On sunday the 20th of august, I was lucky enough to accompany a group of 10 friends from Ireland on their return voyage from Islay. They arrived on the Friday afternoon for a mini adventure on Islay and Jura, and in that time managed with the help of Fionas taxi bus to tour two distilleries, sample food&drink, and the sun shone on que for their weekend.
Their journey started from Ballycastle in county Antrim in Northern Ireland in an eleven meter rib owned and run by two Islay men, father and son team Nicol and Donnie McKinnon. The boat, a storm force eleven, built this year 2006 in Cushendall, Ireland by Redbay boats called ‘’Shannick of Islay’’ so called after Nicols daughter Shannon and son Nick. The vessel can comfortably seat 12 passengers and 3 crew under its canopy. After a while you could easily be forgiven for thinking you are sitting on a jet plane and not a boat. The twin Yamaha 422 diesel 6 cylinder engine power plants, purr along smoothly, combining over 500 horse power, and can sit at over 40 knots if required.
My friends journey was all of 45minutes to travel 27 norticle miles from Ballycastle to PortEllen in the south end of islay, the berthing point for the boat, in the new highly successful pontoon development which seems to grow every year.
For anyone who is unsure of traveling by sea, I can assure you that this vessel is smooth, and handles very well. The return trip for my friends was my first trip on Shannick of Islay, the boat is very well equipped and bristelling with the latest high tech electronics and saftey equipment.
There are a number of different routes on offer from, Iona, Mull, Tiree, Colonsay, Oransay, the Famous Corrie Vrechcan whirl pool at the north end of Jura not to mention the many destinations around Ireland even the Isle of man. Or if you want a distillery tour by sea or just to look at the wildlife then this is an excellent boat for the job. Various routes are on offer and all information and booking details can be found at Islay Sea Safari
The one thing that was pointed out to me by the returning group, was that a short break in Islay would not really have been possible, by ferry or aeroplane in the short time they had, and for such a good price.
Many thanks to Donnie, I enjoyed my cup of coffee and jam scone in Ballycastle.