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Scottish Isles: Dreamland is constant adventure for cruise captain, former bishop

When Iain Christopher Cameron was 16 years old, he thought how idyllic it would be to sail around the Scottish Islands. Born in the highlands of Scotland, young Iain felt that the hundreds of tiny islands northwest of where he lived must be some of the most beautiful places in the world.

Now a 48-year-old father of three, Iain Cameron got his wish last year. As captain of the luxury cruise ship, the Hebridean Princess, which sails through the western isles of Scotland, he's passed through hidden inlets, anchored in sheltered sea lochs, and visited a distant island that hadn't had passengers dock there in 25 years.It's been a myriad of daily adventures for the former bishop and his wife, Veronica, who often accompanies him on his voyages.

"I feel so grateful and privileged to have been able to benefit from this blessing," wrote Sister Cameron in a letter to the Church News. "Seeing all these remote and beautiful places has been an incredible experience. At times the mist hovers and swirls, making it almost mysterious, and then it rises like a curtain on a stage to reveal a castle or a splendid mountain range."

The Camerons joined the Church when they were living in London 15 years ago. While members there in the St. Albans England Stake, Brother Cameron served as branch president, bishop and high councilor; later, when they moved to their present home in Ross-shire, Scotland, he was called to the high council in the Aberdeen Scotland Stake. Sister Cameron has had numerous callings in the auxiliaries.

When their oldest son, Ivor, was called to the England London Mission last year they were delighted, related Sister Cameron, but they were concerned about being able to support him financially.

Ivor accepted the call. "More or less immediately, Iain was engaged as captain of the Hebridean Princess," said Sister Cameron. "He had applied for the job, never thinking he would be accepted. We acknowledge the hand of the Lord in providing a means whereby we could fully support our son on his mission."

The Camerons now regularly hear from Ivor, who is serving in Cambridge and says his mission "is the greatest thing ever."

"Iain likes the remote islands and the sea lochs, some of which have no roads and the only way to get there is by sea," Sister Cameron explained. "He has to take the ship through lots of narrows - Corryvreckan is the name of the most famous - where the eddies and cross currents and whirlpools make the water seem to literally bubble and boil.

"I went with him twice to [the island ofT St. Kilda. His was the first cruise ship to land passengers there for 25 years. I think it is the most fascinating place I have been. The last inhabitants were evacuated in 1936 because the population got too small to support itself, and due to the bad weather you can only land during a few months in early summer.

"Theirs is a sad story. There was a community living happily and successfully on the island for hundreds of years. All the men met every morning for the island parliament, where policy decisions were made and work parties arranged. They lived off sea birds and their eggs, all food was shared, all work was shared, there was no poor. It seemed to be a perfect society.

"They were such a curiosity at the turn of the century, they attracted a lot of visitors, and this outside influence destroyed their society. . . .

"But the place is alive with the comical puffins, and in the stacks - large rocks towering straight out of the sea into the sky - live most of the gannets in the northern hemisphere. It is fascinating to see these huge pinnacles literally covered with birds, and there doesn't seem to be an inch to spare. The sky is thick with gannets and they dive-bomb into the sea around the ship. I could go on forever about this place."

On another small island, reported Sister Cameron, there is a castle where visitors may view priceless treasures and old photographs from various parts of the world.

"One I spied was from Salt Lake City - the construction of the Tabernacle. I couldn't believe my eyes!" she exclaimed.