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

Posts tagged ‘Dauntless Star’

Uair Eile….Another Time Another Place.

I so enjoyed Monday’s day out on so many levels, the experience of the solitude, beauty of the surrounds and the music. Even here some people leave the gates open. This must have been where it all started to go wrong, when people decided they owned it so fenced it for themselves.


The feedback on both Facebook and Twitter has been enjoyable and the little conversations show that so many people are connected to this part of the world and for so many different reasons. Also it provokes thoughts about what is remote, the policy of rewilding and what that even means when people used to live there. “On the edge”, well Edinburgh is on the edge of the Forth, likewise Glasgow, the Firth. How people used to live in far greater numbers in these now remote parts but had a far less impact on the natural surrounds. Sometimes simple snippets of conversations stay with you and I will always remember Jim Hunter telling us about the large number of bounties paid out for eagles and other “vermin” considered detrimental to the new industry of sheep rearing in the Sutherland Glens. The people who used to live there lived alongside and with nature unlike the introduction of mono cropping, which does not work anywhere far less the fragile uplands of the Scottish Highlands. It carries on today when so much has to be controlled to allow grouse moors to make a profit for a few. And a wee coincidence turns up the Dauntless Star coming into Kyle from the south. Going by the date of Linda Gowans photo on the West Coast Fishing Boats there was a fair chance I was behind the wheelhouse out of sight of the lens. Would have been coming back from a trip up Loch Hourn.


One of the best though is the couple of stories initiated by the photos of Kinlochourn. Many years ago an Applecross fishing boat was plying the waters of Loch Hourn and as was the case, there was a little extra money to be made by going ashore and controlling the local wild life. Of course the local keepers were aware of this practice and on one occasion, so the story goes, the Applecross fishermen had returned to their boat with their bounty, pursued by the local keeper. Knowing they were at a safe distance and out of range the bounty was tied to the mast and derrick and sailed past the infuriated keeper who by this time had lost it. He was taking harmless potshots at the stag, crew and boat that made a couple of taunting runs past him before making out down the Loch. Another venture, this time in one of the Lewis lochs and again in September. Having gone ashore and enough venison casserole in the hold to do Applecross for the rest of the Autumn they realised they would have to go back ashore for water. By this time the local keeper had been alerted to extraneous activities and was waiting on the shore as the tender came in. He casually asked how long they had been at sea. “Three days” came the innocent reply. At which he leaned forward and picked a chunk of stag’s hair of one of our characters shoulder and quietly said he did not wish to see them on his patch again. Another place another time, Uiar Eile and when you go to these places you are connecting to a rich history of folk living of the sea and land and with just a little humour while they go about it.

So after my wee holiday it was back to bad weather and working at the Inn.


The weather has been pretty grim



and no langoustine on the menu board since the weekend, plenty of other good food though. This time of year we really do not know what to expect, Wednesday almost dead, relatively speaking, but Thursday was pretty nippy. Have to take all the ribbing about no prawns but they have hand dived scallops so not all bad.

The weather changed by Friday and two fine days were spent at sea.


Bright and sunny


although on Saturday afternoon there was a little breeze from the north, not before hauling 400 creels. Having to haul more just now due to poorer catch and the broken weather. Still it is good to get back out on the water no matter if there is little langoustine to catch. This time of year with the light changing so much



and so often there is always something to see,


including the first time I have ever steamed under a rainbow.



Being a bit lazy the last few days I had to do one of the jobs on the way across the Sound that I should have done earlier in the week.


Saturday evening was uneventful, leaving before the biker took his clothes off to try on Taneil’s apron. Only other thing of note was having to deal with a resident who did not get to sit at a table she wanted to, “up herself” is the technical term for that. Sunday starts slowly and although the weather is still fine we were not expecting the hordes, they came in numbers, from Barons to plebs they all ended up at the Inn for lunch. It was like a day in July, cyclists, expected, motor bikers, random, locals and day trippers from Inverness to Shropshire. They were served, the dogs were walked



and Alison was picked up from the train.



Glad forecast not good for Monday as slightly overworked. Last couple of Sunday’s the food has been stunning. This week was local lamb, wrapped in an exotic cover and served with aubergines amongst other delightful ingredients. Previous Sunday it was a routine venison loin. No wonder we struggle when eating out from Applecross.

Amongst all this is the mundane taking of fuel deliveries,


rebooting the Filling Station, checking the Hydro for on going glitches and pestering friends to vote in theM&Senergy competition,while trying not to stress about falling behind on the paperwork. Many thanks for all your votes as we seem to have pulled ahead although wary of another push from our closest rivals. Also I do not say it enough, Thank you for taking time out to read the Posts, I will never get used to so many people taking time out to do just that. Cheers.

Down Memory Lane

Memories appeared through a posting on my timeline, Dauntless Star, alongside the pier. The following photos are all courtesy of Allan Flett and are posted on a Facebook group page West coast Fishing Boats (Past and Present).https://www.facebook.com/groups/703557696334874/.


1977, I first went to sea in February of that year and worked down the Sound of Sleat and up Loch Hourn. We used to go on wee two-day trips in the Spring when we would haul 800 creels from the North and then anchor at the head of the main loch at Barrisdale before heading back to Kyle the next morning hauling from the other direction. The Golden Rule used to work down there as well and a little bit of completion as well was involved. Used to land over 20 stones per day on most of these trips although the fishing would take off around may time. When you think that is around 130 kilos and the creels were hauled every day it is an indication as to where the fishing is today. That was a time for growing up quickly , although still had my dad as an alarm clock to get me up at 5.30am and then it was day in day out. There were very few days we missed for weather. Always remember one day going through the narrows at Kylerea, a reasonable forecast but still blowing a gale from the south-west with a following tide going south….result pyramid waves. Probably the most worried I have ever been at sea, and I probably did not realise the severity of the conditions, was a trip south in the Dauntless, as feeling well queasy and down below with Big Don, we topped a wave and went down and kept going down into the trough, that was when I saw Don’s white knuckles clutching the bench and heard him questioning him the wisdom of his skipper. Aside from that I learned not to be seasick as there were no prisoners taken with lots of vivid descriptions,usually of colourful food, to help me on the way and no stopping so had to time my hanging over the gunwale in between the creels that kept coming across the deck.

Also on the Facebook site I found photos of the Mary Ann, which was part owned and skippered by Iain Ali Bheag who was one of the two survivors from TB ravaged Coillie Ghillie.


My dad was engineer on board and a few cran were caught  by these boats mainly in the 50s and 60s. I remember my dad coming ashore, I think in 71, and the Mary Ann was sold not long after.


In fact one of the biggest ringnet”shots” of herring was caught in Toscaig off Camus na Ba. There was a far stronger Applecross/Kyle connection in those  days, indeed the west coast was a lot closer as  boats would call in to ports to pick up crew before heading out to the fishing grounds. Over the years the Mary Ann had a mix of crew and possibly the last of that generation still here will be Eachann (Hector) from Kyle.


There were younger boys who crewed just at the end of the ringnet era. Technology usurped the ringnet in the form of the purse seine net and it is more of an industrial type of fishery. We have not learned to mix the technological advances with the spawning biomass of the stocks. We have the capability to wipe everything out but have to regulate ourselves or be regulated. One reason I do not believe in neo-liberal free market ideas, not that they exist anyway. Possibly an anecdotal tale but a Hearach on one of the early holidays to the Balearics was down at the shore met with local fishermen and exchanged tales of their fisheries. Being involved in the herring boom was explaining how technology in the form of echo sounders helped them catch the shoals of silver darlings. Olden days they chased the fire, looking out for the phosphorescent plankton the herring were feeding on. The conversation came to a conclusion when the locals asked how the herring fishery was getting on now to which the reply was “Oh it is closed down because it has been over fished.” A sagely nodding of the head and the suggestion that maybe they will do with out echo sounders.

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