Highlands & Islands

The drifters: Strange things washed up on Scottish isles

Transocean Winner at Dalmore, Lewis Image copyright PA
Image caption Transocean Winner at Dalmore beach on the Isle of Lewis

The 17,000-tonne drilling rig Transocean Winner, which ran aground on a Lewis beach in a storm on Monday, is the latest in list of large or unusual structures to be washed up on Scotland's islands.

The objects that have either come ashore or brought close to isles in stormy weather have included lost pieces of military hardware and massive containers and even a boat carrying an empty coffin.

Messages in bottles

Image copyright Thinkstock

In 2009, a Canadian author was reunited with a message in a bottle following its 2,000-mile, five month-long journey across the Atlantic.

Ross Traverse had expected the bottle to wash up somewhere along the coast from his home in Torbay, Newfoundland.

However, it was found by two RSPB Scotland workers during a beach clean on Oronsay in the Inner Hebrides.

Mr Traverse travelled by plane, train, ferry and small boat to reach the isle to collect his message and bottle.

Four years ago, a Scots fisherman set a new Guinness World Record after finding a message in a bottle 98 years after it was released.

Andrew Leaper's discovery east of Shetland beat the previous record for the longest time a bottle had been adrift at sea by more than five years.

The drift bottle - containing a postcard which promised a reward of six pence to the finder - was released in June 1914 by Captain CH Brown of the Glasgow School of Navigation.

It was in a batch of 1,890 scientific research bottles which were specially designed to sink to help map the currents of the seas around Scotland when they were returned. About 300 of them have been found.

Boat with bullet holes

Image copyright Rnli
Image caption Tobermory lifeboat crew found bullet holes in a dinghy found off Muck three years ago

"Today's shout had an air of transatlantic mystery," said the RNLI following an unusual discovery in July 2013.

Tobermory lifeboat crew found what appeared to be a US Coastguard-certified craft with bullet holes in it off Muck in the Small Isles.

The RNLI said the upturned 14ft aluminium dinghy appeared to have been in the water for some time.

Just days earlier, the same Isle of Mull-based crew also recovered a large red object that resembled targets towed out to sea and used by the military.

Image copyright Rnli
Image caption Tobermory RNLI also recovered a large red military target

The west coast of Scotland is used as a training area during the twice yearly UK-led Nato exercise Joint Warrior, and the red target was thought to be connected to that exercise.

In October 2015, another military target drone was found washed up on at the beach at Baleshare on North Uist.

The coastguard said it was a Mirach 100/5. This type of drone is used by armed forces worldwide to train on weapons systems.

It was cordoned off before later being removed. The find came just days after the finish of a staging of Exercise Joint Warrior.

Image copyright Handout
Image caption The drone on the beach at Baleshare

Giant container and a coffin

In 2007, a giant metal container appeared on a beach on the Western Isles.

It turned out that the 15m-long tank, similar to those used to ferment beer, was one of six lost overboard from a ship close to the south western approaches to the English Channel.

After being adrift at sea for three weeks, the container was found by a dog walker on Poll na Crann - known as Stinky Bay - on Benbecula.

The following year the crew of a yacht with an empty coffin strapped to the deck had to be rescued by a lifeboat crew after losing their way near the Western Isles.

RNLI volunteers from Barra were called out after the craft got lost on its passage from America to Norway.

The coffin was bound for a bar in Norway's capital, Oslo.

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