Co-ordinates: N 55º40'31", W 005º44'05"
Weather: Sunny with scattered clouds
Air Temperature: 11ºC
Pressure: 1011 hPa
Wind: 20 knots
A morning at sea, as the Silver Explorer sailed towards the Isle of Gigha, was a perfect opportunity to have our first Recap & Briefing, as well as the mandatory Zodiac briefing.
Our Expedition Leader Robin West explained the plans for today in Gigha and for tomorrow in the islands of Iona and Lunga. Members of the Expedition Team then came on stage and talked about Iona’s Abbey, the Manx Shearwater, mining in the Isle of Man and garden history. Half an hour later we met our guests again in The Theatre for the Zodiac briefing, in which Robin explained the specific procedures related to our Zodiac operations and how to safely get into and out of our boats.
Those two activities occupied most of the morning on board today, before we dropped anchor at noontime in front of the eastern shores of the Isle of Gigha.
The island of Gigha is a small island off the west coast of Kintyre in Scotland, and it is privately owned by its 150 inhabitants. With heather-clad hills, deserted beaches and a single lane that meanders for some six miles between cottages and farms, Gigha is truly a place apart. It is here that the baronial mansion of Achamore House is set in the midst of 50 acres of Achamore gardens.
The Horlick family, better known for the eponymous milk drink, has created the stunning gardens at Achamore House. The gardens are famous worldwide for the rhododendrons and many rare species of trees and other shrubs, some of which are now endangered in their countries of origin. Owing to Gigha’s warm climate, many sub-tropical plants are found to flourish here.
After 2 pm we started our Zodiac disembarkation for a dry landing onto a jetty. Once our guests were ashore they took a shuttle bus to the gardens where they were met by our botanists Toby Musgrave and Hans-Peter Reinthaler for a guided tour of these magnificent gardens.
The weather was great, sunny and fresh, which motivated many of our guests to walk the mile back to the landing site whilst enjoying the tranquillity and spectacular views that Gigha has to offer.
As the afternoon progressed the wind picked up and the chop increased a bit, which provided good conditions for a fun and rather splashy Zodiac ride back to the Silver Explorer.
By 6 pm we had all our guests back on board and an hour later Captain Alexander Golubev hosted his traditional “Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party” followed by a sumptuous dinner offered by Executive Chef Christian and Restaurant Manager Laszlo.
As we were having dinner, the Silver Explorer navigated a spectacular passage called the Sound of Islay – a narrow channel between the islands of Islay and Jura. Beautiful sunlit rolling hills, tiny villages, castles, distilleries and shipwrecks. As Scottish as it gets. What a beautiful country this is!