Just beyond the Clyde, whether through the Crinan Canal (justly described as Britain’s most beautiful short-cut) or by passage around the Mull of Kintyre, more adventurous crews can access the equally beautiful sailing waters around the hebridean islands of Jura, Islay, Gigha, Mull.... and many more beyond.
These more open waters offer fantastic sailing too, but the navigation can at times be more challenging than in the Clyde area. Therefore we require charterers wishing to voyage through the Crinan Canal and/or to venture South or West of the Clyde area, to have a higher level of experience & qualifications and to leave a larger security deposit with us.
In addition to experience, qualifications and a very careful reading of the pilot books, you’ll also need the tides, the winds and the weather outlook to be right before contemplating a rounding of the Mull of Kintyre. The following route is offered on the basis that all of these boxes can be suitably ticked!
Day one: Largs to Lamlash or Campbeltown, both of which are worth a visit in their own right, and as good starting points for a rounding of the Mull.
Day two: weather, tides etc permitting, around the Mull of Kintyre to Islay or Gigha. This can be a long day’s sail, best done in fair weather and timed to arrive in daylight – there are rocks aplenty on the approaches to the islands! Our usual rounding of the Mull is by the inner passage north of Sanda Island, then choosing either Ardminish bay on Gigha or Port Ellen on Islay according to the expected wind direction – any wind with East in it can be uncomfortable in Gigha which is otherwise a delightful island and well worth a stay – usually you’ll find a visitors mooring at Ardminish, otherwise anchor. Port Ellen on Islay has pontoons beside the pier and some visitor moorings out in the bay - we generally opt for the pontoons.
Day three/four: we can happily spend at least a couple of days on Islay, a lovely island. Walk out (or hire bikes for the day) to Lagavullin, Laphrpoaig or (our favourite visit) Ardbeg, some of the distilleries within a few miles of Port Ellen – they each offer tours and the chance to sample their produce. Take the bus to Bowmore or hire a car and see even more of the island.
Day four/five: if time allows on the way North, stop off for the night at Craighouse on Jura. There are visitors moorings which we always opt for as the holding for anchoring isn’t always easy; ashore you’ll find the hotel, another distillery and if you’re feeling fir enough, the track leading to the cottage where George Orwell penned his classic novel 1984.
Day five/six: up to Crinan and into the canal. Head on up the Sound of Jura, giving the Corryvreckan whirlpool a suitably wide berth, and into loch Crinan. If you’re there in time, lock into the canal basin then press on up for another lock or two before pausing for the night. Then take the time to enjoy the panoramic views from the Crinan Hotel or if you’re feeling flush, from its rooftop restaurant!
Day six/seven: through the Crinan canal – a great day’s trip, involving not a few bouts of hard work to prepare and navigate the locks that allow passage to the Clyde. You can pause for the night in the basin at Ardrishaig or – as we generally do – continue the 10 miles further down Loch Fyne to the comforts of Tarbert.
Day seven/eight/etc: back to Largs - usually easily enough done in a day. If though you have the time or even a couple of days in hand, stop off at Loch Ranza, Kames and/ or Rothesay on the way!
Please note that in addition to our main Largs base, we can occasionally offer yachts for charter out of Crinan or Craobh marina (some 10 miles further North) or for one-way charters between Largs & Craobh/Crinan – please check with us for availability.
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