Well that’s the first cruise of the season completed! The weather has not been the kindest to us so far, but guests have still had plenty to see – several sea eagles, puffins, guillemots, razorbills. Skipper Tim gives his account of the cruise:
Fri 1st May Seems like yesterday as Mark and Anna bring HBJ down from Corpach and Tim, Molly and Craig gather on the pier in Oban and familiar faces are greeted. Tommy and Kenny for the fuel and parts, Alans 2 boys running the seal boat Purple Heather, The Majestic Line, Lee on Gaelic Rose and Rob Sarah and Steve coming in from their first charter on Elizabeth G. Then Molly is off to the shops, Anna and new deckies Craig and Elspeth get stuck into cleaning, Mark battles with mechanics that always go wrong after a long winter, bit like Tims body, who goes through the safety stuff.
Sat 2nd We are ready by 3.30pm as the guests arrive, all of whom have been before and all St Kilda veterans. David who had tried to go 58 years ago on the first work party only to be stranded on the Monachs and not getting to Kilda till last year when he and Carol went with Mark and Molly. Robert who was last with NLC when Mark had Chalice and Paul and Susan who went with Big John before he went over to the dark side working for Calmac.
No St Kilda visit this trip; it’s Mull and South Skye but its probably not South Skye as forecast not going to oblige. In fact first night is down at Ardencaple Bay on the north end of Seil Island.
Sun 3rd Forecast rules out trip along south shore of Mull as it’s blowing a gale from the SE so after a leisurely breakfast its a steam up the Sound of Mull to Loch Drumbuie. Then it’s an excellent lunch, (got to get used to this again after a winter of light lunches). Walks ashore to work it off and views of 2 Sea Eagles locking claws in aerial combat.
Mon 4th Ruled by the forecast as the week does not look promising but a couple of days to get down the West side of Mull and back by Wednesday look possible. So lumpy trip down past Calgary Bay ( the saddest place on Mull according to Craig due to the clearances but its got a good beach and last year on Zuza a friendly local gave us some lobsters so I’m not sure about Craig’s information!) and then past Lunga and into Gometra Harbour and a calm sea. Sun came out whilst guests walked on Gometra .
Tues 5th Forecast again, and the barometer is dropping rapidly – we hope this isn’t going to be the pattern for the summer! Force 5 to 7 going cyclonic then NE NW7 / 9. Perish the thought, but does mean we are heading back to Tobermory. Calm enough to go round Staffa and mouth music the Fingal’s Cave tune, then its through the gap between Dutchmans Cap and Lunga as its blowing from the East and its a bit calmer. Calm enough to stop and look at hundreds of birds. Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills and a couple of Sea Eagles. Too much swell to go ashore but still magical.
Up to Tobermory and walks on the shore, ice-cream parlour open – not realy a day for it but, trade had been good over Easter. A quick glance at the wild life boards showed a lot of sightings of Bottlenose Dolphins, a Minke Whale and a Basking Shark. All early sightings so this could be good for the season, fingers crossed. Onto the mooring for the evening to be treated to a sight from the 1930’s, as a Gentleman’s Steam Ship called Nahlin (means fleet of foot in N American Indian) came in which is actually owned by James Dyson, of vacuum cleaner fame!
Weds 6th The force 9 never arrived as we seem to be in the eye of the depression so a calm run down to Loch Aline and walks on the shore, suspect its blowing hard out west. (photo right by Rennie McVicar)
Thurs 7th Snow on the hill this morning quite low down but nice and calm. Out into the Sound and round the corner up past Glen Sanda Quarry with unidentified Raptors in the distance. Anchor down in Port Ramsay on the North End of Lismore. After lunch everybody ashore for walks. St Molaig’s chair seemed to be fenced off so cure for rheumatism for Craig was unavailable and the Hen Harriers that have been in the anchorage all winter seemed to have decided to nest elsewhere or are waiting for the next visit. Loads of violets and primroses and good coffee in the cafe. Back aboard Tim was presented with an early Birthday Cake after a culinary delight of Duck Samosa and Fish Pie. Thank you Molly.
Fri 8th Beautiful morning weather wise, as for the election depends on your political persuasion. Alongside North Pier for traditional breakfast and fond farewells.
DID YOU KNOW?
Atlantic puffins have penguin-like colouring but they sport a colourful beak that has led some to dub them the "sea parrot". The beak fades to a drab grey during the winter and blooms with colour again in the spring.