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Chartering a yacht in the Hebrides is a great treat, owning a yacht a huge privilege. So it makes sense to share the pleasures with friends, some who sail but many who may not. These friends need to be cosseted and nurtured if they are to stay friends, so you do need to know what they would like to do as well as sail — puffins, seals, the pub, fine food? All are available but it takes a bit of planning to get the cruise just right. Of course always, but always, build up expectations of storm, rain and midges because then your friends, particularly from the south of England, will be pleasantly surprised — in the summer the weather is generally pretty good, completely wiped-out days are rare, and midges almost never go to sea (just avoid anchoring under trees). Also scrutinise the weather forecast so you can sail out with the wind on the beam, and then back with the same beam wind if you are lucky. After all, this is not the south coast where all you can do is turn left or right, or not go at all if the wind is blowing hard from the south. Finally, as your friends age, a discreet enquiry about any relevant medical problems is in order, some might be relevant (taking anticoagulants can cause a lot of blood loss from an otherwise trivial cut lovely white sails).

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