Day 13 |
Aug 31, 2012

Staffa & Iona, Scotland  

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist

Co-ordinates: N 56º18'34", E 06º23'48"
Weather: overcast with rain
Air Temperature: 12ºC
Pressure: 1000 hPa
Wind: 20 knots

Despite strong winds last night, the crossing to Staffa was calm, but unfortunately when we woke this morning, the sunny clear skies of yesterday were not to be seen. Instead the skies were deep grey and a constant light rain was falling.

But to me, this weather does not take away from the beauty of the majestic basaltic columns that form this island. This is one of my favourite places to do a Zodiac tour, because the geology is so stunning – huge sea-cliffs with layers upon layers of basaltic columns.

Despite the weather, we proceeded with the Zodiac cruise at 9am. Guests, all bundled up in waterproof gear, loaded onto the Zodiacs and off we went into the rough seas. As we approached the island we were able to get protection from the swells so that we could float along and enjoy the scenery.

As we approached the southern tip of the island we were lucky that the sea conditions at Fingal’s Cave were good enough for us to take the Zodiacs right into the cave. This was amazing! As we idled at the far end of the cave, everyone on my Zodiac just leaned back, looked up and fell into a comfortable silence – taking in the beauty of the cave.

This large sea-cave is a very famous geological feature, and it is in fact what inspired Felix Mendelssohn to compose the famous “Die Hebriden” (Hebrides Overture). In my Zodiac one of the guests started humming the overture – it really does capture the essence of this cave!

Unfortunately, by the time the first Zodiac cruise had returned to the ship an hour after departure, the sea conditions had deteriorated, and we had to cancel the second outing. The Captain heaved anchor and headed over to our next destination: Iona.

The misty rain persisted all afternoon. Despite the soaking conditions, 47 intrepid adventurers still went ashore to Iona and joined Colleen Batey, our archaeologist, on a tour of the famous Iona Abby. We all had a good giggle with one another as we got wetter, and wetter and wetter. But we had fun, and although wet, it was thankfully warm.

By 5:30pm we were all back onboard and getting ready for the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party at 7pm. It was a fun get-together with everyone dressed up and looking good. There was a lot of laughter as we recalled funny stories from this voyage. Everyone will certainly take back some great memories of our time here in this section of the world where Vikings once roamed.