Having sailed around the world from the age of 17 and this year reaching the tender age of sixty, I am often asked the question “Michael, which is your most favourite place that you have visited over the years throughout your many travels?” and before they have even finished the question, I am poised with the answer “There is most definitely more than one place that would draw me back time and again and I have two particular favourites”.
My first choice would have to be the South Pacific because of the wonderful memories I have of sailing from Panama down to Tahiti, passing some of the most spectacular islands along the way such as the Marquesas (a group of volcanic islands in French Polynesia), The Cook Islands (a castaways dream come true) and, of course, Tahiti itself (known as the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia). All of them are stunning islands in their own right and any of them a must if you are ever down that way. Whilst this spectacular voyage is my number one for discovery, my second and definitely joint favourite has to be The Outer Hebrides on the West Coast of Scotland, for its sheer beauty and tranquillity. This is the very reason why I headed back to Scotland in recent years, somewhere which is much closer to my heart and home for me. To me the Outer Hebrides provides those who visit with an abundance of beauty, passion and vista as well as all the romance you could ask for and this is typically what first prompted me to head to sea as a career all those years ago. The beautiful long, white sandy beaches, turquoise blue waters and the surrounding hilly landscape make this paradise personified. Lying Lord Jim gently at anchor and gazing out on this stunning vista, I am captivated by my memories and reminded why I came back home and more specifically, to the Outer Hebrides in particular.
People frequently ask me (whether they’re sailing on Lord Jim or just expectant travellers) whether the climate in the West Coast of Scotland is suitable for venturing so far north during the summer. Now it would be wrong to say that it has the weather patterns of the Caribbean, however I can confirm that, with the change on weather patterns recently and a little bit of lady luck on your side, we have enjoyed some of the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets and overall good weather throughout most of the last summer season.
Not only is there the beauty and tranquillity associated with this area in Scotland, but there is an abundance of natural wildlife, both above and below the water. This is a trip for everyone’s bucket list, regardless of how far you have travelled and I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.