It was wonderful to be able to take our guests to St Kilda again. As always with St Kilda, the weather forecast can be challenging but the crew spotted the weather window and steamed out early on Thursday 17 June and stayed 2 nights, to everyone’s delight. While we were there, we met the NTS St Kilda Ranger, Sue Loughran, who arrived in May 2019, and learned she had never had the opportunity to explore Hirta or the rest of the archipelago from the sea. So of course we invited her on board!
We had a wonderful 3-hour cruise with Sue on board, around Hirta, Soay, Boreray and the stacks; Stac an Armin, Stac Lee and Stac Levenish enjoying the amazing spectacle of many thousands of gannets and other seabirds. As we passed through Soay Sound we gave Sue a glass of Sea Change fizz to celebrate and it was quite emotional – we felt very privileged to have her on board.
St Kilda is a magical place, full of surprises and typically, no less than 8 Minke whales appeared near the boat. With the engines switched off, everyone on board sat entranced, just listening and watching, as the whales came alongside.
During our visit, we also met a team on Hirta that is doing pioneering research trying to tag Leach’s Petrel, which is the first time it’s been attempted in the world. We were able to provide them with the numbers of Kittiwake nests that we had seen on our cruise of the stacks. Kittiwakes are unfortunately in massive decline but the more information that can be provided, the better, to understand the scale of the problem.
St Kilda is a very special place for Skipper Rob Barlow who will celebrate his 250th trip there this year onboard Elizabeth G. His amazing knowledge and expertise is why we are confident that Hebrides Cruises has the best record in Scottish small ship cruising to reach St Kilda in safety and luxury and with the best wildlife expertise on board.
Read Sue Loughran’s blog on her time on St Kilda here https://www.nts.org.uk/stories/from-the-edge-of-the-world-part-1 and we liked her take on St Kilda as it is now.
“I had, of course, read accounts of the evacuation, and I fully expected to experience a sense of sadness, emptiness and loneliness. For me, St Kilda is still very much a living and working island. As with islands the world over, it brings together people from all over the world. The island acknowledges both its past and its future, and welcomes people into its present”
Thanks to James (Skipper) and Will (Guide) for the photos