Born and bred in North Yorkshire, barge Captain Mick Forster has spent most of his life on the water. From leading yacht charters on the open seas to a slower pace of life in the majestic Scottish Highlands – read about life navigating the Caledonian Canal with European Waterways aboard the Scottish Highlander…
Meet Scottish Highlander Captain, Mick Forster
How long have you worked for EW?
Is it how you expected it to be?
It’s pretty much as I expected, but it’s very different to my years’ experience with yacht charters
Tell us about your love of the waterways
Since I was a youngster, I have always been drawn to the water, whether oceans or inland waterways
What was your very first job?
I was an Apprentice Motor Mechanic, then an Agricultural Engineer
What inspired you to become a barge Captain?
I had returned to the UK after 20 years as a sailing yacht Captain in The Mediterranean and Caribbean. My wife Charlotte and I worked together – she was the First Mate and Chef. After a couple of years of various jobs, I was missing the life on the water and decided to give barging a go!
How did you get started in this line of work?
Charlotte and I managed pubs for around 13 years. On vacation once, we were in Greece watching yachts sailing past, and we decided there and then that we needed a change in career. Two years later, after gaining our sailing qualifications we started as Flotilla leaders on the Ionian Sea in Greece. After four seasons, we headed out to the Caribbean where we stayed for 16 years or so!
What are you most proud of about working for EW?
The quality of service that the guests receive from the company and crew
What are your favourite daily duties?
Working with the Scottish Highlander crew and guests, and working outside in the most beautiful part of the UK
What makes your barge unique?
To start, it’s difficult to compare the area we cruise through, to anywhere else. And, the barge’s warm and cosy lodge-style interior is so inviting – it’s a truly unique combination
What’s your favourite region to cruise in?
You really can’t beat the Caledonian Canal!
What feature do guests always love?
The guests love the saloon and wheelhouse aboard the Scottish Highlander. They are always surprised that we only have the one engine and no bow thruster (a propeller that aids manoeuvring)
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in North Yorkshire, in a small village called Great Ayton. Interestingly, it’s where Captain Cook was schooled
Most memorable experience on board?
The two boys pictured below were on a week-long canoeing trip from Germany. I spotted the two out in the middle of Loch Ness during a strong gale, and they couldn’t get back to shore. They were waving their paddles in the air which indicated that they needed assistance, so the Scottish Highlander crew and I managed to get them alongside and boarded safely. We continued to Fort Augustus with the canoes in tow. Later the Scout Leaders came and picked them up and thank the crew and myself for the rescue. All ended happy and safe!
Do you miss any home comforts?
Seeing family and friends, and of course, my workshop at home! Who doesn’t love a slice of DIY!
Watching TV, catching up on box sets and movies, reading, walking and planning our next adventure with my wife Charlotte…
What would you do if you weren't a barge Captain?
I’d like to think I’d continue to be making yacht deliveries or running a private or charter yacht of our own
Meet Mick and crew aboard the Scottish Highlander
Discover the majestic Scottish Highlands aboard the 8-passenger luxury barge, Scottish Highlander, captained by Mick and his fabulous crew. View our Scottish Highlander Classic Cruise here >
For help in planning a hotel barge cruise along Europe’s charming waterways, please talk to a member of our team or order a copy of our brochure for a slice of armchair travel inspiration.