A Waterfall in Tobermory!

Excerpt taken from chapter 17, The Wee Wee Waterfall – Tobermory in the second book of the Zander Trilogy by Johnny Jones – More Ports More Storms. On sale now. Topographically, a significant part of Tobermory lies on the high ground above the harbour and it is there that the Western Isles Hotel occupies a prominent site. The hotel’s position allows its guests to enjoy magnificent panoramic views from Tobermory down the Sound of Mull.  Access to the hotel is via the Back Brae, a road that doubles back on itself up a steep hill.  To landward, the road cuts into … Continue reading A Waterfall in Tobermory!

Fast Lady

Zander and his crew could not believe their good fortune, to ‘manage’ the luxury 45 foot yacht the ‘Fast Lady’. It had everything they were not used to having aboard a boat! Zander was amazed to find digital controls in the bridge, including a GPS! Everything was in pristeen condition, not like what he and his crew were used to in previous yachting adventures. Their job was to take business associates of the yachts owner, on scenic trips around the Western Isles of Scotland and to ensure they were all well fed and hydrated, with the finest foods and whiskies. … Continue reading Fast Lady

High Jinks on the High Seas!

Now some of you must be wondering what is fact and what is fiction from reading the stories about Zander and his crew, throughout my first two books in the Zander Trilogy. I can tell you that the following ‘trick’ is based on fact, however the names of those responsible will never be revealed! In my second book More Ports More Storms, the crew decide to have some ‘fun’ with a rival skipper of another nearby yacht, as part of an on-going fued with Zander. After enticing the rival and his crew ashore to have a peace-making drink in Tobermory, … Continue reading High Jinks on the High Seas!

Iona Abbey and Beyond

From the second book of the Zander Trilogy, More Ports More Storms, chapter 12, Zander and his crew’s itinery was set to take in a number of beautiful places on the West coast of Scotland, aboard their ‘borrowed’ 45 foot luxury yacht, the Fast Lady. The following places were included in their planned trip: The Sound of Mull, Iona Abbey, Ganavan Bay near Oban and Loch Buie Iona Abbey is an abbey located on the island of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest Christian religious centres in … Continue reading Iona Abbey and Beyond

To the Pub!

The pub visited by the yachting crews from More Ports More Storms, in chapters 17 and 18 was based on a real place, the Mishnish Hotel and Bar, on the seafront in Tobermory. ‘The Mish’, near the pier on the harbourfront, is a favourite hang-out for visiting yachties and a great place for a pint, with a very convivial atmosphere. Wood-panelled and flag-draped, this is a good old traditional pub where you can listen to live folk music, toast your toes by the open fire and enjoy some local banter. Tobermory was built as a fishing port in the late … Continue reading To the Pub!

Sailing home

For anyone who has sailed a boat, anywhere in the world, the joys of heading into a berth for the night, after an exhausting experience is very welcome. To view the scenery, on the route whether familiar or not, stays with you forever. “Late afternoon found the despondent Emeraldeers south east of Arran puttering up the Firth of Clyde in almost flat calm conditions, the sun scattering diamond like reflection on the surface of the sea. Their intended route would take them between Bute and the Cumbraes, past Wemyss Bay, with Dunoon on the port side then turning to starboard … Continue reading Sailing home

Midges and Clegs

A wee bit of advice for any visitor to the Highlands and West Coast of Scotland, is to take suitable insect repellent/ clothing, as these wee beasties have a habit of appearing just when you least expect it and interrupt your plans. Midges, pronounced Mijjee,  The Scottish midge belongs to a family of midges known as Ceratopogonidae – biting midges. Other members of this family are known as ‘no see ums’ in North America Clegs also known as Horseflies cause piercing burning sensations and can take a long time to heal, and may become infected. One of my chapters in … Continue reading Midges and Clegs

Auld Reekie – Puffer

The Puffer featured here in my books is the Auld Reekie, one of the last to be built for the Royal Navy in 1943. It was built by Isaac Pimblott at Northwich on the River Weaver in Cheshire. When it was subsequently demobbed, it plied its civilian trade around the western seaboard of Scotland. Victuals Inshore Craft (V.I.C. No 27) was initially designed, fitted out and registered as a shore-to-ship water carrier. She originally worked out of Rosyth then later at Scapa Flow before moving to the west coast of Scotland. She was one of a number of different types … Continue reading Auld Reekie – Puffer

Puilladrobhain

The following relates to Chapter 56 and 57 in my 1st Book A Storm in Any Port describing some of the places the crew visited. The crew of the Emerald sailed back across the Firth of Lorne, up the west side of Luing, before steering through the narrow channel that separates the islands of Easdale and Seil. They were all in need of some light refreshments, which invariably means finding a Hotel where they can sample some beer and local spirits, so it was Grunt, who suggested they head for Puilladrobhain – translated in Gaelic as ‘the pool of the … Continue reading Puilladrobhain

Ceilidh Night!

The following relates to Chapter 53 in my 1st Book A Storm in Any Port describing some of the places the crew visited. The crew of the Emerald looking for a place to drink, that had a wee bit ‘atmosphere’, ended up at the Kilmartin Hotel, near the Crinan Canal, where they had their first (and last) experiences of a Scottish Ceilidh! Apart from the warm welcome and customary hard drinking that was going on, Zander learned another traditional skill, of Playing the Spoons! So, what exactly is a ceilidh? Modern ceilidhs (pronounced kay’lee in case you were wondering…) tend … Continue reading Ceilidh Night!

Isle of Gigha

The crew of the Emerald set of for the Isle of Gigha, after their high-jinks on Islay, now looking forward to some rest. Ch52 – A rock or a soft place, in A Storm in Any Port. The Isle of Gigha is an island located off the Kintyre peninsula’s west coast (Argyll and Bute, Scotland). Gigha island has a total area of approx 14 km2 and a population of around 200. Gigha Island features mild climate, more than average sunshine hours and fertile soils. In 2002, a “community buy-out” transformed the island, whose population is constantly growing and new commercial activities complement the … Continue reading Isle of Gigha

Lost Youth – Jura

The ding-a-ling of a bell gave warning that the bar of the Jura Hotel was about to close and also brought the triumvirate’s evening of serious drinking and even more serious ‘blethering’ to an end. As usual, the intensity of opinion, on the most inconsequential of matters, had increased in proportion to the amount of alcohol they had put away. Now it was time to get back to the boat. All evening Grunt, not a seasoned drinker, had been matching his messmates, measure for measure and quaff for quaff, so by the time they left the hotel, he was by … Continue reading Lost Youth – Jura

Ardfern

Excerpt from Chapter 44 – A Stand In – Ardfern With his mind still full of what he had just seen, Zander went into the Estate Office where, as promised, his client gave him maps showing the positions of the lodge and the loch. They were copies of the  1906, six inches to the mile Ordnance Survey series, and although beautiful examples of the draughtsman’s art, they had no contours. All they showed was a scattering of spot levels and even fewer benchmarks1. Nonetheless, from what Zander could see, it looked as if his task might not be too difficult. … Continue reading Ardfern

Island of Coll

Excerpt from Chapter 42 The Battle – Coll A Storm in Any Port – Book 1 of the Zander Trilogy “Looking along the road, the Emeraldeers could see that the hotel was on the near horizon and a fair way off and unfortunately, there was neither a bus stop nor a telephone booth to call a cab. In their desperate rush to make their futile advances towards Seonaidh, the would-be smoothies had forgotten to ask her if there was any public transport on the island. The long walk to the hotel did not appeal to any of them but they … Continue reading Island of Coll

Something Galore – Eriskay

The nearest island to the north of Barra is Eriskay and to Zander, that was probably the best place to go. His mind made up, the skipper went back up on deck and informed the crew of his decision; it was either Eriskay or turn back. Having come almost one third of the way towards the Outer Hebrides, his crew were not in the mood to be going back anywhere. To them Eriskay was an island of intrigue, romance and adventure and was not only the focus of the song, the Eriskay Love Lilt, but it was there that Bonnie … Continue reading Something Galore – Eriskay

Four Men in a Dinghy

Prologue from A Storm in Any Port West Coast of Scotland   – Fairly recently The skipper, mate and two deck hands who made up the crew of the chartered yacht, were feeling the effects of their combined ages of more than 300 years, as they motored into Puilladrobhain on Seil, an island just off the west coast of Scotland. Although none of them would admit it, the day’s motor sail from Crinan had taken its toll on both bodies and minds. The slightly corpulent, white haired skipper firmly believed he was a good sailor and had an inshore certificate to … Continue reading Four Men in a Dinghy

More Ports More Storms – On sale now

2nd Book of the Zander Trilogy is out now!! Here the mischief takes place in and around the towns, harbours and marinas of the East and West Coasts of Scotland and Zander even gets to Algeria. Travelling on a number of yachts, inflatables, rowing boats and a cruise liner, Zander and his gang of miscreants rub shoulders with; Kamikaze seagulls, head hunters, paratroopers, a dead fisherman, the Loch Ness Monster, ships’ pipers, terrorists, Oil Sheiks, a Clan chief, a Spanish Armada Galleon, Japanese tourists and a North African President. They also meet up with night club bouncers, ferocious dogs, pickpockets, … Continue reading More Ports More Storms – On sale now

Sailing the South China Seas – Hong Kong

In his early thirties, Zander was posted to the Crown Colony of Hong Kong as the Senior Ranking Engineering Civil Servant attached to the naval dockyard there, HMS Tamar. His workload left him with a fair amount of leisure time, with the salary to enjoy it. At last he had all the ingredients in place to follow his dreams; for the first time in his life Zander would be able to do some serious sailing. Not long after taking up residence with his wife, Jane and their young family in the plush Government flat allocated to them, the former acting … Continue reading Sailing the South China Seas – Hong Kong

An American Cup boat in Tayvallich

On the puffer’s bustling approach into the sheltered waters of Tayvallich, Zander gathered an eager audience on deck as he pointed out the Americas Cup boat, tied up not far away. To whet the guest’s appetite for their forthcoming adventure, he provided them with a running commentary on her perceived ‘finer points’, enthusing over her slim racing lines, her tall masts that could hold up acres of sail and even gave an impromptu lecture about her alleged peerless past performances and achievements. He ended the diatribe with his text of the day, “She is a superb relic of the history … Continue reading An American Cup boat in Tayvallich

Tayvallich No More

Excerpt from A Storm in Any Port – Chapter 15 The shipping forecast had just started and everyone listened intently as the un-modulated voice of the announcer went through the sea areas; “Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber.” When he got to, “Rockall, Mallin, Hebrides”, the guests’ ears pricked up. “South westerly gales, seven to nine, occasional force ten, showers increasing to persistent heavy rain, visibility poor.” The announcer went on to give barometric highs and lows, but by then the guests were looking apprehensively at Zander for his interpretation. Their spokesman … Continue reading Tayvallich No More

A Drop in The Ocean

Photos relating to Chapter 12 – A Drop in The Ocean, Puffer Tales from A Storm in Any Port:   The Paps of Jura (Scottish Gaelic: Sgurr na Cìche) are three mountains on the western side of the island of Jura, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Their highest point is 2,575 feet (785 m). They are steep-sided quartzite hills with distinctive conical shapes resembling breasts. The word pap is an ancient word of Old Norse origin for the breast. The Paps are conspicuous hills that dominate the island landscape as well as the landscape of the surrounding area. They can … Continue reading A Drop in The Ocean

The Worm Turns – Crinan

On a fine, if lightly clouded, blue-skied day, the puffer was tied up to the stone jetty outside the western basin of the Crinan Canal, ready to fulfil a charter. To the west of her, the sea spread away over the Sound of Jura towards the shimmering outline of the blue-grey mountains that marked the islands of Jura and Scarba. On board, the crew was awaiting the arrival of the client, top man of a well-known international corporation. He and the last of his guests were driving over by car from Edinburgh. As soon as they arrived, the puffer would … Continue reading The Worm Turns – Crinan

Schellenberg’s Rolls Royce in Eigg

Keith Shellenberg’s Rolls Royce Station Wagon, which was burnt to a shell not long after this photograph was taken. He was known for his legal disputes related to his ownership of the Scottish island of Eigg. Shellenberg also stood in the 1964 UK general election in Richmond (Yorks) and the October 1974 UK general election in Moray and Nairn as a Liberal candidate. Schellenberg competed in the two-man and the four-man Bobsleigh events at the 1956 Winter Olympics.  He also competed in the men’s singles in the luge at the 1964 Winter Olympics. He also played on the Yorkshire rugby … Continue reading Schellenberg’s Rolls Royce in Eigg

The island of Coll

On page 238, the chapter named The Battle, takes place on Coll, which is a small island situated around 2.5 hours off the West Coast of Scotland. Recently a news story appeared on the BBC Website, relating to a former Scottish rugby international, Rob Wainwright, who has lived on Coll for the last 21 years. Once the world gets back to the way it was before the COVID 19 outbreak, it would not be unreasonable to think that Coll will become a major tourist destination in Scotland, as people wanting to sample the beautiful scenery and hospitality of its residents, … Continue reading The island of Coll

The Firth of Forth, Scotland – Fred Olsen cruise liners in limbo

One has to wonder if Zander and his crew on board the Emerald were in the vicinity, what mischief they would get up to, no doubt trebling the price of local produce which only they could supply! Outcomes on a less grander scale are described in my first book A Storm in Any Port, which is on sale here and at selected outlets – click Continue reading The Firth of Forth, Scotland – Fred Olsen cruise liners in limbo