Explore and experience the Western Isles of Scotland under sail. Where else in Europe does a sailing holiday offer so much, right here on our doorstep? With seas sheltered by the Outer Hebridean Islands, your ocean adventure will carry you on a voyage of discovery, exploring remote islands, secluded lochs and dark mountains shielding you from a more hurried modern world.
Long Days of Light
From early summer, being so far north, the Western Isles can bathe in long warm sunny days and great sailing conditions, but like anywhere, when the wind decides to blow in from the Atlantic your skipper will find plenty of sheltered bays to run in and anchor, or long winding lochs to continue our adventures. It’s not all about the sailing. Once anchored the crew will run you ashore in the dinghy to climb a high point or for those of you who wish to can swim off the boat or beachcomb on white sand beaches with no other people in sight.
It’s not all about the sailing, who doesn’t love to watch dolphins swimming effortlessly in the bow wave? We love to come here as much for the wildlife as any thing else. Known as the Scottish big five: Red Deer, Otter, Seal, Golden Eagle and Red Squirrel, each voyage we see most of these more than once. Seabirds wheel around us as we sail, and the endearing puffin is a regular summer resident who we can get up close and personal with. Minke whales along with Atlantic dolphin are also regular guests. If you are lucky, a visit from the more rare species, the Humpback whale and Orca (John Doe is a regular around Skye) Petrels and of course the majestic gannet who’s epic dives never fail to impress.
Secluded Bay to Sheltered Lochs
Our knowledge of the Islands and the weather patterns have taken shape over the last ten years, so we are confident we can take you far away to distant islands shores to make a “grand tour” of our own. From Iona’s sainted landscapes to the columnar basalt cliffs of the Shiant Isles, the Sea of Hebrides beckons with remote places, historic monuments, local cultures and magical wildlife. Many of our adventures set a course around Mull and the off-lying remote islands and across the Minch out to the Southern Outer Hebrides including Barra and Mingulay. Of course the Small Isles are just fabulous to explore and Skye is always great when the weather is not the best. Along with our local knowledge we carry a wealth of books aboard giving a deeper insight into culture, history and geology.
You could not come here and at least savour a wee dram of Whisky or ‘uisge beatha’ ‘the water of life’, and in the early season we take every opportunity to take a whisky tour. Oban and Islay are closest but as whisky gains popularity, we are finding new distilleries opening up all over the Hebrides as well as a vast number of Gin stills aboard Bessie Ellen.
Foraging for our Supper
As you may know we love our food here on board and there is nothing more satisfying than gathering your own lunch. Scotland features some of the best seas in the world for crabs and lobsters so feel free to join our Bosun and set a pot out for the night. Mussels are easy to find in the right conditions and of course seaweeds are all edible but some are not that palatable! Ashore, early spring brings wild garlic and nettles whereas later in the Autumn, chanterelles and rowan berries add to interesting sauces for the menu. Its not unknown for Nikki to send a boat over to a local fisherman to swap lobsters or scallops for beers and a dram if our own success has been limited!
You can probably feel that this is Nikki’s favourite cruising ground. She explains “Nothing gives me more pleasure than leaving the North Channel astern, and in front, great mountains and islands rise up from a silver sea just waiting to be explored. The diversity of wildlife and the islands’ ancient histories mixed with extraordinary geology highlighted by ever changing skies make each day just gloriously magical and fresh” Join us next year for a sailing voyage you will never forget
“I’ve never sailed before, but if this is sailing, then I’m addicted. So, it seems, is everyone else: 85% of the Bessie Ellen’s guests return for further sailing adventures.”