So another season has drawn to a close, and although we say it every year, this one really has elapsed with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of speed. What a season it’s been too, from stunning wildlife to jaw dropping new anchorages this year has been one of many firsts; definitely a testament to the Scottish sailing grounds we are lucky enough to call home for the summer. Here’s a wee round up of some of our best anchorages and wildlife spots…
Of the 64 individual anchorages of the summer, 24 were new to us. Amongst our favourite discoveries were the Summer Isles, which really did live up to their name. We discovered that this tiny group of low-lying islands just north of Ullapool are best appreciated from the highest point of Tanera Mor. From this vantage point the white sandy beach- scattered islands sprawl outwards, framed to the North by the Assynt- the spectacular range of mountains that tower over the coastline of the mainland, and the hills of Torridon to the South.
Hyskeir- one those anchorages that can only be enjoyed when the weather gods oblige! Wave swept, tiny, and located alone in the Minch, only a colony of Terns now call it home. A foundation of small basalt columns support seapink and succulent covered rocky ground, on top of which is perched one of the last lighthouses to be manned in Scotland. Since its final inhabitant left in 1998, the infrastructure that snakes around the island has crumbled, although you can just about still see the remains of the golf course (yes really!). Words like ‘haunting’ ‘, ‘unique’, ‘eerie’ and ‘fascinating’ were banded about quite a lot afterwards. What a spot to have been a lighthouse keeper!
Lastly, we enjoyed Ensay, in the sound of Harris so much after stumbling upon it, we made a beeline back there when the weather next allowed us to. It is quite simply a haven of white sand and clear turquoise water. The views West on a clear evening are obscenely good. Once ashore, after meandering across rolling grassland (greeting the sheep as you go) you soon encounter yet more long stretches of unblemished sandy beaches. Just gorgeous.
We saw such a ridiculously large and impressive range of birds and sea life this summer, that we began to suspect there was something in the water! From numerous Golden and white tailed eagles to very close encounters with minke whales (nip over to the Facebook page for a video of one barrel-rolling under the bow to see what we mean!), we really did spend more time in slack jawed amazement at the wildlife in front of us than ever before. A pair of Sei whales, breaching and blowing within 100 feet of the stern were a highlight, as were the basking sharks spotted just next to Eigg, and of course the breath-taking colony of gannets out on the Stacks of St. Kilda. Common, bottlenosed, and rissos dolphins often made great sailing company, and seal pups, puffins, peregrins and deer popped up frequently throughout the season.
6 months, 24 voyages, and a hurtle back down the Irish sea later, Eda is now tucked into her winter berth here in Cornwall, rig off and cover on, in anticipation for the yearly refit list of sanding, varnishing, painting, fixing and fettling, as well as one or two more sizable alterations (stay tuned!).
From James, Chloe, Gabriel and Ruth, thank you to the marvellous guests that travelled near and far to join us, making this summer a memorable and very often hilarious one. Diving off the boat for a swim, dinners on deck, the boat filling with music and singing, some cracking sails, excellent company and rather first rate weather have made this, our 5th season, an indisputable blinder.