Jonathan and Denise >
It’s the beginning of September, and we have guests at Eight Askernish who are having to stay an extra night. The ferry across the Sound of Barra has been cancelled for the whole of today, and will be ‘on alert’ tomorrow. It’s lucky for them that we have a couple of days free before the next guests arrive !
The problem’s not the wind : it’s scarcely more than breezy. The problem’s not waves : the sea is calm. It’s the rain – and yet it’s not the rain, either. August, certainly, was the wettest we can remember in our 17 years here in Uist ; and September started with a flourish of sunshine-and-showers. It’s been raining off and on for two weeks, and though it’s been lovely when it stops, there’s no knowing quite when it will. Today the rain has been light – scarcely more than a drizzle. A persistent, swirling drizzle, however, and the result is that we can scarcely see beyond the walled garden’s south gate, 50 metres away.
The ferry to Barra zig-zags its course across the sea, to the left of these islets, to the right of that bigger island, slaloming at light-buoys and bending the line-of-sight around unseen hazards – skerries at spring-tide lows and entirely submerged at highest highs. It’s a route that needs to be seen to be understood, and requires ‘visual confirmation’ to be navigated safely : the skipper is not permitted to rely on instruments alone. In these weather conditions, that means the boat doesn’t sail, and those that were relying on it doing so need a Plan B.
That said, if it concerns the Hebrides, a Plan B is obligatory – and this may have been it! The real question is, Is there a Plan C ?