View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Saturday 15 September

Yesterday saw quite a bit of disruption on the ferry. It did not sail until 9.30 am, when it was due to leave at 6 am. As a result, the last of the three sailings was cancelled, and thus endeth the summer timetable for Wednesdays and Fridays. It was a very strange sight to see the ferry pull out at 5pm, a time that the boat normally is nowhere near Stornoway. Today, Saturday, there was no such disruption. It was windy, but the sun was out for good periods and it felt fairly mild, 15C / 59F. My visitors departed on the lunchtime ferry, which got up to some very strange shenanigans upon departure. It sailed precisely at 2.30pm, but then I noticed it doing this

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It turned back and proceeded to dock alongside the ferry pier. The pedestrian ramp was put up, the vizor went up and the bridge for loading and unloading vehicles came out. After a few minutes, the ferry departed for Ullapool, now half an hour late.

The Isle of Lewis has been on this run since 1995. She is 101m (337 ft) long, 19m (63 ft) wide and has a draught of 4.2m (14 ft). At Stornoway, vehicles board through the bow-vizor, but at Ullapool they disembark through a door in the stern of the vessel. Whilst in the Minch, she does more than 17 knots, a speed that is reduced in Loch Broom, for the last dozen miles to Ullapool. This is to protect the coastline from erosion damage, which could result from her wake.

Picture post - 14 September

High swells

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Friday 14 September

Jumped on the bus to Garynahine at 10.10 for a visit to Bosta with my overseas visitors. The weather was still wild, with high winds and occasional rain. Upon arrival at Bosta, just after 11 am, the sun started to come out, showing the place in its full beauty. Seas were crashing on outlying skerries and Old Hill, and big waves came ashore on the beach. The Iron Age House had closed for the season the week before, but the smell of the smouldering peat fire lingered around the building. Also showed people round the cemetery, primarily to highlight the Iolaire gravestone and the common epitaph Gus am bris an latha (Until the breaking of the Day, [and the shadows flee away]), a reference to the Youngest Day, the Day of Judgment. The bus returned as requested at 12.30, and we were taken through Breaclete and Kirkibost to the Bernera Bridge and Garynahine. Our driver very kindly flagged down the connecting service, which took us to Callanish at 1.20pm. We had a good lunch and a look round the Stones, as impressive as ever. The weather was still windy, but the sun now had the upper hand, and even a short shower did not spoil the enjoyment. At 3pm, we joined the bus back to Stornoway - the long way round. It stops for a while at Carloway and Shawbost schools to pick up the pupils. They are dropped off right outside their houses. On passing Gearrannan, you can see Old Hill again, but from a different angle. Whenever we had a view of the coast, especially at Dalbeg, South Bragar and Brue, my visitors were blown away by the sight. For one of them it was a return visit, and probably not their last either. We came back to town at 5pm.

I'll post pictures in a separate entry.

Thursday 13 September

A wild day for sure, but here in Stornoway the gale was nowhere near as severe as forecast. I do gather that the southern isles were lashed by force 9-10 winds, but the highest gusts up at Eoropie (near the Butt of Lewis) were about 50 mph. I spent the day monitoring the situation on the ferries, as I was expecting people to arrive for a short visit. Although initially the late ferry was posted as "disrupted", she eventually made the crossing and appeared more or less on time at Stornoway. Although the sun had set by then (8.40 pm), it was still sufficiently light to see breaks in the clouds and the wind was dropping away.