The Navy’s Here!


So this week Skye was in the news for two very different reasons, which one do you think is the most memorable?

The island is voted in the top ten island destinations by Conde Nast Travellers readers. Who cares? We did but I’m thinking everybody else didn’t.

An almost brand new one and a half Billion pound attack submarine took on the Isle of Skye and lost. Wha’s like us?  This isn’t the first time the Royal Navy has tried to attack Skye with a nuclear submarine; the last time the submarine hit the bottom and suffered a “rapid deceleration” off the north of Skye (you would if you were going at 14 and half knots at the time, apparently “important information” was hidden on the navigation table by tracing paper. I wonder what was being covered up by the play-doh?). Now it was our turn. What have they got against us? Still we are two nil up and hopefully the navy have got the message that a state of the art warship is no match for us. Maybe they should use a convoy of caravans and camper-vans heading for the ferry at Uig, that usually brings the island to it’s knees. Much more effective as a blockade, nothing gets past them!

We were going on a family trip to Kyle of Lochalsh to go swimming at the lovely little swimming pool there. To get there we had to run a gauntlet of abandoned cars as it seemed everybody went to see the grounded submarine. It ran aground between Broadford and the bridge. It was easy to find, never mind all the cars scattered along the roadside, the huge plume of steam being released from the sub’s sail was a huge clue to it’s whereabouts.

Our 5 year old son didn’t see what all the fuss was about. The navy has a torpedo testing range nearby so he sees lots of submarines and destroyers tooling about. Just because this one was parked a stones throw from the shore wasn’t a big deal to him. He couldn’t understand why the adults were getting so worked up about it. Whats the biggy? Adults are sooo easily excited. The two year old was more interested in the approaching bridge and her chance to shout “Mummydaddy, mummydaddy! A bidge, a bidge!” all the way over it, then “another bidge! Another bidge! Wook! Wook!” As we cross the causeway on the other side.

Some people were worried that the steam was radioactive. I thought it was percolated embarrassment they were venting. What would have happened if it was radiation? Would we have been evacuated? Or would we have been charging back to Broadford to scrounge some of the bromide tablets that the villagers were issued with a few years ago, this was to do with the mooring for nuclear submarines in the bay. Not that they have ever used the mooring, but still, with the navy’s navigational record around here so far God knows where the boats would have ended up if they aimed for that buoy? I’m serious about the tablets by the way. They were given out to protect the locals in the event of something untoward happening to the submarine Our village didn’t get any as it was “far enough away”, We are about two miles from the mooring….downwind.  Hadn’t they heard about Chernobyl? How far did the nasty stuff from there spread? What would happen to us if the sub had a China Syndrome moment (Probably where the boats navigator thinks he was moored)? I’m thinking they just didn’t have enough pills to go round.

A lovely swim was had by all. We didn’t go to Hectors Bothy in Kyle for lunch (our dining spot of choice because they put up with our lovely children and their jaw dropping social skills), it was full of news types arguing over the receipt and wasting for something to happen. That intrigued me as if something interesting did happen we would only know about it for a nano-second before the big bang reached us or we would be way too late for the bromide pills as the deadly but invisible, and therefore rubbish for TV cameras, radiation cloud enveloped us. Either way getting it on the news would be a bit of a waste of time. Better to sit in Hectors and have an all day breakfast on expenses.

The Indian restaurant at our end of the bridge was very lucky. It was opposite the entrance to a quarry that had an excellent view of the wayward submarine and had shore-side parking so most of the early photos and video of the sub and the little boats buzzing impotently around it came from there. The restaurant must have paid host to a journalist or two for lunch.

We had to get a shot of it, purely to illustrate this blog of course. Not because it was amusing to look and laugh at the enormous naval embarrassment unfolding in front of us. No.

The sub was very high out of the water, might have had something to do with the shingle bank it was resting on and the tide being out. The Boss thought that the little RIBS full of people that were zooming around the boat were armed guards protecting it from locals trying to get a rope onto it and claim salvage. I imagined the little boats charging up to us and demanding, with a gun pointed at us, that we stop looking at the submarine and all it’s secret stuff. Its classified! Look somewhere else! Look at the pretty bridge! When these things are launched they are usually covered in huge swathes of cloth to draw a modest veil over their sensitive bits so Russian spies watching News 24 can’t see anything important. Well, come on down to Skye Aggregates lovely quarry in Kyleakin and check out the latest in sonar domes, sound deadening tiles and stealthy propellers. They may be covered in a surprising amount of green slime for a boat so new but they are still on public view for all, including any foreign government, with access to UK 24 hour news channels.  The only things not on view were the rudder which was stuck in the gravel and sand and the skipper who was probably alone in a dark room trying to figure a way out of this enormous mess. Maybe he shouldn’t have given a light hearted interview recently either, that one bit back pretty quickly.

We were quite slow in getting our pictures of HMS Embarrasing onto the web. It was early afternoon before the Boss had the sub on our Facebook pages and I had sent an email to some friends with a selection of views of the Admiralty’s latest nightmare. We had posted on Facebook when we were driving past it that morning but what with swimming shopping and having lunch we were a little tardy in getting photos up. We did send one to the BBC but they must have been swamped with images and videos considering how many of us were in the quarry car park never mind all those who walked along the shore for the real up close and personal shots.

I think in future if the Royal Navy is going to stick one of its hush-hush super subs onto the beach it should use one that didn’t need to pour such huge clouds of steam out of it. It meant we could see it from the bottle bank beside the Co-op in Broadford, that’s quite far. Oh, and maybe not doing it first thing in the morning giving us all day, during the school holidays, to go and have a gawp at the your-not-meant-to see-me submarine.

The boat was, very undramatically, refloated on the high tide at dinner time. Giving the line of camera crews on the shore time to do a picturesque live piece to camera with the sub being towed away under a setting sun over the Cullins un the background and then see who can pack up the quickest and be first to be in the Taste of India for a curry. On expenses, of course.

I again imagined the little orange boats full of dangerous armed men frantically charging up and down just offshore yelling “nothing to see here!”IMG_0802R

Nothing to see here

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterBack To Top
Follow On Twitter