With road transport becoming more sophisticated, bringing much of the continent within reach, there has never been a better time to relocate your boat and expand your horizons
By sea, Scotland’s Clyde marinas are about 600nm from the Solent via Land’s End, Milford Haven and Ireland’s east coast. That’s almost as far as a trip down to Vigo, so Scotland is a serious passage distance for most southern boats.
However, the road transport routes north are well honed and fairly economical. A chap I know in Kent, Rob Knighton, keeps a Botnia Targa 31 in Ramsgate, knows most of the French Channel ports and has cruised widely in Holland.
When Simon Butler at Boat-Shift suggested to Rob that he trucked the Targa up to Scotland for a while, they gave it a go and spent six halcyon weeks pottering around the Firth of Clyde, through the Crinan, up to the Isle of Mull and along the Caledonian Canal.
Built as a commercial-sized waterway, the Caledonian is actually a string of natural lochs linked by short manmade cuts. Loch Ness is a memorable 23-mile stretch, where mountains rise steeply from the lakeside, their slopes covered by pines and bracken, scattered cottages and the specks of roaming sheep. The western reaches of the Caledonian are shadowed by the scars of Ben Nevis.
Smaller boats like the Targa are relatively economical to truck to Scotland. They don’t create ‘wide loads’ which need costly pilot vans. An interesting variation on Rob Knighton’s move is to truck up to Inverness Marina on Scotland’s east coast, amble through the Caledonian and fetch up for the winter in a west-coast marina.
Ardfern Yacht Centre, just north of Crinan, would be a splendid choice – it’s perfectly sheltered, has excellent facilities and spectacular surroundings.
Moving your boat to Scotland
For Scotland’s west coast, large boat transporters can use motorways and major trunk roads as far as Glasgow, from where the M8 and A737 lead, for example, to Largs Yacht Haven or Kip Marina. For Inverness, there are motorways and dual carriageways until well north of Stirling, and then the A9 winds all the way to Inverness past the Cairngorms National Park. The views would be stunning if you could stay on board!