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Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs

13th September, 2018

It seemed that the last port of call this cruise, the little green island of Canna, would continue the Scottish weather theme for our day there. As we approached in grey blustery conditions with the passing odd rain shower, (or ‘liquid Sunshine’ as the Scots prefer to name it?) nearby seals, no doubt intrigued as to our intentions, swam around our proposed anchor position seemingly unperturbed by our approach.

We anchored shortly before 08:00 and launched our tenders, sending one in to assess conditions inside the little harbour just under half a mile away. Due to the tidal range today and the seeming lack of available landing spots in the harbour, it would be a slightly tricky operation. Visited only a few times a week by small local ferry, this little island remains quite remote, which is one of the very reasons we are trying it out!

The most westerly of the small isles, Canna is rich in archaeological remains, fertile croft land, seabird cliffs & coastal walks. It, and its very close neighbour, Sanday, were once owned by eminent Gaelic scholar Dr John Lorne Campbell. Now, I’m not sure what stresses or strains one might be burdened with by owning islands as I’ve never been fortunate enough to have been in such a position however, for whatever reason at the time, in 1981 this fine upstanding gentleman handed over his islands to the National Trust for Scotland to take care of.

Now Mrs Fay Shaw – although her surname might not suggest – was the good wife of Dr John and also a very keen collector of authentic Gaelic songs and traditions. Together they built up a substantial collection of Gaelic literature, photographs and folks songs, which was also gifted to the National Trust, and remains in Canna House – just around the corner from where our tenders would land people ashore.

Throughout the day, passengers embraced the local weather and donned their waterproofs to head ashore and enjoy cliff walks, scenic tours, bird-spotting, a coffee in the tiny village café or even a local Gaelic sing-along or two. Once everyone had enjoyed themselves and become soaked right through, it was time to come back aboard our warm dry ship and enjoy more tea & coffee in the Discovery Lounge as we departed shortly after 16:00. Our route back to Greenock weaved nicely in between various west coast islands and peninsulas, keeping us sheltered as best possible from that North Atlantic swell whilst providing all with a scenic afternoon sail.

Tomorrow would be our final stop in Greenock, where we would wave goodbye to our NTS passengers and sadly, the NTS team themselves. Goodbye National Trust for Scotland, thank you and we do hope to see you again on another wee ship of ours!

Captain Kim Tanner

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