Alternative Boat Hire Iona
Birthe Marie
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About us

Alternative Boat Hire is a family business set up originally by Mark Jardine, and run now with the support of his wife Anja and his two sons Stewart and Neil.
`Birthe Marie` is mainly skippered by Mark and, at times, also by Stewart.
On some trips, Ben Wilde, and Josef Goeth, both locally based, will join as crew.
Mark, Stewart and Crew
from left: Mark, Josef, Stewart, Ben

Stewart Jardine
As well as holding his commercial Yachtmaster Coastal ticket he is a busy island based self employed builder and handyman and also bakes a quality scone or two from time to time!

Neil Jardine
supports the maintenance side of the business. He also runs his own venture Iona Seafood.

Ben Wilde
As well as working with us, Ben runs boatbuilding and other exciting courses (Archipelago Folk School) and will be Mull based from summer 2020.

Josef Goeth
When not crewing on the Birthe Marie, Josef runs his own outdoor activities company Headland Explorations. He has lived and worked in the Ross of Mull and Iona area for several years.

Mark Jardine

`Sea - a never ending fascination.`
That was the heading on the home page of our previous website. I`ve been running boat trips now for over twenty years and I still can`t get enough of it!

Most of my life I have been visiting, exploring, reading, talking, living or dreaming about life on the west coast. I moved from Glasgow, where I was brought up, to the Mull and Iona area over thirty years ago. Despite coming from an apparently non boating background I`ve been mad about boats since my earliest years.
As Pete Culler put it, `Experience starts when you begin`

I began in other people`s boats, any chance I could get. Later I bought a sea kayak and went exploring, all over the Hebrides spread over years. You learn about the sea quite well in a kayak, you are a small speck on a big powerful landscape.
Mark Jardine with his daughter
Mark Jardine and his daughter out fishing.
One of my employers (from whom I learnt a lot) Bertie the Salmon fisherman, was much happier once I went onto beamier craft!

For me the subject of boats is a broad church. I`m interested in most aspects, there is the whole history of working folk using boats as a means to earn a living from or on the sea. Then there`s the evolution and design, building, and the practical issues of running and use of a boat right through to areas that a skipper needs some knowledge of, weather, tides, etc; old fashioned seamanship. Somehow I also seem to have got sucked into a theme of saving older deteriorating craft. And of course, there`s also all the people you meet.
If you would like to find out more about the business' history read here.
(Mark holds certification both as an MCA `Boatmaster` and also as a `Yachtmaster Offshore` (commercial). He also took his Sea-kayaking to the then BCU `Advanced Sea Kayak Award` stage, (a long time ago!).)

Our boat

Birthe Marie is a strongly built ex working boat with a gaff ketch rig. She still has to earn her living and the feel aboard is that of a clean workboat rather than a `yacht`. Her hull shape is particular to the Scandinavian fishing boats; all curves.

Built as a fishing boat in Denmark in 1933, Birthe Marie fished as far as we know in the North Sea and the Baltic. Originally she was built with a `wet well` in the middle part of the boat which was flooded with seawater to keep the catch alive and fresh. For a full story on her six year renovation see here.
She is a heavy boat for her size and can take a little time to build up speed but her weight comes into its own when the seas are less smooth and she is a reassuring boat to be on when things get rougher.
Birthe Marie at Iona Jetty
Birthe Marie at Iona Jetty.
Aboard there is ample space for up to 12 passengers and a crew of 1-2. In addition to her red and tan sails, the boat has a capable Perkins diesel engine which can get her home in time for dinner (!) when there is an unsuitable wind or a lack of it altogether.
Down below the `heads` ( toilet) is useful on longer trips if you need to `pay a visit`

There will be opportunity to get involved with the working of the boat if you are that way inclined. So you can help on the halyards setting sail, handling sheets, taking a turn at the helm and hauling up the anchor if you like, or you can simply sit back and watch the process.
Understand the boat, and the boat will understand you. (old Gaelic saying)

Alternative Boat Hire Iona telephone:01681 700537 Facebook