A Visit from a Scottish Orca and Calf

Good Afternoon from Lochbiosdale,

I have made it to the Outer Hebrides which I am very pleased about.

I have made this passage in two stages from Port Ellen to Coll and then onto Lochbiosdale and their brand new marina.

I departed Port Ellen at 10 am on Thursday and made the passage to Coll. I’d had been watching the weather and new that this was the best option as we had a good wind from the south but it was due to die latter on in the day. As I departed the lovely Port Ellen where I had spent nearly a week due to the weather further north being rather nasty and on the previous passage my 6 month old Musto sallopetts had leaked so I had to have a new pair very kindly supplied by Hudson Wright couriered up to me in a huge rush, which I must say have been fantastic with the torrential rain we had thrown at us and they were very warm.

As I rounded the western side of the island the wind picked up and the rolling seas from the Atlantic came along and with the wind from the south this made for a very quick trip to Coll. At points I was looking at the speed and the boat was doing 9.5knt, turning my 33ft yacht into my surf board which I must say was great fun.

I arrived at Coll just before midnight which was fantastic and I covered the 84 miles in great time, when I arrived I had to find the mooring buoys which have been placed there by the ferry company, and there was only a couple free which I was grateful for as it meant I didn’t have to anchor which I always worry about dragging. The sea was still a little lumpy and this was making the boat rather noisey but I managed to get some sleep.

When I woke in the early hours of the morning I went up on deck and all I can say is wow how beautiful this island was and looking at the mainland in the early morning light was spectacular and I was very excited about the next passage on and what I would see. I sat up on deck and had a coffee and breakfast in the sun as there was no wind at all.

I set off around 9am and there wasn’t a breath of wind so I set the auto pilot up and I was able to enjoy the surroundings, but then out of the corner of my eye I spotted something surfacing and the it disappeared again so I grabbed the binoculars to see if it came again which it did and it just looked to big to be a dolphin? The next time it surfaced it popped its head just above the water and there it was the big white cheeks of an Orca whale and I was jumping for joy at what I had seen, the dorsal fin wasn’t as big as I had seen in the books and I knew the females’ fins were smaller than the males so could it have been a female? Well my question was soon answered as it rose again as next to it was a small calf!!!! I couldn’t believe how lucky I had been to see this beautiful creature and we had both glided past each other so I was thankful for the sea being like a mirror.

As I headed out from the island I had some seals watching me in the distance which was great to see and all this activity had put me on such a high. We made the trip across to Lochboisdale in about 6 and half hours and the scenery was just stunning with the isle of Skye to the north of me and I could see through the binoculars some yachts up there, as I made my approach to Lochboisdale the coast line became clearer and clearer and it was stunning with the large hills either side as you come in, the harbour here is only a year old so some old plotters won’t have it on there but trust me it is here.

The harbour is a man-made marina between two islands and they have dammed one side with a road leading to the small village, the harbour master here is a very friendly chap and he came down to meet me and help me moor up in the correct place. After two days I was desperate for a shower and some good food not the mediocre stuff I cook on the boat, so I headed for the showers where there are also laundry facilities and they are all nice and modern without a doubt the second best I have found on the trip so far. (The award for the best facilities will be announced at the end of the trip). I wandered along to the local hotel to have a feed and a nice cold beer which was well looked after the food wasn’t the best but I didn’t have to cook it so I was grateful for that.

Today I have been sorting the boat out and doing the washing and preparing for the next part of the trip up to Stornoway tomorrow, I had to get some basics and the nearest shop is the Co-op and it’s a short taxi ride, I was advised that Len’s Taxis were the best so he came and collected me and waited while I did the shop and then brought me back to the marina and he was so kind in not charging me for the trip as he thought what I was doing was so good he wanted to help and this was the way he could so a huge thank you to Len for this. The marina has been a hive of activity today with the fishing boats and there is now a large trawler in making some repairs.

I must say a very big thank you to all here at Lochboisdale Marina for being so welcoming and not charging me for the moorings as this helps in such a big way so thank you.

Until next time

Alex