Skipper Tim gives his account of our recent “Small Isles and Skye Explorer” cruise:
It’s a select few that join HBJ for a Small Isles and South Skye trip. One couple are repeats the rest first timers who join Tim, Chef Mark and Eszter. It’s a steam up the Sound of Mull to Loch Drumbuidhe to join a few other Charter boats and a quiet evening for dinner of Haddock with ratatouille and new potatoes.
The morning is calm and there is a brief glimpse of a Sea Eagle as we leave through the narrow entrance. It’s over to Bloody Bay to try and spot another Eagle, no sign of one but even better 20 or so Bottlenose Dolphins are there. Half an hour spent watching them and as we steamed away they came for a bow ride.
Up to Eigg and it’s calm enough to anchor. Everyone ashore and most walked to the cave where the MacLoeds massacred some MacDonalds by lighting a fire in the entrance and suffocating them, all in revenge for the castration of a couple of MacLoed men who had had there uninvited way with a couple of MacDonald girls. Eigg was vibrant with visitors and some Eigg beer was tried and reputed to be good.
Over to Muck for the night anchoring off Gallanach and a spot of fishing by Jim gives us a feed of Mackerel for tomorrow.
The morning brought a brisk breeze so instead of landing it was up to Loch Scresort on Rum with a good sighting at last of a Basking Shark.
Everyone ashore because last week’s guest Graham Bullough is on the Island and its hoped he will give us a tour as he is a friend of Kinloch Castle. And he does. What a treat as we get a private tour. Thirty years since I was last in it and it’s a sad sight. Then you could stay in the front, use the amazing shower and dine in the very fine dining room. Now there is water damage, peeling wall paper and the bedrooms could not be stayed in. Still a fantastic place though and at least they have finally fixed the roof. For a place that desperately needs money it is very strange that they don’t open up for visiting boats, this year alone they have lost out on six visits by us which adds up to a considerable sum. So a Big Thank You to Graham.
Then it’s across to Canna for fine sunny evening.
Tuesday and all ashore for walks ending up on Sanday under the church that should have the Gaelic Archive created by Lorne Campbell and Fay Shaw. Unfortunately the buiilding is too damp, the architect blamed the builder and the builder blamed the architect and even wrote a book about it. Canna Cafe surviving and word is that the previous National Trust Manager who seems to have divided the community is finally leaving.
After lunch it’s round the corner and a fine view of a Sea Eagle before heading over to Soay for the night with a Minke Whale spotted on the way. Too shallow to get in where Gavin Maxwell and Tex Geddes had their Shark Factory but good shelter found in the bay round the corner.
Calm night and calm morning as guests are landed in Loch Scavaig but there is enough breeze to keep the midges away for a walk up the side of Coruisk in this dramatic place before back to the boat for a very sunny calm steam to Inverie in Loch Nevis. Off the Point of Sleat we are treated to half an hour of bowriding pirrouetting Bottlenose Dolphins.
Everyone ashore for a wander and an anticipated drink in the pub which is dissapointing as it is shut for 3 days! No explanation forthcoming but it does sound as though it is shut every Wednesday even in the height of the season.
Last full day and over a smooth sea to Muck again so that we can bag all the Small Isles in a week plus Skye. Four Minke Whales seen en route and then it’s ashore for a couple of hours on what is a busy island. One of the guests having just read A Drop in The Ocean about Lawrence MacEwen the owner of Muck was well pleased to see him driving around on his little red tractor. Then it’s up anchor to go to Tobermory for the night with another visit from the Bottlenose Dolphins as we leave.
Friday it’s into Oban and farewells after an excellent week with all the Small Isles visited plus Skye and Mull.
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.