Lighthouse Letters
By Sharma Krauskopf

This is an article by Sharma Krauskopf from Michigan who fell in love with Scotland - and decided to buy a lighthouse keepers' cottage at Eshaness, a remote location in Shetland, in the far north of Scotland and live there each winter. These pages were previously part of the "Scottish Radiance e-magazine Web site which was created by Sharma.

Close Up and Personal with Dore Holm

Under the captainship of Tom, the lighthouse's caretaker, his little red fishing boat took me out to visit Dore Holm close up and personal. The forecast was for rain that day but the morning turned out to be warm, clear and with little wind. Tom arrived early and asked if I was up to trying to visit Dore. He had already gone out to check the creels in which he got two lobsters and check the roughness of the sea.

I was game, as I knew rain would arrive in the afternoon and I would be confined to the house. Once we got out into Stenness Bay the water was still. It had a glassy look so it felt like the wee boat was sliding along on a mirror. The area you have to go through to reach Dore from Stenness is shallow. The water is clean and clear. We could see giant seaweed and in some places the bottom. After we left the shallow area the water remained calm until we arrived near Dore itself. There was strong current around the south side of the stack. I had to admit I was a little? frightened. Because of the tide the captain decided it was not a good day to go through the arches. Yes, I said arches. There are actually two large arches. The one you can see from the road, which I call Dore's neck and head. The bigger arch is right in the middle of Dore but hidden from the road. He has a huge hole in his center. Tom said he had been through the center many times and you can actually touch the sides of the stack, as the area is protected and calm. It was too rough for us to attempt entering the hole so I will have to do that next time. I thought Dore was huge when I had walked along the shore by him but when you are in a small boat right beside him he looks like a soaring mountain sticking out of the sea. The top is covered with grass, sea pinks and white flowers that I cannot identify. There were cormorant and razorbills on the top also.

Just as we came around the far side of Dore, Tom said to look away from the stack. When I turned I found puffins had surrounded the boat. Yes, I said puffins. We were so close you could almost reach out and touch them. There were too many to count. It is the most puffins Tom had seen in years. So now we know that a great many puffins fish on the southeast side of Dore I will want to go again and again. The motor scared them so in their clumsy way they flew away. If the current had not been so severe we could have turned the motor off and floated with them. But, if we had done that we would have ended up smashed on Dore's rocks.

We inspected Dore's injury and the stack did lose a significant amount of rock. Tom stayed away from the area as we did not know how much rock was under the water and we could have ended up getting stranded on it.

Leaving Dore and the puffins we headed toward the Eshaness Skerry and Stenness Island in search of seals. We had success again as we found lots of seals. I counted twelve swimming around the boat at one time. We were able to turn off the motor there. The seals were curious about us and came up to give us a good look. They were all sizes and colors. The colors ranged from spots, to gray, to brown, and even a couple of white babies.

I am not sure which I am the most excited about seeing Dore Holm from the water, being in the water with the puffins or playing with the seals. One thing I am sure of it was the most exciting boat ride I have ever taken. I would go again in a minute.

The Sailor


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