Sailing the Outer Hebrides & St Kilda
- Vessel: Bessie Ellen
- Where: Oban, Scotland
- Duration: 10 days
- Embark: Oban - 7 June 2023, 12:00
- Disembark: Oban - 16 June 2023, 10:00
Discover the Outer Hebrides, Mingulay or the UNESCO world heritage site of St Kilda under sail with tall ship Bessie Ellen.
Join tall ship Bessie Ellen in the Scottish harbour town of Oban as you prepare to explore the remote islands of the Outer Hebrides. This sailing adventure is perfect for those looking to spend more time under sail, discover hard to reach, remote locations and get to grips with sailing a traditional tall ship.
Shrouded in myth and legend, the once inhabited UNESCO world heritage site of St Kilda can only be accessed by boat and what better way to arrive on than on a tall ship. Last inhabited by humans in 1930, St Kilda is now only home to over a million nesting seabirds – Europes largest recorded colony.
- 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
OUTER HEBRIDES, SCOTLAND
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. The Outer Hebrides offers some of the most breath-taking and fascinating sailing grounds in the UK. Think remote anchorages where mountains run straight into the sea, miles of atmospheric landscapes, secret coves and uninhabited islands for walking trails ashore.
The main focus of this adventure sailing holiday is to reach the Outer Hebridean islands and as long as the weather is favourable, Bessie Ellen will make the 45 mile crossing to the far flung archipelago of St Kilda. The wind and weather will determine your route and destination so it is never 100% guarantee that St Kilda will be reached.
Nikki has spent years sailing the Hebrides so knows the best places to explore ashore, swim off the boat and take in the clearest starry skies. Relax in sheltered anchorages and watch picturesque sunsets, and if we are blessed with dark skies, the stargazing from the deck is breathtaking.
Sailing in the Outer Hebrides, possible anchorages include Eriskay, Barra Head, Mingulay, Vatersay, Taransay, the Monach Islands and of course the UNESCO site of St Kilda.
If the weather permits, venture even further into the Atlantic and make the crossing to the uninhabited islands of St Kilda.
St. Kilda which is also a UNESCO world heritage site lying out in the Atlantic, sits 45 miles off the west of the Outer Hebrides. This isolated and volcanic archipelago was once home to Britain’s most isolated community. The history of the people, its inaccessibility and amazing wildlife make the islands an exceptionally desirable destination for anyone interested in natural history.
Due to weather and swell conditions, sailing to St Kilda is never a guaranteed destination however, if both are favourable Bessie Ellen will sail overnight to arrive in Village Bay in the early morning. On landing, guests will be able to walk around the abandoned village before taking a more energetic climb to the edge of the steepest cliffs in Britain, passing hundreds of small stone huts known as cleits used for storing the Guga. Rare Soay sheep roam here, a primitive breed of today’s domestic sheep.
WONDERFUL WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS
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.
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.