Dalriada Armada Go West with Confidence

16 Feb 2015

CLYDE-BASED boat owners looking to extend their sailing horizons and explore more adventurous seas, are being invited to take part in a new ‘confidence builder’ flotilla event at the start of May.

Designed with lesser-experienced skippers and crew in mind, who have perhaps so far limited their range to day-sailing, the ‘Dalriada Armada’ three-day event will provide cruise-in-company, with sail coaching and mentoring before, during and after, across the sheltered waters of the Clyde to the more exposed Loch Fyne, tackle the Crinan Canal perhaps for the first time and enter the more challenging seas of the West Coast proper.

Shore-based fun is guaranteed, too, with evening meals and more at Tarbert, Crinan and Ardfern all included in the programme.

The Dalriada Armada is the result of a joint effort by Scotboats’ SmartBoating, the Crinan Canal area team at Scottish Canals, Tarbert Harbour Authority and Ardfern Yacht Centre.

Scotboats’ Barry Shafe explained: “Less-experienced sailors often set Loch Fyne as their westerly boundry, and even the most experienced owners on the Clyde can be nervous about taking an expensive yacht through the Canal for the first time. For many skippers, their confidence can lag behind their competence gained from traditional training. Confidence comes with practice and experience, so we aim to provide a structured and supported cruise out of your comfort zone, whilst also sampling some of the best of the region’s food and entertainment along the way to make the most of the early May holiday weekend.”

Day 1 – Saturday 2nd May

Morning departure from various marinas on the Clyde for evening arrival at the pretty Tarbert Harbour. Evening meal and traditional band at a local hotel in Tarbert.

Day 2 – Sunday 3rd May

Short sail from Tarbert to Ardrishaig, then transit the Crinan Canal with full assisted passage. Overnight at Crinan Basin and dine at the iconic Crinan Hotel, where spectacular food will be served in the hotel’s unique rooftop gallery.

Day 3 – Monday 4th May

Mini West Coast adventure from Crinan to an anchorage determined by wind and sea conditions, before heading up Loch Craignish to the naturally-sheltered marina at Ardfern, for a hog roast.

The cost is approximately £295 per boat (any length up to 45ft) plus £75 per adult for the meals at Tarbert, Crinan and Ardfern. The boat fee includes the Canal transit licence with assisted passage, 3 nights berthing at Tarbert, Crinan and Ardfern plus assisted passage planning before the event, daily skippers’ briefings and sail clinics throughout the weekend.

“We’ve secured the most favorable rates from the venues and our own organisations to offer a package that cannot be achieved by individual crews in terms of value or content on and off the water,” added Barry.

Joe Murphy, Waterways Manager at Scottish Canals and part of the Dalriada Project, added that ‘Dalriada’ represented the ancient kingdom in the Heart of Argyll, in which all the event destinations were located.

The ‘Dalriada Armada’ is limited to 20 boats, with bookings secured on a first come, first served basis.

Tarbert Harbour’s Donna Mallan told Yachting Life: “I visited the various marinas around the Clyde before Christmas and was taken by their enthusiasm to co-operate and encourage more sailing by their berthholders across to the West and beyond. We’ve conceived this activity so that any marina can be the starting point, and we’re inviting the marinas to ensure their berthholders are amongst the first to hear about it”.

Application forms are available online or from Alec Howie on 01546 603210 or