Skipper Tim has provided the following cruise report from the Focus on St Kilda Expedition at the end of June. All photos by Tim and Molly.
Sat 27th – Tim, Molly and Craig had an unusual start to the week, it was calm and warm as ten guests joined them for a steam up the Sound of Mull to Tobermory and the mooring, with everybody out on deck. Even a Sea Eagle decided to pose on Calve Island at the entrance to Tobermory and do a fly past.
Sun 28th – It was back to fifty shades of grey by Sunday morning however, so a breezy but not too bad a passage was made to Loch Scresort, Isle of Rum. Everybody went ashore for a tour of the Big House. It was reported to be a good tour, but the famous Orchestrian no longer works and needs some £40000 pounds spent on it. There was some discussion that the score board for the Billiard table would go some way to paying for it!
Back aboard and a quick trip round to Canna for the night.
Mon 29th – All guests ashore for walks after breakfast with some making it as far as the Puffins on Sanday. Chris returning with a beak. Then it was up to Isay in Loch Dunvegan for a short visit (lunch on the go much to the disgust of the crew as glasses seemed to mysteriously move of their own accord) where an Otter was spotted along the way.
Tuesday 30th – Wet and windy from the SE which meant Village Bay, St Kilda was still looking unsuitable and with the shipping forecast giving out 6/7 through to Wednesday morning west of the Outer Isles it was time for a change of plan. Guests went ashore, some ate chocolate cake, some visited the gardens some went looking for the Racing News. All were back on board for lunch then it was up anchor and heading for Scalpay, Harris with the hope of The Shiants the next day.
Off Isay 100 plus Common Dolphins decided to come and play and with the wind easing everybody had a happy ride up to Scalpay. A few Storm Petrels on the way perhaps even a Hurry, well 5 together. Bit of expert lassoing of the pier at the entrance to North Harbour (who was the best?) and a quick word with the fish farm boys, last seen some years before when Tim used to service their engines), meant that guests could come and go as they pleased. Unfortunately rain came but some still made it across the bridge to take in Harris as well. After dinner and a bit of maths HBj went to anchor as short of water at low tide by 30cm.
Wed 1st July – It was calm ! Should we have gone west? Thankfully the coastguard gave out rough to the west and it was subsequently confirmed by Elizabeth G who was down in Barra. Breakfast was on the hoof and guests were ashore by 9am on Eilean Tigh at the Shiants after drifting through rafts of birds.
Then onto Garbh Eilean to see the birds closer with a trip through the archway on way back to the boat, and two Golden Eagles on top of the cliff.
Soup and sandwiches on the foredeck at the new table in the sun! Followed by a thunderstorm and rain of course but followed up by a sighting of a Minke whale.
The mystery anchorage for the night was Bag Na Caiplich on Ronay (off Benbecula) – a first for Steuart and for everybody else for that matter.
Thurs 2nd – Another early start with breakfast on the go for a smooth sail across the Sea of the Hebrides albeit in poor visibility. Joined by a few Common Dolphins and a possible couple of sightings of Basking Sharks on the way. Tied up in Tobermory late afternoon and the mist lifted in time for walks ashore.
Fri 3rd – Early steam down the Sound of Mull for breakfast in Oban and everybody on their way by mid morning.
DID YOU KNOW?
A small bothy on Stac Lee was formerly used by St Kilda fowlers. It is big enough to accommodate two people and is dry inside.