5 Landlubber Roy Billen finds a life on the ocean wave to his liking, as he travels up Scotland’s west coast in a vintage sailing trawler.

from Edinburgh Dundee Glasgow Aberdeen

Open your diary and mark with an asterisk ‘April 2nd‘. Then flip over the pages until you come to October 22nd. Mark that too. for these are the opening and closing dates for booking a berth aboard the Lorne Leader.

Cruising on the l()()-ft vintage sailing trawler for a week. I rubbed seapulae with puffins. guillemots. razorbills. artists. musicians and raconteurs. Right from the start. I found no difficulty in switching from a simple chez-moi diet to haute cuisine three times a day at the Captain's table (mustn‘t go over the top: there was no other table). I was quick to discover that the bos‘n. on payment. opened his well-stocked locker ofalcoholic delights.

The real business ofa sea life was explained to us by the skipper and owner Don llind. Within an hour of embarking. we were invited to the Captain‘s table for general introductions and chat over mugs of tea. Safety at sea was top of the agenda (what better way to keep your customers?) and this was certainly taken pinch-free ofsalt. But it was when the Skipper mentioned hand-pump-operated lavatories (‘heads‘) that all dozen mugs were hastily returned to the table. ‘Ten pumps with the lever UP and ten with it in the horizontal position. Take care to leave the pump UP before you leave.' said Don briskly. Later. in separate groups of three we were given practical flushing demonstrations and we immediately all felt much better.

With the ablutions understood. it was all plain sailing. Well. not entirely all. because we often relied on the powerful diesel engine to maintain an average six or seven

knots. The weather did its best. and when once (or twice?) the sun put in an appearence. we all felt like MacMillionaires.

After dinner each evening. we put forward suggestions for the next day's sailing. Don pored over his charts (‘1 never want to hear the word “map” ') and offered advice. Our ports ofcall included Staffa. the tiny uninhabited Inner Hebridean island. We anchored off-shore. and the dinghy was brought into action to get us. without metaphor. up one or two creeks. ‘We seldom lose anyone on these probes‘ remarked the Skipper reassuringly. Staffa‘s curious columnar basalt rock formations. Fingal’s Cave and the busy colony of breeding puffins were explored and we returned to the Lorne Leader without incident. There the now-kilted bos‘n was striding the decks and showing his mastery of the bagpipes.

Mucking in ensured that we felt involved in the running of the trawler. Deck duties are voluntary. but many ofus were keen to learn the basics raising and lowering the anchor. sail-hoisting. look-out duties (a serious ploy indeed). a turn at the helm. coiling ropes and so on. Less exotic. but just as important to the smooth running ofoperations was the dish-washing and drying-up rota.

Cruising on the Lorne Leader touches on the great variety that the Hebrides have to offer. With plenty ofopportunites to go ashore. landlubbers might like to spend time barbecue-ing on remote beaches. visiting harbours or ceilidh-ing in Colonsay. Special interest cruises for 1988 include weeks for bird-watching. a family week in August. music and art. and sailing and navigation.

Whatever your interests. the Lorne Leader has something for everyone. .You‘ll have a whale of a time. though in fact we had to settle for gambolling porpoises. inquisitive seals and the hoped-for glimpse ofan otter.

For further in formation contact (Jillian Hind. Lorne Leader Ltd, Balvicar by ()ban, Argyll PA34 4QY (08523 479). Prices for a week start from £160 per berth. This includes food, fuel etc.

to London






48'l‘he List I—

14 April 1988