A Caledonian Sleeper train host wants to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle at sea after self-reflecting during the pandemic.
Throughout the Covid crisis, Inverness resident Darren Ross worked on overnight services between Scotland and England transporting key workers.
While on reduced shifts, he realised that his long-term ambition is to purchase a boat to live on the ocean.
Pandemic changed outlook on life
Darren said: “Our services ran during the pandemic for doctors, nurses and armed forces and other emergency workers.
“My shifts were reduced from four times a week to once.
“This allowed me time to self-reflect. I thought about how I could push beyond my own boundaries.
“Now I hope to buy a boat to live on the water full time in the next five to ten years.
“I would get passive income from renting out my flat to live a more sustainable life.
Sailing programme allowed Darren to face fears
The 34-year-old recently took part in the Our Isles and Oceans project, which offers sail training to build self-confidence and self-esteem.
He did a four day sail up the West Coast on a a stripped back 68-foot Clipper Race training yacht.
The crew had to also get used to living on board, sleeping in bunks and spending time in close quarters with each other.
He admits the night before the programme kicked off, he almost pulled out.
Darren said: “It was totally out of my comfort zone.
“The programme had two of my fears, which are meeting new people and doing something I haven’t done before.
“The night before I wasn’t sure about doing it.
“However, I was glad as it was one of my best life experiences.
“It was mentality and physically challenging working together, cooking and living with them.
“I met some amazing people and learned some navigation skills.”
Pandemic’s damaging impact on interaction
Earlier this year, charity Young Minds found that 67% of young people believe that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.
Our Isles and Oceans founder David Stewart Howitt said: “No better way to give them a positive learning experience and break out of conditions a lot of people faced within the pandemic.
“It has been thrilling to see people smiling.
“The pandemic has had a major impact on mental wellbeing and we don’t know all the consequences.”