Sailing the Hebrides; Jura, Islay & Tory Island
- Vessel: Bessie Ellen
- Where: Oban, Scotland
- Duration: 10 days
- Embark: Oban - 1 July 2023, 12:00
- Disembark: Oban - 10 July 2023, 10:00
Sorry we’re full!
This voyage is fully crewed. Check out our voyage finder to see what else we have available.
Explore the Hebridean islands of Jura and Islay before heading across the Atlantic to the Northern Ireland island of Tory.
Jump aboard tall ship Bessie Ellen on the West coast of Scotland as she offers a new voyage for 2023. Head South from Oban to explore the islands of Jura and Islay before setting sails for Tory island on the North coast of Ireland.
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.
- Traditional tall ship sailing
- Island hopping
- Great for adventurers
- Wildlife watching
- Perfect for solo travellers
- All-inclusive board
- Sail area & highlights
- Life on board
- Sample menu
- Travel planning
- The boat
- What's included
- Boat schedule
YOUR SAILING AREA
The coasts and islands that make up the West Coast of Scotland offer so much variation for ours boats and guests, you will quickly see why our guests return year on year. Offering some of the most breath-taking and fascinating sailing grounds in the UK where mountains run straight into the sea over miles of atmospheric landscapes, secret coves and uninhabited islands for walking trails ashore.
Exactly which islands you explore during your tall ship sailing holiday will entirely depend on the wind and tides. Once you have boarded, skipper Nikki will have the latest weather forecast and will have a better idea of what you can expect from your holiday. Nikki has been sailing in the Hebrides for many years so she is well-versed in the sailing areas and know all the best spots off the beaten track.
Jura & Islay
The islands of Jura and Islay are some of the largest of the Hebrides, well known for stunning landscapes and world renowned malt whisky, it’s well worth taking time to explore both land and sea, from the peaks of the Paps of Jura right down to hidden distilleries that hug the coast of Islay, there is something for everyone. Gigha lies in easy sailing distance before taking on the Irish coasts towards Donegal. Under explored by sail, the coast here promises quiet charm and awesome adventures amongst some strong tidal currents. Jura, once the hideout for George Orwell to complete his famous 1984, has only 200 inhabitants, massively outnumbered by its wild deer population which has been counted at approximately 5000! Islay boasts some glorious white sandy beaches with plenty of opportunities to discover the plethora of whisky distilleries and hiking trails.
With still so much of our British coastlines to discover, this year Bessie Ellen is off to explore the Southern Hebrides and the coasts of Northern Ireland before heading out to sea to investigate one of the most important lighthouses, Skerryvore. Tory island sits on the North coast of Ireland and, weather permitting after an adventurous sail across the Atlantic, makes ways for a remote and rugged landscape. Perfect for exploring by boat, Tory island is home to towering cliffs and is well-known for it’s Celtic music. The Giants Causeway and Rathlin island lead to Tory Island, one of the most remote inhabited islands scattered within the British Isles and Eire and still beholds a chosen King! With a fair wind, Skerryvore’s situation provides us with a good sailing leg where one can re-live the conditions that the great designer Alan Stevenson underwent to build the largest lighthouse in Scotland.
Wildlife in the Hebrides
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!
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
Life on board Bessie Ellen
Sailing with traditional tall ship Bessie Ellen is certainly an experience you will never forget. From the moment you board, you can feel the 100 years of sailing history this magnificent classic has under her sails. Faithfully restored over many years by her owner and skipper Nikki, it’s clear to see how dedicated she is to the rich maritime history and authenticity of sailing such a tall ship.
Bessie Ellen is perfect for those looking for an immersive traditional sailing experience while enjoying Nikki’s famous hospitality, great food and team spirit. From solo travellers, to adventurous couples, sailing with Bessie Ellen will leave you with life-long memories and you’ll quickly see why her guests return year on year.
The crew actively encourage guests to get involved with all aspects of sailing such a traditional vessel – it really is an all-hands-on-deck attitude. They are well-versed in having beginners on board and are always on hand to show guests the ropes. From hoisting the sails together, taking the helm in open waters, basic rope work and even some navigation pointers, you soon feel at ease and part of the team! Believe it or not, you don’t need any sailing experience to join Bessie Ellen, just a lust for adventure.
The other important crew member is ships dog Bracken! A small border terrier who is well-versed in life on board, loves watching for dolphins, exploring ashore and sleeping while under sail.
Sleeping and relaxation
Below decks, guests are indulged in a spacious saloon with original wooden beams, comfy open bunks and two toilet/wet-rooms where you’d be forgiven for forgetting that you were even on a boat! Each bunk has it’s own light, full bedding and a privacy curtain. A tiny galley sits tucked mid-ships and you will be in awe and wonder of the meals that come out of this space.
Nikki is not only a competent skipper but also incredible cook using locally sourced produce everywhere possible and has spent many years in both Cornwall and Scotland networking a myriad of local suppliers.
- All-inclusive (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Soft/hot drinks)
- All bedding (pillow, sheets & duvet)
- Full crew plus tuition
- Marina and fuel fees
- All tender trips to and fro the boat
- Offshore sailing jacket and trousers for emergencies (these are not permitted to be taken ashore)
What’s not included
- Wash and/or swim towel
- All flights
- Transit hotels
- Travel to and from the boat on the day of joining/leaving
- Travel insurance
- Sailing Insurance (Please read our Sailing Insurance page for more information)
- Crew tips
- Personal expenses
What COVID policies are in place for sailing with Bessie Ellen?
There are currently no Test & Sail policies in place for the 2022 season.
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 – https://witchwoodhouseoban.com/
The Scot – https://thescotoban.com/
Perle Hotels – https://perlehotels.com/oban/