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

Posts tagged ‘dolphins’

Dolphins,Meetings,Massages,Italians and Layoffs…in a Week?

Friday morning and it is a different season from yesterday. This morning after a short doze on the couch it was an early start, mainly to get langoustine away to Loch Ness Inn and with the forecast not very good, a quick look round the remaining creels. Turned out it was very quick. Hauled the first one with lots of berried langoustine, more than a few squats but enough langoustine to go to the next one. Went to pick up the buoy without checking the GPS and turns out it was the south end, meaning I was broadsides to a southerly force 4. Half way through the second fleet, called it a day and was back on the moorings before 8.30am. When I was out there it crosses my mind about why we put ourselves out so much and for what. Pouring rain, grey skies and heaving on a white-capped sea do not make for an easy life, then this happens.


I am surrounded by a small pod of dolphins


with lots of babies


rushing to and fro and all is well again,


not questioning why or where I should be but just living the moment.


I feel a rush of gratitude that these magnificent mammals include me, even for fleeting moments, in their daily meanderings.


This follows on from coming home last night after a shift at the Inn where the staff used the word “carnage” quite a few times to describe the evening. It was n’t really although at times you did wonder about the functionality of the operation. Weather wonderful and the kitchen were going pretty hard to keep the food going out as many of the customers were eating out in the garden enjoying the evening sunshine and the truly magnificent views across the Sound. I had a feeling that it was not going to continue like this as it was perfect midge weather for around about 7.30/8pm. Sure enough by 7.40pm they arrived and with a vengeance resulting in everyone wanting to come inside. Full bar and they kept coming, this time I got the last orders well before everyone were on their tables, but even then this was not enough. The nine Italians  who turned up and were served at 9.30pm as the kitchen were still cooking anyway. The only restrictions we put on at this time of night it is past time for steaks and lamb so the shellfish and fish go out. Not a problem for the Italians, scampi all round, with their kids enjoying the wee person’s menu. You try and keep a handle on it but what’s a langoustine meal more or less and the couple of Dutch girls, coming in at 9.20pm, managed one amongst all the melee. End result is the 21 kilos of langoustine landed this afternoon is now down to one. Despite a couple of rooms of residents getting absolutely pie eyed, one couple disappearing off to their beds before their cranachans came out, the neighbouring table had a nice freebie, it quietened down enough for the staff to have a welcome drink around eleven. With todays early shift in mind I headed home around 11.30pm, tired but pretty content and that was despite being in the dark due to forgetting that my torch was on charge back home. Slow cycle back with some good music on the headphones and coming round the bend passing Alt na Chriche the tumbling water over the rocks caught my attention. With Dougal and Eilidh in attendance I wandered back up the brae and sat on the little stone bridge just listening to the stream gurgling its way under the road and of down past Burnside. After the concentrated application of the previous six hours it was the perfect relaxing, slowing down of an over active mind. It had been a pretty intense day all in all as earlier the morning and indeed all day the conditions were simply awesome,


a word that I use in its proper sense.





Conditions during the day could not have been better, the sky,


a landscape painting with clouds breaking up the blue and keeping the temperature to a reasonable level for the natives.


The langoustine, despite the numbers of berries were still okay and the squats kept coming on board.


Going through gloves at a rapid rate.


It was a day when I honestly wanted to stay on the water till sunset but the people need served and the demands of the market still has a say in my schedule. I was fortunate to see so much during the day from setting out and throughout the day. I reckon the Varuna is a bit like the Inn where it looks and at times feels chaotic but it works and provides for what she was built for.


The first signs of autumn is apparent in the sea when you see cuttlefish


eggs on the creel.


Amongst all the sea life coming up you see the weird and wonderful at times.


The first part of the week, with the weather at times breezy, meant I finally caught up with the gear ashore and had it washed and back on board to be taken out on Thursday morning. Fitted in a Trading Company meeting on Tuesday and a long discussion about Broadband and its future. There are so many variables to fit people’s needs and wants around. The coming of fibre optic, connecting to the AppleNet system, the communities to the north who may be joining and the BT “promises” meant it was a fairly long evening, always difficult after a day at the creels.

Also managed a return to my Thai masseur as phone numbers were changed in the interim, painful but worth the trip over the Hill.



I am upbeat just now and enjoy the intensity of the challenges I face, but I am sure I will come across a grumpy bad-tempered customer and the Varuna will break down, I just hope I will treat this in a way that will be conducive to keeping my positive outlook on people and the life I lead. Great to welcome a couple of new wee residents to the area, another Oscar and an as yet named Kilbride/McInnes only a few days old. Of course Oscar’s parents,the new teacher and partner have also settled in and great to see the age of the community decrease, a welcome change. Unfortunate incident a couple of evenings ago involving tasers, CID and a bit of a stramash but that story is better left to the courts to sort out. Also there are a few employees or soon to be ex-employees who are not too happy as the Hartfield Hostel is laying of most of its staff. It does make you query how organisations apply for community based grants and use a community to procure monies with lots of promises only for those aims to be so wide of the mark as to be off the scale. Just to leave you with a quote and a link so you can make your own minds up if this is a good use of public funds, bearing in mind the imminent closure and laying off of staff.  http://www.venturetrust.org.uk/news/2014/3/marketing-and-developing-adventure-tourism-applecr/

“The project will leave a legacy of sustainable economic activity in the Applecross area; activity which is socially advantageous, environmentally responsible and ethically grounded. This investment will generate a robust social enterprise local employer, maximizing usage of the hostel facilities as well as developing adventure tourism in Applecross.”

Dolphins, Good Weather and Hydro Progress.

The seas provide us with such a contrast. If possible I have grown more and more attached to the ocean and know so little about them. On a day like Friday, all you are thinking about on the way out is putting the final touches to the fleet on board, planning where you are going to shoot it and then which fleets you are going to haul before the weather breaks again. Then, and there is no doubt that I sensed it rather than saw them but, coming towards me was a pod of dolphins


and coupled with the grey calm waters I stopped work throttled back and enjoyed a blissful twenty minutes.


All thoughts of langoustine, work and creel repairs disappear. The best thing about it all is they come to you and makes you feel humble that these beautiful beings play around you, jump, dart and swim under the boat.


The best day of the year.


Possibly one of the reasons I enjoyed Kirsty Logan’s mysterious story about the Selkie fisherman so much is the fantastic depth and beauty, combined with the harsh and uncompromising realities when it goes wrong. Helping anyone anywhere is fulfilling but there that extra layer when it happens at sea. Photos were forgotten until they began to go off and speeds only adjusted to catch the last of them.


Reminded me that the day when the Succorfish was replaced, as I was leaving the Varuna and started the outboard on the dinghy about twenty seals and pups slid of the rocks and took to the water. Something I have never seen before they then followed me across the bay coming out of the water, breaching like dolphins and looking across to me as though  they were playing and racing along at the same time. They were not as close as the dolphins  but it was still great to see them swimming and diving alongside. The weather broke as promised and I had an uncomfortable time in the Bay hauling the last fleet and untangling it from a neighbours. Some new eggs came up on a section of rope. nature does beauty well.


Blowing half a gale by the time I came back from Shieldaig, a massage, badly needed, and a bait and salt pickup.


(Now Monday evening) It’s not slowing down, Saturday was full with mending and roping up a fleet getting it ready for the fine weather forecast for Monday and then onto the Inn for an evening shift. If I do not write on the night things become a bit of a blur and I don’t think anything of great import happened. A normal busy evening with locals adding a bit of colour early on before disappearing to watch Scotland come close to France in the rugby. Better than the dismal performance in Georgia. Listening to Blackhouse, switching over to Twitter for the football and doing the CC minutes. Seeing how this multi tasking lark goes. Sunday with Linda on the Boss was able to do some catch up work and make an occasional appearance. It was pleasantly quieter and had a few folk for the Highland locale out ranging from Marybank, Dornoch, Dingwall, The Black Isle, Inverness and Kintail. Was able to take a break in the afternoon to finish Saturdays creel work before making my way back for the evening shift. Started off slowly but by 8.30pm was full on with lots of table juggling. Made it through to 10.30pm after a nicely cooked half steak, Janet having the other half earlier in the evening. Left the Boss sitting amongst the guests and surrounded by several almost empty bottles of malt. I think the object was to finish them. I was asleep before closing time.

Early start and a fine day it turned out to be.




Another fine defeat, or maybe not so fine going by some of the comments. Now live scores of Andy Murray, he was asked if he could lift the nation’s depression after the Georgia game and he replied that he always tries to win so nothing new so nothing new there. Joy to be on the water today. Another clean fleet shot away and extended another one to its right length. Gear starting to be in the shape it should be.


A couple of buoys missing, a couple of foul ups, and a slight breeze from the north. Couple of strange creels came up in one fleet. Managed to catch around half box of the extra-large and just two creels provided ten of them five in each creel. The rest of the fleet showed no sign that this was going to happen. Another creels had seven octopi in it.


Only caught about a dozen in the whole day. It is never a nine to five job. Landed a decent amount to the Inn and they had run out by the time I had come ashore. On the way in and during day there were signs it may start of on a misty footing in the morning… we’ll see.


Picked up Dougal and Eilidh on the way to the Inn and then went up to the hydro site and had a good chat with the boys, hoping for a dry spell as they were having difficulty getting up the track, machine was sliding back. Forecast for the week is perfect for them, dry and a south-easterly breeze to boot. Hard walk up to the Pen Stock site but in the sunshine,


bearable. Most of the plastic pipe laid out, and welded, across the field


and they headed up with more gravel and cement to block off the stream, the diversion already been pecked out.



No one is hanging about. Exciting to see it taking shape against so many odds. That over rides the feeling of despair in our Government who decide to give subsidy to the oil, nuclear and tracking industries while regressing solar, wind and hydro. Wonder if they could organise a drinks party in a brewery.

Do Dolphins Sleep?

Went to bed last night with the intention of going fishing but quickly lost the desire and the weather backed me up with a strongish south-westerly getting up during the morning. Thinking I did nothing much a day of doing nothing involved strimming, power sawing, Wet stock at the Filling Station, planting kale, wild pansies, staking the peas and a bit of weeding. And then serving 150 people evening meals…so not too much. The garden is getting lovely and over grown with the bee friendly plants slowly taking over.


When I arrived at the Inn Mark was tucking into a crayfish, fairly rare around here. They are more plentiful further west and south and there is no real commercial numbers around here. This one was caught at Rona. Being an illogically sentimental fisherman I tend not to catch these animals, especially the crayfish as they creak at you. Today’s silly question turns out not to be so silly. I was asked if dolphins sleep and the answer is that as they have to breath half their brain can sleep while the other half is awake. Even one eye is closed.


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