Highlights of 2022 : From Eagle and Lighthouse Spotting to Wild, Wild Swimmers and Majestic Yachts
As Fyne Sea Tours approaches the end of another season on the waters of Loch Fyne, the colours of autumn are pushing in amidst the sharp showers, weakening sunshine and vivid rainbows at this time of year.
What is so special regarding our time aboard Fyne Explorer is that no two days are the same. Read this blog for an account of our top highlights of yet another memorable season.
Yachts Galore in Loch Fyne
In June an iconic fleet of vessels were a sight to see in Loch Fyne as the @TheFifeRegatta was once again underway after a nine year absence.
This regatta celebrates the legacy of William Fife, a local craftsman who built some of the world’s finest racing yachts at Fairlie boatyard near Largs in Ayrshire. The Fife Dragon, which is an iconic symbol of the boatyard, was carved into every boat built there and could be seen on all the competing vessels in this regatta.
This event brought together sailors and boat owners from all around the globe to pay tribute to Fife’s work, in 23 different types of yachts varying from 24’ to 125’, having travelled from locations such as Antigua, Netherlands and France.
The Bute Leg saw these impressive vessels entering Loch Fyne battling the varied Scottish weather to be rewarded with scottish hospitality @Portavadie Marina.
We were out on the water with expectant guests on board at the start of the leg of the race back to Largs. With plenty of rain and wind, it was difficult to not feel the rising tension waiting for the start gun. We had to be extra vigilant not to cross the course of each boat as they zigzagged and jostled near the start line. Quite an amazing experience to feel part of this event.
Watch Out for Wild Swimmers in Loch Fyne
To add something different to what we typically offer at Fyne Sea Tours we embarked on a new business collaboration this season with local open water swimming coach @danthemerman.
You cannot fail to observe Dan’s passion for these waters and how to get the most out of an immersive swim with all the benefits it brings. His knowledge and expertise are professionally delivered with safety being his top priority.
Our swimmers, donned in green swim caps, savoured a buzz from their swim in calm and sheltered bays of lower Loch Fyne, with Fyne Explorer safely at anchor nearby. Not quite sure what the collective noun is for a group of wild swimmers, be it a ‘school, tribe or pod perhaps’, but these ‘merpeople’ definitely had a whale of a time (excuse the pun!)
Our most unusual booking this season had to be hosting a lighthouse tour for the U.S. American Lighthouse Society (@USLHS) for a few days in August. What a unique experience to entertain international guests who were delightful company.
Lighthouses, tower-like buildings designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses have been around to serve as a beacon for navigational aid, for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways since the turn of the 18th century. The Stevensons built the majority of the 200 lighthouses that can be found in Scotland.
With unbelievably favourable weather conditions we took our American guests to various lighthouses in the area, all unique in their own way.
Davaar Lighthouse, situated on Davaar Island in the mouth of Campeltown Loch was established in 1854, has 80 steps to the top of the 20m high white tower and was automated in 1983.
After various wrecks occurred the dramatic looking Sanda Lighthouse located on the island of Sanda lying south of the Mull of Kintyre was built in 1850 on the summit of Ship Rock.
The pear shaped island of Pladda, houses a lighthouse that up until 1972 saw keepers use boats to reach it. From then until its automation in 1990 when keepers were withdrawn, a helicopter was introduced to transport the keepers back and forth.
The unique looking white square tower of Holy Island (Outer) Lighthouse with its buff trim stands proudly on Pillar Rock to the south of the island situated off Arran. The island inner lighthouse is known as ‘Wee Donald’ though we are not sure why!
Heading towards the Clyde with strengthening winds we passed lighthouses on Little Cumbrae, Clock and Toward. With a protrusion of so many headlands it is plain to see the important role these lighthouses had and continue to serve to all vessels in the area.
Port Glasgow Steamboat Quay Lighthouse situated in the Clyde was the most distinct looking lighthouse on our tour with its black and white chequered slim tower. By the 19th century, Port Glasgow had become a shipbuilding centre. As trade prospered, improvements were needed for safe navigation, hence the lighthouse was built in 1861.
Throughout the season we have been on the lookout for white tailed eagles. In the area, there has been an increase in the number of sightings over the past year and we were not to be disappointed whilst on our tours.
Being the UK’s largest bird of prey, with a wingspan of nearly two and a half metres, it is an awesome treat to observe whilst they swoon above the hills.
Our rare moment being close to these wonderful creatures happened whilst approaching Seal Island north of Portavadie in August. Perched on the top of the island, it took off towards the shore, giving all of us on board Fyne Explorer a spectacular close up view of all its markings.
An encounter to remember!
Season All Wrapped Up
Another amazing season on Loch Fyne comes to an end. It is such a privilege to run our business in Argyll, immersed in all it has to offer. Fyne Explorer is now tucked up safe and sound at Port Bannatyne for winter.
Already looking forward to season 2023!
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