Spring Watch, Mull, Jura, Sunshine and Snow

After a long winter refit Hjalmar Bjorge returned to Oban with new engines and a host of other refitted equipment. Mark, Anna and chef, Lynda welcomed guests aboard from the North Pier, we departed Oban via the Sound of Kerrera bound for Loch Spelve on Mull. Approaching the loch we saw a Golden Eagle chick on an established nest site, a great start to the cruise! We anchored in the north east arm of the loch, under clear skies and a brisk northerly wind.

On Sunday we cruised along the coast of Mull and entered Lochbuie, another nest site revealed a healthy looking sea eagle chick peering out. Our guests spent the morning ashore exploring Castle Moy and the Lochbuie stone circle. After Lunch we cruised south to Colonsay and Scalasaig. A quick walk ashore revealed that we’d arrived during the Colonsay Book Festival, the village was buzzing, Radio 4’s Jim Naughtie was giving a talk. Another clear but cold night was spent on anchor, fantastic views and a wonderful sunset.

Paps of Jura by Murray Lenton

Paps of Jura by Murray Lenton

Monday morning, after breakfast we lifted the anchor and made the short passage to Oronsay. The wind had freshened from the north and we had a brisk run ashore in the tender. The guests walked over to the monastic ruins where one of the guests identified human bones in an ossuary beneath the ruined altar. The beach and sands looked wonderful in the sunshine, but it was rather chilly and no one seemed keen to paddle! After lunch aboard we set off for the Sound of Islay in what was now a full northerly gale, the new engines felt very reassuring and powered us strongly against the tide through the Sound. We dropped anchor for the evening beneath the Paps of Jura and enjoyed the forever changing view as Hjalmar swung gently on her mooring.

Next morning, the continuing strong northerly winds made our intended landing on Jura impossible, so we cruised across the Sound of Jura and into the comparative shelter of Loch Sween. Threading our way into the anchorage at Tayvallich we had a flurry of snow blow across the bow before anchoring for the evening, a taste of what was to come! Ashore later for a walk to Carsaig we once again had bright spring sunshine, sheltered from the wind it was tee shirt weather!

The sound of Jura by Anna White

Sound of Jura by Anna White

The anchorage at Tayvallich was perfect the next morning for Otter spotting and we watched one feeding close to the ship. After a breakfast, we cruised back down Loch Sween and into Loch Na Cile and landed guests for a visit to Keills Chapel. Once again, In the lea of the wind it was wonderfully warm and sunny. After lunch we cruised north via Crinan before anchoring at Ardfern, a brisk walk before dinner encouraged healthy appetites for another delicious meal.

 

Thursday morning dawned with a big change in the weather, snow and sleet falling continually, it felt like Hjalmar Bjorge was back in Norwegian waters! We sailed back to Crinan and anchored close to the hotel, however there seemed to be an enthusiasm crisis in the troops and all remained aboard, snug and warm. After lunch we headed north, passing Corryvrechan. Occasional breaks in the weather revealed snow covering all the adjacent hills. Off Insh island we were joined by 6-7 Bottlenose Dolphins bow-riding Hjalmar Bjorge in the blizzard, guests Murray and Ritchie braved the bow and watched the fun below.

Oban Bay by Murray Lenton

Snow on Mull from Oban Bay – Murray Lenton

Our final evening was spent anchored off the Isle of Kerrera. The next morning once more dawned bright and clear, the hills on Mull and Morvern covered in snow, fantastic!