Rites Of Passage St Kilda & Back

Yachting Monthly|November 2019

Rites Of Passage St Kilda & Back
The weather gods smiled on Mary Max as she sailed to these remote Scottish islands, which are often exposed to the might of the Atlantic
Mary Max

How do you measure sailing experience? For most of us it will be harbours visited and miles logged. But there’s more to it than just numbers; certain stretches of water pose unique challenges and their reputations hold a strange power in the minds of all who set sail.

Completing one of these passages is an initiation, a rite of passage, that engenders the respect of others and a new self-confidence. With a nod to the 1980s YM book, Classic Passages, the Royal Cruising Club Pilotage Foundation and Imray have collated some of the milestone passages through and around British waters that should be on every cruising sailor’s to-do list. So how many have you done? This article is from the series Rites of Passage, commissioned by Yachting Monthly, the Royal Cruising Club Pilotage Foundation and Imray, which will be available as a book in 2020.

St Kilda has often been described as the edge of the world and it is easy to see why. The small archipelago of rocks and islands really does feel like a dot in the ocean. Miss St Kilda and the next stop is America!

It was early July and we had gathered at Loch Ewe to take over Sai See from my sister. Sai See is my parents’ 40ft teak Sparkman and Stephens centreboard yawl. A lovely boat, both to look at and to sail, it has been part of our family for nearly 40 years. I had recently passed my Yachtmaster, but it was only my third time as skipper. On board with me were my husband-to-be, Daniel, and two friends from university.

We had arrived in a small hire car packed with luggage and provisions, with packets of crisps and Cup-a-Soup slotted into every available shelf and door pocket. It soon transpired that my sister and crew had almost run out of food and they somehow retained most of ours as they relieved us of the car and waved farewell.

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November 2019