Cruise One, Outer Hebrides and Shiants

Hjalmar Bjorge has completed her first cruise of the season

Fresh from new paint and an extensive refit guests boarded Hbj via the new pontoon system in Oban. At long last the days of having to board vessels from the pier ladder seem now to be over, a short walk down the pontoon and guests step directly onto the deck of Hbj!

Crew aboard for the first trip were Mark and Anna with Patrick Scullion cooking. We were also joined by new guide/crew Sarah Long for her first trip and our new relief skipper Charlie Mcleish.

The 10 day trip saw island visits to the Shiants, Canna, North Uist, Skye, Raasay and Mull.

At our first stopover at Canna, guests landed for a sunny afternoon ashore, most exploring the north cliffs looking for raptors and enjoying the superb views to Skye and the Outer Isles. That evening under a full moon we enjoyed another of Patrick’s superb meals followed by repeat guest Tony playing a few tunes on his guitar and singing along. From Canna we continued north to Loch Eport on North Uist, just prior to dropping the anchor we watched in amazement a stag swimming between islands, it eventually climbing out of the water, seemingly looking for fresh grazing.

After exploring ashore at Loch Eport, guests returned to Hbj and we made a short cruise to Loch Maddy to avoid inclement strong winds forecast for later that night.

We remained at Loch Maddy to avoid the imminent gale that blew up that evening and sheltered there the following day. The new pontoons at Loch Maddy made life easy for the guests and they were able to come and go as they pleased. We departed on the Wednesday morning and cruised north to the Shiants, now officially Rat free. On landing, guests met two volunteers staying on the island who were setting up a sound system to encourage the return of Storm Petrels to the island. These had vanished years ago due to the predation of the rat population, fingers crossed for their return.

On Thursday morning we explored the north cliffs of Eilean Garb before venturing south once more across the Minch to Staffin Bay. Here we landed and met up with Tim Wear who escorted us whilst we investigated the dinosaur footprints revealed on the beach at low water. That evening we anchored off Camus Ban in Portree Bay, once again sheltering from some brisk winds!

Friday morning saw us heading south and then north up the east coast of Raasay to explore the abandoned clearance village at Hallaig. A Golden eagle here give us a splendid flyby, soaring above the adjacent cliffs. We later crossed the Inner Sound into Loch Carron and anchored at Plockton, guests having a few hours ashore there. We also met up with Matt and Michelle and a few friends of theirs who came aboard briefly before supper.

Saturday, we cruised south through the Kyles to Loch Nevis and anchored at Tarbert Bay. Whilst the guests walked to Loch Morar and the Loch Nevis narrows Charlie rewarded Mark with his local knowledge of the clam beds, Mark after a quick dive gathered sufficient for Patrick to make a delicious starter for that evening’s supper.

Our final full day proved to be a raptor extravaganza, White Tailed Sea Eagles spotted on the nest in Bloody Bay and Loch Spelve, we also had fantastic views of a pair of Goldies, one on a nest with a very young fluffy chick.

That evening we were once again entertained by Tony, it seems we have also recruited a good singer with Sarah providing accompaniment!

A wonderful first cruise of the season!