There are many fantastic ways to explore Scotland but sailing along the coast is one that I had never really considered before. This may seem strange as I not only live on an island but I have a picture view through my windows of the Firth of Clyde and spend way too much time gazing at the multitude of yachts that drift by, wondering what exciting journeys they are on.
This week I had the chance to find out just what it is like to view Scotland from the water gazing towards the land and not the other way around and I can confirm it was superb, in fact better than superb, I had an amazing time! Granted, I was on a luxury catamaran and I did have lovely weather which added immensely to the experience and set the bar for future trips but I felt I was seeing some of my favourite and best known parts of the country for the first time.
My journey started at Dunstaffnage Marina on the west coast, just outside Oban. I had been invited by Caprice Yacht Charter to experience a trip on the Curanta Cridhe (Gaelic for Brave Heart), a state-of-the-art, 50’ Discovery skippered catamaran which is ideal for group trips as it provides en-suite accommodation for up to 6 people.
I met the very friendly and knowledgeable Mike and Clara, who are both accomplished sailors and crew the boat, after a short safety introduction I took a little tour of my new 'home' for the next few hours. I was amazed at how spacious and comfortable it all felt and immediately began to destress and relax.
We set off from the marina on a still day, not ideal for a sailboat but it was lovely to motor along on such calm waters. The sky started off grey and dull as we left the marina but as we headed further west it turned to a welcoming blue and the air warmed up nicely. I took a seat outdoors at the bow (front!) of the catamaran and let the gentle breeze wash over me as we progressed by little islands and bays that I had no idea existed! In fact considering how well I know this area from travelling on the land I was surprised at how disorientated I felt seeing everything from this new perspective.
Apart from the occasional honking of geese, we glided along almost silently and there was a real sense of peacefulness which I hadn't expected.
Mike and Clara were full of local knowledge and pointed out places of interest and headed to areas known for wildlife spotting. There was no shortage of seabirds diving and swimming as we motored along. We saw quite a few seals in and out the water and managed to get pretty close to these playful marine mammals who were totally unphased by the boat.
We headed to a bay where they had spotted a sea eagle last season, unfortunately we didn't see it on this occasion but I didn't feel disappointed as there was so much else to take in and I was thoroughly enjoying my nautical adventure.
The catamaran is also very spacious on the outside with plenty of places to sit (I think I tried them all!) and it is nice to be able to choose your view, there are also places to lie and sunbathe in the warmer weather which were still very tempting to lounge on even in mild Spring temperatures!
Guests on board are fully catered for and the price of meals, soft drinks, beers and lagers are included in the price.
Clara also does the cooking and I enjoyed a very tasty lunch at the comfortable outside seated area which meant I could still enjoy the fresh air and sights and sounds around me. On colder or wetter days there is every luxury you need to keep you entertained and warm indoors, however on a day like I had there was no way I was sitting inside!
A highlight for me was a trip into Oban Bay. I love Oban and have only ever been on boat trips that head in a set direction at speed without the chance to take in the view, no worry of that when you are on this type of trip! I had plenty of time to admire other boats, the harbour and the fantastic vista of the town, with McCaig's Tower dominating the picturesque backdrop. One of the real benefits of a sailing boat is the ability to travel at a slow pace when you really want to take in a view and Mike seemed to know instinctively just when those moments were.
All too soon it was time to head back with a whole new admiration for the beauty of Scotland, a convert to sailing and slightly less of a landlubber.
Is it worth it?
A trip on a sailing boat of this luxury standard is the water based equivalent of a stay at a five star hotel and is priced accordingly. A minimum 2 night stay is required and you can book either a cabin (which sleeps 2) or charter the whole boat, all rooms are fully en-suite with showers and can be made into a comfortable twin or double option.
In my opinion the boat is ideal for special occasions for groups of family or friends looking for a unique and memorable adventure in Scotland.
If 6 people were to book a 2 night stay the cost works out at just over £500 p.p which includes luxury accommodation, excellent meals, a choice of drinks, transport and personal guide. If you think what a weekend away at a luxury hotel would cost you with your food etc added on top, this to me works out at far better value. Throw in the stunningly ever changing scenery, a choice of itinerary, getting up close to wildlife, the adventure of being at sea and much.much more then I think it is worth every penny.
If you are looking for a once in a lifetime honeymoon or minimoon, special packages can be arranged, what could be more romantic and memorable than lying back, sipping champagne and watching a stunning Scottish west coast sunset?
I was invited as a guest on the Curanta Cridhe, however all opinions and experiences are my own. For more information you can visit their website at www.capriceyachtcharter.co.uk, follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CapriceYacht or follow on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CapriceYachtCharter
Here are a few more photos from the day or you can check out my full photo album on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AdventuresAroundScotland
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