Adventure Sailing Holiday In Scotland - Kayaking In The Hebrides

Activities | Things To Do

As the ex-tall ship St Hilda travels through the Sounds of the Hebrides, visits the remote islands and anchors in quiet bays and sea lochs you will enjoy an incredible amount of rare bird and marine life. We can set the sails and, just below the surface of the sea, we can sample and examine the minute and spectacular world of plankton. We can also shoot a lobster pot, explore the rock pools, swim off the boat and even fish for supper.


Over 24 species of sea birds have been recorded on the St Hilda, often in one day: from Puffins, large rafts of Manx Shearwaters and Guillemots, including Brunnich's and Black Guillemots, to rare sightings of sea and golden eagles. Gannets abound, plunging into the sea like arrows; buzzards soar high overhead and sea divers and ducks bob over and under the waves. Seal colonies can be quietly approached in the tender and sometimes we anchor overnight close to the bird breeding colonies.

Plankton Sampling

On some cruises, plankton sampling can be carried out from the decks of St Hilda or from the tender using professional plankton nets and examined aboard with microscopes. We can even take part in a scientific study of global warming to see if tropical species of plankton have arrived in Scotland's cooler seas. Under the microscope we discover such a huge variety of shapes and sizes, some are part plant part animal and some so bizarre, with large eyes and pincers, that they were the inspiration for the creature in the sci-fi film "Alien". 

Rock Pooling

Rock pools abound on the pristine shore of our cruising area. Its great fun to wander along the shore and see how all the plants and animals live together in the rock pools left by the departing tides. Barnacles and limpets, anemones and hermit crabs all carry on feeding while the tide is out. Gazing into a pool we see the beautiful tentacles of the red and green anemones as they photosynthesize and attack and kill the plankton with their microscopic harpoons. There are scuttling crabs, darting fish, shooting shrimps, lumbering hermit crabs, red, green and brown seaweeds - all in a kaleidoscope of colour and movement.

Lobster Potting

On certain anchorages, we shoot our lobster pot and haul it the following day to examine our catch. The majority of the catch is returned, but a good-size lobster or crab could be served up for dinner if you so wish! Beside the lobsters and crabs we are always surprised by the amount of marine life in the pot: cod, ling, conger eels, dogfish, tope, sand eels, brittle stars, whelks, swimmer crabs to name but a few.


Everyone can have a go at fishing when we are at anchor. Small fish are put back, but if you are lucky and have a little skill the larger ones will end up in the pot that night. It's hard to find fresher fish for dinner, especially when the mackerel are in season.


You can jump or dive off the boat. For the less adventurous you can enter the sea by climbing down the ladder! 

Scuba Diving, Canoeing, Kitesurfing, Windsurfing 

There is plenty of room onboard for you to bring your own equipment for these activities which you can enjoy from the boat.

Landing mackerel by the dozen and enjoying them as fresh as it's possible to be. Waitrose will never be able to compete!

Sue Fletcher, June 2012