Our second planned cruise of the season to St Kilda was “Blown off course” by strong winds forecast. Despite the stormy weather we managed to visit some delightful Hebridean Islands and had some wonderful wildlife encounters. Skipper Tim has provided the trip report, and photos are by Molly:
Sat 30th May – Tim, Molly and Craig welcomed 12 cheerful guests aboard on a dry, cold and calm afternoon. Three repeat guests, and two who had been on Chalice some years earlier but after Mark had sold her on. The fact that they were cheerful was just as well as the forecast for the week was not good and the trip was destined for St Kilda. Passage was made up the Sound of Mull and with Force 8 forecast the mooring was picked up. It seemed like a Sunday as Duck and roast veg were served for dinner.
Sunday 31st – Not the 1st of June as Molly kept saying all day but a very wet and windy morning. It was possible to get the dinghy in however and guests walked around Tobermory and a couple got as far as the lighthouse. After lunch on board and with things brightening up a scenic cruise was made up Loch Sunart and then back again anchoring on the NE side of Carna.
Monday 1st June – First day of June, some say the first day of summer but not much sign of it! It was however dry so to grab the window, guests were ashore by 9am for walks. Good wild flowers but no sign of wild cats as the Island has been chosen for a conservation area for the animals. Guests back aboard by midday and then a quick dash back to Tobermory and the safety of the mooring! Force 10 forecast and by mid afternoon it had arrived which meant for some lively trips back to the boat after more visits ashore. Wild Garlic Pesto with salmon for dinner. Picked behind the church and called Viking Viagra according to the Chef. I could not possibly comment on the affects only its delicious taste.
Tuesday 2nd – The barometer finally going the right way (after being down in the 980’s) meant the morning dawned calmer so after a later breakfast, to let the swell drop slightly, passage was made to Coll anchoring in Arinagour at midday. Guests went ashore with packed lunches for the whole afternoon. Some walked, some took taxis,( bikes were sold out) but all heard Corncrakes, up to 13, and some even saw them! Also had sightings of Hen Harriers. All were back aboard by 1800hrs and finally saw a sunset.
Wednesday 3rd – Clear skies and with the swell finally dropping it led to a comfortable ride up to Canna. Usual seabirds around, Puffins off Sanday but also the less common Pomerine Skua. No sign of marine mammals but a phone call from Michelle says there are 21 Pilot Whales off the North end of Skye which have stranded. (Believed to have been trying to help a calving female and unfortunately 8 of them died). Guests went ashore for the afternoon for walks in the sun with a Golden Eagle spotted by one guest in the same spot as one spotted the last time he was on the Island 38 years ago .The claim then was it was the first White tailed Sea eagle to have left Rum.
After dinner a pod of Common Dolphins swam past the entrance to the delight of all.
Thursday 4th – Another calm morning so a quick motor round to Loch Scresort on Rum. Guests ashore but no tour of the Castle forthcoming because the electrician was in. Back aboard for lunch under way, followed up by a sighting of a Minke Whale off the south end of Eigg and then to cap it all off 20 Bottlenose Dolphins off Ardnamurchan Point bowriding. Very happy guests had dinner alongside the pontoon in Loch Aline.
Friday 5th – A gentle motor back to Oban and breakfast alongside saw a group (who were appreciative of what they had achieved despite the weather and no St KIlda) on their way by 1100hrs.
DID YOU KNOW?
Male Orca can grow to 30ft long and weigh over 10 tonnes. Females are slightly smaller than males but still formidable hunters!