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

Posts tagged ‘gannets’

Fisherman Goes Whale Watching.

The morning was trying to stay positive writing the last missive and I think I managed it but only just, especially when you hear what other people are doing in their Communities growing their Assets and growing their Community’s resilience. The twenty years that have seen Eigg’s population almost double has seen our Primary school’s role more than half, that against a background of far greater potential assets in Applecross. So to try to stay positive we went whale watching. Just going to sea on a fine autumnal day of the Icelandic coast

would have been enough but the day,

the gannets diving

and swooping

around the boat,

the other boats

also with full compliments on board

and finally the minke

made for a fine soul cleansing day. For some reason I have not been bothered by the numbers of tourists around

(wonder why?!!).

And finally I have a team to support in the next World Cup.


Really could not be bothered going out today but there were no langoustine at the Inn so after waiting a wee while for the Southerly breeze to quieten down a bit headed off out about half nine. Looking across at the seals


and cormorants,


they summed up my mood perfectly, just hanging out,nothing to do no one to see and no where to go. As predicted the day became calm


and the light for the rest of the day was amazing. A bank of rain combining with a bit of sun to the west made for an unusual rainbow over Applecross Head.


Going to my last fleet saw a bunch of gannets,


do not remember seeing twelve together on the Sound before. Also a “raft” of razorbills and guillemots of about 40 odd. Good to see and they have been rare this year. At the moorings the rainbow show continued.


Shift at the Inn and the light show kept going


and going


and going.


To think I could not be bothered this morning.

Whitsun Weekend.

The deal for last night was that I would go home for my break and be on call for later. Why it even crossed any one’s mind that I would not be called out…… 6.10 and the phone rang with a slightly panicky Judith at the other end. This Inn we have never ceases to amaze me. Judith at the door with the clip board and Jill and I working the tables along with Ruaraidh M, Jess, Miranda, Jamie and Kenny G all coming out with plates of food till 9.30. I fished for two days and we were sold out of prawns by 8.30. Weather is bad for tomorrow so mediums and what we now call splitters are coming ashore in the morning. Tonight there were 64 booked plus the usual passing trade, last night it was 84. I really do not know how it happens but it does. During the day there must have been over 100 bikers passing through.

Yesterday morning did not start well as I got a phone call at 9 saying the Filling station was down again, this after it was supposed to have been fixed on Wednesday. It has been rebooted every day since!! I still think it has been one of the better things that has happened here in quite a while and I have said it before without the pumps we would be in a fair bit of trouble by now as a community. We will get them fixed and it will be an even bigger achievement when we do as we have had little or no support in trying to fix the problems. I always remember the shopkeeper telling me that when we cleaned the tanks,shutting them down in the process he lost 20% of his turnover. So no pumps would lead to possibly no shop and from there who knows. We just find it so frustrating that we are losing so many sales, the visitors are very understanding and appreciative but sometimes that is not enough.


Had an hour planned with the Guardian before work so that went out the window. One car that will not be getting petrol from any pumps again is Tom’s, a regular who comes up to Applecross to chill out for a week enabling him to carry on working with disadvantaged kids. Above Keppoch his attention was turning to the Bay where he planned to put his tent up. Back to the road and there was the stag, Automatic quick swerve and after a few end overs he used up one of his lives. Judging by where his car ended up his is a very lucky man with just a few cuts and bruises.You have to go back to the 60s for the last fatality on the Hill although there are numerous bumps and scrapes. Tom’s was a little more spectacular.


Saturday’s busy shift was preceded by another day’s fishing for the Inn and very poor it continues to be. The morning was lovely despite a breeze forecast and the surrounds coming out of the moorings as always worth a look.



My friendly gannet came alongside again along with the cohort of skuas. The big advantage of poor fishing is there are very few other boats out on the Sound so I am getting a lot of the birds around me.


Great to see the wee terns having a go at the skua tanks.


Breeze was from the south today and perfect for sailing. This yacht came out from Poll Domhain, a great little anchorage to the east of Ardban. Although open to the north no swell seems to enter the bay and provides a stopping off point for sailors heading up and down the Sound.IMG_3184

Heard a great story a couple of nights ago about a couple of wee boys who were very excited about a rare cold winter’s day where they used the main road to create a slide. They had borrowed a pair of oilskins and went up and down the road until it was a sheet of ice and they were exhausted. They retired very happy and tired at 10pm to bed. Next day on discovering one of the local worthies car was upside down on its roof at the bottom of the slide, coupled with a pair of ruined oilskins there were two little boys from Milton who kept very quiet for the next few days.

In Flight.


Although it was a little breezy from the south hauled 300 creels and there is no disguising it, the fishing is very poor. Only out because I am working the weekend at the Inn and it would be embarrassing to run out of prawns and squats. The beautiful seabirds kept my mind of how poor the fishing was and I had a go at catching them in flight. Another first today with me feeding a gannet by hand, skua yesterday, who cares if the fishing is awful.


Surrounded by Seabirds

Yesterday began with a bumpy ride out to the Varuna to keep the Inn’s prawn supply going and this was followed up by a full day’s work there.


Weather was a major topic of conversation with wind sweeping down from the north and frequent hail showers. Felt so sorry for the young plants and the trees with their blossoms being stripped off. The sycamores out side took a bit of a pasting.


Unfortunately had a progressively bad headache all day and that took the edge of enjoying the shift. Despite a kip on my break could not shake it of. Vaguely heard Bertie explaining away why we are not catching any prawns, lobster and crab, saying they are there but the cod are eating them. It sounded a bit confused but I was dozing at the time so may have missed the gist of his explanation of why the shellfish fishery is going tits up.

Very late start as felt hung over from yesterday’s head. managed to get out by eleven and hauled 350 pots so not too bad a day. Dougal, being out for the first two hours of the day decided that he wanted to stay out and hid behind his favourite tree.


Knew that half pints and squats were sold out so had to try to get some for the kitchen. prawn tails take the pressure off as there is little preparation for this starter dish. On the way round to the pier the gorse was showing particularly well, good early bee food.


Gorse has it’s detractors in Applecross but I think it has its place and the war waged against it is very misplaced. Effective in the grand scheme of things and wonderful colouring as well. Was told once by an elderly crofter that it is compared to love as it blossoms on every month of the year. Passed other water users on the way out of the moorings.


Although there was still a northerly breeze and hard work hauling I found myself surrounded by ten skuas and for the first time a couple of gannets were alongside.


Another first was a skua taking a fish from my hand, tried it with the gannets but not quite. Fulmar and some tern were about as well. Had a wonderful time and takes your mind of everything. Gannets are probably my favourite seabird.


They are beautiful, sleek arrows, very mobile and are etchings of the sea. There have been gannets working in Applecross Bay for three or four weeks now.


Managed to get the catch to Robert just before six and as there was a lull front of house the pans went straight on the cooker. Fried off a few prawn tails for tea this evening with some sea salt and wild garlic leaves from the garden. Bit frustrated with the broadband this evening having difficulty uploading but in the grand scheme of things ….fairly insignificant.

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