Some people like to celebrate a milestone birthday by relaxing on the beach or wining and dining around Europe.
My husband is not like those people. We’ll be celebrating his big (not gonna say-0) by sailing Scotland.
No, we aren’t taking Polaris there. Instead, we have signed up for a 10-day sailing expedition of the Scottish Isles with Mahina Offshore Services, lead by the very experienced and well-regarded sailing instructor John Neal.
The timing is serendipitous. Our kiddos will be with their bio dad, and C’s birthday is in April. We have been looking for opportunities to get more experience with off-shore (bluewater) and heavy weather sailing, especially because we are interested in cruising the higher latitudes someday. When we saw that Mahina had a few berths open for the first leg of their Scotland tour, we jumped.
According to our itinerary, we will stop by Barra and Iona in the Inner Hebrides, then head to St. Kilda, an isolated archipelago that is part of the Outer Hebrides. Chances are good we will be sailing in cool temps, high wind, rainy weather and some swell and waves.
A chart for part of the area we will be sailing.
So, no, it won’t be the most relaxing vacation we’ve ever taken, but it may be one of the most memorable.
Many of these islands are home to some of the largest bird colonies in the world, including puffins. The sea around the Hebrides gets whales, dolphins and basking sharks. Our plans are to hike to a few castles, explore some tiny villages and learn more about this unique ecosystem. I have a sneaking suspicion that we will fall in love with this area and want to come back and cruise it on our own boat.
Since we booked the trip, we’ve been gathering up gear to keep us warm and dry. We already have a lot of cold, rainy weather gear that we use all the time while sailing the Salish Sea, but my cold tolerance is not getting any better as I get older. So I also purchased a few new things—including a new set of heated socks and some heated mittens. I expect to have some updates to my article about sailing in the cold.
I will try to post pictures from our trip on Instagram if I can.
Now, I’m off to finish packing!