Frequently asked questions - trips and courses
Full details of our Covid-19 measures can be found here.
If your course or trip can’t happen because of Covid-19 (whether because we can’t run it or you can’t travel to it), you will be guaranteed either a full refund or the option to reschedule at no cost. This applies even if you have to cancel at the last minute.
Any gift vouchers bought or due to expire in 2021 be valid until at least the end of December 2022. Vouchers bought in 2022 will be similarly extended if the situation requires it.
Our Sea Kayak Experience Days and Introduction to Sea Kayaking course don’t require any previous experience of kayaking.
Coastal Day Trips require some previous experience in sit-in kayaks using a spraydeck, in waves of up to 0.5m and winds of up to Beafort F3. You also need to be confident you’ll be able to manage a full day (around 20km). If you’re not very fit, or if you have back or joint problems, you may find a shorter trip suits you better.
If you’re thinking of coming on a course or expedition, check out the detailed description for more information. If you’re not sure what is right for you, email email@example.com and we’ll help you decide.
Once you’ve put down the deposit for your booking, you’ll get sent a full list of what to bring.
In brief, we provide all your outer clothing and equipment, but you need to bring the personal things such as:
– a swimsuit and long-sleeved synthetic top, if you’re paddling in the summer
– loose, comfortable layers that can go under a drysuit, if you’re paddling in spring or autumn
– food & water
– hat, either woolly or sunshading
For expeditions the principle is the same, we have tents, sleeping mats and cooking equipment available, but you’ll need to bring things like your sleeping bag, midge net, and headtorch.
Courses, expeditions, Experience Days and half day trips can be booked online using our booking page.
Coastal Day Trips and Family Experience Days can be booked by filling in the form on the information page, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling 01631 565 310 or by coming to see us during our opening hours (depending on Covid measures).
If booking more than 30 days in advance, you will need to pay a 30% deposit to confirm, with the balance due 15 days before the trip. If you’re booking less than 15 days in advance you will need to pay in full at the time of booking.
Half day trips and Experience Days are open to children aged 12 and upwards. Under 18s must be accompanied by an over-18 who can take legal responsibility for them. Families with children aged 8-12 can book on a Family Experience Day.
Courses are open to children aged 14 and upwards. For expeditions participants will need to be 16 or over. Private courses and expeditions are available for younger ages, with a minimum age of 8.
We work on a maximum ratio of 1:6. Unless it’s a private group, we don’t double up – so you won’t be in a group of 12 with 2 guides, for example.
If you are a private group, we can go up to 10 in one group with two guides, but you need to be aware you will lose a lot of your time in things like getting changed, fitting the boats, etc. The minimum time for a group larger than 6 is a full day.
For expeditions even in private groups the maximum number of people is 6, as anything bigger means we will have too much impact on the environment when camping.
The West Coast of Scotland is exposed to weather systems from the Atlantic Ocean which bring with them plenty of wind and rain throughout the year.
Our main safety concern is the wind. If wind speeds are forecast to be too high for us to paddle safely, we have various options:
– relocate – even on a half day trip, we can often drive a short distance from our base to more sheltered water;
– rearrange – this depends on your availability and ours;
– cancel, in which case you will be issued with a full refund.
If the weather forecast is so wet and cold we think it be a miserable day even for our guides (who love being out in all weathers), we will get in touch to discuss whether you still want to go out. If it’s just going to be a bit damp then we will still head out.
If we need to rearrange or cancel we will contact you, and if we can’t find a suitable date to rearrange you will be refunded in full.
Unless you are doing a qualification which requires it, we will never compel you to capsize. We can’t guarantee it won’t happen unintentionally, but we do our best to keep you upright and as dry as possible.
On all our Sea Kayak Experience Days we use loose, nylon spraydecks which keep out the wind and water but will not trap you in the boat.
Our courses will almost always include a rescue session, during which we will look at what happens when people do fall in. We strongly recommend giving it a go at that point, but again we will not force you.
In most cases, the answer is yes. You will have the best knowledge as to how to manage your condition, but we regularly take people out on the water who have asthma, diabetes and heart conditions among others. If you wish to come on an expedition, be aware that some places we go to are very remote, and medical help even in an emergency may be hours rather than minutes away. Once we set out in the kayaks we are unlikely to have access to toilets (though if this is a requirement we may be able to modify the itinerary, as long as we know well in advance and weather conditions permit it).
We will also always do our best to accommodate disabilities. If you have a disability that affects your mobility, motor control, coordination or balance we may need to source adaptive equipment, which in turn might mean we need more notice, so please do let us know before making the booking so we can confirm whether we can accommodate you.
If we are not able to accommodate you, it will be because we don’t believe we can keep you safe in the environment in which we operate; in that case we will do our base to put you in touch with someone who can help you. In all situations, please declare any medical conditions, and speak to us in advance if you have questions or concerns – we can’t help you with something we don’t know about.
Kayaks are a great way to see wildlife. In a kayak you’re quiet, slow, and right down at sea level.
The longer and more remote your trip, the more likely you are to see wildlife – although of course it’s always up to them! We always follow a respectful approach to wildlife, which means not following them, chasing after them, or in the case of seals hauled out on rocks, getting close enough to startle them into the water (seals hauled out on rocks are extremely nervous of kayakers).
Our Sea Kayak Experience Days mainly run from Oban Bay, where you will see plenty of bird life (guillemots, terns, cormorants, herons are all commonly seen). You can also get right close into the shoreline, which means peering down to spot whelks, sea urchins and starfish. Seals and sea eagles are seen fairly regularly, with otters making an occasional appearance.
On longer trips, courses and expeditions, the chances of seeing seals, otters and eagles (sea and golden) go up considerably. Dolphins and porpoises also make an appearance along the coast, as do other seasonal visitors such as barrel jellyfish and gannets. Custom and advanced trips off the coast of Mull or other islands may bring us within sight of basking sharks.
We do not run day or half day trips on Mull, as it is too expensive and time-consuming to bring our kayaks, vehicle and trailer over on the ferry.
We can run expeditions and private courses on Mull if requested – email email@example.com to discuss.
Wherever we will have the best time! This depends on weather, tides, and the type of group.
Sea Kayak Experience Days usually head out on the most local paddle, straight out of Oban harbour and towards the north end of Kerrera. The trip offers superb views out to Mull and Lismore, and plenty of landing options for lunch. If the weather is very windy, we sometimes load everything onto our van and trailer and head to Loch Etive, which is more sheltered but still very scenic, and home to lots of wildlife including seal colonies.
Day trips have a lot of options: Kerrera, Easdale, Lismore, Loch Craignish and Loch Creran are just some of them. We start the day with a chat to make sure we choose the best one.
For expeditions, Scotland is one of the few places in the world where, as long as you act responsibly and leave no trace, you can just land and pitch a tent wherever you like. Our most regularly paddled trips are:
– the Slate Islands (Luing, Scarba, Lunga etc);
And if you have a dream trip, just let us know – we’ll do our best to make it happen.
Yes. Gift vouchers for all trip and courses, as well as cash sums, can be bought through our booking page. These can only be redeemed on courses and trips. Gift vouchers purchased or due to expire in 2021 will be valid until at least December 2022, and if necessary we will similarly extend those bought in 2022. Bookings made with gift vouchers can be rescheduled or postponed at no charge if affected by the pandemic, though we cannot offer a refund on a voucher. We are always flexible – so if someone has a gift voucher for Sea Kayak Experience Day but wants to offset it against the cost of a course instead that’s fine.
Gift vouchers for our shop can be purchased on our online shop or by telephone. These can only be redeemed in person or over the telephone. They can not be used online at this time.