Barry combines music & sailing passions with west coast trip

Barry Nisbet is the man behind Sessions and Sail, and he'll embark on a week-long journey along Scotland's west coast in July.
Barry Nisbet.

A TALL ship captain from Yell with a passion for traditional music is launching a week-long trip along Scotland’s west coast as part of his Sessions and Sail initiative this summer.

Barry Nisbet, who has captained ships across all the major oceans for over 20 years, will bring together a crew of musicians to explore Scotland’s west coast on board the Lady of Avenel in July.


Sessions and Sail is aimed at musicians of all levels who are interested in the country’s traditional music. No previous nautical knowledge is required but there will be the opportunity to steer or help working the ship.

The trip will set sail from Mallaig on 22 July, taking in Skye and the Cuillins, the Small Isles and Arisaig, before returning to Mallaig on 28 July.

The Lady of Avenel.

Twelve berths are available in double cabins and the ship is fitted with modern amenities. It will also offer delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners prepared by chef Alison Sykora using the best of local produce – which may include seafood caught along the way.

Workshops, tuition, music sessions and ceilidhs will be held at stops along the way, delivered and led by world class musicians from the region. Those will include renowned fiddler Eilidh Shaw (The Poozies), with others to be announced in the coming weeks.


The voyage will culminate in a grand ceilidh in Arisaig on 27 July, which will be open to the wider public.

The ship will sail between the islands of Skye, Canna, Rum, Eigg and Arisaig. Participants will be able to walk and explore in those destinations as well as engaging with the communities and local musicians to obtain a unique musical experience in a special part of the world.

In addition to his seafaring experience, Barry – originally from Cullivoe – is a highly regarded Shetland fiddle player and songwriter who has performed and taught at festivals including Celtic Connections, the La Roche bluegrass festival, and Shetland’s Fiddle Frenzy.

“Music and sailing are two of the greatest pleasures in life,” he said. “Sessions and Sail will offer people the opportunity to fine-tune their musical abilities with some of Scotland’s best traditional musicians whilst taking an unforgettable journey through some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes, meeting great people along the way.”