Tuesday, October 25, 2011


A former North Sea fishing trawler which has been given the ultimate makeover to become a mini-cruise ship will be officially launched at Peterhead Harbour today by the First Minister of Scotland, the Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP.
Scotia W, which until 2002 had sailed as part of the North Sea fishing fleet, has been converted into a luxurious mini-cruise ship to provide individually tailored boat holidays around Scotland.
Accommodating up to eight guests, Scotia W is available exclusively for private charter and will cruise predominately in the Moray Firth, along the Caledonian Canal and around Scotland’s West Coast. Operated by Peterhead-based Scotia Charters, the vessel is expected to welcome both domestic and overseas guests.
The venture is the brainchild of Peterhead businessman Alex Wood – a former fisherman and a skilled joiner. He spotted the traditional wooden-hulled vessel’s potential when her successful 30-year fishing career came to an end and identified the opportunity to offer individually tailored cruise holidays around Scotland.
Sailing itineraries can be tailored around specific interests such as golf, heritage, wildlife watching, and rail cruising, or designed to allow guests to enjoy elements of each and discover Scotland from a different perspective. The Inverness-registered vessel has a crew of four, which includes a cook and Mr Wood as skipper.
The 80ft boat was originally built in 1972, and her conversion into a mini-cruise vessel involved the removal of all fishing-related equipment and the installation of a new aluminium superstructure. Much of the construction and interior work was completed by Mr Wood, with the support of his sons Ewan and Stuart. Tradesmen and professional advisers were called in when necessary. 
The 134-tonne vessel retains her traditional larch plank hull, which has been re-caulked, and is powered by a 425bhp turbocharged engine which was rebuilt as part of the transformation.
In addition to meeting the needs of the leisure and business tourism markets, Scotia Charters has indentified the vessel’s potential to support the offshore renewable energy industry. Scotia W’s design means she can be used as a support vessel for marine mammal observations, and accommodation for management on site visits.
During a tour of Scotia W, the First Minister will be shown the vessel’s facilities, which include a large lounge and dining area, four twin en-suite guest cabins, large outside decks, and the spacious wheelhouse – where corporate team building activities such as course plotting and navigation skills can be carried out.
First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Tourism is of huge importance to Scotland, with visitors from all across the globe flocking here to take in our fabulous scenery and enjoy the very best Scottish hospitality.
"But it is vitally important that our tourism industry continues to innovate and offer more attractions for holidays in Scotland, which is why I am delighted to officially launch the new Scotia W private charter vessel.
"It is exciting to see how the owners of Scotia W have imaginatively restored and refurbished this former fishing trawler to offer a top rate charter service to tourists keen to see the best Scotland's coastline has to offer.
"I am also thrilled to note that Scotia Charters hopes to tap in to the growing renewables industry in Scotland, by offering Scotia W to offshore wind firms for use in marine mammal surveys and as accommodation for site visits. This is a fantastic example of the range of benefits renewables can bring to Scotland.
"This new venture will benefit not only Peterhead, but the range of islands and ports up and down the country that Scotia W will visit. And I am confident that there will be no shortage of seafarers eager to experience a cruise around Scotland in this beautiful vessel."
In 2010, a Scottish Enterprise study valued the worth of the Scottish cruising tourism sector at £101million and suggested that this could grow by £44million to £145million by 2020. Scotia W is set to benefit a large number of communities across Scotland, with guests visiting local attractions and golf courses, and being encouraged to go ashore and enjoy the local hospitality when the boat is berthed overnight in local harbours and moorings.
Scotia Charters’ Alex Wood said: “Today’s launch is a proud moment and makes all the hard work worthwhile. We are extremely pleased that the First Minister could join us to help celebrate the official launch of Scotia W and mark the start of the next phase of her sailing career.
“It is superb that we have been able to breathe new life into this former fishing trawler and create something innovative that meets the demands of two industries that are important to Scotland’s future.”
Scotia W will become a familiar sight along Scotland’s coastline in 2012 when she embarks on a full cruising season.
Further information on Scotia Charters can be found at www.scotiacharters.com or telephone +44 (0) 7976 897332.



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