Day 5 |
Jul 13, 2010

Isle of Mull

By Petra Glardon, Zoologist

Co-ordinates: 56°, 27’, 27’’ N, 5°, 40’, 06’’ W
Weather: occasional rain and strong wind/ storm
Air Temperature: 11,5°C, 52,7F
Pressure: 997
Wind: 40,8 km/h

Today, our plan was to start going ashore at Iona in order to escape from the heavy winds announced for later on. However, when getting up in the morning and noticing the ship’s movement, I was wondering if we were going to carry out our plan. Having thought about this, Conrad’s voice came through the PA system, announcing the cancellation of the landing. The Captain had tried to approach the island from different directions, but from either side the wind was blowing too strongly to ensure safe operations with the Zodiacs. This was certainly a real disappointment, not only for our guests, but also for the expedition staff (the historians anxious to see the old abbey, the birders to find the rare corncrake) – but what can we do against major force?

In the meantime, guests had the possibility to find about some of the myths of the Second World War in a lecture given by Gordon Corrigan. Others were standing with me on the outside deck to enjoy fresh air and the typical mystical landscape of the Scottish Isles with castles, mist, waves and dramatic clouds.

It was decided to head towards Duart Castle, situated further southeast on the island. Conrad spent time on the phone to get a shuttle bus plus driver (which on a Sunday afternoon in the Hebrides is not an easy thing to do!), so that we could offer our guests not only a visit to Duart Castle but also to Torosay Castle.

At 1.30 pm we started the disembarkation. Conditions were not ideal (strong wind and heavy rain spells alternated with sunny episodes) and the drivers had to use all their skills to get the Zodiacs through a narrow to reach the private slipway of the castle. Two staff members had to hold the Zodiacs in place while guests stepped on shore. It went well but the wind and waves were steadily increasing, so Conrad decided to cancel the operations. Safety must, of course, always remain the highest priority.

The way back was extremely choppy and wet! Honestly, I have great respect for the drivers and their handling of the Zodiacs in these difficult conditions!

The afternoon was filled with Team Trivia at teatime (Do you know who was the wife of William IV?) and later Claudia Holgate talked about the weather of Europe, a topic very well suited to our day!

As usual, everybody gathered in The Theatre before dinner for the Recap & Briefing with the expedition staff. The day ended with a delicious meal in The Restaurant.