There were so many highlights of our 2015 season that we couldn’t possibly list them all! In particular there were many rare wildlife and nature sightings which were almost a daily occurrence. Many of the best experiences were down to our amazing guests who really make the cruise enjoyable for each other and the crew. Here are a few notable moments and even this curtailed list is quite long. We are now already starting preparations for our 2016 season and very much looking forward to it.
Granny Mary’s scones, canape’s and sparkling wine welcomed guests on board on our first cruise of the season with freshly caught langoustines for dinner.
The first sightings of the season of bottlenose dolphins, great northern divers, arctic terns and Manx shearwaters
Guests loved having Vivi our wildlife guide on board and on land and spotting our first tawny owl of the season.
The skipper dived for scallops for dinner – the first of many!
At Bloody Bay off Mull, guests watched a pair of white-tailed eagles for over half an hour – the first of many sightings of the season.
During a walk to Tobermory lighthouse an otter was spotted feeding amongst the seaweed on shore
An idyllic anchorage at Loch Na Drumbuie was topped off with a dinner of Inverlussa mussels followed by Coq au Vin and finished with a roast fig dessert
In Loch Aline, Bosun Sarah and guest Felicity Lovell took a sponsored swim in the Loch (remember it was early May!) to support the RNLI, raising £180.00!
Guests enjoyed visiting the Nadurra Centre at Glenmore which has excellent presentations on the local natural environment followed by spotting otters and white-tailed eagles in the flesh nearby.
An amazing moonlight night in Lochaline where Vivi, our wildlife guide, charmed everyone by calling to the owls on shore, which were calling back, with a good sighting of a tawny owl.
On our way to Mingulay, the boat was surrounded by over 20 basking sharks with 2 Minke whales seen at the same time
As always, the seals hauled up on Mingulay Beach were a wonderful sight and sound
The vessel was surrounded by a pod of common dolphins for an hour off the Isle of Coll
The birthday of our guest Malcolm was celebrated in proper style, anchored in Village Bay, St Kilda
A Minke whale surfaced 20ft from the boat and stayed with us for an hour as we cruised from Canna to Coll.
Langoustines for dinner were bought directly from the boat as it landed its catch in Leverburgh, Harris
Rare white beaked dolphins were seen off Harris
Over 80 bird species were spotted on one cruise
Chef Pip’s amazing desserts included lime and buttermilk tart and roast peaches with praline
A wonderful evening in the sheltered natural harbour at Gometra after a day with puffins on Lunga. Pip prepared a fabulous meal of asparagus in hollandaise sauce, followed by “fruit de mer” pie then lemon posset with praline.
Guests enjoyed the wildlife hide at Loch Scresort on Rum, spotting an otter on the shoreline.
On a shore trip on Canna with a picnic lunch, the distinctive call of the Corncrake could be heard.
A wonderful Hebridean sunset while anchored in Rum Harbour, bathed the mountains of Rum in glorious colour
A very scenic anchorage for lunch in Loch Scavaig under the dramatic Cuillins followed by an onshore walk inland to Loch Coruisk
A glorious sunset while anchored for the night in Loch Na Dal, Isle Oransay, Skye
A delicious seafood and scallop dinner sourced from the “Ethical Seafood Company” on Mull
A shore walk on the Shiants amongst seabirds galore – puffins, guillemots, razorbills, a whimbrel on the nest and no less than four white-tailed eagles.
A shore walk on the beautiful Isle of Eriskay (South Uist) returning to an amazing dinner of Steve’s handmade venison sausages with sweet potato and local cheese mash
East of South Uist, a pod of 8 rare Risso’s dolphins circled the boat, breaching out of the water.
A juvenile Minke Whale surfaced very near the boat at the Cairns of Coll
A pod of dolphins performed dolphin gymnastics, leaping out of the water in amongst the boats in Tobermory Harbour
Anchoring in sheltered Eriskay Harbour, guests went ashore for a walk on the stunning shell-sand beach and a dram in the “Am Politician” pub of “Whisky Galore” fame
The St Kilda Wren was easily spotted in Village Bay
On a glorious sunny day, guests walked up Ruival on Hirta in short sleeves where from the viewpont they could clearly see a Minke whale and a basking shark
While heading for North Uist we encountered a pod of rare white-beaked dolphins
Guests went for a swim in Loch Drumbuie while the Skipper dived for scallops which were served as a starter with Chef Martin’s Cullen Skink – the perfect end to a perfect day.
A clear view of a newly fledged chick sitting alone on a tree branch on Sound of Mull. All were relieved to see the parents return!
Large flocks of Manx shearwaters surrounded the waters of Rum where they nest.
While having lunch anchored at Locheport in the Uists, a golden eagle took flight from the cliffs and everyone on deck got to fully appreciate its enormous wingspan.
At Lochmaddy on Uist the common seals provided great entertainment by doing acrobatic flips and jumps in the waters next to the boat as guests tucked into a dinner of the tenderest Aberdeen Angus
At St Kilda, the guests were dropped ashore with a packed lunch to explore and marvel at the history, nature and landscape (and to get attacked by bonxies!).
After a hike up to the gap between Oiseval and Conachair on Hirta, guests and crew basked in the sun while looking out over Boreray
Anchoring in Taransay guests enjoyed a sunset walk on the golden beaches and finished a perfect day with Chef Cara’s prawn cocktail, creamy Thai chicken curry and raspberry meringue.
Everyone rushed out on deck for great views of two Minke whales surfacing off the Isle of Eigg
After dinner, guests presented great entertainment in the form of individual limericks to everyone on board and a song to praise the Crew and Elizabeth G. An award ceremony highlighted the “best” qualities of everyone on board – priceless!
The last St Kilda trip of the season was particularly evocative as it coincided with the 85th anniversary of the evacuation of St Kilda of the remaining 36 islanders.
In a very short time in the Sound of Mull a total of 12 different species of seabirds were spotted including diving gannets, manx shearwaters and both great and arctic skua. There were also three sightings of porpoises including a pod of five porpoises feeding near Tobermory bay
An amazing send off from St Kilda was when the pod of dolphins from the morning seemed to come to bade us a farewell. For half an hour guests were enchanted with close encounters of the dolphins doing fantastic full body leaps out of the water.
A very rare dark phase fulmar (a dark colour morph which is common in the Arctic) was spotted. Vivi was very excited by this!
Spotted two adult white-tailed eagles with a newly fledged chick in the Sound of Mull on the first day of the cruise
In the night, all aboard were lulled to sleep by the singing seals which could be heard through the hull of the boat
Anchoring off Berneray, guests went ashore to walk up to Barra Head Lighthouse which rests at the top of very dramatic cliffs.
A visit to Balranald RSPB nature reserve on Uist allowed guests to spot a few of the 600 bird species that visit this reserve annually.
The “Barra Boys”, a well known group of bottlenose dolphins accompanied the boat part of the way to Castlebay on Barra where we anchored in the shadow of evocative Castle
Elizabeth G looked very bonnie as she steamed under the Skye Bridge in light rain which made for several fantastic rainbows.
After dinner, one of the guests, Sue, sang the beautiful Mingulay Boat Song and as we all joined in for the chorus. There were definitely a few tears wiped away.
A small Minke whale feeding near Sound of Mull, was taken as a sign that mackerel were around by Skipper Rob. A few lines were dropped into the sea and the freshest of mackerel were served as sashimi (served raw with wasabi and soy sauce) as a starter for dinner.
The guests and Vivi went ashore on Canna to explore the ruined castle, meet the locals and to walk up Compass Hill for fantastic views of Canna and the neighbouring Small Isles.
Steaming into Loch Bracadale on Skye, the boat was surrounded by gannets in large numbers, all diving for fish in dramatic head first plunges from great heights.
Both crew and guests went to the famous pub, Ullinish Country Lodge, for a pint, great live music and dancing with the locals!
Our anchorage for the evening was Inverie on the very isolated peninsula of Knoydart which can only be accessed by foot or by boat. The Cullen Skink in the famous restaurant and pub, The Forge, was everyone’s favourite
Vivi spotted bioluminescent algae in the bay and guests watched the sea sparkle under a sky full of stars.
A beautiful big full moon rose up over the skyline as a backdrop to dinner at the anchorage in Loch na Droma Buidhe off the Sound of Mull
During the night guests watched the moon over Tobermory bay turn red from the lunar eclipse.
The evening meal, while anchored in Loch Tuach at the Isle of Ulva, was enhanced by the evocative sight of a stag silhouetted against the skyline.
A dinner of fabulous local delights: a starter of Inverlussa mussels; local venison sausages with sweet potato mash for main course and a true Scottish treat, Cranachan, for dessert – perfect!
Early rising guests were alerted by the Skipper spotting an otter swimming in Loch Tuach.
The glorious sight of two golden eagles circling overland announced our arrival at Loch Coal near Bunessan on the Ross of Mull.
As Elizabeth G steamed into the Sound of Iona in fantastic sunshine, the turquoise clear waters looking more like the Mediterranean than the Scottish west coast. Guests went ashore and walked the beaches of Iona in t-shirts
A pod of dolphins returned for a second visit in the same day, putting on a fantastic display of big leaps out of the water. Some dolphins came very close to the boat, including a small juvenile.
While anchored in Loch Spelve, guests listened to the powerful sounds of rutting stags nearby. The next day guests awoke to beautiful scenery with a mist slowly rolling down from the glen.
Vivi had a real treat for her final dinner on board – a wonderful seafood extravaganza of mackerel salad for starter and oven-baked hake for main course. This was finished off with a dessert of fresh fruit salad with brandy cream.