NEWS FROM NORTHERN LIGHT CHARTERS :: APRIL 2011

Mon 4 Apr | Oldest osprey returns to Scotland  The Scottish Wildlife Trust today was celebrating the return, to Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve in Perthshire, of a male osprey today. He is the mate of the oldest known breeding female osprey in the UK. She is now 26 years old – three times the average lifespan of this, the third largest bird in the UK – and arrived at the Reserve five days ago. The female has, during her lifetime, laid an impressive 58 eggs and raised 48 chicks. Mating began as soon as the male arrived and it won’t be long before staff find out if the elderly bird is still fertile. Anna Cheshier, SWT’s Perthshire Ranger, said, “After mating, we would usually expect a female to lay between two to four eggs in early April, and six weeks later the eggs should hatch.”

Wed 20 Apr | Perfect painting weather  Hjalmar Bjorge finally departed her winter berth at Corpach today. In between returning from the slip mid-March and leaving for Oban a little over a month later, much painting and varnishing was completed. The entire topsides, as well as the hull, were repainted and additionally, all the cabins were given a coat of paint and varnish. The saloon, galley and companionways were similarly treated. Mark and the crew were justifiably proud of themselves for this achievement. Weather often prevents all outside work from being completed ahead of the first cruise.

Thu 21 Apr | First cruise of the year  Northern Light Charters’ first guests of the year boarded Hjalmar Bjorge this afternoon for the first cruise; a gentle four-night cruise around local islands. Crew comprised skipper/owner Mark, cook Marky Mark and crew Anna White. They are accompanied by Ship’s Dog “Fatty”, who is actually now rather slim, and should perhaps be referred to by her proper name, Seven. Mark’s oldest school friend Gog is also on board.

Unusually there are no repeat guests on the first trip but four have booked on the recommendation of our friend Joyce from Preston. Hjalmar Bjorge left Oban in calm but hazy conditions and meandered up the Sound of Mull to our mooring in Tobermory Harbour where the first three course evening meal of the year was served by chef Marky Mark.

Fri 22 Apr | Close encounters of the sea eagle kind  Early this morning Mark and the crew moved Hjalmar Bjorge across to the pontoons to enable our guests to explore Tobermory. Most of them elected to walk out of the town and along the coastal path to Aros Park where they enjoyed a pleasant walk.

The boat departed Tobermory after lunch and shortly after passing Ardmore Point had first one, then another, adult sea eagle, fly across the bow. They skimmed across the water less than 200 metres away and appeared to be returning to Mull from Ardnamurchan. Everyone onboard got a great view of them. Hjalmar Bjorge continued round the north coast of Mull and on to Gometra Harbour for the evening where a quiet night is planned on anchor.

Sat 23 Apr | Moth makes rapid recovery  This morning all the guests went ashore for walks on both Gometra and Ulva before returning to the boat for lunch. Whilst they were ashore the crew found a very attractive moth on the back deck. It appeared to be on its last legs and was brought inside to recover, promptly laying several dozen eggs! The moth and the eggs were later relocated during the vessel’s next stop at Inch Kenneth. The boat was anchored for the afternoon here and all aboard had a lovely walk around the island in bright spring sunshine. The boat will stay put overnight in this peaceful location.

Sun 24 Apr | Happy Easter  Unfortunately the weather started to deteriorate this morning with a freshening wind and showers. After due consideration it was decided to return northwards, and head back down the Sound of Mull, into Loch Spelve, this route providing the best shelter. Near the entrance Loch Spelve Mark checked on the golden eagle’s nest but disappointingly there was no sign of any activity.

Hjalmar Bjorge anchored in the north eastern anchorage of the loch and all aboard enjoyed an evening of diverse sightings, from golden eagles being seen close by to an otter swimming along the shore line.

Guest Barbara had also been busy this weekend knitting a number of woolly ducks on eggs which she gave to everyone aboard. How sweet is that?

Mon 25 Apr | Good-bye to first guests of the year  Crew and guests awoke to not a breath of wind and bright sunshine. Loch Spelve looked resplendent in the morning light with clear reflections upon the surface. A very gentle cruise was taken back to Oban via the Sound of Kerrera. Our first guests of the year departed the vessel after brunch which was taken alongside in Oban.

Fri 29 Apr | Welcome back Biddulph SAC  Mark, Marky Mark, Kirsty, Gog and Seven had all hands (and paws) on deck to get ready for regular annual full-boat charter party Biddulph Sub-Aqua Club, arriving this afternoon. The group of 12 divers comprised exactly the same faces as this time last year. As usual they boarded amongst promises to turn over a new leaf by doing more diving and less drinking and dancing. As usual events unfolded otherwise! This evening Hjalmar Bjorge tied alongside the Calmac ferry “Loch Linnhe” in Tobermory where, true to form, as soon as dinner was over, the divers disappeared ashore to reacquaint themselves with the local hostelries.

Sat 30 Apr | Treasure (off) island  Mark made an early start this morning, heading out toward Coll. However freshening south easterly winds made for a change of plan and it was decided to remain closer to Mull and dive the wreck of the “Aurania” instead. This former Cunard passenger liner is always a good dive in the spring as winter storms shift the wrecked remains of the ship around to reveal hitherto undiscovered booty. And, yes, the divers were very happy with their finds.

Lunch was taken on anchor in Calgary Bay and afterwards the divers relaxed on the bow, fishing, and keeping a lazy eye on a golden eagle on the northern ridge of the anchorage. Whilst there Mark heard that one of Rob and Chris’ former crew members (who had worked on Hjalmar Bjorge’s sister ship “Elizabeth G” and our first boat “Chalice”) had got married on Calgary Beach just the day before. Good timing actually since I dare say she would not have appreciated 12 boisterous divers joining in her special day!

The afternoon’s dive was, by popular vote, a return to the “Aurania”, which the guys all enjoyed second time round. Hjalmar Bjorge then returned to Tobermory and picked up the mooring out in the Bay. The town was very busy, it being Mull Music Festival this weekend, and it was impossible to get on the pontoons, so the inflatable tender was used to run the guests ashore.

:: news from the previous month [ Oct ’10 to Mar ’11 ]