Note: The pictures were intended to replace some for walk 3182 with Walking World, but the heavy shadows put paid to that idea.
Supper tonight: runner beans, spuds, onion rings, fried balls of minced meat.
On with today's happenings.
After an overnight lull, the gales are back in all their ferocity in the morning. Today however, there is a good deal of sunshine around. Showers come around every now and again, but it's not cold. Winds are going at a steady force 7 to 8, with gusts up to force 10. Spume flies across the Basin, and huge waves crash behind Arnish Light. Nonetheless, the Irish fishing boat Neptune, from Sligo, decides to set forth. With tremendous difficulty, on account of the wind, she leaves port. High seas meet her off Arnish, washing over her deck and she almost looks as if she'll be going under. I dash out to the Coastguard Station to have a look, but all is well. It's binday today, so bins are strewn all over Newton Street. Have some soup for lunch, then go out to pick up my latest batch of pictures. As I'm in the library scanning them, the ferry appears on the horizon. She makes for the harbour entrance, only to make a sharp right turn and keep hovering outside until Isle of Lewis finally docks at 3.45. The fresh vegetable shelves in Somerfields are bare, and the staff are anxious for supplies. I encounter Mrs B and her sister in the supermarket. The winds are abating now. There are reports of structural damage and boats sheltering in Broad Bay. Ferry leaves for Ullapool again at 4.30. Other ferries are still cancelled. Rain moves in at 5pm. After dinner, a shower comes past which carries severe squalls. But as I return to Somerfields later in the evening, it's dry and clear. I end up in a queue of full trollies, but one lady very kindly lets me in front - I only have two items. Ferry comes back at 10.40 pm. The occasional shower keeps putting in an appearance, but no more squalls.
Very strong gusts along South Beach nearly blow me off my feet, also on the Amity House quay. Hand in a roll of film for processing, pictures available tomorrow, Friday. On the way to Somerfields, I had big trouble walking into the wind in Kenneth Street. Newton Street has a headwind for the first part, and a tailwind in the further bit. Both make walking very difficult. Glad to be back inside, conditions are hard. The latest readings show gusts of upto 60 or 64 knots (68 to 72 mph), which is about force 12. Most ferries on the west coast are off, because everywhere is having gales. At 14.20, a gust of 67 knots was recorded, which is more than 75 mph. A very serious squall passes through at 3.20, which pours waterover the window, with extremely strong gusts. Viewers on the webcam have a front row position. After the squall passes, the wind drops to force 6. The white horses in the Basin disappear, and the rain stops. Schools in the north of the island are closed tomorrow because of a power supply problem. Supper is a concoction of macaroni, ratatouille, left-over chicken (from lunch), cranberries + custard. It's a very quiet evening, not much wind and even some moon. Watch some TV with mrs B.
This little list from local ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne should give a hint at weather conditions today. In other words: gale number 3 this week.
The 1300hrs sailing to Port Askaig and the 1530hrs return from Port Askaig today have been cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions. Service will resume as per timetable tomorrow (Friday 13th Jan) @ 0700hrs.
Due to adverse weather conditions the 1105 sailing ex Brodick and the 1230 ex Ardrossan have been cancelled. we aplogise for any inconvenience this may have caused. This message will be updated at 1300 hours.
Rothesay/Wemyss Bay Route
Due to adverse weather conditions the next sailing from Rothesay by MV Bute wil be at 1145 and going to Gourock. MV Bute will then leave Gourock at 1345 sailing back to Rothesay.
Mallaig-Small Isles service
The 1020h departure to the Small Isles today has been cancelled due to severe adverse weather, next sailing tomorrow 1020h weather permitting.
Oban - Coll/Tiree
Due to adverse weather conditions the 0645 hrs to Coll and Tiree has turned back to Oban and will arrive at approximately 1100 hrs. The next sailing to Coll and Tiree will be on Saturday 14th at 0645 hrs as scheduled.
Gourock - Dunoon Service
Due to adverse weather conditions the above service has been cancelled until further notice.
Service suspended indefinately due to adverse weather conditions.
Ardmhor to Eriskay
The 09:25hrs sailing ex Ardmhor and the return 10:30hrs ex Eriskay have now been CANCELLED the remainder of todays sailing are still in doubt
Due to adverse weather conditions,the car ferry Hebrides is still presently in Lochmaddy. The situation will again be reviewed at 12.00 today.
Sound of Harris
Due to adverse weather 0915 ex Berneray and 1025 ex Leverburgh have been cancelled. Situation will be reviewed at 1200.
Stornoway - Ullapool service
The 0840h ex Mallaig and the 0925h ex Armadale have been cancelled due to adverse weather. Will update later re the 1600h departure this afternoon.
Sconser - Raasay
Due to adverse weather these sailings have been suspended. For further information contact Uig Office on 01470 542219.
Fionnphort / Iona service
Due to adverse weather conditions the Iona service is currently suspended. The situation will be reviewed at 1300 hrs.
Oban - Craignure
Due to a technical fault there has been no sailings on this service so far this morning. There will be a passenger only service from Craignure at 1100 hrs. Normal service will resume from Oban at 12 noon, weather permitting.
Due to adverse weather conditions M.V Isle of Lewis will not be sailing at 7:15am. The situation will be reviewed at 11:00 am
Just to show two images from the British Met Office website, which should provide a taster of today's journal entry. Below is an infra red satellite image of a major Atlantic depression, at 4pm GMT today. There was no proper image in the visible spectrum, as darkness is falling across Europe at that time. Its central pressure is expected to go down to 947 mbar at midnight tonight. This is a classical image of what a depression looks like from space. Windspeeds up to 45 mph sustained, and 75 mph in gusts.
and associated with that the rainfall radar of the British Isles. The trailing edge of the front, the brighter colours, is just moving out over the Western Isles. It became dry at 6pm.
Quiet night, but the rain returns shortly after breakfast. Watch MV Muirneag coming into port at 9.30. I look on as she comes to a halt just off Green Island, having taken a course very close to the island. A fishing boat passes by very slowly as Muirneag reverses, then, as a second boat comes past, she goes on. Muirneag again comes to a halt, this time just past the Goat Island jetty. She turns 180° and slowly backs into her berth at n° 1 pier. What a carry-on. Muirneag has difficulty manoeuvering in strong sidewinds. Today's weather is windy, but force 5 is not that bad. It's raining steadily by 11 a.m.. The forecast mentions gales again. Tomorrow morning we can expect severe gales. The weather worsens at midday, with lashing rain and increasing winds. The ferry will not leave Stornoway once it's back from its current crossing from Ullapool. At 2.15, a German chap calls in for a bed for the night. Spray starts to fly across the basin at 2.45. Pity it's going to be dark after 4.15. Waves begin to crash over the causeway. It's a year to the day since the big hurricane of 11 January 2005. Ferries are off again, Oban to Uist; Barra to Eriskay; Mallaig to Armadale; Tarbert to Uig. The rain continues to lash down. When I venture out to the Coastguard Station, it's difficult to tell whether it's rain- or seawater that's flying about. Hardly anyone out on the streets, except in their cars. The wind nearly blows me off my feet outside the Coastguard Station. Hear that power is off in NW Skye, after debris hits the lines. Ferries are also off in Orkney, no sailings to Shapinsay or Sanday. Skye Bridge is closed to high-sided vehicles at 5.30.
Page 900 in written diary
Police issue a warning to residents in the Western Isles to be careful because of severe weather. Busservices may be restricted, schools are closed in the southern isles. Gusts increase to 54 kts at 6pm, with Benbecula at 64. When I go to pick up logs from the backyard, the rain has stopped and the moon is out. The winds increase further. Out in the Atlantic, buoy K5 is bobbing down in waves of 21 ft (6 m), which increase to 35 ft (10.5m) later in the evening. It reports a barometric pressure of 955 mbar, which shoots up to 979 mbar by midnight. Gales are extensive, all the way down the western seaboard of the UK. The depression (shown on the satellite picture in thepreliminary entry) has a central pressure of 947 mbar. Winds are very strong at 7pm, and appear to be veering southwest, now that the initial front has passed. In the darkness, it's difficult to see the seastate, but I can see that the basin is very rough. Have a wee chat with the German guest, who is investigating the attitudes of Gaelic speakers about their language. He goes door to door to interview people. When he goes for a walk, he promptly gets dosed with a shower. Otherwise, it's a moonlit night. Gusts increase to 63 kts, force 12, by 9 pm. Sustained windspeeds 41 kts, force 9. North Rona reports 75 kts, 86 mph (force 12) sustained windspeeds, with gusts of 97 kts, 111 mph. At 11.15 pm, I go for an amble to Goat Island, but it's less windy than at 4pm. A fishbox is blown onto the access road. The moment I step back inside, a shower passes through. Nobody is out on the street. Showers and squalls continue. At midnight, the winds at North Rona are not as strong - gusts of 86 kts are still very severe.
Awake with a considerable hangover, worse than yesterday's. Everybody else appears to be suffering from the same effects. What do you expect after 3-4 large whiskies and 2 beers Oh god, didn't get out of bed until about 1 pm. Unheard of. Right, manage some food. During the afternoon, I gingerly waken myself up, sort through about 20 emails. The weather was nice and fairly sunny until lunchtime. After that, the wind started to gust at galeforce, and the rain began to belt down. This continued well into the evening. Mrs B's brother in law, whom we visited last night, came to join us for supper at 7.30. The gale subsided in the meantime. Dinner consisted of roast chicken, vegetables and potatoes. Minimal intake of alcohol, oh dear.
PS: Remember this boat? Found an image of her on the Net, unusually. In addition, I found out where the uniforms and the medical care kit used on board this yacht came from. She is MY (Motor Yacht) Air, which was anchored in the Glumag near Arnish in early June. At the time I wasn't sure of her name.
Finally rise at 11 a.m., feeling a little fragile. Only manage fruit juice and cereal, not up to much more. Brilliantly sunny morning though, with some high level cloud creeping in. The Coastguard helicopter had its first outing of 2006, when it was called out to Ullapool this morning. Someone had fallen 40 feet / 12 m off a cliff, and could not be reached from land. We have a magnificent New Year's Supper, consisting of roast leg of lamb, vegetables and a raspberry pavlova. The last of the Christmas crackers are pulled, and they contain more corny jokes (why can't ducks tell jokes in flight? they'll quack up). At 10 pm, we go to another ceilidh at mrs B's brother-in-law. He tells us some good yarns, well sprinkled with whisky incidentally. By 1.30, we stagger home to our beds.