Skipper Tim gives his report from our second cruise to St Kilda last week:
Sat 4th June
Oban is a busy place today, seem to be
charter boats everywhere but the queen apart from HBJ is the Waverley and she looked a bit crowded. Eleven guests joined Tim, Mark B and Eszter on a beautiful sunny afternoon, and Magic Seaweed is forecasting a calm sunny week for a Focus on St Kilda trip. Two of the guests are repeat having failed to get there 4/5 years ago so spirits were good as we steamed up the Sound of Mull on a very sunny evening to pick up the mooring in Tobermory. Melon, fish and steam pudding for dinner.
Sun 6th June Four o’clock start on a sunny calm morning saw us entering the Sound of Barra by 0930 with some Common Dolphins bow riding off Hawes Bank west of Coll on the way. Manx Shearwaters in abundance and quite a few Petrels. No sign of the Barra Boys (resident pod of Bottlenose Dolphins around Barra) and it was a quiet steam up to the Monarch Isles. Guests went ashore on Ceann Ear and the sun came out and it was idyllic. Couple of brown sheep, possibly Hebrideans all on their own and unusually a pair of Mute Swans. Also a grave for a German submariner who was washed up on the beach in 1917. No Art Exhibition which there had been some years previously but some good Interpretation Boards.
Mon 5th June
Another early start as the sun was coming up at 0430 and a calm sunny crossing to Village Bay arriving just after breakfast. All guests ashore by 0930 which meant they had a full day on the Island in beautiful sunshine. Great to meet a favourite previous guest Isabel working as a volunteer on the shore. Some very happy guests in the evening but no sign of the Basking Shark that had been in the Bay the previous evening.
Tues 6th Some heavy showers in the night meant a different atmosphere on the island in the morning with mist touching the top and creeping down the flanks. A decision to leave had been made the night before as it was felt the previous day would be hard to add to, and anyhow there were the Stacks and Boreray to see! Anchor up at 0900 and out past Dun. Not so many Puffins in the water but lots flying in and out so maybe just busy getting and having breakfast. (Kippers this morning on board). Through the gap between Soay and Hirta and over to the Stacs and calm enough to get quite close. Plenty of gannets about and then it was due East for Taransay. Some heavy showers on the way over and a sighting of a Black Throated Diver 12 miles off shore. Guests ashore for walks on arrival as it brightened up to a fine evening.
Wed 5th Thick mist/fog at 0730 but half an hour later it cleared enough to leave. Didn’t say clear for long and it was a slow trip through the Stanton Channel, one of the passages through the Sound of Harris. Thanks to the wonder of modern technology in the form of a chart plotter and GPS the buoys appeared in the right places, all be it some of them seemed to floating in the air. Twenty years ago it would have been a different story with us probably still at anchor. Radar also playing its part in spotting boats that were never actually seen. It finally cleared more than half way across The Minch to give a clear brilliant sunny afternoon with a brief sighting of a Minke Whale. The cliffs on the North coast of Canna gave us a magnificent view of 2 White Tailled Sea Eagles, one being mobbed by a Raven which gave a great indicator of the size of these birds. Anchor down in Canna Harbour everybody ashore for walks and refreshment in the Canna Cafe which is run by a friend of Tim’s who always somehow seems to offer him a glass of wine. Tranquil sunny evening with some Common Dolphins visiting the entrance to the anchorage.
Another sunny calm morning and a motor round to Loch Scresort on Rum. Guests ashore but despite signs saying Castle open, it was no surprise to find it shut as it always seems to be. Lost count of the number of times we have arrived with ten to twelve guests to be informed that their are no tours, all far too busy doing other things. Didn’t detract for the guests as another idylic morning for wandering around, with Pam having a swim.
Lunch back on board as we steamed to Ardtornish Bay on a flat sunny sea to have Birthday Cake for Bob having reached the youthful age of 60. Sea Eagle seen in Bloody Bay outside Tobermory and a Golden Eagle above the cliff in Ardtornish Bay.
Friday 7th Short steam into Oban for large breakfast and then fond farewells. Great cruise, perfect weather, good company, over 70 different species of birds seen and words of coming back for more.