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Stuart Ritchie

My first real sailing week was 35 years ago as a novice crew member out of Fort William exploring the Hebrides off the West Coast of Scotland. Prior to then I had only occasionally sailed my Miracle & Laser when time allowed. Sailing heaven was a mid Summer overnight sail of 50NM from Rhum to Barra with a perfect moon & starlight sky, arriving at the Outer Hebrides as dawn broke. Gentle Force 4 beam reach with the masts of many fishing boats dipping below the lazy 5+Metre SW swell, I helmed for most of the Minch crossing and was totally smitten. The 26 ft 4 berth boat was a classic wooden real yacht with freeboard measured in inches that could point like an arrow, however bereft of any electronic navigation aids which introduced a real frisson.....where are we ? The Scottish West Coast continues to be my favourite sailing area and I have shared it's top delights whilst cruising with BB Members. I have also sailed in the English Channel, Eire West Coast, Channel Islands, Med majoring on NE Sardinia (my 2nd fav), Iberian Peninsula, Canaries, Baltic and the Faroes. My interest in Brighton Belle's Oyster 55 was kindled by my sailing on a Camper & Nicholson 55 and is how I came to fully understand the comfort & safety that a large traditional yacht has to offer. My cruises seek to embrace interesting sailing & isolated anchorages combined with good food & wine and great company. I actively encourage all to push their personal sailing skills envelope to the limit that they are comfortable with. Prior to sailing I used to ( throughout the year in Scotland ) sub aqua dive including collecting scallops, rock & snow/ice climbing and once canoed from Oban to Glasgow......I'm a down to earth Scottish OAP accustomed to making the right decision faced with water/ropes/heights. My Cruises always start & finish with Skipper's complimentary Fizz, as a way of facilitating getting to know each other and then reflecting on the week's sailing. My roughest night ever on a boat was on the Nic 55 in Vigo exposed to the delights of the Bay of Biscay at it's worst and with a difference the boat was on the marina Hard, the toilets went for an overnight long walk, severing all the Services connections and a 36 ft yacht sank.

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