On Monday at midday, eight people started a relay by swimming away from Ullapool to reach Stornoway, on the other side of the Minch. One orca, one unidentified whale, quite a few porpoises and dolphins and 34 hours later, the group splashed ashore on the bit of beach between piers no 1 and 2 in Stornoway. The distance between Ullapool and Stornoway is 45 miles, but the group probably covered up to 65 miles. They were accompanied by the support vessel Cuma, a small boat that takes people out to islands off the west coast of Lewis and Harris, as well as by a canoeist in the water.
Last night, at half past eight, I installed myself on Goat Island. The ferry came in and blasted its horn at the team as it approached Holm Point, the promontory at the entrance to the Outer Harbour. The lifeboat also came out and accompanied the team on its way. It was raining quite heavily, but there was no wind. A BBC cameraman was on Goat Island taking shots; his colleague from competing station STV had managed a lift in a local crab boat, and the two were exchanging good natured banter across the water.
At 9.30, the team passed the Arnish Lighthouse and approached Goat Island. Now within shouting distance, there was a lot of yelling and shouting going on, also as excitement rose on board the Cuma and in the water, now that the finishing line was in sight.
I quickly walked round to pier no 2, reaching there just in time to see the group, now all in the water, swim the last few dozen yards to shore, splashing onto the beach on the stroke of 10 o'clock. Champagne corks popped, horns hooted and sirens wailed as hundreds looked on at the excitement reached its peak when the eight stepped ashore.
This feat was accomplished to raise funds for the RNLI. When I just checked, £8,800 had been raised. Feel free to donate here.
I took a few videos, which you can see on the links below:
From Goat Island
I shall post a separate entry with photos, which I have not yet uploaded.