I have had the privilege of going to some remarkable places and experiencing some extraordinary journeys. I have visited Antarctica, rounded Cape Horne four times, and gone from Prague to Odessa by train. I have done nothing quite like my recent trip around the North of Scotland however.
The journey started in Inverness. We then travelled via Wick, Orkney (Kirkwall and Stromness), the Old Man of Hoy, and Loch Eriboll. We rounded the point of Ness coming ashore on Hirta the main island in the Saint Kilda archipelago. From there we motored to Barra, Eriskay, Tobermory, Glencoe, Kinlochleven and eventually back to Inverness, via the Caledonian Canal.
Saint Kilda was of course special, but the transportation, the Nova Spero equally so. Built in Abroath in 1973, she is one of the last carvel built ships to issue from a UK shipyard. Most UK fishing boats are steel and have been for the last 50 years.
The people on the journey were special too. John MacInnes, the Master Mariner owner of the vessel shared captaincy with Bill Summers. Bill is one of the best known (fishing boat) owner skippers in the UK. He has fished the waters around Scotland for over forty years and achieved a well deserved reputation for wit, wisdom, instinct, skill and timing.
I felt very comfortable, having John and Bill in charge when we encountered turbulent waters. I felt they could sail to hell and back, without breaking sweat. Likewise it was a privilege to get to know Kevin the ship's engineer and Jim, the cook, steward and deckhand; according to circumstance.