Frequently Asked Questions
What sort of boat do I need or would you recommend? Is my boat suitable?
What is the minimum/maximum size of boat that can take part?
Sail Caledonia is an event for traditionally styled boats of between approximately 5 and 9 metres LOA, although smaller boats may be allowed. More important than length is that the boat is suitable for a journey of 60 miles that includes some large and open bodies of water. Thus, the boat’s stability, equipment and the skipper’s experience are also important. Given that the traditional nature of the event, specialised racing sails, e.g. spinnakers, trapezes, outriggers and sliding seats may not be used during the races although may be fitted to the boat and used at other times. Examples of boats that have previously entered Sail Caledonia can be found on the Results page.
Do I have to be able to row and how much rowing is there?
Sail Caledonia is primarily a “sail and oar” event but rowing is not compulsory! Remember, Sail Caledonia is a relaxed event and about having fun so there’s no pressure to row. Boats that meet the event’s other criteria are very welcome to join and rowing may be skipped if the boat cannot be rowed or the skipper chooses not to row.
There are 3 rowing races and rowing is also permitted in most other races but only
undertaken when the wind is too light for sailing. There is usually one sailing-
Can I still take part even if my boat is not suitable for rowing?
Yes, most years there are a few boats entered that cannot be rowed. Those boats use their engines on the canal sections where other boat are rowing.
Can rowing boats or kayaks take part?
Do I need to be very fit and/or athletic and/or young to take part?
No! Although the Raid is comprised of a number of races this is primarily a fun event where the taking part is more important that the result. Each participant can perform to their own abilities and fitness without being left behind or humiliated! However, participants should have sufficient fitness and mobility to be able to sail their boat for multiple days on open waters.
What experience or qualifications do I require?
No particular qualifications or minimum levels of experience are required. You just need to be able to handle your boat safely in conditions that may be up to force 6 winds on large open bodies of water, e.g. Loch Ness.
Can I bring children?
Yes, children are very welcome. Of course, they must have the physical and mental maturity to be able to spend multiple days on boats and you must remain responsible for them at all times.
How much time is spent on the boats each day?
This varies, but there are typically races lasting up to 2-
Do I have to join in the racing and how competitive is it?
No, the racing is optional and you can cruise the entire length of the Raid. However, the racing is, for most participants, relaxed and fun and almost everyone chooses to join it because they find it adds to the event.
Where do I leave my boat trailer and how is the boat repatriated to the trailer?
After launching your boat at Fort William you will drive to Inverness and leave your car and trailer there for the week. A coach provided by Sail Caledonia will bring you back to your boat at Fort William. You will then sail to Inverness over the next 6 days and once at Inverness you will be driven to pick up your car and trailer so you can recover your boat.
Does the boat need a motor? If I don’t have a motor, will anyone be available to give me a tow?
No. You could enter the Highlander Challenge and sail and row all the way! However,
for the majority who are less energetically inclined you will be able to get tows
from other participants or the safety boats. However, in the spirit of self-
What equipment should I bring?
Sail Caledonia doesn’t require any unusual or specialist equipment, so your normal sailing equipment will cover most of your requirements. We take safety very seriously and participants can only join if they have the required safety equipment. This is listed in Appendix B of the Sailing Instructions, which can be found on the Downloads page.
Do I need a VHF radio?
No, however it is worth bringing a handheld VHF radio if you have one.
Where do I stay during the Raid?
There are a range of accommodation options provided by Sail Caledonia. Almost all
participants use these although you are welcome to organise your own accommodation
if you prefer. The provided accommodation ranges from support for sleeping on your
Does anyone at the event speak French, Italian, German, etc?
Is there anywhere that gives general advice to prospective raiders?
Do I have to take part in every race?
What happens if I capsize?
Who organises Sail Caledonia?
Are the event organisers paid?
How much does it cost?
When is payment due?
What if I have to cancel?
Right, I’m in! How do I join?
Do I need to worry about midges?
What temperature will the water be?
What will the weather be like?
What happens if there’s bad weather, e.g.it becomes very windy/rough/foggy?
Is there a handicapping system for the sailing and rowing races?
Are activities organised for non-
Do I need to bring plenty of warm clothes?
Are end of the day social events organised?
What do I do about food?
Is there anywhere to wash or dry clothes along the way?
Is there WiFi on the boats or along the Great Glen?
Are power points available if I need to charge something?
Is there mobile telephone coverage along the way?
Is there honey still for tea?