Month: February 2020

Why you should choose a sailing holiday in Norway

Trinovante norway fjords

With over 1000Nm of unbelievably stunning coastline, Norway is one of our best adventure sailing destinations with so much to offer for both the Salty seadog and the first time sailor.

Steep green fjords and Arctic tundra make for stunning landscapes, but it’s also the clarity of light and the feeling of freedom at sea that makes revisiting this unique country a fresh experience every time.

Skipper Nikki shares her love for sailing in Norway with some of her best coastal towns to visit.

Lysefjord and Pulpit rock
Traditional white wooden houses line the streets of Stavanger where the narrow and majestic Lysefjord begins. The sheer silvery rockface rises from the mysterious deep blue and it is Pulpit rock that has made this fjord so famous.  Looking up, rising high above us from the deck, you can just make out the figures of brave souls standing perilously on the high rock taking in the majestic view.  Such is the vastness of the landscape here, it makes this one of my favourite places to sail in all of Norway.  

Bergen
Bryggen is one of the most beautiful waterfronts in the world. It is everything you imagine Scandinavia to be with painted pine-log houses fronting onto the sea against a pine forest backdrop. Streets twist between old merchant houses reformed into cosy candlelit cafes drawing you in with smells of rich coffee mingled with scents of pine resin.

It is nearly essential to arrive into Bergen by sea as maritime skill and tradition run thick through the veins of many who live here. 200 years ago, so important was the trade and shipbuilding to the town, they named a type of vessel, Hardangar Jakt after the strong and seaworthy cargo vessels that traded from here throughout Europe.

Sailing in from the coast,  the sprinkling of rocky islets topped off with tiny red and white painted cabins, transforms into a wide-open bay surrounded by this idyllic town.  Bergen is the perfect stop off after a good day of sailing so do take time to explore for yourself this charming place. The outdoor market in the summer has everything from fresh berries to locally caught fish and wonderful cheeses.  Make sure you try the Fiskebolle soup, a fine traditional hearty soup made from local cod and potato.

Lofoten
Above the arctic circle lies a real gem that is definitely on my bucket list to explore. Lofoten is a chain of islands lying close to the coastline of Norway offering some of the best sailing holidays in Norway. Our expedition vessel Narwhal will be visiting here this summer.

These islands are so fairytale-like, you somehow expect trolls and goblins to inhabit this place. Realistically, the islands are home long lines of fishing families, working a trade that has sustained the islands for centuries due to the rich waters. Throughout Europe and Africa, Stockfisk, a dry, salted cod, became an important staple diet and Lofoten’s position in the cod trade rose to create charming villages and harbours. 

With such a dramatic landscape from uninhabited islands to sheer cliffs to mountains, you can’t help but be excited. Wildlife is in abundance here with moose, otter, whales and eagles very much part of the landscape so take the time to explore every hidden part. 

For me, one of my favourite pastimes while sailing in Norway is fishing for cod during the warm summer nights when the sun never sets but perches elegantly on the horizon. What better way to end a day of sailing than to hop into the dinghy with a line and hook. No phones, no noise just drifting on the tide, soaking up the peace and wondering at this incredible landscape, you nearly have to pinch yourself to see if it is real!

Food
Norway mixes traditional recipes focused on utilising local ingredients. The land is rich in wild food and the locals are certainly resourceful with their gathering. Berries and wild mushrooms grow abundantly in the early autumn and small coastal farms produce wonderful cheeses and flavoursome lamb. The seas are rich in wonderful fish and shellfish with fresh produce available to buy in all the coastal towns.  My top foodie things to try are Brunost, a rich, slightly sweet soft cheese; Fiskebolle Soup, a creamy fish soup with white fish balls; and of course as in all of Scandanavia everyone must try Herring with Schnapps.

Stop dreaming and start planning!
Take a look at our sailing schedule and start planning your sailing holiday in Norway today, and get one step closer to ticking it off your bucket list.

Jump Aboard A Sailing Holiday In Scotland On The Bessie Ellen

Gin and tonic on board Bessie Ellen in Scotland

With a staggering 10,250 miles of coastline, Scotland and its islands provide an unparalleled playground for every sailor – from complete novices to the most seasoned skippers. The wild west coast, in particular, boasts fjord-like sea lochs punctuated by mountainous promontories, providing both much-needed shelter and, at times, their very own weather systems. 

A land of opportunity and unique experiences, with hosts as friendly as they are passionate about their sensational homeland, Scotland offers something for everyone – from music festivals, history and diverse wildlife to unrationed adrenaline, breath-taking vistas and the world’s finest whisky.

Arriving in Style

Stunning scenery is sure to dazzle visitors arriving by air, road, rail or sea – but catching one’s very first glimpses of Scotland’s enchanting landscapes from the water guarantees the most beautiful bypass to traffic, trains and tourist traps. Add to this an enormous sense of accomplishment for mastering some of the most challenging British waters and spine-tingling anticipation for the rich bounty awaiting you, and your arrival will be all the sweeter.

As the days grow longer, ‘A Sailor’s Voyage to Scotland’ on the Bessie Ellen offers a fantastic opportunity to arrive in Scotland under sail, taking in the country’s unrivalled beauty from a traditional ship. Departing from Fowey in Cornwall, sailors can soak up the gradual changes in landscape from the West Country all the way up to Scotland’s wonderful west coast while clocking up 11 days’ worth of nautical miles and an abundance of open water sailing experience, both by day and by night. 

Bessie Ellen in Hebrides

Beats a Bothy

Walkers in Scotland traditionally break for the night in a humble bothy – a simple shelter from the elements, often without any facilities whatsoever – but the crew of the Bessie Ellen can retreat to their cosy berths to recuperate after a day well spent. Those on night watch need not feel hard done by; navigating the wide-open sea by starlight provides the ultimate consolation prize. Better still, Bessie Ellen is fully catered at breakfast, lunch and dinner – and for snacks and drinks too. 

Passage Plan

Peel Harbour on the Isle of Man provides the first port of call (and an abundance of world famous smoked kippers) before Bessie Ellen sets sail once again through the North Channel, past the Isle of Islay and the narrow strait of Coryvrekkan and calling in on the islands of Colonsay or Jura (subject to the prevailing weather conditions, of course). Sailors can steady their sea legs once and for all at their destination, Oban, before soaking up all that mainland Scotland has to offer. 

Oban itself makes for an unforgettable introduction to Scotland. Taking its name from the Gaelic for ‘little bay’, Oban is nestled within miles of dramatic coastline and scenic countryside, providing a gateway not only to the Hebrides but to castles, gardens, galleries, independent shops, a distillery and even a chocolate factory. Its coves and rich sea life provide the ultimate reward at the end of a lengthy voyage, with the most magical west-facing sunsets as the lengthening days draw to a close. 

Oban marina
Oban marina

The First Visit of Many

Little wonder, then, that Scotland lies at every skipper’s heart. The weather might keep the masses at bay – but ensures that no sailor ever becomes a stranger to this instantly and reassuringly familiar nation.

Bessie Ellen full sail
Bessie Ellen

Take a look inside this classic tall ship, and be inspired to take your first sailing holiday in Scotland. 

Sailing adventures and foodie experiences in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland

Scotland Isle of Bute

The owner, Dónal Boyle, of Crofters’ Music Bar & Bistro on the Isle of Arran, has taken his bistro concept afloat on tall ship Lady of Avenel to offer guests a gourmet sailing holiday experience on the West coast of Scotland in the Hebrides.

Dónal moved from the North of England to the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde in 1986 at the age of 14. His father’s family being Irish, he quickly adapted to life on a Scottish Island and became immersed in the culture, which included smallholding, sailing and music; all of which, he developed a passion for. Read why Dónal loves to live, work and sail on the Firth of Clyde.

Lady of Avenel Donal Boyle Crofters
Dónal Boyle

“A sailing holiday in the Firth of Clyde really does have a little bit of everything; stunning islands and lochs, with plenty of deep water anchorages and harbours, fishing villages & Victorian holiday towns.

There are breweries, famous distilleries and plenty of live music in pubs and festivals throughout the year. On my home island of Arran, situated in the Lochranza Bay, the Lochranza Distillery is famous for its Scottish whisky and is well worth a visit.

Along with sailing this beautiful part of Scotland, I love the music life here. Celtic music is in our roots and I really try to capture this within my Bistro on the Isle of Arran. I am really looking forward to bringing the hospitality and music of my Bistro onboard Lady of Avenel with my Crofters’ Cruises.

Lady of Avenel anchored in Scotland

We are really lucky with the wildlife in the Firth of Clyde. It’s a nature lovers’ dream with massive diversity. From dolphins swimming in the wake of Lady of Avenel’s bow to common seals basking in the sun, we also have spottings of humpback and killer whales!

From a practical sailing point of view, there are very few tidal constraints in the Clyde and most importantly for novices, it is well sheltered from the Atlantic. There is always somewhere to explore and enjoy, amongst the islands and lochs, even in bad weather. Pilotage is straightforward and there’s relatively little commercial traffic, so it makes for a really relaxing, enjoyable cruising holiday.”

Lady of Avenel Crofters food table
Crofters’ Gourmet Sailing Holidays

Crofters’ Cruises on the Lady of Avenel are the fulfilment of Dónal’s ambition to combine all three of his passions into an extraordinary project, made possible by Stefan Fritz, owner of Lady of Avenel, with whom Dónal has sailed extensively and run a very successful first Crofters’ Cruise from Oban to Donegal last summer.

Lady of Avenel scotland sailing
Lady of Avenel tall ship
Lady of Avenel bunks
Lady of Avenel berths
Lady of Avenel saloon eating
Lady of Avenel saloon