A chance encounter

We were paddling north from Huisinish Point towards Uig Sands bay to seek shelter from the forecasted storms. Wind was calmer that day and we were looking forward to making good progress. The landscape was amazing, the sea was washing on the tall rocky hills, which were cut by deep running lochs. 

  
The beach on the Mhealasta island looked very inviting from the distance, pale yellow with white and transparent green waves. On the closer look it looked rather steep with waves more on the breaking side rather than gently washing on the shore side, so we found smaller beach in a cove to land for short break. Here we saw hundreds of hairy caterpillars crawling up and down the beach .what I could not understand was why some of them were crawling up the beach and some were braving it right to the water’s edge only to be swept away to certain death. Not being able to help them we left to continue on our journey, which were to take us out from the protection of the sound of Scarp and throw us back to the open sea. 
Paddle it was spectacular, we were and weren’t and were and weren’t able to see the great cliffs with caves and stacks on our right. Something we would like to come back to one day, when the swell allows. Then something appeared in a distance on our left. At the start it looked like some antennae peaking over the waves. Later it became clear that it was a boat. We were hoping that they won’t come closer to the shore to what we were and won’t run us over, yet they seemed to be closer every time we looked. It was a very strange looking boat, more like a houseboat but build much seaworthy. It had people in colourful jackets on deck. As soon as a wave brought us to eye level with it, we gave them a wave, just a little one, so they don’t think we are waving frantically, and won’t come closer. 

  
It didn’t work, suddenly it became clear that they were indeed heading over to us. A short panic washed over us, thinking how we are going to get out of their path with the sea so high and them bobbing right to left. Then we spotted the kayaks tied on the deck. This explained their interest in us. 

All was revealed very soon. This was indeed the Seakayaking Plocton trip to St Kilda. You see, once, when we sat on shore feeling a bit frustrated with the weather, we decided to google all the kayak companies organising a trip to St Kilda this year. And Sea kayaking Plocton was one of them. It then gave us an interesting topic for conversations between us about whether they would go, because of the state of the weather this year. And on that day, as we sat in the waves, we had a quick talk about whether they left or not, and how much paddling they will probably do, knowing that the storms were coming. So here they were, in front of us, on board of MV Cuma. 

  
And yes I was right calling it a houseboat for it having six twin cabins with duvets, linen and towels, with hot and cold water and central heating, three toilets and two showers on board. There’s choice of open deck seating or covered deck saloon, where passengers can choose to take their full board meals. We had a little chat, as you do if you meet in the middle of the Atlantic, they holding onto the railing, us being shaken and lifted up and down, yet feeling stable and comfortable. The captain was smiling from his cabin, so one day I wouldn’t mind to be on board of the Cuma, too.         

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2 thoughts on “A chance encounter

  1. Paddlilng North from Scarp I landed on Mhealasta island 2 weeks ago, despite the wave, and also saw lots of hairy beach caterpillars clubbing up and falling down ridges on the sea. Lovely spot.

  2. I’ve been on board the Cuma – practically everyone got seasick! It’s an ex fishing boat converted for taking passengers. The next time we tried to get to St Kilda we went in an ex lifeboat – much more stable and comfortable. I’m really enjoying reading about your trip – hope the weather allows you to make it out to St Kilda soon!

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