A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

About 9am looked up and watched a pod of porpoises feeding about 400 metres away on a glass calm, hot morning. 9pm we were just coming to the end of an hour and a quarter where 125 main meals were put out by the kitchen in searing heat at the Inn. Sometimes it is hard to believe it was the same day.

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On the way to the tranquility of the pier I was listening to Mark Stephens magazine program, most of which was from Ullapool’ St Ayles Championship. Loved the story from Port Seton. Three years ago one of the women rowers who had won a medal, saying that she did not exercise and one morning as she was on the way to the shops passed an elderly man by a boat who called across to her “Do you want a shot in the boat hen?”….the start of her road to Ullapool. Such a peaceful day at sea with lots of bird activity around the Varuna all day, a result of not many other boats out.

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Although it looks photo shopped this gull was just having a bath.

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Young black backs have no fear and take on the skuas.

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Always impressive watching the skuas in flight.

Mid day saw a little flotilla of Drascombe Luggers who make an annual trip up the west coast. Engines were on as they passed by.

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Indifferent fishing and asked in the evening ” How is the fishing?” I find it needs an explanation of how I enjoy it, make a “wage” but compared to 30 years ago the waters of Applecross are in a perilous state with not a lot left, but a few bottom feeders. It is such a good way to make a living, cropping what nature provides, but quite sad we cannot regulate ourselves. What is going to happen more and more are the new regulations that have been brought into force on the Barra Sound. There is the usual out cry about how it will adversely affect the local fishermen and how we look after our stocks by our “traditional” way of fishing. This was the mantra put out by the west coast prawn trawl feet when the large east coast fleet came over. No one answers when you ask about the west coast herring fishery, cod, hake, haddock, whiting…..silence and that sums up the last 50 years of traditional west coast fishing. I do not have enough knowledge of the Barra situation but this may be the start of a trend where outside forces take charge of our declining fishery in the “national”interest. And no one to blame but the fishermen themselves. Chatting this morning to a chef on a cruise boat working off the west coast and she was telling me how, at the last-minute bought some shellfish and fish for a slap up meal on their cruise. They headed out before discovering that the langoustines she had bought were half the size of her pinky. Having worked at the Inn she had never come across prawns that size and was disgusted being used to the langoustine that Judith sells in Applecross. They got their money refunded but the fact that one, the buyer sold them the prawns and two, he bought them from the fishing boat does not fill you with much confidence in the future. On the bright side lots of visitors enjoying decent sized, creel caught prawns all day and many for the first time. Demonstrations how to tail, shell and get into the claws are appreciated. They always get some background on the creel industry and the berried prawn returns with a little of the other type of fishery that is not so healthy for the sea environment.

The day was pretty full on as the Chas get together brought in quite a few bikes although not as many as usual. Seems internal politics disrupted the event some what, but every one who came enjoyed the weather food and a fine set played by the Coast Road Truckers. Loved watching an elderly lady eating her grilled haddock while swaying to one of Frosty’ s numbers. No idea what this is but interesting machine and not your average run of the mill Honda Gold Wing.

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