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,
Date: Sunday 2nd September, 2007
Position: 56°37.200 N 006°03.700 W
Distance Travelled: 35 NM
The last day of our trip, and we left our anchorage to survey down the coast of Coll. The weather was quite kind, as we headed out of the Sound of Mull and west. As we approached Coll, we got a call on the VHF from Sea Life Surveys, the local whale-watching organisation, that killer whales had been sighted in the area. More killer whales? We hardly dared believe it. But sure enough, as we approached the area, there they were! We soon realised they were the same animals as we’d seen earlier in the trip, the male with a distinctively wavy dorsal fin, the female significantly smaller than him. We had some amazing views of the animals as they surfaced around both our boat and the Sea Life Surveys vessel. It was extremely special. Full of the joys, we left the killer whales to their Sunday afternoon swim south towards the Treshnish islands, and headed home to Tobermory. After cleaning down the boat, we went out for a good meal and drinks (apologies to any folk we came across for our rowdiness…). What an amazing trip we’ve had!
Date: Saturday 1st September, 2007
Anchorage: Loch Drombuie
Position: 56° 39’.000N 005° 56’.100W
Distance Travelled: 45 NM
So……after technical problems and indecisions (normal start to the day, then), we set off. Ed spent an inordinate amount of time washing the mud off his hands after hauling in the anchor chain. In fact, even now as we write, everyone seems to be sitting a certain distance from him, even though he’s on the comfiest bit of the bench. Trouble is, he’s also cooked our delicious tasty dinner…yikes…
Today we experienced the sea in its full power, spending quite a long time at the top of each wave...and a fair bit at the bottom too. All the volunteers passed the time merrily counting the number of times we dipped the bowsprit (was number 5 the best or number 7?). Amidst the hilarility and indignity of bouncing around the boat, Prateek spotted his first porpoise. Yay! Why don’t we celebrate with another bowsprit dip…or two? Through all the waves, Sharron and Sarah continued to conscientiously spot seabirds, their last shout as they were hit by a breaker, flew off their perches and landed on the deck being ‘GANNET!’
Meanwhile the skipper was slaving again, perfecting his chocolate brownie recipe in the gyrating galley.
The wild weather contributed to the stunning beauty of our journey down from Loch Slapin, through the Sound of Rum and past Muck. The continually changing weather – sun, clouds, mists, rain – and the play of the light on the waves and hills made for an atmospheric voyage.
Finally through the mist, we arrived at our lovely little anchorage in Loch Dromabuie. Ed and Amanda (with St Delia watching over them) cooked up a grand repast of mac.cheese, which was utterly demolished, along with the rest of the brownies. A fight almost broke out when the Skipper attempted to nick the last of Sharron’s wine. Such lightening reflexes have seldom been seen in a cobra. Be very afraid.
Sadly the Science Officer wasn’t quite so dextrous, demonstrating the expansion coefficient of stainless steel by getting her finger stuck in the saucepan handle. Fortunately she also displayed the lubricant qualities of washing up liquid, by managing to release herself, finger intact, but a bit low on dignity.
Oh, and Amanda says ‘hello mum!’Date: Friday 31th August, 2007
Anchorage: Loch Slapin, Isle of Skye
Position: 57° 12’.900N 006° 01’.900W
Distance Travelled: 31 NM
We travelled today down the Sound of Sleat, to survey the area between the Sleat Peninsula and the Strathaird Promontory on Skye. Lots of shelter here, which was just as well, as the weather continued to be windy, and the sea quite lumpy. Nothing, of course, that the volunteers couldn’t cope with. In fact, Science Officer Susie has realised her presence is now totally superfluous, and she can just sit back and smoke cigars while the volunteers get on with the job. Pass us another Hamlet, would you, love?
Although lots of porpoises on the hydrophone today, we didn’t see many of wee timorous beasties, on account of the choppy sea. But those we did spot were gratefully received. John the Skipper picked us a lovely anchorage up in Loch Slapin, and we celebrated with a round of chocolate brownies, a baking first for the Skip. We were impressed and he was chuffed.
We got up a decent appetite by a fine walk ashore up a boggy brae with midgy midges and a lovely view through a fair Scottish mist. Back ‘home’ to the boat, and those who hadn’t yet made it up the crow’s nest were encouraged up by John, watched meer-cat-like from the hatch by the rest of the crew. Ed judged his particular ‘chicken in a basket’ experience as ‘OK as long as he didn’t look down’.
Tea was brilliant! The fine haggis-neaps-tatties feast was thoroughly enhanced by John’s toasting of the haggis (but not, sadly, the vegetarian one…he refused. On principle. Burns, apparently, would have spun in his grave had he known…). Needless to say we all ate about 6 times too much and are currently lying around groaning.