Sea trips from Tarbert and Leverburgh are spreading maritime cheer for growing numbers of visitors who enjoy the chances offered by Sea Harris to visit not only St Kilda but also a range of other nearby Islands and sea lochs.
Sea Harris say they provide the fastest, greenest and most comfortable day trip to St Kilda from the Hebrides on their best-in-class vessel: Enchanted Isle - a 16.5 metre Stormforce 1650, custom-built for the day trip by Redbay Boats in Northern Ireland.
Since the middle of last summer, they have also offered shorter sea trips in an 11m fully-enclosed Stormforce RIB, called Pabbay, also built by Redbay.
Company owner Seumas Morrison comes from Harris and set up Sea Harris ten years ago. He has worked the seas around his native island for more than 30 years. He holds a masters certificate to the level of RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore.
Seumas is married to Anna and they have two young children – so with combined responsibilities of business and family, Seumas is nowadays focussing on the boat Pabbay and its short trips as his workload.
Pabbay sails mostly from Tarbert but also operates out of Leverburgh for trips to Taransay and its namesake Isle of Pabbay, for instance. From Tarbert, there are regular sailings to the Shiant Isles, which take about four hours when a landing is included. This trip is particularly good for sighting birdlife, as well as Minke whales, dolphins and other cetaceans.
And there are also shorter trips, such as visits to the fiord-like Loch Seaforth, and trips to Scalpay Lighthouse. But the schedule varies each week, according to weather conditions and demand, unlike the regular 3-days a week St Kilda schedule. For that trip, Enchanted Isle’s large air-conditioned cabin has comfy aircraft style seating for 12 passengers, arranged in pairs down each side of the cabin, plus toilet facilities. The boat has a top speed of 27 knots, and an economical cruising speed of 22 knots.
Explaining the process for a trip to St Kilda, Seumas said: “When you make a booking you will be given a two-day window. We do three trips a week on that two-day window basis. We go on the best day, so you will either get out on day one or day two. We have standby trips booked in between these days too which run on the spare day of a two-day window, but if you have booked a two-day window you will always get out on the best day available.”
The Enchanted Isle departs Leverburgh at 8am, arriving in St Kilda two-and-a-half hours later, at 10.30am. Passengers disembark at Village Bay, where they are met by a National Trust for Scotland Ranger, who will brief them on the do’s and don’ts of their time on the island.
Seamus says: “All of our trips offer at least 4.5 hours ashore…this is time that will fly by and you’ll wish you had more!”
Once back on Enchanted Isle, visitors will be taken across to the breathtaking island of Boreray, which towers 384 metres above sea level. Here, the boat is positioned almost close enough to reach out and touch Boreray, while hovering overhead are literally thousands of seabirds comprising gannets, puffins, terns and fulmars, among many others.
A trip to St Kilda costs £190 per passenger. Sea Harris will run tours to St Kilda right up until the last week of September, and bookings can be made online at www.seaharris.com
Trips on Pabbay start from as little as £20 a passenger for some of the short trips from Tarbert. Details of these trips can also be found on the company’s website www.seaharris.com or on their Facebook Page for the variations in any particular week.