Cruises to St. Kilda and Hebrides, Orkney Isles and North and West Ireland
A variety of cruises normally 6,10 or 12 days in length. I suggest that these cruises would suit those who have already gained Day Skipper level at a minimum and those who might like to get one or more 60 mile Yachtmaster qualifying passages under their belt. They will also be a good way of gaining further sea time and mileage. The emphasis will not be on instruction but on yourselves taking full charge of the boat to plan your passages, pilotage, and navigation to suit wind and weather and the ambitions of those aboard.
Cruises are available by arrangement. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.
The main aim will, of course, be to cruise in the area and use Aquila as a means of getting to some remote parts and to spend some time ashore enjoying the wildlife and special scenery of these wonderful isles. In the early part of the season a great number of birds are nesting and raising young on the off lying islands; birds such as gannets, fulmars, puffins, and razorbills which are all plentiful in number. In general the wildlife is abundant. Exactly where we will get to, I am not sure, a lot will depend on the wind but the following are possibilities.
Cruising to St Kilda
The St. Kilda cruise probably will try and sail direct to the Outer Hebrides by way of the Sound of Mull or to the south of Mull and past Tiree to arrive at the southern end of the Western Isles or at the Sound of Harris, possibly stopping at several places enroute. The timing of the run out to St. Kilda is totally dependant on having fair weather for staying at Village Bay the only anchorage and landing. It is hoped that we might be able to spend a full day exploring ashore and also have a sail round the whole island group, as it is a unique, wonderful place. The remaining time could be spent enjoying the delights of cruising the multitudes of islands and anchorages of the Outer Hebrides. We are usually successful in our aim and have a good sail out and back and quiet conditions to see the group to good advantage. In 1994 a large swell was running so alternative plans included a visit to the Shiant Islands, Stornoway, and Inverewe Gardens. There is no guarantee of getting to St Kilda as it is such an exposed place. Ten days or twelve days duration.
This amazing cluster of islands lie close off the NE corner of Scotland with the tidal Pentland Firth separating them from the mainland. They are around 240 miles from Oban via the west coast and Cape Wrath. I’ve had many successful cruises to these islands and I will be returning to these islands in the form of a cruise up from Oban and finishing at Scrabster 12 days, and a cruise down, the reverse. Both of these trips should give a good 6 days in the Orkney area, where there is much to see and explore and we should be able to visit a number of islands/destinations and maybe get to Fair Isle or the southern part of Shetland if the weather and time allows. A lot will depend on your interests and what you would like to do with the time. The Isles are a beautiful cruising ground, with stunning scenery and have many historic remains. House remains from 7000 years ago through to a mass of more recent war remains and history are abundant on most islands and around Scapa Floe. It is hoped to visit a number of these sites as well as the isles in general where the people are especially welcoming. Many well sheltered bays and a scattering of good piers and harbours make for easy access to the shore. On a few occasions we have hired a car to have a day off the boat and do some sight seeing which can be very worthwhile. Each island is that little bit different and most are very fertile and have been farmed for thousands of years. The coastal scenery is breathtaking, from The Old Man of Hoy to the Noup Head cliffs and nesting, wonderful beaches, beautiful and probably deserted. We get to see so very much more, and close up, than the thousands that come on the many cruise ships.
The passage to or from Oban will take a route to the west to get round Cape Wrath and via the west coast or Skye or even the Outer Hebrides if this seems to be the best way. The weather patterns will often determine the better options on this longer passage. We will leave adequate time for this but the sails will involve long days and maybe an overnight passage to speed it up; this should give some fine offshore & coastal sailing with a watch system to cover the large distances and gain sea time. The days of June are long and it hardly gets dark at this latitude.
Scrabster is the port adjacent to Thurso and has good coach and rail connections to the south via Inverness. If there is a lot of demand I may slot in a shorter six day trip to explore Orkney between the two longer voyages. If you have an interest in doing this venture please get in touch by email so that I can liaise with interested parties.
Cruising to Ireland
The Ireland Cruise is 10 or 12 days, I have done this several times now, once we lost a couple of days due to major gales so did not get any further than Donegal Bay, but what we saw and the places we visited were of interest and some of the coastal scenery is very grand. Subsequent trips made much better progress and we got down to Inishboffin with lots of island exploring and had time to return along the N coast then up to Oban, with great weather. It is very much closer to get to the Irish coast than say Orkney; 100M to Lough Swilly; it is a fairly exposed area and lends itself to some lengthy day sails to get to good anchorages. Visiting Tory island was great and a must on future trips. Brian ran one trip that had a lot of head winds and a few calms but the consensus was that in spite of that, there were some great places to visit and it was very much enjoyed by all. They had alternating long and short days to allow visiting time, finding some good interesting spots.