Take time to slow down and really enjoy your cruising - it is the best gift you can give yourself. Theo Stocker introduces the January 2022 issue of Yachting Monthly

One of the joys of sailing is the ability to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life, set your sails in favourable wind and sail away to new or well-loved cruising grounds to decompress.

Being anchored, surrounded by the sea as waves gently rock your boat from side to side always nourishes and nurtures, as well as doing wonders for the soul.

It is no surprise then that cruiser Hayley Kirkby and her husband Steve felt drawn to the west coast of Scotland (page 16), having caught a glimpse of this popular coastline while doing an earlier circumnavigation of Britain.

Like many other sailors before them, Hayley and Steve have been exploring the Sound of Arisaig, discovering the wonders that can be found in the area’s remote inlets and secluded anchorages.

They’ve adjusted their pace of life (for some weeks anyway), slowing down to really take the time to absorb the landscape, watch for wildlife and walk around the lochs.

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The result has been a new appreciation for the beauty of this part of the UK.

Conrad Humphreys has been rediscovering the pleasures of cruising closer to home, returning to his roots to sail up the River Exe in his lugger, Bounty’s End (page 58).

It is a reminder that there are plenty of adventures on your own doorstep, as he finds out about the history of the river and its role in shaping the local area.

Working boats played a key role in the prosperity of both river and coastal communities.

Many can still be seen sailing today and we reveal the best cruises to see them in action in the UK and Ireland (page 44).

Wherever you sail to, take your time to appreciate the experience.

It will be the best gift you can give yourself.