Lighthouse Disaster in the Lews

In December 1900, the lighthouse on Eilean Mor in the Flannan Isles, which had only been lit for the first time a year previously, was discovered deserted by its three keepers; their dinner table had been set with cold meat, pickles and potatoes, and a chair was overturned in an obvious urgent departure.  Two sets of oilskins and seaboots were missing, and otherwise the quarters and lamp were in perfect order. 

The Loss of the Margaret

Scarp and Mealista Island

On Saturday, 12 March, 1932, a north westerly gale was blowing and a heavy Atlantic swell was running. When Angus MacKinnon, skipper of the lobster boat, Margaret, saw the inclement weather conditions, he woke his father, Cain, and requested his assistance as an extra hand on the boat. Though retired from fishing, Cain agreed. Angus’s younger brother Calum was also a crew member, but his father decided that he should not accompany them.

At daybreak on that fateful morning, two Brenish boats were launched at Molinish. Strong arms and robust backs were required to haul the boats down the shingle beach and out into the Atlantic swell. With their sails unfurled, one boat headed for the lobster pots they had set opposite Brenish while the Margaret headed in the opposite direction to their pots behind Eilean Mealista.

The Margaret was seen dipping in the heavy swell and about to round Eilean Mealista but was never seen intact again. Paradoxically, the bad weather only lasted for a couple of hours and the rest of the day was calm.

The Grana Rescue at Mangersta

Mangersta, Uig, Isle of Lewis, originally uploaded by rachel 79.

Christina Mackay, Uig’s Victorian heroine, was the wife of Donald Mackay, who had the farm at Mangersta after the township had been cleared in 1872 and the people resettled for the most part in Doune Carloway.

In October 1896, a gale had been blowing for days and out at sea a Danish schooner was being battered by relentless winds and raging waves. On the evening of 21st this boat was in a sorry state. It had lost its bowsprit, the starboard bow was smashed in, and the bulwark from the stem to opposite the foremast was carried away along with the lifeboats. The sails were torn to ribbons, and excessive strain on the hull had caused it to leak. The crew hoisted distress signals but no one noticed, so the Captain decided their only hope was to run ashore. He spotted a sandy creek and the whole boat was carried in on the crest of a gigantic wave. They scraped over some rocks and then hit the sand. Iain Mackay, son of Donald and Christina, was on his way home from school and . He spotted the stricken vessel being driven ashore and ran home to tell of his exciting news.