Let the tide take you in luxury

Sailing around Scotland’s magnificent coastline on a superyacht is a unique way of experiencing the country

By Barry McDonald

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f your travel itinerary to Scotland includes stunning scenery and unrivalled luxury, a trip around the stunning west coast aboard a luxury superyacht could be for you.

Regarded as one of the world’s finest cruising grounds the west coast of Scotland is a dramatic and romantic coastline, full of interesting coves and majestic sandy beaches. And what better way to explore this rugged and awe-inspiring part of the country than aboard the Spirit of Fortitude, Scotland’s only superyacht. At 108 feet long, the tri-deck luxury superyacht boasts real character. She has a hand-crafted interior, designed with a classic Scottish contemporary twist.

Run by The Royal Scottish Shipping Line, she offers a wide range of cruising options for three, six, seven, 10 and even 14 night cruises. Departing from either Greenock near Glasgow for the Inner Clyde, Ireland and the Southern Hebrides, or Oban for access to the Outer Hebrides and the Western and Northern Isles, Orkney and the East coast, The Spirit of Fortitude cruises some of Scotland’s most beautiful and sheltered waters including the remote and historical St Kilda archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which never fails to capture the imagination.

Alternatively, visit the historical gems of Cape Wrath and Scapa Flow, or archaeological treasures like the Callanish Standing Stones and natural wonders like Fingal’s Cave. Why not choose to find out why Skye has just been voted by National Geographic as the fourth best island in the world?

The Royal Scottish Shipping Line is run by entrepreneurial husband and wife team, Keith and Denice Pulner, whose business evolved from their passion for sailing. That passion has delivered them the first super-yacht charter company in Scotland.

“We identified a gap in the market as currently there are only offerings of converted ferry boats which hold 50 passengers or converted fishing boats no more than 80ft long,” said Denice. “As individuals who are passionate about sailing and travel but want the luxuries that life can offer, we decided to set up our own business with an exclusive use offering as well as an individual cabin option.”

The size of the Spirit of Fortitude allows for a more stable voyage and the capability to enter most ports and harbors, added Denice. “She has the ability to sail along the famous Caledonian Canal and up the Great Glen, passing though Loch Ness. And a tight squeeze up the famous Eight Neptune steps makes for a more dramatic entrance.”

The luxury yacht caters to a range of international clients who can enjoy the first class onboard facilities, including a newly constructed whisky viewing room on the upper deck. It also benefits from a bespoke hand crafted library and dining area. All cabins have large bathrooms and a new swim platform allows for smooth access to the water for swimming or diving into the pure glacial waters.

Whether your passion is for golf, fishing, hunting, whisky tasting or hillwalking, a voyage on board the Spirit of Fortitude can give you access to the very best Scotland has to offer. “We offer a fully bespoke five-star experience,” added Denice.

“We also have a very strong emphasis on food and our own chef selects local fresh ingredients allowing guests to taste and smell the isles they visit on their cruise. All our staff are also very knowledgeable about local history which adds to the visitor experience.”

The west coast of Scotland is the perfect antidote to the fast-paced 21st century life. It’s perfect for discovering remote, isolated and even mystical bays and secluded little coves, impressive castles and long forgotten caves. Not to mention the world famous deserted white sandy beaches. There is also an abundance of award winning restaurants serving the world’s best quality fresh sea food.

The Spirit of Fortitude houses six luxurious well designed staterooms, each having a private dining area and their own private bathrooms with full size showers. All the cabins have a TV and benefit from heating as well as air conditioning.

There are several outdoor areas for guests to enjoy. On the top level of The Spirit of Fortitude there is the Sun Deck for sunbathing. The Bridge Deck enjoys another ample sized sun area with large sofas and chairs.

There is also a built-in sitting area in the front of the Bridge, perfect for getting the “skipper’s view”. The Main Deck has a covered dining area with seating for 12.

While it can be great to be on an adventure with others, it’s also good to have some quiet time, so with only a maximum of 12 guests there are various areas in which the guests can escape.

The Spirit of Fortitude also makes the perfect private charter yacht for families or corporate events. It can also be hired for the exclusive use of weddings and can accommodate up to 50 guests.

With so many islands and locations to visit, a personal recommendation goes a long way. According to Denice Pulner, who has sailed extensively around the west coast, her favorite places to visit are the iconic St Kilda and the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. “I love going to Barra more than anywhere because the route of the sailing offers amazing scenery,” said Denice. “The beaches there are incredible and the stillness of the water is amazing. It even has an Old Tom Morris golf course on nearby South Uist which is one of Scotland’s best kept secrets.”

For more information on the The Royal Scottish Shipping Line, visit theroyalscottish.com

Towering ambition

As well as leading the way in luxury cruises, Denice and Keith Pulner have their sights set on more majestic plans. The couple, who are pioneering property developers have recently purchased the iconic Castle Toward estate at the mouth of the mighty River Clyde. The two-castle estate, parts of which date back to the 13th century, is set to become one of the grandest and most luxurious exclusive use castles in Scotland.

The Spirit of Fortitude, Scotland’s only superyacht
The Spirit of Fortitude, Scotland’s only superyacht

While previous guests have included Mary, Queen of Scots and Sir Winston Churchill, it’s expected that future guest will be of a similar calibre.

The multi-million dollar investment the Pulners have committed to is evidence of their ambitions within the tourism market.

“As far as our tourism offering is concerned we would like to create within the coming months an all-encompassing package of land, sea and air,” explained Denice. “With our castle, superyacht and helicopter, we can take clients to every possible location around Scotland all under the umbrella of the bespoke luxury brand, The Royal Scottish.

“We also want to expand on our retirement and rental housing as we predict a high growth within this field. We are always looking for partner investors.”