All aboard for Oban to Coll on the Balmoral
I have never had the opportunity to take a sailing ship out of Oban and to visit some of my favourite places by sea.
So when the opportunity arose to take a trip on the MV Balmoral, a boat owned by a trust, which normally limits herself to the south of the UK, I was delighted.
I took with me a friend who, despite living in the town for more than 30 years, had also never had the opportunity to take to the high seas.
We set out in bright sunlight and headed towards Coll, on the way passing all the places you imagine – the edge of Kererra, Duart Castle, Craignure, Salen, Tobermory and then past Cailleach Island at the top of Mull to views over to Staffa, the Dutchman’s Cap, Lunga and the Treshnish Isles.
The weather became very stormy on the passage between the tip of Mull and the island of Coll. Captain David Howie made the difficult decision not to take the boat out into the wilds of the Treshnish islands and instead he would allow us 30 minutes on the Isle of Coll and then he would turn and take us up to the Corran rapids.
The wind would have hit the boat broadside and would be ‘pretty uncomfortable for passengers’.
So instead we disembarked the vessel. It was the first time the MV Balmoral had been into Coll, and she and her 20-plus crew wanted to make a good impression.
‘Be back by 2pm’ was ringing in our ears as we touched down on terra firma.
Being the adventurous types we are, we decided to talk to four islanders who had come down to the ferry to meet the ship.
One of them, David Warner, who spends at least four weeks every summer on the island, and has done for the past 40 years, gave us a lovely tour of the island – both roads.
Coll is much bigger than I would have ever known. It was 2.01pm.