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Issue 72 - Messing about in boats

Scotland Magazine Issue 72
December 2013

 

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Messing about in boats

Sailing holidays are a fantastic and flexible way to experience Scotland. Sally Toms looks at some of the options

Think of sailing in Scotland and it may bring to mind the rough waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, the relentless pounding of sheer cliffs and rugged fishermen in aran jumpers. But it deserves to also conjure an image of beautiful sheltered inland waters, miles upon miles of unspoilt scenery and tranquillity. The West Coast in particular, around Skye and the Hebrides, offers the ultimate in scenery and wildlife whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a total landlubber. There are bareboat charters for experienced sailors who want to just take off on their own, without the hassle and expense of bringing a vessel to Scotland’s shores. Or you could opt for a cruise, perhaps with a handful of other like-minded adventurers, strangers at first but firm friends after two weeks’ trimming the jib together. Or perhaps a private skippered yacht is more your thing, complete with its own crew to take care of everything. We’ve selected a few of the very best options in cruising and sailing to get your non-slip deck shoes itching…Caprice Yacht Charter The Curanta Cridhe (Gaelic for “Brave Heart”) is a luxurious, skippered 50ft catamaran, fully catered with sumptuous en-suite accommodation for up to six people. This is a five star sailing experience complete with air conditioning and heating, TV, DVD, comfortable leather seating and large dining sofas provide plenty of areas to relax. Because catamarans sail without heeling (ie. leaning over to one side) they are far more stable than traditional sailing yachts, and access around the deck area is easier and safer. Sails from: Dunstaffnage Marina, Oban www.capriceyachtcharter.co.uk Eda Frandsen Sailing For a more traditional, hands on sailing experience the Eda Frandsen is your gal. She is a converted Danish 56ft gaff cutter specialising in traditional sailing holidays of a bygone era combined with today’s modern comforts.

Hop aboard for 6-10 days of unforgettable adventure sailing. The Eda sails with eight voyage crew (that would be you) and three professional crew (skipper, mate and cook). With no winches aboard, everyone is encouraged to join in, using block and tackle to hoist up to 2210sq ft of sail. Sails from: Mallaig www.eda-frandsen.co.uk The Majestic Line This family-run cruise company has two boats merrily cruising the Argyll coast around Arran, Bute, Mull, the Hebrides and Skye. The Glen Massan and the Glen Tarsan are beautiful wooden hulled fishing boats, 85ft in length. They offer a roomy indoor dining deck saloon, six double ensuite cabins and three outdoor decks. Each vessel comes complete with four on-board crew; Skipper, Chef, Engineer and Bosun to take care of all the cooking, cleaning and general running of the boats. The calendar for 2014 offers nine unique cruises for between three and 13 nights.

Sails from: Holy Loch, Dunoon www.themajesticline.co.uk MV Hebridean Princess This small, luxury cruise ship is a familiar sight in the waters of the West Coast. She can cater for 50 guests, plus a crew of 38, which is rather a lot more than the other vessels on this page. There are 30 spacious, elegant and well-appointed cabins, 10 designed especially for the single traveller. The cruises of between four and 10 nights depart mainly from Oban, sailing the waters of the Western Isles and beyond to far-flung St Kilda, the Orkney and Shetland Isles. Sails from: Oban www.hebridean.co.uk
Northern Light Charters This small charter company offers the choice of both motor and sail: the Hjalmar Bjørge is a 23m ex-Norwegian ice-class rescue vessel, and offers its passengers a sturdy, upright sailing experience; or for more ‘wind in your hair’ then the 22m sailing yacht Zuza is the one for you. Both boats and available cruises share one aim – to show you a variety of islands, wildlife, marine life and birds in beautiful locations throughout the Hebrides. Both boats are large enough to provide spacious accommodation, yet small enough to glide into the most inaccessible and picturesque locations to view Scotland’s wildlife in its natural environment. Sails from: Oban www.northernlight-uk.com Spirit of June Yacht Charters Run by an experienced husband and wife team, Spirit of June offers adventure cruises on the West Coast of Scotland – in fact they are the most northerly Scottish mainland yacht charter business. With no pre-set cruises as such, Spirit of June specialises in bareboat yacht charters (they will ‘rent’ you one of their six gorgeous yachts, provided you can bring it back in one piece) as well as skippered yacht charters to suit your needs. Sails from: Gairloch, Wester Ross and Ardrossan Marina, Glasgow www.spiritofjuneyachtcharters.co.uk Scotland’s canals Messing about on the water isn’t only about sailing the West Coast, either. Scotland's 137 mile (220km) network of canals offers visitors bountiful opportunities for exploring Scotland’s interior, with the gentle chug of a diesel engine and only the swans for company.

The majestic Caledonian Canal, for example, stretches from Inverness to Fort William and is considered one of the greatest waterways in the world for scenery. And only in a boat can you experience the Falkirk Wheel: the world’s only rotating boat lift, connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. Capercaillie Cruisers An established narrowboat hire company based on the Lowland canal network. There are three boats for rent: Black Grouse and Willow Grouse are 57’ six berth canal boats; and Gosling is a 63’ eight berth boat. All are cruiser style narrowboats complete with all the mod-cons required for a floating home-from-home. Sails from: Forth & Clyde Canal, just below the Falkirk Wheel www.capercailliecruisers.co.uk Highlander Barge A boutique hotel barge cruising the Caledonian Canal from Inverness to Fort William, with all the atmosphere of a Scottish Country House complete with tartan furnishings and landscape paintings! This eight-passenger boat has four en-suite cabins each with a choice of twin or double beds. Cuisine is prepared by a Master Chef, and the hotel barge’s experienced crew of four will take care of your every need. Sails from: Inverness www.gobarging.com/scottish-highlander-barge