Our last cruise welcomed a very special group of guests indeed. The grand-daughter of Hjalmar Bjorge’s namesake chartered the boat for a private cruise with her family, all travelling from Gibraltar. Hjalmar Bjorge was just one of a fleet of Norwegian Rescue Vessels built by the Bjorge shipping family, and Siri (Hjalmar Bjorge’s grand-daughter) remembers seeing the ships pass her window. It was a great pleasure and privelege to welcome Siri, her daughters, son-in law and grandchildren aboard.
Saturday 4 July – Skipper Tim, chef Steve and crew Michelle welcomed the family aboard in Oban after checking our life jackets fitted the younger memers of the group – unusually we had children aboard for this cruise, (aged 7, 9 and 11). As the tide was so low, we picked up the guests from the slipway by tender. Aboard Hjalmar Bjorge for a safety brief followed, along with tasty hors d’oeuvres.
The first evening’s destination was Loch Spelve, where some guests and crew went ashore to buy mussels from the honesty shop there, and had a brief walk, spotting orchids, on a lovely calm evening. Champagne was poured before dinner of “Spelvie salmon”, chicken and butternut squash curry and Eton mess. After dinner the crew were fascinated to hear the story of how Siri and Peter reintroduced the Monarch butterfly into southern Spain after the species had been wiped out by severe frosts .
Sunday – A leisurely breakfast of cereal, porridge, toast, eggs and bacon on a lovely calm morning in Loch Spelve before the anchor was lifted and we made our way along the Firth of Lorne and along to the tip of the Ross of Mull. Everyone was excited to see yachts taking part in the last leg of the round Mull yacht race. Tim spotted a friend sailing past in the impressive Storm Bhor with her Kevlar sails. We counted over 20 boats taking part. Anchor was dropped at Erraig and guests went ashore to beachcomb on the lovely sandy shore and rocks there. A treasure hunt was the challenge of the afternoon, and Penny declared herself the winner with a booty of 90 cowrie shells. Steve’s Batman Cookes back aboard were very popular!
Anchor was raised and we headed towards Bunessan with a couple of stops along the way for fishing in the evening sunshine, and negotiations with a local fishing boat, Lady Jane, to buy prawns and lobsters. After 2 mackerel were caught, a seafood feast was forthcoming for dinner, with a finale of a fantastic sunset. After dinner drinks on the stern were a must, watched over by a curious seal.
Monday – Anchor was lifted early, during breakfast, and we headed to Iona. It wasn’t long before the skipper spotted Dolphins – a small group of Bottlenose, with a baby in the group played alongside the boat to the delight of everyone aboard. We anchored off Fionnphort shortly after and the dinghy was launched to take the guests to the Iona ferry. By now the sun was shining brightly and feeling lovely and warm.
The younger members of the party were heard saying of HBj “I love the boat, I don’t want to leave!” – always good to hear. All returned aboard for lunch with tales of visiting the Abbey and shopping! The anchor was lifted just in time to avoid a very low tide in the shallow channel, and a lunch of pea and ham soup was served on our way to Staffa. We cruised past the famous Fingal’s Cave, then motored on to Gometra in a drizzly rain and stiff breeze, where the welcoming shelter of Gometra harbour awaited. After the anchor was dropped, the offer of walks ashore was declined in favour of more fishing!
Tuesday – After the torrential rain overnight, it was a relief that it eased off as we lifted anchor and headed out towards Lunga. We watched Arctic terns diving in the water as we were approaching – a fantastic sight. The skies cleared to beautiful sunshine as we arrived, so guests went ashore, a scrambling over the rocks and up the hill to see the puffins. All agreed that this was a very special place indeed, as they loved their close encounters with these wonderful creatures.
It was worth the slipping and sliding down the muddy path and the dinghy was full of smiles and muddy bottoms and knees on the way back to the boat. Anchor up and the drizzle descended as we rounded the back of the island to see the puffins on the water. Siri, our weather angel has certainly brought us the very best weather this trip, thanks Siri! We then headed back towards Mull and headed for Tobermory, with a brief stop at to see a magnificent sea eagle in the trees above the cliff. Moored up at the pontoons in Tobermory and guests went ashore for walks, ice creams and souvenir shopping. After a couple of hours it was time to move on for the evening to Lochaline. Dinner was taken on the move, a spectacular feast of smoked mackerel with beetroot and horseradish cream followed by lasagne, then baked nectarines with walnuts and maple syrup. Steve was declared a hero for his culinary skills.
Wednesday – An early start saw us back in Oban for a hearty breakfast before bidding a sad farewell to our lovely guests. We hope to see you all again!
DID YOU KNOW?
Approximately 45 miles west of the Outer Hebrides, St Kilda was once home to Britain's most isolated community.