a week off Hjalmar Bjorge this week and our Ylva-substitute for this trip is her brother Mark (right), joining Mark the skipper and crew Lindsay. Ylva has been encouraging Lindsay to take time each day during the next week to shout “Mark!” and see who turns round! Photo: Ylva and Mark on the forepeak of Hjalmar Bjorge by Mark Henrys

Before Ylva disappeared to Mull for the week she had a busy day today. After helping Mark (the cook, not the skipper) do the week’s shopping this morning, she donned a wetsuit to swim from Kerrera, across the Sound, and into Dungallan Park in Oban this afternoon. In taking part Ylva raised over £250 for charity. Although Northern Light Charters gave her a modest donation we were definitely shamed by our last guests – Holborn BSAC whose 12 club members came up with a magnificent £86 before they left us on 27 June. Mark (the cook, not the skipper) also wangled £20 out of a couple of BBC employees who are filming on Kerrera at the moment.

Repeat guests Ealing SAC joined Hjalmar Bjorge in the afternoon today. We had a couple of spare places and Lindsay’s boyfriend, a diver she met onboard early last year, secretly arranged for himself and a buddy to be aboard for this week’s trip. Lindsay’s face, when she saw him, was a picture…more Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” (in a good way) than a composed Mona Lisa…

The day finished with a pretty sunset in Tobermory harbour (right). Photo: Mark Henrys

Zuza travelled from Skye to Tobermory via the Small Isles where about half a dozen basking sharks were seen off Canna and Rum. In the evening they were entertained by the resident otter in Tobermory harbour. It checked out the local boats for fish and amazed everyone by running up a mooring line!

 

 

 

 

 

Last night two different pairs of sea eagles were seen at Zuza’s evening anchorage in Loch Bracadale on Skye. After a dreich start to the cruise the last few days have been lovely and sunny – just right for relaxing on deck. The photo below was taken as Zuza sailed past Neist Point, Skye. Photos: (above) guests relaxing on the deck of Zuza (below) Neist Point, Skye, both by Heather McNeill

 

Sun 6 Jul | Masses of marine mammals  Hjalmar Bjorge guests had some great sightings today. Firstly two dozen common dolphins west of Rum then four basking sharks in the Sound of Canna. Whilst diving in the Sound of Soay a juvenile basking shark turned up followed by a minke whale. The evening’s anchorage in Loch Bracadale on Skye also saw a sea eagle flying low over the boat. Zuza guests also saw a pair of sea eagles today, near the entrance to Loch Creran. Above: common dolphins west of Rum by Mark Henrys

We’ve added two more galleries to the website photo galleries – one for Zuza since she joined us in the Hebrides in April and one for four-legged land mammals. Other galleries have also been updated so why not take a look?

Mon 7 Jul | More marine mammals!  Another good day for Hjalmar Bjorge guests on the sightings front. Whilst diving the wreck of the “Doris” off Neist Point a baby basking shark turned up. Then around 30 to 40 common dolphins appeared, surfing on large waves directly towards the boat where they went underneath, circled round and headed back to the waves for more surfing. They stayed with the boat for about an hour. Leaving the dive site a minke whale was seen.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Next a big basking shark was seen off Skye. Low clouds gave the Cuillins an ethereal look (above) and the evening’s anchorage at Carbost saw another sea eagle flying overhead. Above: clouds over the Cuillins by Mark Henrys

Zuza finished a nine night cruise in Corpach today where Hannah returned to Norman and Valerie a book lent to her at the start of their holiday. “Petrels night and day” is written by Norman’s son Magnus Robb, and was recently published by “The Sound Approach” team. Magnus joined Norman and Valerie aboard Hjalmar Bjorge in July 2007, along with sound recordist friend Peter, and they managed to overnight on Hirta (St Kilda) twice during that visit. Four of the recordings made on that occasion are included in the book which comes with two free CDs. Northern Light Charters is only totally thrilled to be thanked on the very first page for playing a tiny part in what was a massive project. The book, which does contain much scientific material, is first and foremost an engaging account of Magnus’ passion for these birds and the peculiar noises they make! It is beautifully illustrated by Killian Mullarney and would be a credit to any bird-lover’s coffee table. To read more about this publication click here.

 

Wed 9 Jul | Bounteous basking sharks  Today and yesterday Hjalmar Bjorge encountered loads of basking sharks (three of them can be seen in the photo above). Yesterday morning the vessel departed Loch Bracadale and ended up at Canna and Mark stopped counting baskers when he got to 50. Today after leaving Canna and heading south it was a repeat experience – dozens and dozens of basking shark, more than 50. One minke whale was seen today plus a dozen bottlenose dolphins near Lunga (below). Hjalmar Bjorge anchored by Cragaig on Ulva for the evening. Photos: (above) basking sharks (below) bottlenose dolphins, all photos by Mark Henrys

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thu 10 Jul | On anchor entertainment  The day started well for Hjalmar Bjorge guests with six bottlenose dolphins around the boat whilst still on anchor. Departing Ulva the boat rounded Iona and made her way along the Ross of Mull. A dive was undertaken on the “Meldon” in Lochbuie and a juvenile basking shark was seen by the entrance to the loch.

Sat 12 Jul | Both boats begin again  Diving guests aboard Hjalmar Bjorge left us yesterday with 12 wildlife watchers joining us today. They spent the evening and overnight in Tobermory and we are hoping to take them to St Kilda this week. Zuza also boarded guests in Corpach today and anchored for the evening in Loch à Choire.

Lindsay’s boyfriend JJ (with Lindsay, right) and his mate Nev, who spent the week aboard Hjalmar Bjorge, were going back over to Mull with Lindsay for the night. To allow her to leave a bit earlier than normal the boys hung around the boat and helped out with the hoovering, cleaning the sinks and mirrors and Nev even fixed some loose bed-side lights in the guest cabins. Whoever said men were rubbish at housework (ooh did I say that out loud?!) was wrong – the boys done good. (Note to self: “tell JJ’s mum he is really good at hoovering!”) Above: JJ and Lindsay by Hannah Thompson

Sun 13 July | Basker, bottlenose and birds  Zuza guests saw a porpoise this morning as they were leaving Loch à Choire, just off Glensanda Quarry. Sea eagles were seen near Ardtornish in the Sound of Mull and the vessel spent the night by Carna in Loch Sunart.

A long journey for Hjalmar Bjorge today, starting in Tobermory early this morning, and ending at Borve on the west side of Harris. A bottlenose dolphin was spotted by Ardnamurchan and a basking shark was seen in the Sound of Harris.

Mon 14 Jul | Woeful weather  Zuza travelled to Rum in thick fog today. These conditions are fairly unusual for this part of the world. Visibility was down to about 200m (not good for any nervous sailors aboard!) and even though the yacht passed within quarter of a mile of Muck and Eigg they could not be seen! However the fog lifted as they anchored in Loch Scresort which was just as well because about a dozen other boats – taking part in the Classic Malts event – were also sheltering in there.

Hjalmar Bjorge went to Taransay this morning where guests went ashore. The wind really started to blow and the boat just moved round the other side of the island to get some shelter for the night.

Back at Rum the wind also picked up and pretty much blew a gale all night. Tim has ensured Zuza was anchored safely but about five other yachts in the loch dragged their anchors during the night, one passing dangerously close to Zuza’s bow. Anticipating this Tim was up most of the night on anchor watch.

Tue 15 Jul | Still windy – good for sailing!  Conditions improved in the Inner Hebrides and Zuza guests enjoyed a good sail back down to Tobermory today. It remained windy in the Outer Hebrides though with Hjalmar Bjorge travelling north to Scarp where our guests spent the morning ashore. The journey back to West Loch Tarbert, by Taransay, was very rough indeed.

Wed 16 Jul | Osprey observed offshore  Zuza enjoyed more good sailing, this time from Tobermory down to Loch Spelve where a golden eagle and young were seen near the mouth of the loch. The sun came out. For an hour. But at least it was lunchtime on anchor. Then it started raining again! After lunch they set off for Craignish near Ardfern for the evening. En route an osprey was seen. This would appear to be an unlikely sighting with less than (an estimated) 150 breeding pairs in the UK. In Scotland they almost exclusively live on the east of the country. However it’s believed there are a couple of individuals around the west coast and three of Zuza’s guests confirmed the ID making it a “first” for Northern Light Charters.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Hjalmar Bjorge departed early to set off for St Kilda but it proved too rough. A decision was made to return to the Sound of Harris and motor down the east side of the Uists. Not far from Lochboisdale a group of 30 to 40 common dolphins were encountered. They bow-rode and stayed with the vessel for about 20 minutes. The afternoon was spent at Castlebay on Barra and the evening anchorage was Vatersay. Above: common dolphins near Lochboisdale, all photos by Mark Henrys

 

Thu 17 Jul | Poor puffin population  Hjalmar Bjorge guests enjoyed a good morning ashore on Mingulay before a long steam back to Lochaline. They saw a golden eagle but thought puffin numbers were low. Zuza guests saw the best sunshine of the week this afternoon and after sailing into Loch Creran they went ashore and visited an Open Garden and House which was deemed “lovely”. Photo: Barra Head lighthouse photographed as Hjalmar Bjorge left Mingulay by Mark Henrys

Fri 18 Jul | Lindsay jumps ship  Both boats finished their week long cruises today, Hjalmar Bjorge in Oban and Zuza in Corpach. As well as saying good-bye to all our guests Mark, Hannah and Ylva also bade a fond farewell to Lindsay who decided, a couple of months ago, to move on to pastures new. We will miss her aboard Hjalmar Bjorge and evenings without fiddle-playing won’t be the same. Lindsay’s having a relaxed month or so at home to start with, so if anyone travels over to Mull as a foot passenger on the ferry they’ll quite likely see her busking on the pier at Craignure! Photo: Lindsay and Ylva having lunch on the back deck of Hjalmar Bjorge this week by Mark Henrys

Sat 19 Jul | Fair for a fortnight?! After cruising up to Corpach yesterday, Hjalmar Bjorge is now tied up until 2 August having – unusually – two weeks free. Our choice and Mark has a few wee jobs to do aboard (never mind all those that Hannah has lined up at home for him!!!). Here’s hoping for some better weather so some painting on the topsides can be done. Zuza locked out again today for another week long cruise, being due back in on Friday. A vibrant rainbow illuminated a squally sky in Loch Linnhe (above) en route to Aird’s Bay by Port Appin where the night was spent. There were strong northerly winds overnight. Photo: rainbow over Loch Linnhe by Tina Irvin

Today we received a package from guest Dorothy who had sailed aboard Zuza in early June this year. Shown right is a beautiful hanging that she created for the boat following her holiday. The size of a large placemat, it’s a patchwork marvel featuring a puffin, a dolphin and Zuza…looking just like Zuza! This material masterpiece just proves what fantastic guests we have. “Thank you”s and kudos to Dorothy for her imagination, creative skill and hard work. Photo: patchwork created by Dorothy Salter

Sun 20 Jul | Easdale affords eleven  Zuza had an excellent sail south today. Conditions by Easdale Island were particularly good with the yacht sailing along at about 11 knots. Tina took some photos of Tim, below, raising the sails as they prepared to get going this morning. Below: Tim raising sails by Tina Irvin

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The yacht sailed down to, and stopped at, Craignish with guests going ashore for a visit, then anchored overnight at Eilean Righ in Loch Craignish.

Mon 21 Jul | Cute cygnets at Craighouse  This morning Zuza guests went ashore at Ardfern for a walk then sailed south to Craighouse on Jura for a second walk. A pair of swans with cygnets came to join the boat, just off the pontoon by the pub, and were fed from the swim deck of Zuza. They also joined the tender for a few snacks! Below: swans and cygnets at Craighouse by Heather McNeill

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tue 22 Jul | Sail and a whale  Zuza headed north again today, this time for Bunessan on the Ross of Mull, via the Sound of Islay. There was thick fog most of the way from Colonsay to Iona and Tim took the precaution of going round the outside of Iona instead of going through the Sound as usual. Through the fog a minke whale was seen off Colonsay. Once anchored off Bunessan guests went ashore for a stroll to the pub. Photo: evening clouds at Bunessan, Isle of Mull by Tina Irvin

Wed 23 Jul | Lunga puffins and basker  Zuza travelled north west round Mull to Tobermory via Lunga today. A small basking shark was seen off Lunga and of course lots of puffins and guillemots were seen on the island itself. Photos below: (left) Eric and Elaine on Lunga (right) Tina on Lunga by Tina Irvin

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

After leaving the Treshnish Isles the boat travelled past the Cairns of Coll which is usually a great place to see cetaceans but not today! There were, however, good sailing conditions from the Cairns down to Tobermory. Photo: (right) puffin on Lunga by Tina Irvin

Barbara, who took two cruises with us earlier this year, reminds us of the work undertaken by The Hebridean Trust. Established in 1982 the Trust has been involved in projects throughout the Hebrides including historical building restoration, housing and museum provision, environmental and ecological work, and marine and archaeological surveys. You can visit their website here.

Thu 24 Jul | Scorching sunshine  Zuza had an enjoyable beat down the Sound of Mull and into Loch Creran for the night. The sun shone. A lot. I hardly dare say it, but, has summer returned? 

The car journey back from Corpach to home registered 27.5oC today. A neighbour down the road reported 28oC in his garden! Mark has spent the last couple of days aboard Hjalmar Bjorge busy with a paintbrush. Right: freshly painted decks on Hjalmar Bjorge by Hannah Thompson (that is photo by Hannah, paint put down by Mark!)

Fri 25 Jul | A week off  Zuza finished a second week’s back-to-back charter in Corpach today. Both boats will be berthed at Corpach next week with both heading back out to sea on Saturday 2 August.

Mon 28 Jul | More serious sunshine  The thermometer reached 29.5oC today! Unsurprisingly Mark has got lots more paint on Hjalmar Bjorge including the NSSR symbol on the front of the wheelhouse and the ones on either side of the funnel on the upper (“sun”) deck. Photos: (below) Hannah Thompson

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

news from the previous month [ June ]