Due to the situation with Covid-19, we have recently changed our handover procedures. The new system came into operation in July 2020 and has proved very successful; therefore, we will be continuing with it for the immediate future (however, it is subject to change at any time, given the current business operating circumstances). See also our Covid-19 info page.
We will contact you approximately 2 weeks in advance of your hire to arrange a time slot for you to collect your boat from us. The time slots are set at regular intervals, and they are usually between 11.00 hrs and 14:00 hrs. Please note that our waiting room is currently not availble, due to social distancing regulations.
The time slot you are issued with will depend on several factors, but particularly on how many other departures are scheduled on the day. The earlier slots will be made available to regular and return guests where possible and also to customers with more boating experience. However, the larger boats with more than 2 cabins (such as Taransay, Highland Monarch & Torridon) and which take longer to clean, will likely be scheduled for collection after 12:00 hrs.
It does help us very much if we know your travel arrangements. Therefore, if you are staying locally the night before we might contact you if, on the day, your boat is likely to be ready earlier than your scheduled time slot. We do supply all bedding and towels as standard; however, if you plan / prefer to take your own bedding, this will likely reduce the changeover time and may allow for an earlier collection. Therefore, it is important we know about this well in advance of your arrival.
When we contact you to arrange your time slot, we will send an email with the following information included:
- a link to the full version of our safety film. The films on our website provide a brief insight into cruising with us; however, you will be provided with access to an updated and more comprehensive safety film, which details additional navigation, man overboard and safety information. We recommend you view this at least a couple of times in advance and ideally again no more than a day or so before you are due to collect your boat from us, in order to refresh your memory (we will be asking questions on arrival to make sure you have watched the film and are aware of our safety procedures). If you are unable to watch the film in advance then it will be possible to view at the boatyard, however this will in turn increase the handover time considerably.
- a PDF copy of our Loch Ness & Caledonian Canal Boating Guide. This pilot book is full of detailed information to help you navigate the canal safely and contains aerial pictures of berthing locations, lists of facilities & amenities, visitor attractions, restaurants, cafés and shops along the cruising route. [The Boating Guide can be purchased in advance (subject to availability) as an A4 size hard copy for £15 (price may change), or at the end of your holiday.] We do have lots of comprehensive information on our website, much of which is contained in the boating guide, so you can also study this in advance - https://www.caleycruisers.com/cruising-area/
- a PDF copy of the Navigation Map. A printed waterproof copy will be provided on arrival and you can view and download a copy of the Navigation Map in advance on our website.
- a PDF copy of the handbook (boat manual) for your vessel type. This will provide information on your vessel's domestic systems and daily procedures (this will also be provided as a hard copy on arrival).
- any relevant updates. E.g. from Scottish Canals regarding their operational procedures or local information updates that will be helpful for you to know in advance.
When you arrive, and as soon as the boat is available to board, we will go through the interior and boat handling. If a requirement for social distancing is in place, we can only allow a maximum of 2 persons to be on board during the handover, this will need to be your skipper and first mate. The skipper must be the crew member with the most experience.
The handover usually takes about 45 - 60 minutes and, once complete, you can then load on board, park your car and depart. The departure may need to be done in small groups, in order to reduce the amount of openings at Tomnahurich road bridge on the A82. (Please note that the Tomnahurich bridge is closed between 12:00 hrs & 13:15 hrs for traffic restrictions and / or lunch break).
The options for your first overnight stop will usually be Urquhart Bay Harbour on Loch Ness, this is about 2.5 hours cruising from the boatyard and then approximately 25 minutes walk in to the village of Drumnadrochit. Subject to sufficient daylight levels, Fort Augustus is usually also an option, but this is about 4-5 hours cruising from the boatyard (and you must make sure you are berthed up at least 1 hour before sunset). However, please bear in mind that occasional windy conditions may mean that Dochgarroch Lock will need to be your first overnight option. Cruising from the boatyard to Dochgarroch takes about 1 hour.
If you arrive early, we have an area to store luggage and we are happy to look after this, if you need space in your car to go shopping. Although we do have a waiting area, this may not be available due to Covid-19 operational reasons, therefore we recommend that your arrival is not any earlier than the time slot you are provided with in advance. (This may change of course, depending on the situation at the time you collect your boat from us).
Although your vessel will usually be ready to board sometime between 11.00 & 14:00, this can occasionally be slightly later, if we require to do additional maintenance to the vessel. Should this be the case, we will contact you in the morning to arrange the best time for you to arrive accordingly.
Please note that it is a condition of our insurers that we provide a full handover and safety briefing to everyone chartering a vessel from us prior to their departure from the boatyard.
It is important to contact us well in advance, if your arrival is going to be after 14:00. If you arrive late in the afternoon, due to canal opening times, you will have to spend the first night (on your vessel) in our yard. Please note: should your arrival be scheduled to be after 17:00, you may have to arrange for alternative accommodation for the first night. Please contact the boatyard if you have any queries regarding this.
The scheduled departure time (handing back the boat) is between 08:30 hrs & 09:00 hrs and we respectfully request this is adhered to. We have a considerable amount of preparation to be done during our changeover (particularly with Covid-19 procedures) and we do aim to get everyone onboard as early as possible - this is only possible with our customers full co-operation. It is of course no problem if you wish to depart the previous evening or earlier in the morning. You will be able to access your car outside of our normal opening hours, start to offload and depart when you are ready. Boats must be left in a clean and tidy condition, and due to our current Covid-19 procedures, we do ask that customers strip the bed linen (laundry bags will be provided by us for all linen and towels). We have mixed & glass recycling facilities for use at the boatyard as well as general waste disposal.
Your safety is our main concern. If you have never hired a boat before or have limited experience, please don't worry - about a third of our customers each year are completely new to boating and due to our comprehensive handover they manage extremely well. Have a look through some of our customer reviews, so you can see what our visitors think about their experience and our service. We have been in operation since 1970 and we have an excellent safety record that we are extremely proud of. We comply with the Mecal (Certifying Authority for Small Commercial Vessels) Hire Boat Code of Practice, we are a British Marine Quality Accredited Boatyard and all our vessels have a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate.
As all of our vessels are maintained to a high standard, and due to the comprehensive training provided, we rarely experience any issues. During your holiday, we provide a 24-hour support service and always have an engineer on call, just in case there are any problems that need to be dealt with during your cruise. We are always there, should you have any concerns about the weather or questions about your cruising area.
All members of your crew are provided with a securely fitting life jacket which we recommend you wear at all times when locking, berthing and on deck. It is inevitable in our line of business that from time to time we do end up with the odd person falling into the water, everyone has been absolutely fine fortunately, but because the water is extremely cold in this part of the world, it can become serious, which is why we strongly recommend the use of life jackets whenever on deck, and also proper, suitable non-slip shoes at all times and gloves for rope work.