4th August, 2019
Leaving Iceland behind us, we steamed gently back down towards the British Isles again, aiming for a waypoint just south of the Outer Hebrides. Coincidentally, not far from this track line lie the intriguing islands of St Kilda.
Now, it would be a shame to pass these islands so close by without having a closer look, so we decided to do a ‘sail-by’ on Saturday morning whilst offering guests champagne & croissants on deck. Fortunately, the weather turned out to be unusually perfect for this occasion too, and the sun shone down non us whilst we navigated between the island of Boreray & Stack Lee.
We then proceeded 4 miles or so further south to the main island of St Kilda, to perform a pirouette in the bay – much to the surprise of the few ashore who never normally see a cruise ship of this size nearby. Europe’s biggest seabird colony didn’t disappoint; guests were on deck with binoculars & cameras aplenty to enjoy the sights before we turned to the south again and made tracks towards the Irish Sea. A few hours later, the weather closed in and come the evening had turned decidedly Scottish – how fortunate we had a morning of sunshine for our sightseeing.
After passing through St George’s Channel overnight, we approached the Isle of Anglesey in the early hours. We boarded our local pilot at 07:00, and as the wind gusted up to force 6 off the berth I requested him to ask the tugboat to assist in pushing our stern up into the wind as we came alongside. After a short period of confusion, it became apparent that through some communication failure the previous day, our tug had not been booked. Never mind, I thought, as I looked around the harbour to see if anything else would be suitable to assist us…
Thankfully, a helpful Scotsman who captained a local powerful work barge (who also happened to be awake at 7am on a Sunday morning…) stepped in and offered, for a bottle of Scotch, to assist instead. You couldn’t write it! And so it was that, slightly later than planned to allow Captain McDonald to stir his crew and start up his work barge, we slid calmly alongside our berth in Holyhead.
Situated of the northwest coast of Wales, this spot ideally places us near the Snowdonia mountain range amid plenty of those famed Welsh Valleys. Today, our guests could head off far afield to Snowdonia, Caernarfon, or to famous castles, stately homes, lighthouses or railways. Alternatively, one could take the complimentary shuttle bus into little Holyhead itself and have a wander. Thankfully the weather stayed dry most of the day, with just the odd passing shower of Welshness to remind everyone that it was still summer in Britain.
Evening time came, and as everyone enjoyed their supper we slid out of the harbour (unassisted by Captain McDonald this time – who was probably enjoying his well-earned bottle instead) and turned south-westward towards Land’s End. Over the next two days, we would cruise slowly back around Cornwall and eastward up the English Channel towards Dover. Plenty of fun to be had remains on board, with the traditional farewell cocktail party, and show spectaculars in the evening from resident & guest artists alike…
Captain Kim Tanner
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