Alternative Boat Hire Iona
Freya hauls up the main sail
Home About us Schedule What we do Where we go Booking Links

Contact and Booking


++++ COVID 19 Information ++++

While Covid is restricting our lives, we are operating to government recommendations which are subject to change. During the booking process you should receive information current at the time. If you have any questions, please contact us.


For any enquiries or booking a trip please contact us:
Mark Jardine
Lovedale Cottage
Isle of Iona
PA76 6SJ
tel:01681/700537
email:info@boattripsiona.com

Booking is always recommended.
All trips are made subject to suitable conditions at the skipper`s discretion.
Any landings are undertaken at passengers own risk.

FAQ about sailing with Birthe Marie
How are the bookings managed?
How much space is there on board?
Do you go to Staffa?
Can I book an out-of-ferry-hours run between Iona and Fionnphort?
How can we pay for the trip?
Is there a toilet on board?
What about food and drink?
Will children enjoy a trip on Birthe Marie?
Is it safe to go out sailing?
What should I wear?
Can I bring my dog?
How accessible is the boat?
Why a trip might not run?

How are the bookings managed?

’Alternative Boat Hire’ is not a big business. Enquiry would reveal that it seems to be the same person who answers e-mails, returns phone messages, skippers the boat, writes blogs and maintains the boat and all its legal requirements.
This means not all these functions can be carried out simultaneously!
E-mails and phone messages will generally be dealt with in the evening, once a day. We do not run a smart phone aboard, reception is limited while at sea, and multi tasking can only be taken so far.
Generally bookings can only be handled from home, simply because there would be too much risk of double booking if enquiries were dealt with at the same time by two different members of the family when one was afloat and the other standing by the phone. Every enquiry receives a unique reply, but we are not quite as fast to respond as some might have come to expect in the modern electronic age.

How much space is there on board?

We can carry up to 12 passengers. While aboard, passengers are generally above deck. Below deck is used for storage, navigation, and the ’heads’ (Toilet) and is otherwise unsuitable for travelling.

Do you go to Staffa?

There are three long established boat tour operators running regular frequent scheduled trips to the famous island of Staffa.
Staffa’s landing is relatively exposed and involves a relatively tight approach, something these operators have all kept in mind when selecting their twin engine vessels and able skippers.
Our vessel is not ideally suited for such landings, so we leave this venue to those who do it consistently well. Contact Staffa Trips, Staffa Tours or Turus Mara to arrange a trip.

Can I book an out-of-ferry-hours run between Iona and Fionnphort?

We do get asked to ferry passengers over the Sound of Iona sometimes when there is no Cal Mac ferry scheduled or when folk have missed their planned connecting services. While we are happy to help people make their connections, we do not have the boat and skipper on standby all the time. So if you have not arranged this service in advance, then please do not rely on it.
We like to help out when we can, but skippers do have other commitments too.
We charge as ’Whole boat hire’ for these runs, the same price whether the boat has one passenger or twelve. See our Schedule page for the current price.

How can we pay for the trip?

We cannot at present handle card payments. Payments for trips (due at the end of the trip) can be accepted in cash, or sterling cheque, or by electronic bank transfer or Paypal (there is a small surcharge for this service).

Is there a toilet on board?

There is a very small toilet cubicle below decks with a standard compact marine flushing toilet operated by hand pump.
It has a small hand washing basin with hand pumped fresh water and soap and sanitiser.

What about food and drink?

For a day trip passengers should bring their own packed lunch. You also may wish to bring some snacks for a shorter trip.
Generally a hot drink will be served at some point while out on sea, but you may wish to bring your own or additional drinks.
We can offer fresh home made scones for whole boat hire trips by arrangement if we have at least two days advance notice.

Will children enjoy a trip on Birthe Marie?

Children are absolutely welcome. Kids can be involved in the workings of the boat if conditions allow.
Parents are reminded they are expected to be responsible for their children’s welfare during the duration of the trip.
We carry a variety of junior sizes of lifejackets. You will be asked if you would like your children to wear a lifejacket while aboard - the MCA does recommend this.

Is it safe to go out sailing?

Of course the sea has to be respected and it is not always completely smooth. However sailing on board Birthe Marie feels less exposed than on a modern yacht.
She is a heavy stable boat with many years of safe operating history.
There are Bulwarks all round the deck and a guard rope above that.
You will generally be seated either on the bench at the stern or using the cabin roof as a seat. We select routes to minimise exposure to rough seas. You do not need previous experience.
All trips are made subject to suitable conditions at the skipper`s discretion.
Any landings are undertaken at passengers own risk.

Birthe Marie is licensed under the Maritime and Coastguard Agency`s (MCA) small commercial vessel rules. She is coded Category 2 for 4 passengers & Category 3 for 12 passengers. This allows operations up to 60miles/ 20miles respectively from any safe haven.
The licensing system lays down clearly requirements to ensure a safe vessel and working practices and all the safety equipment to be carried. The vessel is inspected at regular intervals to ensure that these requirements are being complied with.

What should I wear?

As there is only limited shelter available aboard passengers must bring with them appropriate clothing for a boat trip in the Hebrides. It is nearly always a bit cooler afloat than it is ashore so it is important to have spare layers of clothing, a hat, adequate waterproofs and sensible footwear. On sunny days it is worth remembering that the sea reflects the sun so you can get a double dose of this, UV cream and sunglasses can be useful. There is an area below, however during day trips or shorter, the expectation is that passengers will generally remain on deck, you can’t see anything from below and it is not unlikely that it will cause most folk to feel a bit queasy if they stay ’downstairs’.

Can I bring my dog?

Increasingly we are being asked if folk can bring a dog with them.
In general we can carry the occasional well behaved dog, however, if you imagine, 12 individual passengers booked on a trip, all wanting to bring their pet, would create chaos.
The boat has quite a lot of moving gear, particularly ropes, and there is potential for entanglement which could lead to animals or passengers getting hurt.
We also need to make you aware, that landing with a dog on islands with ground nesting birds could have disastrous consequences.
There is also the issue of possible dog allergies amongst other passengers.
If you must bring your pet, please contact us well in advance so we can discuss the practicability of this.

How accessible is the boat?

At Iona or Fionnphort Pier: To get aboard and to get off the Birthe Marie requires that you can negotiate getting over the gunwhale. We usually set up a simple step using portable boxes. This is not that different from going up and down a couple of stairs. Some folk who feel this does not suit them, sit on the gunwhale and swing their legs over. Crew can assist where necessary, just ask.

On a day trip we usually offer landing by inflatable dinghy for lunch ashore and exploring. This is carried out close to the shore and in sheltered areas. It requires stepping over the gunwhale and down into the inflatable dinghy, and stepping out of the dinghy onto the beach or onto rock. Most people manage this fine but it can be slippy or uneven, so utmost care has to be taken.
We do not pressure folk to land if they are not comfortable with this.
Landings are undertaken at passengers own risk.

Why a trip might not run?

Weather or sea conditions: The skipper will always make the decision on whether the trip is safe and viable. If you are unsure about the weather outlook, please give us a ring the evening before your booking.

Insufficient numbers for a scheduled trip: The 3-hour afternoon trips require a minimum of 3 passengers to guarantee operation.
The DAY OUT trip requires a minimum of 4 passengers.

Technical or crewing issues:The only other reason for a trip not to run would be an unforeseen technical or crewing issue.

If your Whole Boat Hire gets cancelled and you have paid a deposit towards it, you will be offered a re-scheduling of the trip if that is possible for both parties, a refund or setting the deposit against a future booking.
`Lunch is over, you`ve all winter to eat, lets go and get some fish` Bertie MacRae

Sailing goosewinged.
Alternative Boat Hire Iona email:info@boattripsiona.com telephone:01681 700537 Facebook