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Sailing on the West Coast of Scotland

The west coast of Scotland is regarded as one of the world's finest sailing grounds. Why is this?

Skippered charter aboard Longbow will allow you to enjoy each of these aspects to the full. Read more about Scotland below or find out about the types of cruise we offer.

[Image: Sunset at Craighouse]

[Image: On a mooring in Loch Harport, Skye, home of the Talisker distillery who have thoughtfully provided them!]

Scenery and anchorages

Spectacular and unspoilt scenery surrounds you: the combination of mountains and lochs never fails to impress. As you sail, the scenery around you is constantly changing, and travelling by yacht gives you access to some remote spots that are otherwise hard to reach. In some anchorages we may be the only yacht.

It is rarely far to the next safe haven, whether it be a bustling fishing harbour or a quiet anchorage in a sandy bay, and stops for lunch are often possible. Should the weather deteriorate, we can head for shelter. Conversely, on a nice day we can extend the day's plan to go just that bit further. It also means that in any weather conditions it should be possible to find a calm spot.

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Sailing conditions

Most of the sailing can be done in sheltered waters that will be much less rough than the open sea, even with a lively breeze. This minimises the chance of seasickness and makes moving around the boat much less difficult. Longbow is a sea-kindly boat: she moves steadily through the waves and doesn't 'jump about' as much as a lighter, smaller boat. However, she can still charge along at a good speed in a fair wind!

The west coast of Scotland also offers great interest to the keen navigator, particularly in the smaller sounds and lochs. From using the strong tides to best advantage to entering snug anchorages, the skipper can involve you in the navigation and allow you to practise your skills under his watchful eye. However, the novice can relax and leave the navigation to Ted Warren, your skipper: he has over fifteen years' experience of this area and will keep you safe and unstressed.

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[Image: Sailing in Loch Craignish]

Other things to see and do: wildlife and culture

[Puffins on Lunga]

A sailing cruise can take any of a number of themes, so do let Ted know of any special interests you have.

There are many things to see and do: while under way there are usually seabirds to watch, and often seals, dolphins or even whales. Children often enjoy watching the comings and goings of fishing boats and the occasional ferry. Once anchored, take a trip ashore for a spectacular walk, a warming drink in a coffee shop or pub, or a visit to a castle or museum.

[Dolphin playing alongside]

'But what about the rain?', you ask. It does indeed rain in Scotland, but the further out in the islands, the lower the rainfall. The reputation for rain has also played its part in keeping this area unspoilt and uncrowded, and when the sun reappears, clear views are your reward. In a large yacht like Longbow there is plenty of space to retreat below temporarily, and one of the saloon bunks makes an excellent viewing spot. Modern sailing waterproofs such as those carried aboard Longbow are extremely good at keeping you warm and dry so that showers should not spoil your day.

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[Image: from Ballycastle in Northern Ireland to Stornoway on Lewis, or beyond..]

Images produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Cruising areas

Longbow's home base is Rhu Marina, near Helensburgh (map), which is less than an hour from Glasgow by road or rail. She frequently starts and/or finishes cruises at Ardfern Yacht Haven (map), 15 miles south of Oban, which allows more direct access to the inner and outer Hebrides. During West Highland Week and the Classic Malts cruise she is available for specific bookings.

From these points, the places that can be reached depend on the weather, the experience of the guests and the time available. The following estimates are based on there being reasonable but not exceptional weather, and guests without much sailing experience. On all cruises the skipper will make the final route decisions based on the conditions and the requests and experience of the guests.

From Rhu: On short (one or two-day) trips, you can cruise around the upper Clyde, including the Holy Loch, the Cumbraes, Bute, and Loch Fyne. A five or six day cruise puts Arran and Northern Ireland within reach, or by rounding the Mull of Kintyre you could visit Gigha, Islay and Jura. A two week cruise opens up even greater possibilities, either south and west to Ireland or north to the other Scottish islands (see Oban description below).

From Ardfern: During a week's cruise from Ardfern, you might head northwest to Mull, the small isles (Rum, Eigg, Muck and Canna) and the south of Skye, or go south to Jura and the Kintyre peninsula. A shorter trip might focus on the Sound of Mull, Firth of Lorne, and the sheltered Loch Craignish. The north of Skye, the outer Hebrides and the northwest coast (e.g. Ullapool and the Summer Isles) are also accessible from here, but will require longer periods of sailing and may best be enjoyed on a slightly longer charter (10-14 days).

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Page last updated - contact michele@longbow-cruising.co.uk with any problems.