The West Coast of Scotland is one of the best and most beautiful cruising areas in Europe, due primarily to the many islands, sea lochs, rugged coastlines, the plentiful wildlife and the outstanding variety of scenery. It is sparsely populated, unspoilt and the anchorages are uncrowded. There are a great number of choices of route and destination which present many options to the budding skipper. The cruising area has much to offer; strong tidal streams in some parts; both sheltered and open waters; a few bold headlands and many small secluded anchorages.
There is plenty of scope for pilotage and navigation and reasonable coverage of navigational lights. Fog is rare, as are prolonged calms and the sunshine hours are longer than you might think. In June the days are so long that it hardly gets dark and it can be pleasantly warm even in September. Weather is of course variable and the best courses are often those where a whole variety of weather conditions are met with.
Tuition courses that are five days in length will try to have a circular route. We might head south round Jura and see Iona, or head west to go round Mull, possibly visiting Tiree or Coll. A trip to the north may encompass Arisaig, the Small Isles or south Skye.
Five day courses will try to sail a route where we are not repeating our path and covering the same ground twice, this is sometimes not possible. The area is so fragmented that a host of route options are possible and the weather and tides often determine just where is the best place to head for. Approximate limits might be south to Islay, west to Tiree or Coll, or north to South Skye. A glance at a map and you can see the complexity of the waters and choices of route which might cover between 100 and 140 miles. You may see places like Fingals Cave on Staffa or sail round Ardnamurchan point (the west point of mainland Britain) and it might be very feasible to fit such things into our route