So having retuned from our trip to St Kilda last week I thought it time I recorded our experiences.
Having settled our guests Jock Christine and Simon into their accommodation for the week we embarked on a full safety brief and familiarisation of the boat before heading out towards the east coast of the Hebrides. After an exhilarating 7 hour beat to windward (sighting dolphins and 2 pilot whales) we anchored in a deserted Scalpay South Harbour for dinner on board: fish pie followed by apple crumble and an early but peaceful night.
We were up early the next morning to catch the tide through the Statton Channel in the Sound of Harris. The wind was North Westerly 4/5 so the sail out to St Kilda was an 8.5 knot reach in moderate seas and fantastic sunshine; a truly stunning sail. We arrived in St Kilda around 1900 hours and joined 5 other vessels for a relatively peaceful night at anchor in Village Bay.
We awoke to light winds and blue skies. Our guests enjoyed a morning exploring St Kilda before we headed off for Boreray and then set a course for Taransay on the West Coast of the Outer Hebrides. The passage started under motor but after about an hour we were able to set sails ands had a gentle sail back in a N 2/3. On arrival in Taransay we quickly set about dinner: a warm salad, followed by monk tail fragrant Thai curry finished off with cheese and biscuits and fresh coffee. Happy sailors.! The evening finished with a sensational sunset over Taransay.
A later start and a great sail back to the Sound of Harris where we took the narrower Leverburgh Channel, inside Stromay and Saghay, on the way back which allowed the guests some interesting pilotage. From here we headed North in the now light southerly breeze under full asymmetric spinnaker for a 9.5knot run up towards Scalpay. Whilst taking the spinnaker down the skipper lost his sunglasses, which were perched on the top of his head, overboard (note to self, use the sunglasses strap that you keep in your sailing bag! Like a lifejacket it’s no use if not worn!!). The skipper spent the next 45 minutes squinting into the sun as we piloted into Scalpay North harbour. Once tied up on the pontoon berth the guests explored ashore. Whilst the guests took in the sights the skipper did some quick negotiations with a local prawn fisherman for a ½ tube of large prawns (around 40) which made a simple starter of prawns, nice crisp bread and some freshly made dips. To follow we rustled up a seafood risotto with the rest of the fresh prawns. Happy days.
We woke to persistent rain and thick fog, so a late breakfast and a visit to Tarbert a few miles up the loch. A run ashore to visit the shops and distillery and lunch on the pontoons. We then set off into the now slightly better conditions armed with radar, AIS and fog horn just in case. The weather had cleared by the time we came out into the Minch and we had a light conditions beat South to Lochmaddy. A pre-booked dinner ashore and a restful night on the excellent Lochmaddy pontoons concluded our day.
A mid morning North-going tide enabled a leisurely start to the day which once again proved a tad murky so once again we set off fully armed with radar, AIS and fog horn. Again once out into the Minch conditions improved and we headed off for a late lunch at the Shiants. As usual at this time of year the clouds of sea birds were stunning as we made a trip round Eileen a Tighe and Garbh Eileen. We dropped fishing lines under the cliffs to the north side of the islands and were rewarded with enough large mackerel for our evening starter. It was then off north once more to find the entrance to the Witches’ Pool (one of the skippers favourite anchorages, near Cromore on Lewis). After avoiding the rocks that litter the entrance and passage into the anchorage it was deserted and we spent the night alone in tranquillity. A dinner of fresh pan fried mackerel and Stornoway black pudding with pesto followed by shepherds pie was savoured with a few drinks as we watched the last of the day close.
Time to head for home and the forecast of persistent rain and no wind failed to materialise. We sailed back on a close reach in blue skies with a gently force 2/3. So suncream and shades (for those who had them!) to finish our cruise….perfect! On the way we saw plenty of puffins, razorbills, shearwaters, gannets, shags, gulls of all types, whales and dolphins.
Here are a few images from the trip:
Click on an image to open the gallery.
Thanks to Christine, Jock and Simon for sailing with us. We hope you had a memorable experience and we look forward to welcoming you aboard La Girafe III in the near future.
If you would like to join us for a cruise and an unforgettable experience please do not hesitate to contact us; our next Outer Hebrides cruise is 4th to 13th August and we still have spaces available.