Trip Start May 06, 2008
130Trip End Sep 30, 2008
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Adam Nicolson inherited the islands from his father, who had acquired them in the 1920's from Compton Mackenzie, the novelist. Nicolson loves the islands and his fascination with them was infectious and I was very eager to see them. In fact, I had been hoping to anchor there but there is no good safe anchorage, it is only possible to over-night in settled conditions and the weather was anything but settled
The Shiants do not have any full time inhabitants. There is only a single little bothy on the central island that Adam Nicolson used to use. I think that he is happy for people to use it, provided they seek permission first. The only full time inhabitants are sheep, which graze the 500 acres or so of the 3 islands. There are, of course, myriads of seabirds but many of these, such as the puffins, are only on shore to breed, spending the rest of the year out in the north atlantic, the amazing little things.
We sailed into the bay housing the bothy and then furled the sails and motored round the headland and 'round the back' of the islands and thence onwards towards Stornoway. Over in the distance, we could see a small yacht with a bright, dayglo orange headsail. It later transpired that this was Jalina - Roger told us that he has been narrowly missed twice in his little yacht so he decided to make himself as conspicuous as possible and it certainly works!
The rest of the afternoon we motorsailed, as the wind was now pretty much against us. The periodic bouts of rain had passed and the sun occasionally and fleetingly, fought its way to the lightest patches of cloud, thereby increasing the temperature slightly. When we were an hour from the harbour at about 16:30, we called the harbour master and asked if any berths were available on the pontoons, to be told no and to raft against a boat called Jacobea, an old Mirage. Roger was already in and against the harbour wall when we arrived. The owners of Jacobea, Colin and Julia and their two dogs, made us very welcome and assisted with the tying on business. Colin and I also dropped a kedge anchor out in the harbour, the idea being if the wind picks up from the south and thus pushes us against the harbour wall, I could pull us out on the kedge which should keep us off. That is the theory.
After a quick shop in the Coop ( everything closes in Harris for the Sabbath) we invited Jalina and Jacobea's respective couples on board for a drink, which they all attended bar Liz, who opted for a shower in the public toilets / showers instead. There then passed a convivial 90 minutes or so, with stories and adventures being swapped. One that really stuck out was Roger's tale of how he got knocked down by a wall of water in the Shannon estuary in Ireland and broke 3 ribs, a bone in his hand, his nose and suffered huge contusions and haemorrhaging of his torso
Everyone departed at around 9 o'clock, so Julie and I had a quick dinner of Fray Bentos steak & kidney pie and tinned peas. The first one this trip and we do so enjoy them!