The Boat



Sailing Trips around the Scottish Highlands & Islands

Sailing Trips around the Scottish Highlands & Islands

Eala Bhan (Gaelic for ‘white swan’)
is a 20 m (24 m with bowsprit) 50-ton traditional wooden herring drifter.
Built in Peterhead 40 years ago
she fished the seas around the Outer Hebrides for over 30 years.

Her recent refit included central heating, a new galley, comfortable saloon for meals and socialising, library, bar, TV, 2 toilets and 2 showers. All modern safety, communication and satellite navigation equipment has been fitted including a colour echo sounder (in case we spot the Loch Ness monster!).

In addition to the crew accommodation, the boat now has 5 comfortable centrally heated 2/3-bunk cabins accommodating a total of 12 guests.

We offer a variety of trips from day cruises to extended voyages. Why not join us on a day sail to see the Moray Firth dolphins, or take a trip down Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal.

Some cruises can be combined with cycling or walking amongst the best scenery in the Highlands & Islands.

ou can join in to help sail the boat or sit back, relax and let the crew do the work. No sailing experience is necessary. For energetic guests, we can arrange alsorts of activities off the boat from mountain biking to canoeing. Just tell us what you would like to do and where you’d like to go – we will organise it all for you.

Accommodation Only Option
When Eala Bhan is moored at the Seaport Marina in Inverness, B&B; accommodation is available onboard in a choice of 5 comfortable centrally heated cabins. We have three cabins with 2 bunks and and two cabins with 3 bunks. Advance booking is essential. Click here for more details.

Special celebrations
We can host small wedding receptions, candlelit dinners or other private functions with all the catering. More info…..

The Highlands
The Eala Bhan is based in the capital of the Scottish Highlands – Inverness. Our cruises vary from short excursions onto Loch Ness to taking in the whole length of the Caledonian Canal and the lochs that it connects. Any of the trips can be tied in with walking or cycling parties.

Travel starts either from Muirtown basin or Dochgarroch. We travel along the canal through the little known Loch Dochfour and onto the mighty Loch Ness itself, where the immensity of the Scottish Lochs and Highlands become apparent.

The Eala Bhan is able to travel on the loch in most conditions, and every trip is different. There are sites along the way such as Urquhart Castle and places to stop for walks, e.g. Foyers where there are some splendid waterfalls and often a chance of seeing red squirrels. We have fishing rods to dip in the water, though it being Loch Ness do have to be careful of what we might fish out – Nessie could be lurking just below!

At the western end of Loch Ness is Fort Augustus. Here we frequently stop overnight. Again there are many walks, the local Clansman Centre provides an excellent show and there is often entertainment in the local pubs, though on our ceilidh trips the entertainment occurs on our boat or the quay alongside.

The flight of lochs at Fort Augustus lifts the canal further into the Highlands, and into Loch Oich. Although no where near as immense as Loch Ness, Loch Oich is very beautiful and again a favourite place to stop. The Eala Bhan acts as an excellent base here for walks into the hills, water sports of all descriptions – including white water rafting, or simply for relaxation. After all the exertion cream teas can be organised at Glengarry Castle Hotel.

The canal now starts to descend and enters Loch Lochy, where again the Highland scenery is impressive. We will sometimes stop at Gairlochy, where there is chance for further walking, sometimes with a history attached. As the canal continues westward, try and be the first one to spot Ben Nevis. Trips will end Near Fort William either at Banavie or Corpach. Depending on our length of stay here , perhaps consider even climbing Ben Nevis, though if feeling less energetic consider instead taking the gondola ride up to Aonach Mor.

For trips staring at Fort William simply reverse the above, though if you really love the canal and Highlands, why not consider travelling in both directions? We would love to have you on board.

The Islands
The Eala Bhan was built for the sea, and especially the sea around Scotland. She really comes into her own on these trips.

Passing through the sea-lock at Corpach, we travel first on to Loch Linnhe, to squeeze out into the wider part of the sea loch via Corran narrows. Depending on weather and timing of tides etc. the first stop might include Oban, Loch Aline or Tobermory. Even around these inner waters there are chances to spot dolphins, and sometimes even Minke whales, which we have seen in the Sound of Mull.

After Mull, it is on the other islands. This year, for the first time, some of the trips will take in Jura, Islay, Colonsay, Tiree, and Coll. The Small Isles of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Canna are always favourites and are good spots to see the sea life and bird life of the region.

Our route around Skye again varies depending on the trip booked and the weather, but is always dominated by sight of the magnificent Cuillins. On voyages past the east of Skye we will often visit or stop in the sea lochs on the western mainland, such as Loch Hourn and Loch Duich.

And then, of course, there are the Outer Hebrides. Of these, we mainly visit Lewis, Harris, and North Uist, sometimes finding a quiet sea loch all of our own to hide in. On most trips out and back we will also drop in on the Shiants. Being so remote from the mainland the islands of the Outer Hebrides have a special character of their own, which words cannot adequately describe – they have to be visited and experienced. And what better way than by travelling on the Eala Bhan? A boat which always stirs up interest, especially in Stornoway, where there is often an islander to tell you tales of the vessel’s previous life.

We will usually try and base our time in Stornoway around the Hebridean Celtic Festival and Sail Hebrides Maritime Festival, so it is often lively with a chance to hear good music and see a lot of local life and colour. The trips there and back are extremely popular so do book early to avoid disappointment. There is a huge contrast between leaving the islands and travelling back to the canal. We believe we are one of the few, if not the only, operator that regularly offers such a contrast in voyages, particularly on a boat of character and so full of local history.

Before your arrival we will give you some handy hints as to what to bring – e.g. warm and waterproof clothes, gloves and a hat, plus some midge repellant for when we are berthed. And of course don’t forget your camera!

Please note that No Smoking is permitted inside, but smoking is allowed in certain areas on deck.

‘We would just like to write and thank you for our trip aboard the Eala Bhan in September of 2002. We sailed on her as part of our honeymoon and enjoyed every minute. Iain is a wonderful captain – friendly and informative. He allowed us to take part in raising and lowering the sails, aiding with the ropes while going through the locks, and actually piloting the boat. Sandy, our cook, could not have been better. He was patient, helpful, and served as captain during our water balloon fight with a neighboring boat… The food was plentiful and very good. There is not one negative thing we can say about our 4 days and nights aboard except we wished we could have stayed longer.. We will be back for another trip..’
Comment from Gina and Andy B.

Diary – Details of Trips – Accommodation
Cruise Prices – Travel Info – Contact / Booking