By: Martyn Murray
Martyn Murray was finding modern life, with all its restrictions and controls, suffocating. Following years of soul-searching, his father’s death triggered him into opening the old logbooks and charts to retrace the sailing trips they had once shared together. He determined to revisit those waters and bring home the freedom of the seas. Falling in love with an old ketch in Ireland, he bought and restored her enough to sail back to Scotland. Over the next two summers he cruised Scotland’s Western Isles, with one goal: to reach St Kilda – the remotest part of the British Isles, 40 miles from the Outer Hebrides. During his cruising he considered the islanders and their sense of freedom – often restricted by absentee landlords and officialdom. He railed against bureaucracy and commercial enterprise restricting the yachtsman’s ability to roam free. For parts of his journey he was joined by the beguiling Kyla; a rare, independent spirit who both excited and frustrated Martyn. But much of Martyn’s voyaging was undertaken alone, encountering a variety of places, situations and characters along the way. He attempted his long-awaited sail out to St Kilda through the teeth of a storm, believing that achieving this feat would bring him the freedom and clarity that he craved. What he came up against was far more testing and turbulent than the tides and gales of the North Atlantic. As he sailed back to the mainland things fell into place: a sense of achievement in completing the arduous voyage alone, but – most of all – an understanding of who he is, clarity on his relationship with Kyla and a real sense of his own freedom.
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