Cruising in the waters off Skye and the West Highlands…but on your own terms. That's what experienced worldwide sailors Scott Atkinson and Mary Waller are offering with their new venture Red Moon Cruises.
Most visitors to Skye and adjoining Highlands miss out on the chance to see the unique views of the landscape which are available from the sea unless they join throngs of others on day trips, or arrive as part of longer cruises based elsewhere.
Now families or groups of up to four people can book to stay on the motor-sailing boat Red Moon - and travel around local waters to their own itinerary.
Scott and Mary are operating from the pontoons at Kyle of Lochalsh - easily accessible by both car and train from Inverness or beyond - but also easily available from anywhere on Skye or the local coast. Trips can vary as preferred by customers - maybe a crossing of the Highlands via the Caledonian Canal or a stop-wherever-you-want trip to the Small isles.
Or you can choose to stay just exactly where you are for a night aboard to appreciate the cuisine that Mary can serve up based on years working as a chef on super-yachts and in restaurants ashore - she is experienced in making the best use of local produce and believes the Highlands game and seafood is the best there is.
Red Moon is not just any old boat - she has a dramatic pedigree stretching back to 1944-5 when she was constructed in Poole, Dorset for the Royal Navy. Originally designed as one of around 200 harbour tenders built in that era, her strong construction gives her a great feeling of stability. She served on the Clyde for two years, before being sold for use as a fishing vessel in Lerwick in Shetland for around 30 years. She then became a yacht, being converted first in Holyhead and then in Gloucester and enjoying some time in the Mediterranean.
Her new life began when Scott and Mary took her over in August 2015 and made a number of improvements to the layout. "We are aiming at leisure and luxury and relaxation more than adventure," says Mary.
Red Moon has a spacious dining area with access to the deck, including some covered space to observe the views. The bridge retains a traditional feel, plus all the most modern equipment and allows room for all on board to meet up. Below decks, there is an exquisite double bedroom set in the bow of the boat, with two separate single cabins beside a short companionway, and a fully equipped bathroom. Gong aft, there's an impressive engine room and the crew's quarters. The Red Moon has a large and economical Gardner Diesel engine but she also has sails which guests can help with if they wish.
Scott and Mary think she will have a particular attraction to wedding or anniversary couples - or anyone wishing to have a discreet cruise, with all mod cons, but where they are in control of their own itinerary. The only limitations are what is practically feasible and the weather. "We put your safety first," say Scott and Mary. Of course, there is still the chance of adventure both at sea and ashore and of seeing both flora and fauna. With a boat carrying no more than four guests, guests have exclusive use of the boat and can decide their own itineraries - without having to follow the wishes or dictates of others, as may be the case on larger cruise vessels. The Red Moon can be yours for a week…or whatever booking period you choose.
Scott and Mary met in New Zealand through racing sailing boats. Mary was working for the New Zealand government, continuing with her original UK career in Trading Standards. Scott was originally in the Army and had a computer engineering background. Then they started to travel the world working from the Caribbean on various sailing boats. It started out as being just for a couple of years but it became a new career Including time in the Mediterranean. Finally they came to the West of Scotland for a couple of years and fell in love with the area.
With their new cruise business, operating from May to October, they say that no matter what may have inspired you to visit the region– walking or wildlife, researching your ancestors, a marriage or other special event, or simply a burst of escapism (which can include a digital detox if you wish) – they will be delighted to provide it.
For more information see www.redmooncruiseses.co.uk