This poem is from Margaret Knowles has been sent in following her 14th chartered cruise with Hebrides Cruises. Receiving a poem from Margaret is becoming a welcome annual occurrence but we have to admit this one is an epic!

Emma Jane is our boat for our fourteenth group cruise,
Last year was cancelled due to strict Covid rules.
Friend Rob, who’s the Skipper, takes on the main role
To ensure that each day we reach our planned goal.
Helen’s the Bosun and Biff is the Chef,
The absence of Jan has left us bereft.
’Neath overcast skies we head up Mull Sound
For overnight stay near to Oronsay bound.
Our first gourmet meal is served with aplomb;
Burrata cheese, cacciatore chicken and then crispy plum.
A wet evening ended with loch mirror calm.

Sunday’s weather seemed set to be sunny and dry
So we steamed north for four hours to reach Isle of Skye,
But because of the swell Rubh’an Dunain is thwarted
So on to Coruisk we continued undaunted.
Four of the group walked all round the loch,
A long blue-grey loch framed by grey gabro rock.
The rest of us followed just part of the trail;
The dark Cuillin ridge kept watch on us all.
The number of flowers which were blooming were few;
Lousewort and milkwort and tiny sundew,
Butterwort, orchids and tormentil too.
The supper that night was wondrous fish stew.

Rubh’an Dunain’s our target this bright sunny morn.
A landing is likely with the water so calm.
An ancient canal has been hewn in through the rock
So that ships on the high tide could access the loch.
Chambered cairn, ruined village and promontory dun,
With backdrop the dark, striking ridge of the Cuillin.
The drumming of snipe and the trills if the wrens,
Skylarks and wheatears and shrieks of the terns.
Back on board we moved on a short distance to Soay
And ate hearty lunch of superb minestrone.
It was rough ground on Soay through bluebells and bracken
To reach rusted boiler at Maxwell’s shark station,
But some battled on through a rough wooded valley
To reach the far bay but there could not dally
As Canna was planned where Rob put the hook down.
We had slow cooked beef meal ’neath a puff pastry crown.

A slightly dull day was to greet us on Tuesday
When six of us had a beach landing on Sanday
To walk ’cross the island and out to the stacs
Where numerous puffins were at burrow nests.
Bird calls all day were filling our ears,
We saw skylarks, snipe, eiders and handsome wheatears.
Christina explored Canna on her new ’lectric bike,
While Jim and Elaine did a very long hike.Loch
on Rum was our next night’s safe haven
When once more Biff’s meal was a ticket to heaven.

Awaking next morning just offshore on Rum
The windows revealed a scene of wet gloom.
A decision was taken to steam to Eigg harbour,
Surprisingly even walk in the rain was in favour.
Some of us had a brisk walk to the caves,
Chris ran t’wards church wanting photo of grave.
This steep wooded hillside gave wild flowers a haven:
Wild garlic and bluebells, pignut, wood avens.
After lunch we steamed south where in wide Kentra Bay
Rob put the hook down for our overnight stay.
Some went ashore for another short potter
Before facing the challenge of Biff’s wondrous supper.
The rest were all offered choc’late cake and wine fizz
And a bathe in the hot tub gave others a buzz.

After long peaceful night on water flat calm
We emerged to a morning surprisingly warm.
With trousers rolled up we paddled to land
On the glorious beach with the name ‘Singing Sands’.
Cascading warbler songs filled the still air
As we walked through the forest of stately tall fir
With a carpet of sphagnum moss, lichen and shamrock
Growing from jagged black boulders of bedrock.
Gnarled oaks and old birches had leaves of fresh green,
Black beetles on pathway had bright handsome sheen.
An impressive large jellyfish was found on the beach
Stranded so sadly above the tide’s reach.
Three of our hardy folk went for a dip
Before our next tasty lunch back on board ship.
Ardnamurchan we rounded that afternoon
In rather rough sea rocking up and then doon,
To head down Mull Sound at the end of the day
And put the hook down in Inninmore Bay.
Our last gourmet meal – prawns, seabass, pancetta,
Pear tarte tatin and cream, it just could not be better.

’Fore breakfast some land on small isle in the Sound
Where ’mong bracken a stag’s head with antlers is found.
On the shore of Loch Linnhe sea eagle we see
Perched near its massive nest high in a tree.
Then sadly, that morning, we just had to be
Back on the pontoon at Oban’s North Quay.
Tall elegant Helen with permanent smile
Is always prepared to go the last mile
For our much-pampered comfort as much as she’s able
And has superb skill at preparing the table.
Outstanding Chef Biff transports us to heaven
With the fantastic dishes produced from her oven.
She travelled the world and gained inspiration
For recipes brought from many a nation.
Our dear Skipper, Rob is put to the test
To follow our wishes, but does his true best
To get us to places we’ve never explored.
His patience and skill we can but applaud.
Behind the scenes Emma’s a tower of strength,
Kind and efficient she goes to great lengths
With website and bookings, logistics and planning
To ensure for us all this chance to go cruising.
At the end of the trip we raise a loud cheer,
Hoorah and huge thank you, we’ll see you next year.
Margaret Knowles
June 2021