Most people come to the Isle of May from Anstruhter on the May Princess, visitors, staff and researchers. Kevin and Fiona Smith, writing below, are the boats crew that make that trip 144 times a season (weather permitting of course).
“Kevin & I originally came to work on the May Princess for the Summer season in 2008 having taken a sabbatical from our banking jobs and we are still here!! The Isle of May really gets under your skin and we feel really lucky to be able to visit the island throughout the season and see the ever changing face of this magical place.
The May Princess sails up to 7 days a week out of Anstruther, with up to 100 passengers. A typical day starts with Kevin & James, the skipper, preparing the boat for the sailing (most important job is to make sure the urn is on for cups of tea), while I issue the tickets from our kiosk on the pier. It takes just under an hour to cover the 6 miles to the May. Sometimes we are blessed with flat calm seas and at other times we experience some ‘rock and roll’ when the sea is a little choppy.
Our job is very rewarding and we meet lots of interesting and like minded people. It always a pleasure to share that first sighting of a puffin with a first time visitor as it is to see a well kent face returning for another island fix. Kevin keeps us informed of anything interesting that is happening at sea and helps our passengers to identify both the landmarks on the island and the birdlife around it. We try to do a full circumference of the island on each trip, doing one side as we approach and the other on our return journey.
We tie up in Kirkhaven harbour at the island and, after a brief talk from the warden, our passengers are free to go off and explore for two or three hours depending on the tide.
We also try and spend at least an hour each day going for a wander around the island and I can honestly say we see something different every day. Our picnic spot changes depending on the direct of the wind but one of our favourite seats is at Alterstanes or outside the main lighthouse on our favourite bench which we renovated in 2008 – think it is needing some work again though!!!
Then it is back to the boat so that passengers can buy a well earned cup of coffee before our sail back to Anstruther. All that sea air definitely does you good – half the boat is normally asleep as we cruise back across the Forth!!
Our passengers disembark, hopefully with lots of happy memories and numerous photos, most of them heading off for fish and chips. All that is left for us to do is to tidy the boat in preparation for the next day and another sail to the May.”