On board Silurian
Silurian is HWDTs research and
Most weeks April through October she is either monitoring
the waters of the west coast of Scotland for whales, dolphins, and
porpoises, or serving as a floating classroom for one of the many Argyll
island primary and secondary schools.
log below to find out what Silurian and her crew have been up to each
week and all about the whales, dolphins and porpoises they spot!
To find out about the latest marine life sightings spotted elsewhere,
If you would like to send the crew an e-mail with your questions click here.
Click here to view the Silurian Log archive.
Wednesday 6th July
Wednesday would be our final full day of survey so we hoped it would be a productive one. As it turned out, however, the dolphins had other ideas and we could almost hear their clicks and whistles of manic laughter as they hid from view. Still, optimistic as ever, we set off from our mooring in Gunna in another beautiful still and sunny morning. Laura and Gandalf had managed to talk themselves out of their morning run on the beach which had been so enthusiastically planned the night before. Gandalf had been in the habit of planning exciting morning exercise activities such as swimming in the icy water, and running on the beach, none of which had materialised, mainly due to them being concocted after a couple of whiskies the previous evening.
We headed north from Gunna along the west coast of Coll. Along the way we saw more Basking Sharks, seals and porpoises and of course heaps of dolphins. Sorry, did I say heaps? I meant no dolphins of course. The varmints were really teasing us now. Apparently they were everywhere else in the Hebrides except where we were. We more than made up for it with the sharks though – in fact they were becoming slightly commonplace. “Another Basking Shark? Jot that down. Next!” One Fulmar and a Storm Petrel kept circling us to try to give us the impression that there were lots of them but we weren’t fooled- oh no!
Ted went up in the crow’s nest at around lunchtime and that would be the last we would see or hear of him for several hours. I think he shouted a few sightings down but we were all too busy drinking tea, eating biscuits and counting Basking Sharks to hear him. When he finally came down he was a couple of stone lighter and had a beard. He told us of his spiritual experience, as he had chance to mull over such things as what regurgitated fish tastes like and if someone had actually built a wall at the edge of the planet to keep the water in. We think he’d just nodded off on watch as usual. J
We chugged on in a northerly direction towards the Small Isles, the faint hope of exciting sightings almost extinguished, when suddenly there was a strange holler from on deck. At first we thought Flash (Gordon) had just spilt coffee down his pants but in fact he’d spotted a Minke Whale a few metres from the port bow. It rose to breathe a couple more times before disappearing again –and that was that. It was moving in the opposite direction to us and was really motoring but the sighting had given us all the lift we needed to keep going.
The open sea can often appear slightly barren and devoid of life and sometimes the monotony can dampen the spirits, but as we reached Canna the sight of its bird life, caves and stunning cliff faces, as well as the timely reappearance of the sun came to the rescue. Someone said we had egg on the port bow, which I assumed must have come from one of Dave’s butties earlier that morning. (Yes I know Eigg is an island!) Beyond Canna to the north is the island of Rum where we were to moor. We tracked its coastline, and took in the wonderful views. The island is virtually uninhabited by humans and long may it remain that way because it is a beautiful place and could only worsen were we to get our hands on it. One human impact of interest though is Kinloch Castle which sits overlooking Loch Scresort where we moored. Though not a castle in the traditional sense, it is interesting in that the internal décor has remained the same since the house was last inhabited by the owners over 50 years ago. Peering in though the windows brought back memories of earlier in the week when the rough seas had impacted badly on my insides.
Anyway, that evening I was introduced to vegetarian sausages which to the untrained eye (mouth) could actually pass for the real thing. Perhaps they were. Maybe the trays got muddled up the swaying galley. Well, what the mind doesn’t know… or whatever the expression is. After dinner, the evening’s entertainment was provided by Martha who would climb the mast to the crow’s nest without a safety net (although she did have the regulation safety harness and the crossed fingers of her fellow crew members to assist her.) We had all been up into the crow’s nest except Martha (and also Jackie and Flash, who had been on the trip the previous year and had been introduced to the pleasures of dicing with death then!) As we waited with anticipation for Martha’s act, she was already back down and safe. She was up and down the mast like a gibbon who’d overdone it on the espressos. Possibly it was due to the skipper chasing her up there with a lighted flare (only joking of course!)
A few glasses of wine later and it was time for bed. I’m not sure if I heard right but I think Gandalf was planning a mountaineering expedition before breakfast…
Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th July
Monday 3rd July
After a long day at sea yesterday we were relieved to hear we could stay a little longer in our beds and have a more leisurely start to the day. We were greeted with a beautifully sunny day, blue sky and happy faces. After breakfast we decided to get in the dingy and head for the shore and explore the land wrapping itself around our night time slumbers. As we neared the beach of white sand and shells, Chris jumped out to pull us ashore, his wellies filling with water as he went. The beach had a scattering of cows and calves, sun bathing and seeming pleased to have some entertainment early in the day. After a welcome walk and stretch of the limbs we climbed back in to the dingy to find ourselves to be the centre of attention of four common seals popping out of the water around us. Back on the boat we set off on a meander towards Tiree. This stretch of water was very quiet on the cetacean count, and for birds too for that matter. We saw 1 basking shark (although Gordon counted 2 excitedly, not realising we had turned for a better view) and 1 seal gliding by on its back looking towards the heavens. This was sighted by Chris initially as an anaconda, but later corrected by the team members who were more on the ball.
As we neared Tiree to our delight we were able to spend some time in a group of 7 basking sharks and were able to watch them mouths aghast (the sharks too), feeding and a courting. Once parked up we ate a hearty pasta supper and then some of us went ashore for a wander to the pub. Gordon managed to inflate his lifejacket inside the pub much to our and the locals amusement. After a drink and a local drama involving an angered Angus slamming down his whisky glass we set off back to the boat, with a guilty Gordon clutching his life jacket and fearing the worst from the skipper. With the 11 o’clock sky awash with a beautiful sunset we spotted a large sheep doing night watch and surveying the land around us from the top of a rock (the nearest thing to a hill in the area). Ted caught this menacing creature on camera with illuminated shining eyes, and we named him Angus too. All was quiet as we got back to the boat and slowly made our way to bed.
Tuesday 4th July
I suspect that everyone will want a chance to describe this extraordinary day. It began like any other… Skipper had threatened an early start. Fine, we can cope with that. What we didn’t reckon on was Laura shouting “Rise and Shine” at first light. As one, the volunteers rose horizontally from their bunks. Only Gordon was awake, nervously clutching his life jacket and inventing a convincing explanation for its inflated state. Rejecting the unbelievable (Angus the Sheep headbutted it: he fell in the sea while sleepwalking) he opted for the truth. Skipper kindly showed him how to deflate it, and the bill for a new gas canister – a mere £15 – will be sent later. At that, Gordon felt that he’d got off lightly.
Breakfast was a toast-in-one-hand-banana-in-the-other affair and by 8.30 we were away with the first observers on deck. The weather was perfect: hot enough for shorts. The sea was a gently moving kaleidoscope of blues and greys and conditions for sighting were the best we’ve had on this trip.
Less than half an hour away from port we saw the shiny, oily fin of our first basking shark. Then another, and another. Majestically, these huge, beautiful creatures wove backwards and forwards near the boat, changing direction with graceful sweeps of their tail fins. Their huge gaping mouths were nearly as wide as the volunteers’, who could not believe their good fortune.
Towards 2.00 we were favoured again. By now the sun had gone, the mist was down and the sea was completely calm. And the sharks came. This time there were more than fifty of them. We stayed with them for over two hours. At first we were noisy and excited. Then, one by one, we fell quiet. We could have been on another planet, inhabited only by strange and wonderful creatures.
Monday 26th June – Sunday 2nd July 2006
Monday 26th June
Fantastic weather greeted us all in Tobermory as we began our trip. We met up at the HWDT shop on the High Street at 6pm and were introduced to our fellow volunteers for the first time. My colleagues were Jackie and Gordon from Cumbria, Martha from Oxford, Ted from Stockport and Mel from Milton Keynes. We’d been in touch by email for a few days prior to the trip so we already knew a little about each other. Suzie (who wasn’t joining us on this trip) met us at the shop and took us down to Silurian which was moored close by. There we met the Skipper - Dave, 1st Mate - Rob and our Sightings Officer - Laura. We sat down on board a run through of the basics of what we were likely to be doing for the next few days and a guided tour of the boat. Dave told us we have a problem with sex, I was wondering how much information he actually had about us until he pointed out that he actually meant the cabin arrangements. Luckily Jackie and Gordon were happy enough to sleep in separate cabins meaning that the ladies could share a cabin, but it meant that Gordon and Ted had to share a bed! I shared with Mel, but thankfully in separate bunks! Anyway, after a supper of vegetarian cottage/shepherds pie (not sure how to class it!) with green beans, skilfully prepared by Rob, we whizzed over for a couple of small halves at the local boozer (where would possibly make our last sighting of a World Cup game for a few days), before a bit of a late night chat back on deck, (with the odd beer thrown in – I say thrown in, they weren’t actually free!) Ted stayed up to watch the ‘midnight gloaming.’ At this time of year the sky never gets completely dark up here. Quite strange for us ‘southerners’ to see. The rest of us turned in. After sleeping on a futon for 2 years my bunk was luxury! Tuesday 27th June We awoke at around 7am to another glorious day. After breakfast we went through a couple of training sessions on board. Laura took us through the basics of identifying different cetaceans, and how we go about recording this information on computer for later use. We learned about estimating distances and directions of travel of cetaceans and also how to record other animals we see. We would also be recording any sightings of other vessels and their activities as well as sightings of litter in the water. This was followed by Rob taking us on deck and going through the various safety issues involved in yachting. We were kitted out with life jackets and harnesses and were now almost ready to go. All we were waiting for was the vegetables for the galley to be delivered! We motored out of Tobermory at just after midday and weather was beautiful – perfect for spotting cetaceans. After about 30 minutes we saw our first one. A lone Harbour Porpoise appeared a couple of times about 20m from the boat. We all hoped this would be a sign of things to come. We headed around the NW tip of Mull and heard reports via the radio, that there had been sightings of a Basking Shark in the area. Although it isn’t a cetacean we were still eager to see one if we could. Unfortunately it was too shy and we must have passed it by unnoticed. We motored down the south-west coast of Mull and arrived at a group of small islands known as the Treshnish Islands. We went ashore in the dinghy and landed on Lunga. Here we visited the Puffin colony. It was fascinating to see these rather awkward little birds flying out to sea to catch sand eels and returning to feed their nesting young. They struggle to land easily, often toppling over before disappearing into their burrowed holes. Laura suggested that they tolerate humans within a few feet of them possibly because humans form a type of protection from predatory gulls. It may be a sort of symbiotic relationship. We left Lunga and motored SSE towards Staffa with its fascinating geological structures and of course – Fingal’s Cave. Strains of various whistled classical pieces rang through the air, but I’ve got no idea if any of them bore any relation to Mendelssohn’s Hebridean Overture. We then bore south towards Iona travelling through the Sound of Iona toward our evening mooring. At this point I went up into the crow’s nest which afforded fantastic views of the surrounding scenery. It also allowed me to spot one of our few cetaceans – another Harbour Porpoise. Climbing up into the nest reminded me of being a kid and climbing trees. Once up there, you start to worry about how to get down. Thankfully I was allowed down once we’d moored – I had to remind them I was up there, as I think they’d all forgotten about me! The major problem about the Crow’s Nest is that you can’t have tea up there, so you have to look down jealously on your colleagues as they dunk their cookies. The mooring that evening was by the small tidal island of Erraid which is situated by the south-eastern tip of the Sound of Iona. We took the dinghy to the shore and went for an evening walk to one of the high points on the island. Dave the Skipper informed us that it is the most beautiful place in the world and he wasn’t far wrong (he’s probably never been to Worksop though.) It was sunset when we arrived there and the views were spectacular. The entire 360º view gave you a view of distant lands and waters, unfortunately I’d forgotten to bring my camera – typical. Today marked the 38th wedding anniversary of Jackie & Gordon and we celebrated it by sharing their Iona whisky with them! Wednesday 28th June The weather was slightly murkier this morning but it was still quite pleasant so Dave decided we could set off toward the open ocean. It was an early start but Rob, Ted, Gordon and I had to man the dinghy before we did anything else as the anchor was well and truly stuck. I pictured an early bath as the dinghy rocked with our excursions but thankfully it came free without any of us tasting the briny! We headed SW towards the remote lighthouse at Dubh Artach and before long we’d unfurled the sails for the first time. The difference in the feel of the yacht was immediate. The wind became quite strong as we reached the lighthouse, reaching Force 6 at times and the yacht tipped some way to accommodate it. It was really exhilarating as we sped along but needless to say not everyone came through the rough ride unscathed. It takes some of us land-lubbers a bit of time to get our sea legs! From the lighthouse we headed east over the northern tip of Colonsay before heading SSE down the west coast of Jura. Unfortunately by the time we reached our evening mooring in the secluded Loch Tarbert on Jura we were still short on cetaceans. It had been a long day so following a delicious meal cooked for us by Laura and a brief introduction to seabird spotting (sorry for almost nodding off during that Laura!) We turned in early. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. I dreamed of seeing a hundred whales on Wednesday.
Thursday 28th June
Welcome to another day of the magical mystery tour of the Silurian! Kind of the writer yesterday not to mention that the female volunteers succumbed first to the dreaded curse of seasickness and spent most of the day slumbering (not entirely peacefully) while the men and Laura rode the waves and Dave and Rob repaired the engine. The weather had calmed down a bit by the time we woke up today. The ladies (?) managed to assume the vertical and even eat a hearty and leisurely breakfast before Dave took us for a walk to the second most beautiful place in the world: a beach on Jura where the pebbles were patterned with lichen and the views were spectacular in all directions. Back on the boat and back on observation. Today we were to use Laura’s introduction to seabird spotting. It all looked very easy when the birds stayed still on the computer and displayed their best profiles. Live ones, however, come from all directions, very fast and often in large numbers. The wind got up, the marks we made with the felt pen washed away and the birds came like a scene from the old Hitchcock film -an awesome display! We saw hundreds, mostly kittiwakes, razorbills and guillemots, but also some spectacular dives by feeding gannets. And did the cetaceans also come in their hundreds? No such luck. Last week’s team had hundreds of sightings, but all the whales, dolphins and porpoises seem to have left the area. Are we jinxed? Do we need to look harder? This does not make us feel comfortable about our skill as observers, but its early days yet. And meanwhile, the weather got worse, the wind louder, the waves higher, the boat rockier. And the cooker broke down. Apparently things are always breaking down on boats. Out came the tools and while Dave and Rob repaired the cooker Martha and Chris refused to leave their posts and enjoyed a wild ride and a thorough soaking. We all had the ride of our lives, except perhaps Dave and Rob who had the cooker in bits all over the kitchen. If these guys ever give up sailing they can make a fortune as repairers of anything. Finally, at 8.00, we arrived at Gigha, cold, wet and cheerful and watched Rob swinging from the bowsprite (nautical term) like an orangutang. He did this in order to tie up the boat to a floating concrete bathplug (not a nautical term). A quick ride on the dinghy landed us in the pub 3 minutes before they stopped serving food. A hot meal and a couple of pints later we crawled gratefully into bed. Tomorrow the weather will be magnificent and we will see hundreds of whales (said she).
Friday 30th June
We woke up to a beautiful sparkling day, the promise of a hot shower and a gentle potter on Gigha. With the water fixed, the engine fixed and the cooker fixed, there was nothing left to go wrong. Skipper opened the trapdoor in the saloon to inspect his engine and pressed the switch for light. Nothing happened. He pressed it again. Still nothing happened. No light in the saloon either, and the skipper’s face was not a happy one. It took great courage on the part of Chris to confess that he might just have turned off the master switch last night. However, confess he did, and fortunately just before Skipper & Rob started to dismantle the electrics. Disaster averted we went for showers and a bit of retail therapy in the village shop, which used to be owned by a Mr MacSporran. I am not making this up: there was a photograph of him hanging up in the shop. It was a grand little shop, too, with fresh strawberries which we will have for pud! Gigha is a lovely island. It is owned by the people who live there and the song written to celebrate the purchase is framed and hung in the pub. It is called “A New Dawn”. The people we met were very friendly and happy to chat. I hope they are thoroughly enjoying owning their beautiful home. We walked on a little beach with soft, white sand and clear turquoise water. Who needs to go to the Maldives? There were wild flowers on the rocks: thrift, stonecrops, thyme, vetches and a lovely little purple flower which I’ve never seen before. Chris found the empty shell of a horseshoe crab and something (otter?) had crunched up a crab for his breakfast on the pontoon. And the sun was shining too. We could have stayed all day, but there was work to do. Surveying today was pottering (sorry, transects) all round the island. The weather was glorious. No need today for lifejackets and lumbering foul weather gear. The sea sparkled and was every colour from deep blue to palest green. The views of Gigha as we surveyed around it were breathtaking. A grand day to be alive and to be on board. Sightings improved, too. No whales yet, but several porpoises and many birds. Work over, there were drinks on deck while the cooks of the day put the finishing touches to the meal. And after that we ate the strawberries. A perfect day, but the weather forecast for tomorrow is not good. Watch this space.
Saturday 1st July
Today was always going to be a conflict of interests. The football addicts were desperate to get to Port Ellen and the nearest available large screen before 4.00. Serious surveying- forget it: this is a big day for England. Those allergic to football pointed out that it could only end in tears and a penalty shoot-out (clairvoyant or what?). Somebody suggested that the game should start with the penalty shoot-out to avoid wasting time. This did not go down well and we set off for Port Ellen as fast as the Silurian could carry us (about 6 knots). Meanwhile, Laura prodded us gently to work. The weather was not good for sightings, but we would try. For entertainment we had Rock & Roll. Winds of force 6/7, very large waves (well they looked large to me) and the boat bouncing, rocking, pitching and slinging quantities of cold water over the hapless observers. We came off observation (weather not suitable for surveying) and went back on. When the ladies were off duty they huddled on deck in what shelter they could find, afraid to go below for fear of the dreaded seasickness. We raised the mizzen and the wind dropped. We lowered it and the wind rose. A strange lethargy came over some of us. I crawled to the bow to find Chris slumped against the mast with his eyes shut. “Any sightings?” I ventured. Ted sat facing the stern, also with his eyes shut. Was this the side-effect of seasick pills? Brain overload from seeing too many waves? Who knows. But for those afflicted it lasted most of the day, with some only reviving in sight of the pub in Port Ellen. It became clear that we would not reach Port Ellen by the appointed hour, and that everyone would have to endure the agonies of the penalty shoot-out on the crackling radio. When the inevitable happened, the misery of the “footies” was truly pitiful to see. In an atmosphere reminiscent of a wake we approached Port Ellen. “What time does the Calmac ferry leave?” said the Skipper and I seriously thought that he was planning to get on it. With the boat still Rocking & Rolling, Ted & Mel did a remarkable imitation of auditioning for the Royal Ballet in the galley. How they cooked up such a fantastic veggie moussaka and roast spuds without hurling it everywhere is beyond me. And to complete today’s spectacular show, Rob repeated his orangutang interpretation to move the boat, this time swinging from the bowsprite for a good 10 minutes while we missed the first concrete bathplug and caught the second one. Awesome. About this time the Skipper & No 1 were spotted departing at speed in the RIB. Had we been abandoned? Who would swing from the bowsprite if the boat broke loose? No worries they returned in time for tea and moved us to a quieter mooring where we could actually step onto dry land. A good dinner and a stroll into Port Ellen for a hot shower and then the pub beckoned with tots of the Firewater of the Month (very strong whiskey with a peaty smell that did bad things to the lining of the nose). And then bed. Oh yes, I forgot the cetaceans. We saw one porpoise all day. Better luck tomorrow!!
Sunday 2nd July
The 2nd July was a special day for us. We had to get up early…very early…and eat breakfast on the move. No time for luxury showers, pass the Marmite, please, or random chats about anything anybody could think might be interesting. It was a matter of beating the currents, tides, winds and everything else nature might throw at us so we could get in a good day’s watching out on the open sea. Enough of this island hopping and coast hugging - it was time to meet our maker – the Blackstone Bank. Theoretically proficient ornithologists, ‘cetaceanists’ and nautical ‘everythingists’, it was time to get on with it. And so we did.
The 2nd July was a special day for me too. It was my birthday. I let it slip in the pre-project email exchanges and was soon fearing the worst, as people kept making references to it, and asking ridiculous questions like ‘How old are you?’. So it was with some nervousness, then, that I poked my salt-encrusted newly-tanned face out of the cabin that morning. Not only was I greeted with a nice cup of tea, but a new name too: ‘Birthday Boy’.
The weather lived up to expectations and the day was long and hard. We got to know our birds. We got to know our jellyfish. We got to know our weather states. But whales? No. We were not getting to know them. Not a beaked sausage. Not even a discarded plastic ‘Come on England’ car flag. Our collective despair and worry were bearing down on us in increasingly large and frequent waves, much worse than anything the sea could throw at us. And…then it happened.
I forgot to say my other name is Gandalf, or that’s what Laura likes to call me. It’s because I have a series of rings on my head where I have collided with the low doors around the boat (which I now realise was built for dwarfs). Very painful. But the name has stuck, unlike my scalp. (In fact every body seems to be evolving into Lord of the Rings characters…more later perhaps.) So…anyway…finally heading back towards Iona, I thought we had all suffered enough. So I struck my staff on the deck of the Silurian and…there they were…the family of Common Dolphin I had spoken to at Islay the night before.. I let Chris notice them first. I felt sorry for him. I have to say my friends were very impressive. Beautiful,
So, as we tucked in to the biggest curry in the world, we all felt very pleased with ourselves. What a surprise. It couldn’t be capped. Two adults and a calf, right beside the boat, staring back at us. And then the lights dimmed. Another surprise. Up from the galley stepped Laura with her version of the Blackstone Rocks. Made from chocolate sponge, and covered with pretty candles, that flickered like miniature lighthouses, it was laid in front of me to a rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday, Gandalf’. It was then that I remembered the drop of seawater that had fallen off Gordon’s waterproofs earlier that day. I was still there on the saloon table. I struck my staff again and turned it into a bottle of best Islay Whisky. And that’s all I can recall.
Melvyn Jones (Aged xxx).
Education and marine mammal course
17th-25th June 2006
I was feeling a little nervous, I didn’t know what to expect really. I spent the afternoon trying to read some cetacean literature so I wouldn’t look dumb later. At 6 o’clock I met the education assistant (eilidh) and Claire another volunteer at the discovery centre, there was going to be 3 volunteers me, Kar wai and Clare. We walked across to the boat with all our stuff (we all looked a bit like pack horses).
On the boat I was a bit shocked to discover that ten people would be living on the yacht for a whole week! We were definitely going to know each other better. At diner we got talking, which was a great ice breaker.
We woke at 7am!!!!! And began the journey to Colonsay. We would have a whole day for monitoring, i.e trying to look out for cetaceans, rubbish, sharks and other marine mammals. I don’t really have the patience to do this as I didn’t spot anything. The others mean while spotted porpoises and some un-identified dolphins probably common dolphins.
In a bay at the top of Colonsay we had a go with the plankton nets (this disgusted me slightly, as 2 nights before, Duncan the skipper had educated us about the sea toilets on board). We were going to scoop out plankton and water samples and then look through them in Microscopes (Yuck).
Anyway, I got over the “phobia” soon after. We saw some very cool tiny sea creatures a.k.a. plankton. This was pretty fun for me, I hated high school biology and we never had the chance to see anything so interesting as this under a microscope.
Later on in Kilchattan Primary School on Colonsay we “helped” Hilda and Eilidh set up their presentations, (e.g. blowing up Duncan the Dolphin). It was interesting to visit seeing a school with only 9 students.
Laura the sightings officer took us on a walk down Colonsay. We were attempting to cross the causeway down to Oronsay, a neighbouring island to visit a seal colony. Under certain conditions (a low enough tide) the causeway would be passable by foot, we were not so lucky.
The tides were in and it would have been dangerous to attempt it. So instead of getting wet we decided on a coastal inspection tour. Laura introduced us to some of the seabirds which included a very cool gannet. The bird dived down at amazing speed and from some high height to catch fish. Due to all the diving salt water causes damage to their eyes and they go blind and then die.
The afternoon was spent assisting students from Kilchattan primary school. With a plankton lab, using the nets, working with microscopes and having lots of fun. The children also had the opportunity to listen to different whale and dolphin sounds.
In the evening we travelled across to Islay in gale 8 winds oh what fun. I got the chance to steer which was lots of fun.
In the morning Laura took us out to look for animals for the touch tank while the education team were at the school. There was that sea water phobia again, in addition to which was the added bonus of falling off large rocks. I managed to pick up a few shells and an anemone.
We spent the afternoon helping Hilda and eilidh with the activities.
In the evening we debated the idea of establishing a Marine National Park in Scotland. We were given some information (local articles, the SNH details etc.) to help us prepare for the debate. It was a good discussion and we established that with so few details about the parks we ought to be a little bit more sceptical about this proposal.
Doing something extremely different today we went to the local distillery (where we were docked) for a tour.
We had a little scotch tasting session so after I felt a tad wobbly soon after. I’m not sure if it was the whisky or the after affect of being on a rocky boat for days or both.
In the evening we sailed back to Mull well the south, Loch Spelve. The sea was slightly rough and thinking about the possibility that something would go wrong with the sail freaked me out (but it was fine). We hardly spotted anything we did get to see a few porpoises though, after a late sail we sat down for breakfast at 11pm!!!!
We motored across to Dunstaffnage marine lab just outside of Oban. Where We were picking up a new engine for the RIB and having a tour of the lab while the staff went off to get some provisions. To be honest I haven’t done any hard science since high school and everything seemed like rocket science to me.
We motored back to Tobermory in the afternoon, by which this time myself and everyone else was pretty drained. Some of us sat down in the saloon and chatted while Susie played some tunes on her i-pod.
Our journey has come to an end and I’m filled with mixed feelings. I’m glad that I will be returning to dry land and sad that I will have to say goodbye to the amazing people on board Silurian which are all fun people to hang out with and learn stuff from.
The log was written by Roy