Shiant Islands

After passing the Butt of Lewis, we anchored overnight in a beautiful open bay (to the East) around the corner called Port Ness. When we woke the next morning, bright sunshine greeted us and the temperature in the boat quickly climbed to 17C - a temperature we had not seen for a while! We also managed to clear into Scotland via email and phone although I was again amazed at the level of bureaucracy. It probably took an hour to fill in the complicated customs forms and then I spent considerable time on the phone with customs going over it and correcting errors - in their form! Yes, the nice lady explained, we're getting rid of the forms and you will be able to do this all online! I'm glad I'm not the guinea pig for the online process! But that was only customs, we also needed immigration clearance. Why? When we arrived from Ireland, that wasn't needed for the US or German citizens on board. Ah - of course it's all different if US and German citizens arrive from Iceland. I guess it made sense to the lady on the phone and after another phone call, we finally were cleared into the UK by the nice lad at immigration as well and permitted to take down the yellow flag and go ashore.

But wait, there was also the email from Icelandic customs attaching 3 large "departure forms" to fill out. In my naivite I had thought I didn't need to fill out those forms since Icelandic customs had previously told me on the phone to just answer the questions in the forms we had used for arrival on a formless piece of paper ....... So another hour filling in forms and counting the number of wine bottles in the bilge .....

With all that behind us, though, we enjoyed a beautiful sail - upwind of course - toward Stornoway. As we had some days until the arrival of the Admiral, we decided to go into one of the anchorages close to Stornoway, in Loch Marvig, called the Witches Pool. Loch Marvig is not fully shown on the C Map charts we use for navigation or in the Navionics charts I have on my ipad as a backup. There is a description of how to get into the Witches Pool in the handbook. But the entrance is very narrow and the description is a bit scary requiring one to do things like "stay no more than 20 meters off the South shore to avoid a drying rock 60 meters off" when passing the very narrow channel. Luckily, we have onboard the Antares charts made by a retired volunteer named Bob Something or Other who since 2012 has used his own boat (first sail, then motor) and sounding equipment to prepare detailed electronic charts for many of the nice uncharted or incompletely charted anchorages on the west coast of Scotland. He charges all of 15 BPs for the 570 + charts he has made so far - he's really doing a great service to the sailing community. He also has the sense of humor to add the following legend to each chart: "Made by unqualified enthusiasts - use at your own risk." The charts work beautifully on the ipad with a separate GPS and are extremely accurate in all the places where we've tried them. In these situations Kincsem's forward looking sonar also comes into its own as it shows the depth ahead of the boat, not just under the boat as in the case of the echo sounder. Still, entering Loch Marvig was a bit of a hair-raising experience! We found a beautiful anchorage, however, making it all worth it.

The Witches' Pool. Note the little island on the right where the two sheep live - see below.

Hiking where there is no trail

These two sheep stayed on their little island all day even at low tide when they could leave without swimming!

Back in Stornoway

A few days later, Kincsem was back in Stornoway, getting readied for the arrival of the Admiral. All was well except for the weather which was threatening a little blow and some wet rain. But no problem, I rented a car and we toured the Isle of Lewis for a day.

Calanais Standing Stones, Dun Carloway broch tower, blackhouse village, Port Ness (from the shore), all checked out and DONE!

It is not known who made these stones but whoever it was seems to have had a sense of humor!

Notice the double walls of this ancient broch tower, which were used for getting around within the building

Cozy interior, but short bunks, in the blackhouses. The fire place is burning peat!

This machine produces the famous Harris Tweed

Interesting way to keep the roof in place in the frequent winter storms with fish nets and rocks!

We had noticed the harbor of Port Ness when we anchored in the Bay outside but we were well advised not to check it out with Kincsem!

On Monday afternoon after a quick shopping run, we slipped the lines in beautiful sunshine and sailed to a little anchorage called Camas Orasaidh just a few miles South of Stornoway. Nothing but Kincsem and some birds and flat calm waters. The Admiral liked it! Our next stop was the Shiant Islands, just a few miles further South but a bit more adventurous no doubt. There is always some swell, the anchorage is a bit open to the South and anchoring is supposedly difficult. However, the conditions were just about as good as they get around here and the islands are truly spectacular. They are occupied by some 240,000 puffins according to the handbook and many, many other birds as well. We had no problem anchoring in the calm conditions. We managed to land the dinghy in the Southwest corner of the anchorage and did a strenuous hike to the top of the South island called Eilean Tighe. There were no hiking trails just a few paths used by the many sheep on the island. But we found our way with difficulty and were rewarded by the fabulous views from the top. The Admiral liked it as well - two in two!

Leaving Camas Orasaid, with the Admiral at the helm

Hiking the Shiants

Birds everywhere!


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