Watching for Whales – Mull & Surrounding Isles aboard Bessie Ellen

Voyage No. Start date End date Start port End port Days Price
BE140821 Sat 14 Aug (15.00) Fri 20 Aug( 10.00) Oban, North Pier Oban, North Pier 7 £1020 Book voyage »

Please note: all of Bessie Ellen’s bookings are now handled by Nikki’s own agency, VentureSail Holidays. By clicking ‘Book voyage’ you will be taken to a VentureSail booking form in order to secure your berths.


The sea around the West coast of Scotland offers some of the most stunning cruising grounds in the world. Our departure from Oban opens up a world of spectacular cruising and adventures, never lacking in great sailing whatever the weather.

Your hands on adventure will take you where the wind blows and some of the most stunning landscape in the world. There is just so much to take in, and to make best use of the wind and enjoy the full experience, we do not run to specific itineraries.

Here is a flavour of what you may experience.

Heading westward through the Sound Of Mull we may beat out beyond Ardnamurchan Point and alter course to the North or South or Westwards to Barra and beyond.  This is whale and dolphin waters as the Atlantic shallows allowing for denser fish stocks and guarantees sightings.

Taking the Southerly heading, follow the majestic coastline of Mull down past Treshnish and on to Staffa. A visit to Fingal’s cave is a must, but landing is very much dependant on swell. Beyond lies the sacred isle of Iona where the resonance of Columba lives on. Onwards, we pass Torrans Rocks where Davy Balfour was wrecked in a tremendous storm, finally being washed ashore on Erraid. Heading on south to Colonsay, stop for the night alongside the pier and walk through one of our favourite islands for its gentle beauty and of course the taste some great ales from smallest island brewery in the world.

The Northern route takes us on and out to the more remote Hebridean Isles. Rhum, by far the largest island, possesses a cluster of formidable volcanic peaks, Askival (Ash Mountain) the highest peak dominates the landscape, and the name itself tells of the Viking settlers here.

  • View of Bessie from the bowsprit
  • Bessie Ellen in Scotland
  • Guest at the helm
  • Stacks in Scotland
  • Cross at Iona
  • Scottish beach and sea

Voyage Description

Each year we see more and more whales – perhaps we are getting better at spotting them but it is also knowing where to look.  Although not yet common, we see whales on average twice a week, the most common being Minke Whale.

In 2019 we had an exceptional sighting of two Humpback whales feeding on the shoaling herring while on passage from Barra, a cry of ‘There she blows’ from Owain bought all hands to the taff rail to marvel at these leviathans.

Each whale was well over 20 ft long and must have weighed at least 5 tons, gently swimming alongside the hull, diving under and surfacing close by.  The pair stayed with us as we sailed along for about 15 minutes before turning to the west once more.  Not only did we get the pleasure of humpbacks, but in the midst of the feeding frenzy at least 4 Minke that seemed really quite small in comparrison, common dolphins and of course gannets and gulls diving for scraps.  For all on board this was  one of the best & most moving sightings seen in Scottish waters.



  • Dolphins in the Canaries
  • Scottish crab pots
  • Seal on a rock
  • Grazing Puffins
  • Sea bird chick
  • Dolphin jumping out of water

Useful Information

How to get there:

Bessie Ellen will be berthed at the North pier in Oban, just a short walk along the seafront from the station.  However, sometimes if the pier is very busy, your ship will be anchored in the bay so look for a crew member with a Bessie Ellen navy sweatshirt and they will bring you by ZODAIC to the ship.  See maps below for details.

By Rail: Queen Street Station, Glasgow. Train links from all over UK. Glasgow – Oban runs 4 scheduled trains a day in summer.

Fly: From Bristol, London Gatwick, Stanstead, Luton, BirminghamUnited Kingdom Belfast City Cardiff East Midland Exeter Leeds Bradford Manchester Norwich and Southampton.

There is parking space in Oban if you arrive by car.

Please note that you will need to arrange your own travel insurance, which covers you for the duration of your voyage. We recommend Topsail Insurance, which offers single policies from about £20.

Start Location:

End Location:

Where to Stay:

Oban has many hotels and B&B .

Visitor Attractions:

McCaigs Folly, Oban

Oban whisky distillery

Highland shopping

Lunch at the Seafood Bar for the best shellfish and sandwiches.

Walk Kerrera to stretch your legs.


The Ship: 07800 825 382

Read our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a few common enquiries that we receive.