Silurian Blog

Silurian song by Martin Jacobs

Published: 25/07/2016


Silurian song by Martin Jacobs
Chorus
A sailor went to sea, to sea
To see what he could see, could see
But all that he could see, could see
Was the rolling deep blue sea, blue sea

Verses
Vicky climbed the mast, the mast
To look upon the ocean vast.
No vertigo had this plucky lass
And had herself a scenic blast

Courtney’s golden flowing locks
Reached right down to his socks, his socks
But proved their worth in the ship’s stocks
By drying dirty crocks, dirty crocks

Janna did deftly combine
Bananas, flour and a lime
And other bits that she did find
To bake a cake that was sublime

Rod, he did abuse the fridge
By storing ice cream on the edge
Insisted playing ‘Farley Bridge’
While we all slurped our slushy fudge

Frazer, he was in the know
Of all the creatures down below
Kept us all up on our toes
To spot elusive Minke blows

Charly kept us sweet with tea,
Bacon, eggs and hot coffee.
Could tie a knot most dextrously
An able number one was she

Allan was a boss with skill
Kept two calm hands upon the wheel
Could slalom in between the creels
But kept us on an even keel

Sam had journeyed far from home
To live a life upon the foam
His ginger beard ne’er saw a comb
T’was the mark of a budding MMO

Now Tibor loved the Killer Whales
Allowed his interest to prevail
Peered anxiously between the sails
A fin to him was the Holy Grail

Martin was a Sailor’s son
And wrote this wretched sailor song
When the hours passed slow and long
And got most of his facts all wrong

Silurian chugged and sailed the sea
Twixt Isle of Skye and Hebrides
From Tobermory to Stac Lee
A sturdy little tub was she








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Thursday 21st July

Published: 25/07/2016


With only a relatively short hop from Rum to Mull ahead, everyone emerged at breakfast with that bittersweet “last day of a great trip” feeling. Keen to make the most of our last few hours, everyone tried very hard to scan the horizon for a final glimpse of a fin or splash. Charly made an epic no-holds barred last second breakfast, which made up for a quiet crossing.

As the sun shone beautifully on Ardnamurchan lighthouse, our tally remained at a few Porpoises and a lone seal. Sadly the Bottlenose pods we had seen within the hour of leaving all those days ago had moved on, and with Tobermory in sight the last off effort call was given and we enjoyed the sunshine and sights of the beautiful multi-coloured harbour buildings. Charly expertly brought us to our mooring and we celebrated with a random, but very welcome, bread and butter pudding lunch!
After lunch-pudding, chores were divvied up, and in a last burst of teamwork the Silurian was cleaned from top to bottom, from heads to galley, deck to windows with the help of elbow grease, pub-rock anthems, Ecover spray and a touch of OCD (streaky windows, arghh!). Photos, videos and sound recordings were shared, ensuring we had plenty of things to share with family and friends back home.

Janna and Martin were leaving that day to catch the ferry, so we bid them farewell on their long, long journey home to Brisbane. Many of us hit the perfectly timed 7 minute hot showers, emerging like glowing butterflies from slightly unwashed cocoons. Sam gave us a private tour of the newly decorated Visitor Centre, and HWDT gifts and souvenirs were purchased by everyone present, Tibor even treating himself to a handmade John Coe Orca, complete with bite mark on the tail! A group meal followed, huge black-pudding topped burgers being a particularly popular choice. The evening was spent enjoying a few drinks in town, and although we didn't make the Ceilidh with the HWDT crew, I think it's fair to say we still let our hair down like true seafarers! A huge thanks again from all of us – Janna, Martin, Rod, Vicky, Courtney and Tibor – to HWDT and our fabulous boat crew, Alan and Charly, our Biodiversity officer Frazer and Research volunteer Sam. It was an adventure I'm sure none of us will forget, and long may the Silurian experience continue!


Tibor


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Wednesday 20th July

Published: 25/07/2016


Today was a day filled with much excitement! We sailed from Loch Harport on the west of Skye with the plan of heading across the Minch to the small Isles. It was cloudy and overcast, perfect for sightings, and our chief spotters Tibor and Sam did not disappoint! Not far from the loch, a large fin was sighted on the horizon prompting a premature call of possible Orca by an over-excited Tibor! It soon became clear, that although looking similar from the very far distance, these were actually Frazer's favourites – Risso's (aka Scarry McBluntface to proper scientists, apparently). Around 30 Risso's dolphins were sighted, a first for almost everyone on board! The dolphins were stunning creatures. Their scars made them a vibrant white which was highly visible under the water and their round faces were very cute! There were several juveniles with the group (extra cute!) and some were breaching clear of the water! One adult individual had a badly damaged, almost non-existent, dorsal fin. We had an amazing sighting and it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. Something none of us will ever forget! We also recorded the sounds coming from the Risso’s which was out of this world – think blowing raspberries on helium!

Later on we were treated to even more sightings with a distant pod of Common dolphin spotted by Courtney, showing just how far someone who had never seen a cetacean before had improved, and another very elusive Minke Whale briefly spotted by Tibor. Two dolphin species and a whale in one day! Ace!

In the evening we anchored in a pretty little bay in Rum with Kinloch castle in the distance and we were warmed up by teas, coffees and yet another homemade cake and the 87thlisten to Rod's favourite Silurian CD song, Duncan Chisholm's Farley Bridge. We also had a sighting of a Red Throated Diver, just to make the day even more exciting! After a sensational dinner of fajitas, Frazer gave us a talk about what all the data that we have collected will be used for and how we are contributing to the conservation of the Hebrides marine mammal species. Extremely interesting and inspiring. What a day for the last full day sailing on the Silurian.


Vicky


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Tuesday 19th July

Published: 25/07/2016


We woke at the very top of Loch Duich to a flat calm morning, with a light mist creating a stunning atmospheric feel in the Glen and creating a strange double sun illusion on the mirror calm water. Due to the slight extra journey up the Loch to anchor yesterday, we set off nice and early to ensure we hit the Kyle Rhea narrows before the strong tide creates such a current that even the Silurian's 125hp diesel engine would struggle to fight against.

The calm waters resulted in over 40 Harbour Porpoise sightings, even along the sea loch, the condensation from their grunts of breath vivid in the morning air. Courtney braved the crow's nest and was only tempted back down two hours later by the smell of second breakfast as the view was so good! As we neared the picturesque Eilean Donan castle we launched the tender and Sam and Frazer took some superb pictures of the boat with the castle and hazy pine glens as a backdrop. Coming to a HWDT calendar soon perhaps, or is that just the retailer in me?!

The narrows were calm and the Porpoise and Seal sightings continued as we passed the Kyle Rhea turntable ferry, a far more attractive crossing to Skye than the concrete bridge in my opinion. Open water appeared on the horizon and even the skipper had donned his shorts; the weather was stunning as we headed NW along Skye, the beautiful Cuillins basking in sunshine and not covered in cloud for once. We had a tip off by a friendly yachtsman about a group of Basking shark he'd been following, but sadly they must have spooked and dived as we saw no trace of them.

Tibor braved a few fears to make the climb to the crow's nest, but despite flat calm seas nothing more notable than Porpoise and Seals revealed themselves. Contrary to what many expect, gorgeous sunshine is good for the oilskin tan lines, but surprisingly tricky for sightings. Every rafting Skua or even small Auk tricks the eye in the glare, and there were a couple of false alarms of Seals pretending to be Basking Sharks (maybe their own hat charades game?), a species we were all still hoping to see. A Herring gull landed on the bowsprit, toying with a large flatfish, before gulping it down whole. Gross!

Within minutes of deploying his trusty shorewatching binocular monopod, so still was the water, Tibor caught a glimpse of a large animal almost fully breach the water in the very far distance, with the resulting splash being just caught by Frazer up the mast, justifying further investigation. We changed course to get closer to the area but the seas remained frustratingly still. Then, just when everyone started to wonder if Tibor was a Walter Mitty type, a large Minke whale was spotted by Sam! Obviously speculation, but Minkes do occasionally breach, but we will never know for sure what leapt for the skies off Skye for a brief moment. Then Common Dolphins were sighted too, along with seals and porpoises, suggesting we'd hit a good feeding area. The dolphins came over to check us out and delighted us with 10-15 minutes of bowriding and leaping in front of the Cuillin backdrop, so several of us shimmied along the bowsprit to get a simply amazing view above them. The dolphins seemed just as curious about us, often swimming sideways looking up to these strange bipedal creatures with big black camera lenses for eyes! Frazer sneakily asked for a course change back to our transect, and the dolphins joined us for a while longer.

Buzzing from the encounter, we continued up the west coast of Skye and made our way along the long creel-laden (which we also have to record by the way, barring a mutiny) Loch Harport to Carbost, Janna erupting with glee spotting her favourite Talisker distillery, with a breathtaking view of the Cuillins in the distance. Vicky cooked us a lovely spicy Sausage casserole, Frazer a Gingernut crumble, before we headed ashore to the pub, and a very alien feeling stroll on motionless dry land, to toast an absolutely beautiful Hebridean day.


Tibor


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Monday 18th July

Published: 25/07/2016


Dawn broke on Badachro with fond memories of a lovely evening the night before and anticipation of the day ahead. Unfortunately, the overcast and rainy weather continued, but the wind had moderated. The plan was to search the coast north and west of Skye, however, the wind and waves were dead ahead which made the watches on the foredeck unpleasant. A change of course set us down the east coast of Skye with a planned detour of Loch Torridon. After initial sightings of porpoises the sightings of cetaceans tailed off. Creel counting became a slightly monotonous chore which was broken by an amazing sighting of a pair of great northern divers which, when disturbed, took off. This excited me as much as the appearance of the storm petrel the day before.

Due to the tidal gate at Kyle Rhea we chose to anchor the night in Loch Duich. Initially we looked at Ob Totaig, which was suggested by me from past holiday experiences. It sits directly over from Eilean Donnan Castle, the iconic photograph of which adorns many Scottish Calendars. However, the anchorage suffers from currents at certain states of the tide and we ended up at a beautiful spot at the head of the loch with stunning scenery. After a lovely chilli con carne made by Sam and Courtney we relaxed chatting and taking photographs.

Tomorrow we plan to leave early and make passage through Kyle Rhea and explore the south of Skye in search of more adventure. The forecast promises dry and sunny conditions which will be a change.
This is my second voyage with HWDT as a volunteer MMO(Marine Mammal Observer). I am enjoying this one just as much as the first. The crew are very welcoming and helpful. Alan, the skipper this trip, has patiently encouraged us all to help with the sailing which has enhanced our sailing skills. Frazer, marine science officer, has shared his expertise and taught us so much about this really interesting field of science. Charly, first mate, has been impressing us with her mastery of celestial navigation and everyone has benefited the photographic expertise of Sam , the seasonal science volunteer. I have volunteered to act as first mate on a future expedition. Charly has been very helpful and I think I have gained her approval for the position of acting first mate in her absence in early September.

We have been to some beautiful anchorages and had enjoyable evenings with good food and laughter. As an active holiday experience it is second to none. Thank you all at HWDT.


Rod


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Sunday 17th July

Published: 25/07/2016


The weather had improved somewhat today, though it was still quite rainy! However we braved it and crossed the Minch, passing the Shiant isles, towards Gairloch. Upon leaving East Loch Tarbert on Harris we had several harbour porpoise sightings and then a fantastic Minke sighting! We came across two of them feeding, and had an amazing view of them surfacing at the same time and crossing in front of each other! We also had our fill of sea birds today, with our survey sheets only just keeping up with the vast number of tally’s to record everyone’s favourite: the puffin! They were particularly numerous around The Shiants where they nest. Nice to see.

In the evening we arrived in Loch Gairloch, anchoring at Badachro . Lovely spot. Tibor and Janna warmed us up with teas, coffees and a very special wonky Wispa brownie before we practised our knot tying skills. After dinner of moussaka, we decided to make our way ashore to find the local pub. We had a very warm welcome and we gratefully disposed of our recycling and purchased a much needed giant roll of toilet roll! We had a few rounds of drinks (paid for with Courtney’s English foreign currency which they did indeed graciously accept) and had an awesome sighting of some otters in the bay just next to the pub (much strength required to resist the urge to yell sighting!).

There was a very dramatic moment when our drinks were almost lost as Courtney discovered his boots do not fare well on land. However his well ream barman skills kicked in and he pwned a spectacular save, much to everyone’s relief! We also got very excited about some land dwelling animals and then retired back to the boat, but not before Tibor got his sweet tooth fix of some pretty sensational Badachro rocky road! Then it was off to bed for all.


Vicky


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Saturday 16th July

Published: 25/07/2016
After having gone to bed the night prior with knowledge of possible gale force winds; attempting to go to sleep became somewhat uneasy hearing the wind blow aggressively yet beautifully over the hills of Loch Skipport. As the morning came it became more evident that the day that lie ahead would prove to have more adventure than previously anticipated. Sceptical of the mooring due to the previous endevours that followed our last base in the centre of the eirily magical wizards pool, we knew are best option was to set sail and head for a new anchorage for Silurian to let her own head rest.

The time came for us to embrace the gale force winds with the comfort that the wind was behind us, thank god that was the case as the wind's velocity and tenacity was like a challenge from the gods themselves. Initially I felt unfortunate to start on rota as the portside observer with the promise of an hour exposed to the elements. However, I was upset when time came to pass the baton on to a worried looking Martin, who arrived staggering to and fro down the leeward side. From here I got a rest bite from the weather as i headed inside to take up position on the computer to log the various cetacean, creel and rubbish that were seen.

However, the seasickness inducing motion of the Silurian increased ten fold especially when the hydrophone listening came to commence. They say to look at the horizon to prevent it, yet luckilily from what I gather the excitement of looking for cetaceans and other marine beasties took everyones mind of any inclination of feeling ill.

As the day came to conclude, with hunger in our bellies a hyphothetical ray of sunshine (due to the wind and rain) lay large on the horizon as we all gathered around for a scottish dinner. Personally never having tried the most stereotypical scottish food of Haggis, neeps and tatties I found it exceptional and it was presented beautifully with a traditional scottish dance from none other than Frazer and Rod. Rod who had already excelled himself that day with the whiskey soaked raisins and porridge for breakfast.

With tierd eyes and suffering from engorging ourselves to the point of feeling like we had food babies, the collective mustered enough energy to end the evening on more of a high with the card game known as cards against humanity. As previously mentioned in an earlier blog, everyones personalities and sense of humour became more apparent. This only helped to thoroughly secure the sound rapport between the group.

I can say I really wanted to experience the insane conditions which in my eyes made the whole experience that much better. It all added to the adventure that was the Silurian....

........

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Friday 15th July

Published: 25/07/2016


Another fine day dawned. Everyone was bright-eyed and bushy tailed and headed to their starting positions like a well oiled Swiss watch. Within minutes of leaving the bay, the sightings came in so fast that Fraser’s silicon chips overheated with data input. The sightings included the famous Orca John Coe chasing breaching Humpback Whales as Minkes, Risso’s and White Beaked dolphin dorsals stretched to the horizon…

Curses. It was all only a sorcerous Wizard’s pool dream. Back in reality nearly everyone was awoken in the early hours by a howling gale! The forecast for bad weather had struck overnight and we all emerged bleary eyed for the morning cereal and caffeine fix. A weather-pending plan was decided, to stay in what seemed a good anchorage until midday and hopefully head North up the East side of the Islands, sheltering from the worst of the weather. After a highly enjoyable morning learning knots from Rod and Martin and a species ID game, the collective appetite for knowledge had been sated and we turned to… the Hat charades game. Suffice it to say this starts civilised, and descends to pulling many funny faces. Especially by Sam.

Janna proved that even Antipodean ex-pats can whip up a stunning shortbread, closely followed by the ever optimistic Frazer’s lunch of a Mediterranean style salad eaten to the sound of a Force 7 Scottish gale.

An executive decision was made to stay in the safety of the harbour, as barring acoustic detection, surveying would have been at best a waste of effort and at worst, exhausting and potentially dangerous. Whilst learning about Cetacean blowholes from Frazer ( Odontoceti / Toothed whales only having one due to the evolution of the other into internal sonar doncha know) our expert relief skipper Alan spotted the bow drifting off course and leapt to the deck with our plucky first mate Charly, accompanied by a couple of alert volunteers. Due to a change in wind direction the anchor had started to drag, but the team worked together fantastically to correct the situation, and we decided to move to another anchorage around the corner, which turned out to be even more sheltered.

A magnificent White Tailed Eagle gave quite a low fly-by which was a stunning sight. We switched on the radio to catch a forecast then heard the real world news about the horrible attack in Nice which made us all sad, and momentarily popped our Silurian adventure bubble. We cheered ourselves up with a cracking game of DIY Pictionary however, and another superb culinary creation by Janna of Quorn curry. The evening ended chatting, listening to the Silurian music collection and erm, writing this blog. Hopes for better weather tomorrow, and maybe the dreams coming true…


Tibor


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Thursday 14th July

Published: 25/07/2016


This morning we awoke to another fine day with the plan of leaving Vaccasay and zig zagging (defined by Tibor as zig being a South Easterly diagonal course and zag being a south westerly course. Fact.) across the little Minch, towards Wizards Pool in South Uist (suggested by Rod). This turned out to be a fantastic decision as straight away we had an explosion of sightings! Minke whale and Harbour Porpoise bonanza! We reckon there were 2-3 Minke’s along with many porpoises. Everyone was certainly kept busy and one whale must have got particularly close as there was a very fishy scent in the air (what a stinky Minke!).

The calm conditions continued into the afternoon and the flat sea was fantastic for spotting wildlife. The views from the crow’s nest were particularly spectacular as discovered by Vicky. We were treated to even more sightings of Harbour Porpoise and loads of Common dolphin, all on a mission and heading North. Some swam directly under the bow without stopping and moving at quite a pace! Some more Minke also looked as if they had the same idea. Something is definitely going down up North!

Later in the day the seas got rougher and sightings became fewer. One more Minke was seen but we quickly lost it. Slinky Minke strike again!

Finally, after a busy and action packed day we arrived at Wizards Pool, Loch Skipport in South Uist. Beautiful little cove area surrounded by rocky green hills. When we arrived a White Tailed Sea Eagle flew overhead which was a treat!

The evening entertainment was a fascinating acoustics talk by Frazer followed by very tasty bangers and mash made by Vicky and Courtney, proving that cooking for ten with limited experience is not as hard as you expect, and a very rewarding aspect of the trip. Real comfort food! Then hipster Rod cracked out the outrageous Cards Against Humanity! This caused much outrageous hilarity and it was a late night for all!


Vicky


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Wednesday 13 July 2016

Published: 25/07/2016


With the prospect of winds anywhere between North-West and South-West, we set off from Canna Harbour on a North-East bearing to the Outer Hebrides. The wind stayed on our beam, and dropped off after a couple of light showers into a light breeze under a mostly clear sky.

We kept the towering sea cliffs of Skye to starboard and, although the vista was stunning, saw little sea life on our transect until we had got well past Neist Point.

We were detained by a pod of Common Dolphin, that got right under our bow, and gave us the best view of their distinctive hour-glass markings. We also spotted a Minke Whale, which showed us how difficult they are to track. Minke Whales have no visible blow, and they surface and dive rapidly, occupying all the spotters’ eyes on board as we tried to follow it.

Later in the afternoon, diving Gannets ahead signalled the opportunity of some activity, and as we arrived on scene, we spotted two, four, then about twelve dolphins dashing about, chasing an unseen shoal of fish. Some came over and looked us over in small groups that would split and merge, turning a rigorous count of individuals into a rough estimate.

As we approached our destination at the north end of North Uist, we received a tip-off by radio of another Minke Whale on the approach to the Sound of Harris. This one was equally as difficult to track as the previous individual, tempting me to rename them Slinky Minkes.

Finally, we dropped Anchor in the Basin of Vaccasay, and a small shore party took the RIB and landed on one of the small islands under the bright sunshine of the perfect Scottish Evening to take in the scenery. Rod and Tibor prepared a fine ratatouille followed by baked apple and custard.


Martin


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Tuesday 12 July 2016

Published: 25/07/2016


We left Tobermory, after a final dash to the local supermarket, with 6 volunteers, 4 core crew and 4 tubs of nice ice cream. Thanks to the thermodynamics of Silurian’s freezer, the ice cream turned to cool mush in the evening, prompting a feeding frenzy in the cabin after evening dinner as we tried to consume it before our modest investment in culinary relief was brought to a sticky end.

Prior to maxing out on the sugar and fat of the partially melted ice cream, we had sailed 35.1 nautical miles up the Sound of Mull, past Ardnamurchen point (the most westerly point on the British mainland, marginally beating England’s Land’s End, as calculated by Rod, the elder of the two Scots on board, with no small measure of regional pride), and on towards Canna Harbour.

In the Sound of Mull, we were treated to a thorough inspection by a pod of about 12 Bottlenose Dolphins. With these encounters, you’re never quite sure who is watching whom, or who enjoys it more. This was Courtney’s first sighting of a cetacean, but we were all reduced to giddy novices. Humans and Dolphins detained each other for about half an hour, and every time we made to move off, they decided to refresh their curiosity. Frazer said that it was one of the best Bottlenose encounters he had had in seven years as a marine mammal observer.

En route, we also spotted Harbour Porpoise and Grey Seal.

The weather improved, as did the spotting skills of the volunteers, ending the day with ice cream slushies and a small tot or two of single malt.


Martin


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Last day

Published: 06/07/2016

This morning we woke up in loch Moidart later than yesterday as we only  had a short passage to do today (loch Moidart back to Tobermory).  Sailing out of the sheltered water I climbed onto the crow’s nest and could see for miles it was so cool. I had a whale of a time up there. The weather however quickly worsened  and soon the whole crew was drenched. It was absolutly ship. We only saw a couple of harbour porpoise during the passage which after some of the previous amazing sightings did not feel quite so special. When we arrived in Tobermory we were greeted by bottlenose dolphins which were playing in the harbour (although we don't exactly know the porpoise of their behaviour) and we took some great photos of their amazing tricks. This was particularly cool with the setting of balamory behind the bottlenose dolphins. After the breathtaking hour with the dolphins we cleaned the Silurian and are now currently relaxing in the harbour.



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Lashmar's Blog

Published: 05/07/2016

Early set off today, and a good decision as we saw a minkie whale vertically breaching. The skipper decided to take a different route around Rum and yet another good decision in hindsight as we managed to not only spot another minkie but we were lucky enough to have someone in the crow's nest who was able to catch some fantastic footage. We are anchored now in a lovely place: Loch Moidart.



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Angus's Blog

Published: 05/07/2016

Today was a very busy day. While crossing the minch we had many encounters with wildlife. To start with a pod of common dolphins started to associate with the boat and then half way through the day we discovered four minke whales. Even though it was a very flat day time had to be filled with mine and François' singing of frozen songs and various movie theme tunes.

To finish off the day after dinner we are going ti brave the shores of Uist. Tomorrow we are hopefully going to catch sight of a basking shark on our was back across the minch.



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Published: 05/07/2016

Early set off today, and a good decision as we saw a minkie whale vertically breaching. The skipper decided to take a different route around Rum and yet another good decision in hindsight as we managed to not only spot another minkie but we were lucky enough to have someone in the crow's nest who was able to catch some fantastic footage. We are anchored now in a lovely place: Loch Moidart.



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Teen team day 2

Published: 03/07/2016

Today was a long day however full of amazing scenery such as; the tidal waves through the kyle rhea, going under the sky bridge and the bassalt columns.  There was few sitings of cetaceans however the few that showed themselves were still good. During the sail under the bridge to Skye there was a sudden burst of seals which caused exitment for just a while.



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We have entered the final days

Published: 26/06/2016

Yesterday brought a metric $#!t ton of white beaked dolphins and playful common dolphins. It ended with a humpback sighting - but it was moving too fast for us to keep up. There was also an unsuccessful trip ashore on Lewis in search of a pub.

Our last full day of surveying began with an early minke sighting. We came across a pair feeding just outside Loch Shell, one of which was kinda enough to give us a little swim past the side of the boat - giving us a great view of it under the water.

Once again we saw common dolphins, in a bit of a feeding frenzy. We hopefully got some good photos, but we pretty much just left them to their dinner.

Our final anchorage is a pretty spot between Raasay and Fladday. Some chanced a chilly dip in the water, a barbecue was had and some product testing carried out (we haven't made it to human trials - more to follow through the season hopefully).

Tomorrow brings the short trip back to Kyle of Lochalsh and lots of cleaning to be done.



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Hello humpback

Published: 23/06/2016

Thursday 23rd June -  
We arose to a fine morning in fine weather in Durness, which will be the furthest east that Silurian has ventured so far. Just before we rounded Cape Wrath we had a sighting of unidentified large dolphins. We then headed south west towards Lewis and on the way we encountered six white-beaked dolphins, who visited us three times to bow ride within 30 mins. They got a good look at us and us at them. One promptly defecated near the bow. After going back on effort, we saw porpoises in the glassy water. After recording all the data, we continued on and were joined by 12 Risso’s dolphins (7 adults, 2 juvenile and 3 calves). One leaped completely out of the water and we observed a calf having a tail-slapping tantrum. We then continued on enjoying the best sighting conditions so far. Our next encounter was a triple sighting. It began with a large group of suspected Rissos’s to the right and a feeding frenzy of hundreds of gannets to the left. There were over 100 common dolphins feeding amongst the gannets and then we saw the blow. We saw three further blows and were then convinced that turning left would be the right decision as we saw the tail fluke descend. This confirmed that it was a humpback whale that we were fortunate to watch for over an hour. It was lunge feeding within metres of the boat, tail slapping and swimming under the bow. The common dolphins provided a great marker for where it would surface by riding just along it’s front. Kenny raced up the mast to shout out where it was surfacing while we all snapped away taking photos. It was brilliant to watch the whale and relax once all the data had been collected and on the way into our anchorage in Broad Bay we saw many harbour porpoises. To complete the day, Edd cooked us a wonderful, late dinner and the main toast of the day was to the humpback.



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Sweedish frog song

Published: 22/06/2016

58º34'.308N
04º44'.739W
22/06/2016

Små grodorna
Är lustiga att se

Ej őron, ej öron
Små svansar havar de
Koakaka-koakaka



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Somewhere up north

Published: 22/06/2016

Hello! Minda here to tell you about what we are doing these days at sea. Or truly I'm sorry I'm just going to write for today. Lets get trough the most important part to write down to this blog. Are you ready? Okey: Today we travelled from Loch Roe to Loch A'Chadh-fi. I know that there is no reason to say that it was bad weather, but really I saw the sun two minutes, it was windy and cold. But then during my second round on effort we came to this fantastic bay!!! Loch A Chairn Bhain... With the phone playing beyonce from my pocket, and the sun shining for those two minutes and the breathtaking scenery. If you go there, come by sea, because you won't get the same astounding views from the car. Then we saw some porpoises on the way up north, when we sailed in 1.5 metres waves.

Now to some more important things to bring up. Today I have seen creatures I have never seen before: the white tailed eagle. I did something I have never done before: stretching in 1 metres waves. I ate something I have never tasted before: Frazer's risotto ( 10/10 points)

Yes, that's it.

Good bye!!!



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Great scenery

Published: 20/06/2016

20 June 16
51.7 nm
9 hours 51 minutes

58º09'. 944N
05º17'. 367 W

Starting from Loch Ewe heading out to sea in drizzly and chilly weather condition. Catching quite nice sun and wind off the coast. Sailing north along the wonderful Scottish coast with a bit of difficulties downstairs in the kitchen caused by some quite big waves: Busy Charly preparing second breakfast ended up on the floor, so did bread and eggs, oh dear.  Gruinard Bay was wonderful & sunny spells aigain. Sightings: 4 Harbour Porpoises and 3 seals. Enjoying anchoring ground in the cosy Loch Roe now.
Rahel



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Superpod!

Published: 20/06/2016

19/06/2016
57º 46.262N
05º 36.495W

The day started off with a rather unfavorable weather forecast of rain, wind & choppy waves that thankfully never came to fruition after we left Loch Mariveg. A very energetic group of short-beaked common dolphins was soon sighted off the starboard bow. It didn't take long for us to realise that this was actually enormous group of over 300 dolphins! The dolphins were fairly spread out over a considerable distance and many took an interest in the Silurian to bow ride, providing us with a wonderful opportunity to take photos. After about 30 minutes they moved on. Our next encounter involved a minke whale which gave some good photo opportunities. Conditions were still favourable as we headed for Poolewe and we recorded a good number porpoise on the way. Colin and Bill



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One every ten minutes (or The whale with the bad breath)

Published: 14/06/2016

For our last full day yesterday,  we left the Shiants island surrounded by fog lying low on the calm sea. In this eerie atmosphere, we had our first encounter with Minke whales. We had to track the position of two animals at a time, sometimes relying only on the sound of their blows! All this under the silent watch of hundreds of puffins sitting on the sea. This magical moment was followed by a very rich day: seals and porpoises appeared around us all along our way, and we recorded on average one sighting every ten minute! We met two other Minkes in the afternoon, with one of them actually coming closer to our boat to check us out. This gave our skipper Edd the rare chance to get a whiff of the breath of a whale : apparently not a very pleasant experience...The day ended in a beautiful sheltered anchorage by Caol Fladda. Some of us (the bravest, or those that needed a shower the most) had a dip in the water (refreshing) before the excursion to shore. A cuckoo kept us company in the evening,  and a family of deer was seen crossing on the causeway between two islands. A scrumptious dinner of haggis neeps and tatties (and a tipple of whisky for those who wanted) was followed by a science talk from Frazer explaining what the data we collected can be and will be used for. Another glorious day for our crew, who went on to get a well deserved night of sleep.



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One more on the list

Published: 13/06/2016

Today we left our anchorage in the turquoise waters of Taransay in very good Scottish weather (overcast and only slightly damp) for a 40 mile trip back in the Hebridean sea. On the way we encountered multiple grey seals and harbour porpoises, but the highlight of the day was certainly our encounter with a pod of Risso’s dolphins, adding one more species to our list! The group of 8 or 9 animals surfaced in pairs, probably mothers and calves, and were kind enough to check out our boat closely before going away, giving us an unforgettable moment. We finally anchored for the night in the Shiants, or, as they could be named, Puffinland. Puffins are everywhere here, flying of the rocks, as well as a good deal of razorbills and skuas. The weather being still excellent (even sunny!), the whole crew took the dinghy to walk the little island and watch the birds up close, before coming back to Silurian to be treated to Peggy's sausage and beans, and a nice chocolate cake in honour of Laura's birthday. We don't have a present, but today has certainly been a treat!



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Quiter day today

Published: 11/06/2016

Well the good weather has definitely left us with a period of low pressure
However we still saw two Minke Whales and two white beaked dolphins after leaving the monarch islands. Overnight there we were kept an eye on by the resident seal colony
We have dog legged out to whale rock today and are now moored on loch na h-uidhe with an exploration on to the island of Taransay this evening



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