Sailing & Whale Watching in the Hebrides
- Vessel: Bessie Ellen
- Where: Oban, Scotland
- Duration: 7 days
- Embark: Oban - 13 August 2022, 14:00
- Disembark: Oban - 19 August 2022, 10:00
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Explore the majestic island of Mull and her surrounding isles as you keep your eyes peeled for whale sightings while under sail.
Join tall ship Bessie Ellen in the Scottish harbour town of Oban for a sailing holiday to remember! Majestic Mull and her outlying islands are certainly one of the highlights of sailing in Scotland and perhaps one of the most geologically interesting and spectacular of all the island groups.
Life at Sea
This voyage is perfect for those wanting to experience the magic of Scotland under sail and venture to anchorages off the beaten track, away from the tourist hustle and bustle.
The time at sea is yours to make your own and guests are invited to become as involved as much as they like by taking the wheel, navigating or hauling the ropes. Bessie Ellen is a traditional tall ship with not a winch in sight so it’s certainly a case of all hands on deck. No experience is needed and new comers are always welcome but a lust for adventure is a must!
Setting the sails
Heading westward through the Sound Of Mull, we may sail beyond Ardnamurchan Point and alter course to the North or South or Westwards to Barra and beyond. The Atlantic shallows here allow for denser fish stocks and guarantees sightings of whale and dolphins.
Taking the Southerly heading, follow the majestic coastline of Mull down past Treshnish and on to Staffa. A visit to Fingal’s cave is a must, but landing is very much dependant on the swell. Beyond lies the sacred isle of Iona where the resonance of Columba lives on. Heading on south to Colonsay, stop for the night alongside the pier and walk through one of our favourite islands for its gentle beauty and of course the taste some great ales from smallest island brewery in the world.
If the weather permits the Northern route takes us on and out to the more remote Hebridean Isles. Rum, by far the largest island, possesses a cluster of formidable volcanic peaks, Askival (Ash Mountain) the highest peak dominates the landscape, and the name itself tells of the Viking settlers here.
Whale watching in the Hebrides
Each year we see more and more whales – perhaps we are getting better at spotting them but it is also knowing where to look. Although not yet common, we see whales on average twice a week, the most common being Minke Whale. In 2019 we had an exceptional sighting of two Humpback whales feeding on the shoaling herring while on passage from Barra, a cry of ‘There she blows’ from Owain bought all hands to the taffrail to marvel at these leviathans.
Each whale was well over 20 ft long and must have weighed at least 5 tons, gently swimming alongside the hull, diving under and surfacing close by. The pair stayed with us as we sailed along for about 15 minutes before turning to the west once more. Not only did we get the pleasure of humpbacks, but in the midst of the feeding frenzy at least 4 Minke that seemed really quite small in comparison, common dolphins and of course gannets and gulls diving for scraps. For all on board, this was one of the best & most moving sightings seen in Scottish waters.
Along with whale watching, a sailing holiday in Scotland comes with guaranteed wildlife watching and not a week passes without seeing at least three of the Big five – Red Deer, Otter, Seal, Golden Eagle and of course the Red Squirrel. It is possible to stand amongst puffin burrows whilst watching the to-ing and fro-ing of the parent birds as they feed their young with mouths full of eels. Whales and dolphins are often seen out to the North of Colonsay and Canna, mostly Minke but Orca have also been known to visit these waters, so keep those eyes peeled!
As with all Bessie Ellen’s sailing holidays, your ticket price includes Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks and Drinks. Curtained bunk berths are in the spacious shared open saloon below decks with bedding provided – you just need to bring your own towel.
Simply click “Enquire Now” to reserve your berth for five days whilst you sort your travel plans. No booking form or deposit is required until you are ready to book!
All voyages for Bessie Ellen
Guest berths: 12 Rig: Gaff Rigged Ketch
Bessie Ellen offers quality sailing holidays on board a classic tall ship with over 100 years of history and is now one of the last West Country trading ketches.
This ship worked through both world wars during the last era of wind-powered trade when ships like Bessie were seen all over England. She is featured on the National Historic Ships Register, which identifies her as a historic vessel that needs to be conserved.
Now, her working life is very different, and she spends her days cruising around British and European waters, offering hands-on sailing holidays. With an experienced and hospitable crew, Bessie Ellen provides her guests with a comfortable and authentic tall ship sailing experience. Skipper Nikki occasionally nods back to Bessie’s past by loading her up with cargo for ocean passages, transporting beer from Harbour Brewery and making the most out of the emission-free transport that Bessie offers.
Read more about Life on board Bessie Ellen here >
Sail with Bessie Ellen and Nikki, around Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, the Hebrides and St. Kilda, you’ll not only enjoy sailing aboard a tall ship, but experience unique coastlines, abundant wildlife, and excellent food, all sourced locally and prepared on board. Nikki and her crew are also joined by salty sea dog Bracken, who will love to go on you adventures with you!
Choose from weekend breaks, weeklong trips, or 10-day explorations for a truly unforgettable holiday.More about Bessie Ellen
Travel insurance notes
As this is an active adventure holiday, we advise that everyone has the appropriate personal accident travel insurance whilst onboard in addition to standard travel insurance which would cover you in the time between making your booking and departing for your adventure. These policies can sometimes be combined so please check with your travel insurance provider.
Please read more information on our Insurance guidelines page.
Are meals included?
Yes - and we pride ourselves on the quality of food served!
Can you cater for dietary needs?
Yes, please let us know at the time of enquiry
Do I need to tip the crew?
Tips are not mandatory but are welcomed by the crew!
Do I need to bring bedding or towels?
All your bedding (duvet and pillow) is provided but please bring your own towels (washing and/or swimming)
What language is spoken on board?
English is the main language spoken, however on occasion we have crew onboard who are multilingual.
What are the sleeping arrangements?
There are 12 comfortable berths in the former cargo hold. This is an open plan area that is also used for meals and relaxing
How many toilets/showers does she have?
Bessie Ellen has two toilets/showers for guests.
Is there WIFI?
No, but you will be able to reach 3/4G when you are close to land.
Is there an age limit?
No, but we advise over 16's for scheduled voyages as there is an open saloon sleeping arrangement. There is no limit for private charter.
Can I charge my phone or camera?
Yes. We run generators every day in the morning and evening, which run the 240 volt system of normal 3 pin sockets.
Are there life jackets provided?
Are waterproofs available?
No. Please bring your own. There are a few spare for emergencies only.
Do I need to be a seasoned sailor?
Not at all. We give everyone who joins us on board the choice to do as much or as little as they like, whether the know how to or not.
Do I have to do watches?
During a passage crossings you may be asked to be part of our watch rota, this is not compulsory but is definitely part of boat life that guests enjoy when at sea for long periods.
Will there be time to get off the boat?
Yes on most of our trips we try and explore the areas we are sailing around each day, except for passage crossings where of course we are at sea for most of the voyage.
Will I be sea sick?
Everyone reacts differently but we recommend if you are worried to take some medication 24 hours before travelling.
To see where the ports are, along with your likely sailing area, please view the sail area & highlights.
There is ample parking in Oban if you arrive by car. Secure parking can be found at MacQueen Bros, or you could try the Tesco carpark and pay for 24 hour parking on arrival using the Your Parking Space app.
Oban station is a 5-10 minute walk from North Pier. Trains run 6 times a day to Glasgow Queen Street Station where there are good travel links to the rest of the UK.
Glasgow and Edinburgh Airport both require taking a train from Oban which takes approximately 2-3hours. Flights go direct to Stansted Airport.
STAY IN OBAN:
There are plenty of places to stay in Oban. Try Witchwood House, The Scot or Perle Hotels Oban.