The blog will now be devoted not to boat building but to my 82-year-old Vertue, Sally II, now undergoing a well needed refit at Johnson & Loftus in Ullapool (and gliding...)

Friday, 18 May 2012

Time for Sally, Ffly and St Kilda

With the launch of the Arctic Tern, and before the arrival of the larch to build the Sula, it was time to take stock, clear the shed, burn the rubbish, sharpen the tools, fettle the Flying Fifteen and make a start on the work needed on Sally II, my own boat.

In fact I have earmarked most of May to work on my own boats, paint the gable end, mow the lawn, and get some sailing in.

Alas: the only sailing so far has been racing Ffly and a fabulous trip on the Dutch Tall Ship Wylde Swan to St Kilda. Leaving Ullapool in the morning, we were through the Sound of Harris by nightfall, and made the islands before dawn.

St Kilda? Go there if you get the chance, preferably on the Wylde Swan which one of her crew described as "a Tall Ship on deck and a spaceship below" which reflects the cool, clean, warm, modern accommodation, in bunks and hammocks. Hard tack and salt horse? Hardly: home-made bread, cakes, soups and a bar, open soon after the sails were furled and all was squared away for dinner.

Based in Makkum, she is billed as the world's largest topsail schooner; a converted herring chaser from the early 1900s.

However, for the best photo of her under sail, coming to in Ullapool, go to Angus Bruce's website at:

Here she is anchored off Village Bay, Hirta in May.

The island itself has been written about extensively and lyrically, so nothing (much) from me then. A sense of sadness; a sense of how hard life must have been and an impression of extraordinary beauty, at least under the warm spring sunshine. In a full Atlantic gale, god help them.

And how do you fancy scaling these cliffs in search of gannet eggs, using a horse hair rope...

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