The Sun Has Got His Hat On

…And we have our hats on too, as the wind was still blowing and gusting and whipping up lively little waves as we awoke this morning to blue sky and fluffy clouds at last.  😊

As we enjoyed another epic breakfast in the saloon, it was almost like being in one of those revolving restaurants as the Glen Tarsan turned lazily on her anchor chain.  We ventured out on deck and had a wander around and, though we were happy it was dry, it was still a tad choppy.  A couple of black guillemots came to visit, perching on the boat’s railing and peering into our window inquisitively before they flew off to bob on the water. We also saw a black-throated diver.

After breakfast Dave the skipper asked us if we wanted to visit Port Ellen again this morning before we set off, but everyone was quite happy to go with the flow, as it were, so we spent a nice leisurely morning “at sea”, en route to our next stop, the tiny isle of Gigha.

Sitting in the saloon looking out of the large windows I found to be completely hypnotic.  First of all I could see nothing but sea, then nothing but sky, then sea, then sky as the Glen Tarsan, guided by the steady hand on the tiller of Skipper Dave, made her way through the waves, rolling side to side.  Even the feel of the gentle rolling was quite pleasant, but we did have to hold on to anything we could when moving around the vessel.  Yesterday my legs got a lot of exercise; today it was my arms.  😊

The Glen Tarsan tows her tender boat behind her

Trevor and I decided to go up to the top deck and have a look in the wheelhouse and pass some time with Dave, who showed us some of the nautical instruments used in controlling a vessel.  We then went outside in the sunshine (yay!) and walked around the deck, holding onto the railing all the while and trying to keep to the lee side of the vessel.  I looked around at the miles of glittering blue sea, the blue-purple mountains, the distant yellow strips of sandy beach and the little villages and houses here and there and felt that home and work and Covid-19 were part of another life.  This was all absolutely brilliant; we were so pleased that we had discovered The Majestic Line and its four amazing little sister vessels. (Thank you Dave Monk, @shipmonk on Twitter) 😊

As the Glen Tarsan glided majestically along (see what I did there? 😊) we enjoyed the views out of the big windows and looked at the MarineTraffic app to see where we were; we had the Mull of Kintyre to our left and a tiny little island called Cara Island to our right.  The hugest dictionary in the world would still not contain enough adjectives to describe the wild, rugged beauty of the landscape, the restless clouds, the ever-changing light… the words “amazing”, “fantastic”, “wonderful” are simply not adequate enough.

Just before lunch, we were informed by Skipper Dave that we would be returning to Crinan, which we visited (in the rain!) on Sunday, and mooring there overnight in readiness for the parts needed to repair the desalination unit and the anchor winch, which we’d be able to pick up tomorrow.  Everyone was happy with this, as it would give us a chance to explore ashore a little further afield while the Glen Tarsan was having her repairs done.  After four days of fantastic food, wine and whisky I felt that a good long walk in the country certainly wouldn’t do me any harm.  😊

Lunch was a culinary masterpiece of home-made spicy tomato soup with fresh crusty bread, followed by warm potato salad and a selection of salami, including venison salami.  Shortly afterwards the yellow fibreglass tender (the “Tupperware Tub” ha ha) was hauled round to the steps at the side, ready for us to disembark to visit the nearby island of Gigha.

We returned to our small-but-perfectly-formed cabin and got our cagoules and over-trousers, not so much for the weather but more, following our experience yesterday, for the splashy ride in the liberty boat.  On that count we needn’t have worried though, as the short ride across to Gigha was comparatively calm, with no bumps and bounces and sea-spray.  😊

Gigha was a gorgeous little island with tiny little white sand beaches and crystal-clear water, the wavelets lapping gently on the rocks.  There was a restaurant/pub called the “Boat House”, a few shops (that were closed for an hour!) and a couple of boutique hotels.  Many small craft bobbed and clanked at anchor, and the “Caledonian MacBrayne” ferry rolled slowly into port.

We walked around the island for a good couple of miles, enjoying the sunshine and the sea breeze, looking at the seascape and the landscape of green, contrasting with the bright yellow flowers of the gorse bushes.  We could hear children playing so knew there must be a school nearby, and in fact we came across a table set up on the grass verge with some plants and seeds, advising that it was the Gigha School’s “Plant and Seed Swap” and inviting you to leave a plant in return for some of the half-grown tomato plants we could see on the table.  A nice idea.

Looking out towards the Glen Tarsan, we could see the liberty boat returning for us, so the five of us made our way back down to the small pier and climbed, this time with relative ease, into the boat for the return trip to our cosy floating home.  😊

Back in cabin #1 we rested for a short while, before joining the others for a cuppa and freshly-baked muffin (eating again!) and enjoying the banter as the Glen Tarsan continued resolutely on her way.  The sea had calmed down by now, and only a gentle rolling was discernible.

We just spent the time relaxing, partaking of a beer or two and (in my case) doing some of this blog.  As the late afternoon became the early evening, we marvelled at the ever-changing light and cloud patterns; in some cases there were ponderous black clouds sharing the sky with the sunshine and patches of blue, and a sudden shower of rain had us rushing outside onto the deck of the Glen Tarsan to get a photo of the rainbow that appeared.  😊

One thing that I have certainly become aware of is how much I completely took for granted before this dreadful Covid-19 crisis.  Who would have thought I’d be marvelling at clouds, the different shades of green in a tree, the birdsong, even the feel of the wind and rain against my cheek?  Wow. Whoever it was who said “the best things in life are free” wasn’t kidding.  😊

Dinner was a foodie’s heaven once again, courtesy of the legend who is Mags, our chef.  We started off with crackers topped with an incredible crab paste and chives; the main course was a hearty beef stew served with mashed potato and tenderstem broccoli.  The sun started to go down and, several times during dinner, we set down our knives and forks and went outside with our cameras to capture the shades of purple in the clouds, the sun casting a molten gold trail across the sea.

Our dessert consisted of an apple and almond soufflé topped with organic vanilla ice cream, and we finished off with the inimitable cheeses again.  As ever, it was only fitting to end the meal with a “wee dram”, and we selected a fine Oban malt as we leaned back in our chairs, utterly content.

By this time we’d moored up in Crinan, and the sky had become a panoply of pinks, russets, oranges and golds, reflecting on the sea and on the polished woodwork of the Glen Tarsan.  I got some totally amazing photos which looked as though they’d had a filter applied, but they were completely untouched.  How could I change perfection?

After 10.00pm, the other five passengers said their goodnights and returned to their cabins, while once again Trevor and I were the only ones left in the saloon.  We enjoyed a nightcap and relaxed in the vessel’s cosy interior, before returning to cabin #1 just after 11 o’clock.   The end of another really lovely day.  😊

One comment

  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog, It brought back great memories for me.My husband and I did our first cruise with the Majestic Line aboard the Glen Tarsan in 2017 and 2 years another cruise aboard the the Glen Shiel. I will never forget the beautiful places we visited and the terrific crew we had to look after us.
    Covid 19 has certainly changed the way we live and travel theses day. I live in Australia and yearn one day to return to Scotland and do another wonderful cruise with the Majestic Line.

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