Trotternish and Across the Minch
The eighth day of the tour turned out to be overcast but still with good visibility. Starting with a good load from Kyle, she picked up a remarkable 95 at Broadford and was greeted by a queue of over 300 when she reached Portree just after noon.
Such a crowd, some with luggage and low water conditions made for an extended loading period. There was also the important matter of the Waverley painting competition, participated in by the children of Portree Primary School. The three winners were presented with Captain Caps by Captain Colledge at a little ceremony on the pier and , suitably promoted, the three budding artists were enlisted as Assistant Skippers to keep their many shipmates in order! They had plenty to do as this final sailing of the 2002 visit from Portree attracted well over 500 passengers, no doubt encouraged by the rare opportunity to sail along the eastern shore of the Trotternish Peninsula, Skyes northernmost promontory. This is a fantastic coastline still showing the signs of the massive crushing forces of prehistoric earth movements and of the ripping and shearing forces of the Ice Age. Passengers and crew were gripped by the amazing natural formations - from the steep seaside cliffs, to the rock pinnacles of Storr, the Kilt Rock and the Quiraing.
Trotternish Coast from Waverley
Looking up to Storr, mist covered as it
Waverley continued northwards to Staffin Bay leaving Raasay astern and, eventually, Rona, a little island of the north of Raasay which possesses a naval base with some connotations to the adventures of Commander Bond.
On reaching the Bay of Staffin, Waverley had to turn for home already late by the delay at Portree. Out past Staffin Island we could just see across the wide waters of the Minch, that notable seaway that separates the Inner and Outer Hebrides, to the distant Shiant Isles and the high hills of north Harris. We remembered back to two wonderful days when Waverley had previously cruised in these waters. The first was an unforgettable sailing in 1995 from Kyle and Portree round the northern tip of Skye to Loch Snizort where Waverley became the only paddle steamer ever to call at the King Edward pier at Uig. From there she continued on into Loch Dunvegan and the famous castle of the MacLeods to become the first paddle steamer to call at Dunvegan pier in living memory possible in the 20th Century.
Waverleys historic visit to Dunvegan ,
The other, surely unique, sailing occurred in 1989 when Waverley performed the only passage across the Minch that she has made with passengers aboard. Sailing early one sunny Saturday morning from Stornoway, the largest town in the Hebrides, she came down the coast of Lewis, passing Loch Erisort where she had earlier operated another unique sailing on an evening Ceilidh cruise from Stornoway, to Tarbert. Then came the thrilling and unrepeated sailing across to the north tip of Skye, through the Sound of Trodday and down to Portree. Truthfully, its ranks amongst the finest of sailing that Ive ever made on Waverley in the last (near) 40 years.
By the time that the paddler was leaving Portree for the last time in 2002 she was nearly 1 hour late, delayed by the boarding time and tide and the desire not to disappoint our Skye passengers with a truncated sailing. However, she still had a long way to carry her faithful tour passengers that day as she was due to retrace her outward voyage as far a Tobermory in the Sound of Mull. Calls at Broadford and Kyle were expertly and efficiently handled as usual and the paddler took her leave of the latter having regained almost a third of her lost hour. Down below more steam was called for and the Rankine and Blacknore Engine No 520 reciprocated with a swiftness and evenness reminiscent of its youth. The result was that the paddler made up more than her time deficiency and reached Tobermory slightly ahead of her advertised arrival time of 8.30pm.
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