Back in March 2016, my interest was piqued by an Ad I saw in a “Britain” magazine about a fairly new cruise company called Argyll Cruising, that did various length cruises all around the Western Isles of Scotland. I perused their web site and was most impressed so I sent off an email asking a couple of questions: Did they charge a single supplement and would I see Puffins? I received a prompt, polite and informative reply from Jamie Duncan, the Shore manager : no single supplement (!!!!) and depending on which cruise I took I would most certainly see Puffins! I continued to pester Jamie with questions over the next few months, always receiving a prompt, friendly and kindly reply….Then I paid a deposit…Then my balance and then …. finally….On Saturday July 1st, 2017, I found myself standing on Holy Loch Marina, Sandbank, (near Dunoon), finally meeting Jamie, and his Dad, Iain; owner and Captain of the Splendour.( Hereafter referred to as Skipper!)
In their usual kindly and efficient manner, Jamie and Iain had us all (6 passengers, plus the Chef and our luggage) neatly stowed in our cabins, and we found ourselves gathered in the dining saloon, a glass of bubbly in hand, hearing about the boat routines, safety drills and our sailing course for that day. And then we were off! My long-awaited, much anticipated, 13 night Hebridean Odyssey was about to begin!
And to the crew….
Simon, Chef extraordinaire, from Lancashire; experienced chef ( of course) , reader and movie buff.
Skipper, Iain, from Tarbert, Loch Fyne area, Scotland ; experienced Captain, engineer, Wildlife Spotter, people manager, er…. Experienced Skipper!
Things I expected before I boarded :
- I would enjoy my cruise
- I wouldn’t get seasick ( I hoped!)
- I’d be well fed.
- I’d enjoy seeing some wildlife.
- I’d enjoy exploring some islands.
- I’d need to hide away a lot from other passengers because of my CFS.
- I’d find it difficult to last until dinner @ 7:30 pm, normally in my PJs by then.
- I’d be pleased to leave the Boat after 14 days.
But what I did NOT expect was THAT I WOULD FALL IN LOVE !!!!!!
I fell in love with……
- The sea, it’s rhythms, it’s sounds, it’s changing beauty.
- The gentle lapping of the water on my port holes at night.
- The gentle rocking of the boat, especially at night.
- The not-so-gentle rocking of the sea on a couple of days, I loved it!!!
- Being able to eat a cooked breakfast whilst everything was rolling around the dining saloon, and not feeling the least little bit seasick!
- The constant supply of beautiful, healthy, perfect-portion-sized meals of great variety!
- The daily routines and rhythms of ship board life…When the generator comes on, meal times, ashore times, life jackets on in the tender.
- The incredible, constant array of wildlife , in the sea, the air and on land.
- Trusting on the Skipper’s local knowledge and experience with all things “sea” for our next day’s travel.
- Anchoring in yet another beautiful, protected Loch.
- Self deprecating, friendly, Scottish people, not ones to waste words.
- My fellow passengers…..Sure I needed some alone time( we all did) but I loved their company, and rather than rushing to escape them at the end of the trip, I cried to leave them!
- I did need a kip or a read in my cabin every afternoon and I didn’t make it to 2 dinners, but generally my health & fitness has never been so good. 😊
- The islands themselves … All different but all beautiful in their own way.
- Sunny days on the deck.
- Rainy days.
- The list could go on and on! But I won’t for now, I’ll leave that to Part 2!