SCOTLAND360° BLOG POST - THE STORNOWAY COASTGUARD EMERGENCY SERVICES OPEN DAY

(AND HOW WE CRUISED THE MINCH WITH THE COASTGUARD)

DUNDONNELL MOUNTAIN RESCUE TEAM VISITS STORNOWAY

24th to 25th June 2006

June 2006 and the Stornoway Coastguard Station hosted the 3rd annual Emergency Services Open Day.

With 28 organisations in attendance, Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team was asked to participate in the day; a great opportunity for some publicity and to meet with some of the other agencies. Six of us set off on the morning Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Ullapool over to Stornoway. As foot passengers, we had a fair bit of kit – display boards, rescue equipment and everything that we needed for the open day. On arrival at Stornoway, had an afternoon of sunshine and chatting to interested members of the public.

With no ferry back on the Sunday, the plan was to spend the night on board the Coastguard tug, the ‘Anglian Prince’, which would take us back to Ullapool the next day. Enjoying a barbecue in Stornoway that evening, we were informed by the local Coastguard that the Anglian Prince had been called out to assist the passage of a tanker through the Minch and that, unfortunately we would need to return to the ship as soon as possible. Around midnight, we cast off and headed into the Minch. We were welcomed up to the bridge by the skipper and so we enjoyed the passage through the Minch in darkness. Around 02:00 it was time to retire to our cabins. Awaking at 06:30, we realised just where we were….


Leaving Ullapool on the Cal Mac ferry and bound for Stornoway, we sailed under the shadow of Ben Mor Coigach. Many of the outlying islands of the Summer Isles are remote and rocky….

…especially those with the “Stac Mhic Aonghais” sea stack!

As part of the “Emergency Services Open Day”, the Dundonnell Mountain Rescue display boards were soon set up and were open for business, complete with SARDA search dog!!

The Coastguard helicopter, “Mike Uniform ” was also part of the day and throughout the day, there were demonstrations from the various emergency services including a simulated lifeboat rescue.

With no Cal Mac return ferry on the Sunday, our transport back to Ullapool was to be the MCA salvage tug, the Anglian Prince – also our accommodation for the Saturday night.

However… this is where it became interesting…. Enjoying a barbecue on the Saturday evening, we were recalled back to the Anglian Prince late at night as she had been called out to escort a tanker through The Minch. Staying up on deck until the early hours, we eventually retired to our cabins.

 

Next morning, around 06:30, all was still. Going up on deck, we quickly realised that we were at anchor just off the Shiant Islands Beside the natural harbour at Garbh Eilean. The cottage  is owned and used by Adam Nicholson, the owner of the Shiants and the author of “Sea Room”.

The views to Eilean Mhuire and across the Minch to Skye were simply stunning as we enjoyed both breakfast on board the Anglian Prince.

 

Leaving the Shiants, we headed back to Stornoway to collect additional crew and then it was back to Ullapool.

Meanwhile, there was other traffic in The Minch. A NATO exercise was in full swing with HMS Fort George stationed just outside Stornoway

 

A perfect afternoon with the Sutherland hills looking inviting in the distance as we mad our way back through the Summer Isles and past Ben More Coigach, the guardian of the route into Ullapool.