Frequently Asked Questions

What wildlife can we expect to see?

This is a hard one. It depends on the season. Nesting birds especially puffins, are best seen up to the first week of August, other seabirds are seen all year. Whales and dolphins are around throughout the season. Orcas are more likely from June onwards, the same with basking sharks. Otters, deer, seals and other animals are seen all year. The flowers are best from May to August when the machair is astounding, after which time there is a change to other equally interesting plant species.

Porpoises & seals************************
Basking sharks ************
Marine birds*********************
Eagles etc.******************
Deer & otters******************

What is the best time for weather?

The really hard one!! Traditionally the best time has been May/June. However the weather patterns have changed and it is now much more difficult to predict. In 1999 the first part of April was glorious – really warm and sunny, the second half we had snow! In 2000 the start of April was awful and the month end was super! In 2001 the whole summer seemed to be good, with only the odd wet day. 2002 the start of the year was inclement and then it got better to finish with a wonderful September. This year April was fabulous with light winds and lots of sun, then it went downhill, but now in July is getting back on track and we hope for a good second half to the summer. What does seem to have happened is that the seasons appear to have slipped slightly and the weather can now be very good later in the year especially September. In general, each week we can expect one inclement day. We deal with this by anchoring somewhere sheltered where we can get ashore and walk, or perhaps we may show slides and videos of the area in the saloon. We don’t go to sea if it is going to be too rough – the trips are holidays after all.

Do you carry wildlife experts?

Well, bearing in mind the skipper has been a naturalist for over thirty years, of which twenty odd have been spent on the West coast of Scotland, his knowledge of the area and its wildlife is good enough to say “yes!” to that question. The main requirement of any wildlife guide who is taking guests around the islands is specific and thorough knowledge of the area and its unique wildlife and in that we are simply the best.

What about the evenings?

We stay overnight in isolated anchorages where we can expect to enjoy peace and quite, good walks ashore and to see wildlife from the boat! We do not go into highly populated harbours such as Tobermory, we do not visit gardens, and we very rarely visit pubs! These are genuine specialist wildlife voyages for the genuine wildlife enthusiast. If you want to go ashore to the pub, or visit gardens and villages then please try one of the many other companies that offer “wildlife cruises” that are not as specifically aimed at the natural history enthusiast.

Does Guideliner have stabilizers?

A better question would be does Guideliner need stabilizers – in both cases the answer is no! As mentioned above we avoid bad weather, although on St Kilda trips we may have a few hours of discomfort. However stabilizers are a rarity on small boats mainly because they are usually only fitted to vessels which are top-heavy and have a tendency to roll badly. All boats roll, but some roll more than others. Otherwise it is worth mentioning that stabilizers only work when the boat is steaming quite quickly. As soon as the boat slows or stops then the stabilizers stop working, and the rolling starts.

Is the food good?

Yes, we make a lot of effort to ensure this!  When we can we use fresh food, often local. We sometimes go alongside friendly fishing boats to get local fish and prawns. We take great pride in our vegetarian meals as well.  No GM foods are used on board. Comments about the unexpectedly high standard of the catering is one of the most frequent compliments we receive from our clients.

What about St Kilda?

St Kilda is a marvellous place to visit for its geology, history and wildlife. However its main attraction is also the main problem – the isolation of the islands and the very variable weather that affects them. It is nearly fifty miles from the nearest real shelter (the sound of Harris) and over eighty from Barra. To visit you have two choices – to go out and stay on the island, (contact the National Trust or Scottish Natural Heritage) or to cruise there and stay on the boat. In both cases you have to consider the weather both going out and coming back. If you stay aboard, the boat is likely to lie in the main anchorage, Village Bay, which in bad weather can quickly become untenable, and the boat will have to leave the islands and seek shelter.

It can be visited on a six day trip but the likelihood of staying overnight is low. It can be visited over nine days and the chances are higher. We only visit St Kilda on 12 day trips, the extra time may allow us more than one attempt if necessary. Instead of waiting at Barra or Loch Maddy for a weather window, we continue to enjoy exploring the Western Isles until we get a forecast of good weather. Then we make all speed, to take advantage and get to St Kilda whilst the conditions are goodWe try to stay for two or three days. We do not visit St Kilda on all twelve day trips, so please check before booking.                     
What age range of clients can you take?

In general the only criteria is that guests need to be reasonably fit. Our oldest client was over eighty five and our youngest was eight. If children are less than fourteen we do need to make special arrangements however and check with other guests that they have no objections. It is possible for families or groups to book the whole boat in which case we may be able to offer a discount. Please bear in mind that most of the trips ashore do require beach or rock landings – most of the places we visit do not have piers!

6 days – £720.00, 12 days – £1350.oo – 2005

All inclusive except for alcoholic drinks

If you’ve been with us before, you will get a 5% discount.