Steady Sailing in The Inner Hebrides

Date published: 02 May 2020

Look at these massive birds", I shouted one morning halfway through our week-long trip sailing in Scotland. We were just heading out of Loch Sunart into the Sound of Mull. When I saw them land at a tiny island in the loch our captain carefully manouvred 'Steady' closer to the island so that we could observe the birds. They were White Tailed Eagles, which have been reintroduced on Mull some 15 years ago and are now spreading across the Scottish West Coast. But they are still relatively rare, and I had not expected to see them. When one of the birds took a short flight it landed among a group of seals, who hurriedly made for the safety of the water. What a sight: BBC's Springwatch would die for this!

We were well into trip but if you think this was a nature sailing trip you are mistaken: it just comes with the territory of a week's sailing among the Small Isles in Scotland, departing from Oban and exploring Mull and surrounding islands.

There were many more great experiences. We found ourselves visiting the island of Iona, populated since 500 AD, with the Abbey that operated there from 600 to 1500 back in good shape as a museum, working church and a beautiful spot. We sailed close to a few puffin nesting grounds only to discover that they had flown out early August as they normally do. We picked up mussels fresh from the mussel farm (just take a bag and leave the money in the honesty box) in Loch Spelve and had the best meal of fresh mussels I can remember. We sailed close to the Island of Staffa and faced up to Fingal's cave, a rock island with huge basalt columns rising from the sea surrounding a mysterious cave which apparently once inspired Felix Mendelssohn to write his Fingal's Cave suite. We did not even have enough time (or should I say bad enough weather) to visit one of the many distilleries in the area.

And ‘Steady’ gave us a great home to base all these adventures from. You have the excitement of sailing including the possibility to steer, hoist, tag, winch and help with other jobs on board, but without the obligation. The size of the boat (20 meters) means this is all done in relative luxury; with four comfortable cabins, hot shower, a dining room and navigation hut give enough space to be inside in case conditions are tough. And plenty of space on deck if you want to be alone for a moment and just listen to the waves.

The hospitality given by Marielle and Jan-Willem who share their home with you during the trip made this a great experience (and did I mention their cooking skills?). We will be back to spot the puffins and see new islands next time. We saw so much in one week and there is still so much of the West Coast we have not seen!

Guus Greve sailed with:

Steady Sailing