Tue 6 Nov | World’s rarest whale confirmed  Scientists have today confirmed that two whales washed up on a beach in New Zealand in December 2010 were a species considered to be the world’s rarest whale. The mother and calf, were alive when they washed up, but sadly died after being stranded, were not Gray’s beaked whales as first thought, but much rarer spade-toothed beaked whales. Spade-toothed beaked whales were previously only known to biologists due to three partial skulls discovered over a 140 year period but DNA analysis of the dead mother and calf have revealed this species still roam our vast, largely undiscovered, oceans. There are 13 species of beaked whales found in New Zealand waters.

Tue 6 Nov | Independence for Scalpay?  Scalpay residents have voted to take over the running of the island after their current laird offered them the island for free. 197 voted “for” with just eight “against”. More on the BBC website here.

Wed 31 Oct | Charity cheques  It’s that time of year again! Northern Light Charters has now dispatched its annual charity cheques. Some years ago Hannah and Mark decided to make a £5 donation to one of two local charities for every cruise guest who booked on our boats. Guests can choose whom they’d like to donate “their” £5 to and are also given the option of doubling this by paying an additional £5 themselves.

Cheques have been posted to Argyll Animal Aid for £380 and to Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team for £630. Of the total donation (£1010) £200 came from our very generous guests who opted to pay an extra £5 per head to the charities. We are very grateful to guests who help us to help our favoured charities and would like to extend big thanks to…

Mike Beecroft

Ruth and Glyn Hollywell

Bill Bennette

Graeme Hutchinson

Gill Blair

Sue Jarrett

Barbara Blandin

Pauline Johnson

John Bulman

Eva Karlsson

Lindsey Butcher

Mandy Milano

Mike Coupe

Pip Morris

Angela Craft

Jeni Neale

Alison Drabble

Sylvia and Miles Partrige

Andrea and Reiner Duerr

Harry Read

Chris Francis

John and Wendy Sherwood

Stan and Lin Geeves

Archie Smith

John and Sheila Goodall

John and Susan Taylor

Trevor and Sheila Gould

Glynis Watts

Mark and Anne Hodgson

Paul Watts

Sun 7 Oct | Beautiful book from blurb  After a visually stunning coffee table book all about St Kilda with some gorgeous photos including pictures of Hjalmar Bjorge? Well look no further! Simon Marquis, who travelled to St Kilda with us in June, today sent details of his self-published book called “Islands of the Soul”. Available from blurb the 20-page book ranges from £18 to £28 in price depending on which version you prefer.



Click to read more about this lovely publication on blurb. The front cover is shown above/right and one of the full page spreads is shown below.


Sat 6 Oct | And then there were none  Relief skipper Tim alerted us to an article in The Telegraph today about Canna, one of Northern Light Charters’ favourite haunts. Sadly it seems the residents are leaving in droves. Well, not quite droves, since there were only a couple of dozen on the the island to start with, but since 2010 some 20 islanders – or five sevenths of the population – have left, or have declared their intention to leave, amidst rumours of bullying from the National Trust for Scotland’s senior official on the tiny island. Read more here.

Wed 3 Oct | End of season images  The end of the season often prompts a few emails from summer guests who hadn’t previously been able to share their photos. Below are a few lovely photos from a larger selection sent by Colin Wilson who joined us for a “Focus on St Kilda Expedition” in August.





Above (left) Stac Lee and (right) gannets at Stac Lee






Above (left) landing at The Monach Islands (right) sunset at Tobermory





Above (left) grey seal (right) common dolphins

And, below, a couple of photos of Hjalmar Bjorge in very different locations, from the same expedition, taken by Reiner Duerr.







Tue 2 Oct | Winter news   A busy day for Mark, Sarah and Tiree putting Hjalmar Bjorge “to bed” for the winter. The vessel needs to be thoroughly winterised in advance of possible plummeting temperatures, minus 20 degrees two years ago! Below: Hjalmar Bjorge back in Corpach basin for the winter, photos by Mark Henrys 






This news page will take readers through to next April as, understandably, there’s much less to report in the next six or seven months.

Mon 1 Oct | Last day of last cruise  On the last morning of the last cruise the anchor was lifted early. It was a rather “swelly” run back into the Oban via the sound of Kerrera. After berthing on the North Pier crew and guests had brunch and bade the final guests of the season a fond farewell.

There was a quick tidy up after which the season’s chef Mark B headed off to Glasgow on the lunchtime train. Crew Sarah drove the car and skipper Mark, with crew Tiree aboard, steered Hjalmar Bjorge out of Oban harbour headed for Corpach sea lock. The run was windy and very wet. The boat entered Corpach basin just before 1700. Mark was pleased to see all the British Waterways staff again and John Stafford looked at the boat and remarked, “Ah, it must be winter again.”

:: news from the previous month [ Sep ’12 ]