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Sail to Scotland in Style!

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Sat 12-08-2023, 10:00Belfast, Northern Ireland Wed 16-08-2023, 12:00Oban, Scotland Leader 4 NightsLD120823

Cross the North Channel on historic Brixham sailing Trawler, Leader this summer! Join the crew on sail that will take you from the shores of Belfast Lough, all the way up through the Firth of Lorn to the Scottish Highlands.
Whether this is your first time stepping onboard a sailing boat, or this passage will be the latest in a long log book – there will be an adventure in this trip for you. 

  • Voyage
  • Vessel

Ideal Voyage for…

Those who have sailed before and want a new challenge

Eco-conscious travellers looking to travel between the Celtic nations without flying.

Sailors looking to gain sea miles and experience working with a large Gaff Rigger


See historic Belfast
Adventurous sailing in the Irish Sea and Inner Hebrides
Explore the dramatic coastlines of the Hebridean islands
Gain experience in traditional sailing
Learn the ropes with a friendly and welcoming crew


Vessel type / Rig Gaff Ketch
Guest Berths 12
Beam 19ft
Draft 10.5ft
Deck Length 80ft
Overall Length 97ft
Tonnage 108 tons
Year Built 1892
More about the Vessel

Voyage Description

Twilight over the water- the view from the deck of Leader. Traditional sailing adventures with Classic Sailing.


Embarking from Belfast

Joining in Belfast, we’d highly recommend allowing yourself some extra time in the city to explore. As well as the famous highlights such as the Titanic Museum, HMS Caroline and the Game of Thrones Studios, the city also boasts a lively independent art and culture scene. It’s well worth taking a wander through the streets of the Eastside, for instance (keep an eye out for the Banana Block and CS Lewis Square).

Sailing out of the heart of Belfast and into Belfast Lough, you are likely to see a whole host of seabirds as this stretch of sheltered water is a designated Special Protection Area, supporting redshanks, shelducks, oystercatchers, sandpipers, godwits, dunlin and curlews to name but a few. From there it’s North up the Irish Sea, bound for the Scottish Highlands.

Jura, Islay and the Mull of Kintyre

This is a short break, with only 4 nights aboard, so there are some miles to be made as you sail North. You will spend some time night sailing, standing watch with the professional crew (a truly atmospheric experience). Sunsets and sunrises over the Hebridean islands are like nothing you’ve ever seen.

En route you will pass the stunning islands of Jura and Islay, and the long coast of the Mull of Kintyre, which shelters the Firth of Clyde from the Atlantic. Depending on progress, you may enjoy a stop-over at the infamous whisky harbour of Port Ellen on Islay, or a swim from the anchor to one of the Isle of Gigha’s lovely beaches.

Islay in Scotland

Arriving in Oban

Keeping the Slate Islands on your starboard, you’ll soon be sailing past the Isle of Mull, famous for it’s wildlife and rugged landscape -all best seen from the deck of a historic sailing vessel! You may see Golden and White-tailed Eagles soaring above you, dolphins playing at the bow and otters and sea-birds aplenty.

Once in the harbour, if you have time, why not stay an extra day and explore Oban, known as the Seafood Capital of Scotland. There are castles to explore, museums and live music to immerse yourself into, café’s to relax in and an excellent distillery, should you want to pick up a bottle to share with your friends and family back home!  

Brixham Trawler Leader

Leader is an 1892 Brixham Trawler, one of the oldest National Historic Ships still operating in the UK. The crew on Leader are passionate about teaching and sharing their love for maritime heritage with anyone who joins them on board. You can expect to learn a lot, while enjoying fantastic sailing in great company.

Having had a long career sailing on the South Coast of England, and with a huge following of fans who’ve previously sailed aboard, it’s lovely to see Leader settling in to her new home to continue this brilliant work.


Mostly flat seas between the islands with some more exposed stretches once out into open ocean. Expect a real mixture of conditions, as things can change quickly, but the crew are incredibly knowledgeable and familiar with all the sheltered anchorages and hiding places around the islands. The itinerary is kept loose to make the most of the conditions at the time, and the focus is on enjoyment, rather than ticking off any particular destinations. 


Whether you are an experienced sailor or a complete beginner, the professional crew will train you to be guest crew from the moment you arrive, with the intention that everybody works together to sail the ship. The common thread to all Classic Sailing holidays is ‘Hands on’ participation on ships that use ropes, blocks and tackles and ‘people power’ to set sail.


We cater for a wide range of ages and physical abilities and how much you are expected to do varies a bit between vessels. See the vessel tab above which explains all about the ‘sailing style’ and what to expect in terms of hands on participation. There is a lot of information about day to day life, the ships facilities and accommodation on the vessel pages.


Every customer sailing with us will need to fill in basic medical questions on their booking application. If you are not sure if your current level of fitness and agility are up to a voyage, then please ring the Classic Sailing Office on 01326 53 1234 and we can chat through your concerns and possibly find options that might suit you better.

Start & End Port

Belfast, Northern Ireland


Travel options.

Getting to Belfast from England is relatively easy, with several options available for travelers.

One of the most popular ways to reach Belfast is by air. There are many daily flights available from major airports in England such as London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool to Belfast International Airport and Belfast City Airport. These flights are operated by airlines such as British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, and Flybe, among others.

Another option is to travel by sea. There are regular ferry services from Liverpool and Cairnryan in Scotland to Belfast. These services are operated by companies such as Stena Line and P&O Ferries.

Finally, travelers can also opt to drive from England to Belfast. This can be done by taking a ferry from Liverpool to Belfast or by driving to Holyhead in Wales and taking a ferry to Dublin, followed by a drive to Belfast. The drive from Dublin to Belfast takes approximately 2 hours.

The official Belfast Visitor web site.

Belfast Harbour is Northern Ireland’s principal maritime gateway and logistics hub, serving the Northern Ireland economy and increasingly that of the Republic of Ireland. Around 60% of Northern Ireland’s seabourne trade and 20% of the entire island’s is handled at the harbour, handling around 16 million tonnes of cargo per annum and receiving around 5,500 vessels each year.

Established in 1847, Belfast Harbour is Belfast’s port authority and operates the principal maritime gateway on the island of Ireland. The harbour estate covers an area of 2,000 acres representing 20% of Belfast City area and is also Northern Ireland’s logistics and distribution hub and home to major businesses including Microsoft, Harland & Wolff, Capita, CitiGroup and Bombardier.

Oban, Scotland

For joining your vessel in Oban, the North Pier in the map shown below will be the best place to meet the crew. Your vessel will either be tied up alongside the wall, or out at anchor. Make sure you take a note of the ship’s number found in your confirmation in case of any problems on the day.

Oban: Gateway to the Highlands and Isles


Situated on the west coast of Scotland, Oban is a vibrant seaside town known as the “Gateway to the Highlands and Isles.” With its stunning landscapes, rich history, and renowned seafood, Oban offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage that attracts visitors from all over the world.


As you arrive in Oban, you’ll be greeted by the town’s iconic landmark, McCaig’s Tower, perched on a hilltop and offering panoramic views of the surrounding islands and mountains. Explore the charming streets lined with colourful buildings, browse the local shops for unique crafts and souvenirs, and indulge in the freshest seafood at one of the many excellent restaurants.


Oban is the perfect base for exploring the breathtaking Scottish Highlands. Take a scenic drive along the stunning coastal roads, visit the historic castles such as Dunollie Castle and Dunstaffnage Castle, or embark on a hiking adventure in Glen Coe, one of Scotland’s most dramatic and awe-inspiring glens.


Getting to Oban is convenient, with various transportation options available. From Scotland, you can travel by train on the West Highland Line, which offers a picturesque journey from Glasgow to Oban. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the stunning views of lochs, mountains, and charming villages along the way.


If you’re coming from southern England, you can reach Oban by car via the A82 and A85 roads. The drive takes you through breathtaking landscapes, including the enchanting Loch Lomond and the majestic Rannoch Moor.


For those preferring to fly, the nearest airports to Oban are Glasgow Airport and Edinburgh Airport. From there, you can rent a car or take a train to complete your journey to Oban.


By selecting sustainable travel options and actively participating in carbon offset initiatives, you can make a positive impact while journeying to your voyage, where an unforgettable adventure awaits you.

Kit List

What to pack for a sailing holiday on Leader

What is Included:

  • All meals and soft drinks aboard
  • All safety equipment, including lifejackets. Please don't bring your own lifejacket, as it may not comply with Leader's commercial safety standards.
  • Your bunk, a sheet, blanket and pillow (but you WILL NEED A SLEEPING BAG)

What is Not Included:

  • Travel to and from your voyage
  • Personal travel insurance (see our advice on Travel Insurance)
  • Alcohol- you can bring a moderate amount with you if you wish- consumption is always at the discretion of the Skipper, and is never permitted whilst the ship is underway.
  • Waterproofs - If this is your first voyage, good walking waterproofs will be fine. We only recommend buying sailing waterproofs if you are frequent sailors. If you don't have a waterproof jacket and / or trousers, do let us know. Leader has some sets that can be borrowed but only if arranged in advance.

What to Bring

  • Please, no valuable jewellery or other valuables, unless you have got specific travel insurance to cover it.
  • Waterproofs - see above.
  • A sleeping bag and towel.
  • Hats for sun and cold weather.
  • At least two sets of warm clothes - layers e.g. tracksuit bottoms, shirts, fleece jacket, wool jumpers, thick socks, and neck scarf. It can get cold at sea even in mid summer.
  • Swim suit and suntan lotion.
  • Flat shoes with a good grip e.g. trainers or sailing deck shoes. Sailing boots or wellies are also helpful.
  • A small amount of cash for jaunts ashore.
  • All terrain type Sandals are great for dinghy trips ashore – but you do need shoes which protect your toes for sailing.
  • Camera, binoculars, sketchbook, a relaxing read, a musical instrument...
  • Any medication, spare spectacles. Seasickness tablets or pressure-point wrist bands (talk to your pharmacist)
  • Your own logbook if you'd like to keep track of your sea miles.
  • Tech chargers (USB sockets are available in all the bunks) and waterproof cases for any electronics. A rechargeable battery pack for your phone / camera can be really helpful, as the power supply on board is not 24 hours.

N.B. BOATS HAVE LIMITED STORAGE SPACE SO PLEASE LIMIT YOURSELF TO ONE SOFT BAG OR RUCKSACK. Please don't use a rigid suitcase or a bag with a rigid frame. Soft bags are much easier to fold up and stow.

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