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The Journey

cropped-education-leader-3.jpgRum DaniellThe Cruise of the Betsey voyage for 2014 took place between the 6th – 12th of September 2014, setting out from the North Pier in Oban.

Our sailing boat for the voyage was Leader – a gaff-rigged ketch, built in Brixham, Devon in 1892. Leader was one of the largest of the Brixham sailing trawlers, known, despite their Ketch rig, as the ‘Big Sloops’. For more information about Leader see www.trinity.sailing.co.uk

We have very little information about The Betsey herself. However, from descriptions in the book, the team at Trinity Sailing think that’s likely she was a yawl which were commonly used at that time. A yawl  is a two-masted sailing boat similar to a sloop but with an additional mast (mizzen mast) located well aft of the main mast, often aft of the rudder post if the vessel has an inboard hung rudder. (For comparison, a vessel with a larger mizzen located in a more forward position such as Leader, is called a ketch). The Betsey had barely room for four passengers whereas Leader can accommodate up to 19 people including skipper, bosun, cook and mate. We even had the luxury of hot showers and central heating on board Leader!

The route called in at some of the locations which Hugh Miller visited, and connected with planned community events on Eigg and Rum.

You can explore the area of the Hebrides that the voyage travelled through by following the link and using some digital maps.

They show a comparison between a maritime chart from the time and today’s maps.
Many thanks to Chris Fleet of the National Library of Scotland’s map department for assistance with mapping for the voyage

We have also produced an ESRI StoryMap of the voyage and related information, which can be viewed, and interacted with HERE

Click each of the left hand columns to find the story of the journey.

The voyage was also available to follow on the AIS website using a GPS tracker fitted on Leader.

During the voyage, a range of multimedia were produced, some of which are shared below:




A full report was written by Martin Gostwick, and made up the November 2014 newsletter of the Friends of Hugh Miller. Click the link and look for newsletters to get your copy.

Newsletter FHM


Coming soon: details of the 2nd phase of the voyage, to take place in Summer 2015


  1. […] sketches/paintings above are of a ship called the Leader which is cruising around the inner Hebrides with geologists, writers artists and musicians on board. […]

  2. […] Eigg while I was there. To be more accurate (I’m no boat expert) it’s described on the website as a gaff-rigged ketch – built in Brixham, Devon in […]

  3. […] 1844 trip by geologist Hugh Miller on ‘The Betsey’. You can read more about the trip Here and on my previous posts (listed at the top of this […]

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