‘That’s supper taken care of’
scallops, but he doesn’t need it when sails his other boat, a Hallberg-Rassy 38, which he bought unseen off the internet and keeps in Cambodia, where he carries out voluntary dentistry work during the winter months. But during the summertime it’s the local waters that provide him with a rich harvest of seafood. We sailed close in under the rocky headland just South of the harbour mouth where Kenneth had set some creels. The first one is hauled to the surface and contains a lobster and a small crab. Two others contain three more crabs – all sizeable eaters. Kenneth baits his creels – made from recycled plastic milk-bottle crates – with dead mackerel. He checks them from Scorpio every other day in the summer season.
‘That’s supper taken care of,’ said Kenneth as he unwound a hand line with two unbaited hooks and trawled it astern of Scorpio. Within minutes he had a mackerel on the line and Ammonite, following us astern, hooked three more.
The waters surrounding Lewis are alive with creatures of all kinds.
‘If I see some seabirds fussing around the surface I know there’s a whale nearby,’ said Kenneth, who showed me photographs he took from Scorpio of a 10m Minke whale. ‘And there are basking sharks, too. They swim along with their mouths open about a metre wide.’
Out on the misty horizon the menacing shape of a fisheries protection vessel was silhouetted against the hazy sky.
‘I wonder how effective they are,’ said Kenneth, ‘because they often sail with their AIS switched on which, of course, means that rogue trawlers can see them!’
Next we sail a biscuit toss away from a rocky ness and find ourselves in just 1m of water. ‘It’s tight, but safe,’ said Kenneth as we turned hard to starboard and picked up a mooring he had laid previously in the anchorage of Tob. We had 2m under the keel as the tide dropped revealing two weedy spits of rock coming out from each side of the entrance. We were completely protected from all winds, encircled by high rock as though in a mini Lulworth Cove. Ammonite rafted up beside us.
‘The Hebrides has hundreds of anchorages like these,’ said Kenneth as he showed me the chart, ‘one every four or five miles, with perhaps Benbecula being the exception.’
The great feature of the Hebrides for yachtsmen is that these anchorages are all small indentations and accessed quickly, unlike the mainland lochs that take much longer to get into and out of.
Kenneth has three bower anchors ready to deploy: a Fortress on the bow roller and two collapsible stock Fishermans on each bow. ‘I often use all three,’ he said.
Gerald popped a tin of beer and reflected on the beauty of his chosen home: he’s originally from southeast London. ‘I worked as a mechanic tending printing presses,’ he said, ‘and people kept dropping dead before their time. I thought: “I’m going to be pretty fed-up if I drop dead before I’ve sailed round Britain.”’
So he set off from Harwich in Ammonite, but got no further than Stornoway. ‘I had found a place where there was very little tarmac, no printing presses and just a few crofts. I stopped being angry as the place seeped into me, and now it’s my home.’
Kenneth baits his creels with dead mackerel and checks them every other day during the summer
Moored yachts enjoying the peace and quiet in a corner of Stornoway Harbour
Skippers Kenneth and Gerald discuss the narrow entrance to the anchorage of Tob