View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Wednesday 27 June

Overcast, grey and sopping wet today. Uploaded videos and photos taken at yesterday's Big Minch Swim finale, and am pleased to find that there is a lot of interest in them. My pics don't normally attract  many viewers, but more than 30 for each pic within the one day is unusual. I'm equally pleased that quite a few team members are also interested. End of ego-trip.

Today, the Queen met former IRA commander Martin Mcguinness, now deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. A historical occasion, as the IRA once murdered a relative of the Queen, and she was regarded as the enemy by the Republicans. I have always held the view that the only good thing to come out of 9/11 was the ending of the civil war in Northern Ireland. This because 9/11 showed Americans who supported the Republican movement in Ireland and thereby the IRA, what terrorism actually meant.

The Big Minch Swim

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
Reaching land
Coming ashore

I shall post a separate entry with photos, which I have not yet uploaded.