Shetland has nearly 1,700 miles of coastline, 100 islands, natural harbours and crystal clear waters - perfect for sailing.

Shetland, Britain′s most northerly archipelago, is something of an undiscovered cruising gem. Yachtsmen are increasingly looking beyond their home waters for interesting sailing challenges, and Shetland offers a fantastic cruising ground.

The coast offers a beautiful combination of dramatic cliffs and natural harbours – many with good piers, slipways and marinas – so you can drop anchor anywhere and explore. Yachts have unrestricted access to all the islands and berthing fees are minimal.

Sailing to and around Shetland is a unique experience and one which offers plenty of adventure and exploration.

Find a Marina

Shetland offers a cruising ground that is easily accessible from most of north west Europe, but with no need to cross oceans.

Yachting information

  • Anchor

    Any well-found yacht that has sailed to the Shetland will be well equipped for cruising in the area, however, it is advisable to carry a heavier anchor, not only for security in heavy weather, but because many anchorages have extensive kelp (seaweed) on the seabed.

    A sharp lookout should be kept for small buoys marking fishing gear in inshore waters around Shetland. Most lines are weighted but it is wise to pass downwind/or tide of these to avoid the chance of snagging.

  • Charts and sailing directions

    Yachts should carry the appropriate charts for their cruise, which can be selected from an Admiralty Chart Agent. Please note there is no Admiralty leisure chart coverage for Shetland.

    The Clyde Cruising Club's Orkney and Shetland guide is the only Sailing Directions describing yacht anchorages and inshore passages in Shetland and is essential reading. Please ensure you have the latest edition. (Note: the chart illustrations and harbour diagrams in this publication are for guidance only and should not be used for navigation.)

  • Coastguard

    In the event that breakdown, illness and(or) injury occur, Her Majesty's Coastguard (HMCG) respond to all incidents on the coasts or at sea free of charge. They are also responsible for the broadcasting Maritime Safety Information (MSI) using VHF, MF and NAVTEX and also the provisional of a Radio Medical Link Call service (MEDLINK) in UK waters. Shetland Coastguard covers both Shetland and Orkney waters.

    Should any member of a crew require medical advice or assistance the Master or Skipper should contact Maritime Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Shetland using VHF or MF DSC, VHF Ch 16 (156.8MHz) or MF (2182kHz). In a medical emergency situation, an urgency alert using the prefix word PAN PAN should be made. The vessel will then be linked using the most suitable VHF channel or MF frequency to a doctor by the MRSC, and SAR units would be brought to immediate readiness.

    Shetland has two Severn Class RNLI all weather lifeboats: the "Charles Lidbury" based at Aith on the west and "Michael & Jane Vernon" at Lerwick on the east of Shetland. A coastguard rescue helicopter is based at Sumburgh, on the south of the mainland. There are teams of trained Volunteer Coastguards strategically placed throughout the islands. All Rescue Coordination Centre's have access to a translation service and are fitted with the latest equipment.

    Requests for weather forecasts, general information or passing passage planning information can be made directly to MRSC Shetland 24 hours a day either by telephone on +44(0)1595 692976, VHF/MF radio telephony, or Digital Selective Calling (DSC) using MRSC Shetlands MMSI, 002320001. Gale warnings, strong wind warnings, local navigational warnings, local inshore forecasts, extended weather outlook, navigation warnings and Sullom Voe traffic broadcasts are made at 0105 UTC and every 4 hours subsequently.

    Lerwick Coastguard: +44 (0)1595 692976

  • Emergency services

    In any emergency: Police, Fire, Ambulance, Coastguard, call 999

    In any other situation call 101

    Hospital
    Gilbert Bain Hospital, Lerwick: +44 (0)1595 743000

    Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)

    • Aith Lifeboat: +44 (0)1595 810276
    • Lerwick Lifeboat: +44 (0)1595 693827

    International Services (Consuls)

    • Germany - Dieter Glaser: +44 (0)1595 695956
    • Sweden - Iain Tulloch: +44 (0)1595 694064
  • Fish farms

    Care must be taken when navigating or anchoring near fish farms, which are marked by buoys, usually lit.

  • Guide for visiting yachts

    For lots of useful information, including information on sailing destinations and the latest news and updates, visit the Lerwick Port Authority website. You can also download an excellent guide for visiting yachts to Lerwick Harbour. For the Table of Dues, see the Shetland Islands Council website.

  • Lift outs

    A travel lift for vessels up to 50t and max 6m beam is available at Sella Ness in Sullom Voe.

    Lerwick Marina has a smaller boat lift available for vessels up to 9 tonnes. Please see the Lerwick Marina page for contact details.

    Mobile cranes are also available by arrangement at many locations around Shetland. Please see the indvidual Marina pages for contact details.

  • Local services

    Marine Surveyors

    Sail Line Fish Surveys
    Marine Surveyor: Stuart T. Balfour
    +44 (0)1806 522619 or +44 (0)7818864265
    info@saillinefish.com

    Chandlery, Diving, Engineering, electrical, electronics and charts

    DH Marine(Shetland) Ltd
    +44 (0)1595 690618
    Chandlery, electrical and mechanical repairs, plant hire. Agent for Mercury outboards, Raymarine navigation equipment stockist.

    Garriock Bros Ltd
    +44 (0)1595 695969
    Chandlery, agents for Pioneer boats and Suzuki Outboards( sales and service)

    GTS
    +44 (0)1595 696222
    sales@gtsdirect.co.uk
    Chandlery and IT supply and support.

    HNP Engineers (Lerwick) Ltd
    +44 (0)1595 692493
    hnpoffice@btconnect.com
    Engineering services. Agents for Volvo.

    H.Williamson & Sons
    +44 (0)1595 880645
    mail@hwilliamson.co.uk
    Based in Scalloway. Electronics supply installation, service and repair. Agents for all leading brands of marine electronics. Technicians available 24hrs.

    Ian Irvine Engineering
    +44 (0)1806 566627
    +44 (0)7721 887751
    Based in Whalsay. Engineering services, Agents for Yanmar, Nanni diesel, Mercruiser, Mercury diesel, Tohatsu and Mariner.

    LHD
    +44 (0)1595 693768
    Chandlery, Admiralty chart agent. Fuel supply at multiple locations. See website for full details.

    L&M Engineering
    +44 (0)1595693601
    Mechanical and electrical engineering services. Cummins Market specialist dealer.

    Malakoff Ltd
    +44 (0)1595 695544
    Based in Lerwick and Scalloway. Shipyard, slip, repairs and fabrication, chandlery, diving services.

    Michael Pottinger Engineering
    Based in Burra. Agents for Beta marine engines.
    +44 (0)1595 859 658
    +44 (0)1595 859606
    +44 (0)7901 630 658
    mp.engineering@btinternet.com

    Ocean Kinetics
    Chandlery, repairs, diving, fabrication.
    +44 (0)1595 696777
    +44 (0)1595 697900
    info@oceankinetics.co.uk

    Shetland Composites
    All types of fibreglass and composite repairs.
    +44 (0)1595 696426

    Thulecraft
    Spares department and workshop. Agents for Honda, Yamaha and Orkney boats. Chandlery.
    +44 (0)1595 692500
    +44 (0)1595 693192
    office@thulecraft.com

    Unst Inshore Services Ltd
    Boatbuilders, fabricators, engineering services.
    +44 (0)1957 711881
    unstinshore@btconnect.com

    Gas Supplies

    Rearo Supplies
    Based in Lerwick. Gas suppliers. Propane, butane and camping gas.
    +44 (0)1595 692807
    gas@rearo.co.uk

  • Marinas

    Some of the smaller marinas are too shallow for use by all but the most shoal draft of cruising yachts, but are useful for landing by dinghy. If a marina or pier master cannot be contacted, visitors should proceed to a berth. Normally end of pontoon berths are kept free for visitors. There will usually be a local person willing to give advice and lend a helping hand. All marinas have a daily charge or request donations.

    For islands where no marina exists, or where piers may be more suitable for larger cruising yachts, information has been provided on piers and/or anchorages which would be suitable.

    Its is recommended to have fender boards available if you plan to use any of the many piers around the islands, as fendering is either large tyres or heavy commercial ‘D’ fenders.

    Search for marinas in Shetland using our interactive map.

  • Overwintering

    Overwintering your yacht is possible in some Shetland marinas. Please check on the relevant Marinas page to see if they offer this service, then contact them directly using the details provided.

  • Tides

    Tidal streams can be strong around exposed headlands and in the sounds between the larger islands. Time your passage to use them to your advantage where you can, but be cautious of wind against tide situations, especially in stronger winds.

    For tidal information, please refer to your Nautical Almanac or the Admiralty tidal stream atlas NP 209. Apps such a Tide Times UK or AyeTides are also helpful. Alternatively you can contact Shetland Coastguard on: +44 (0)1595 692976

  • UK Border Force

    *Please note: due to the UK leaving the EU on 1 January 2021 the following information is likely to change.*

    All vessels arriving from foreign ports are required to contact UK border force on arrival. This can be done by contacting:

    National yacht line on +44 (0)8457231110

    or

    Contact the local Border Force Officer direct: +44 (0)1595690614, +44 (0)7721466199

    If arriving in Lerwick, the Port Authority will pass on your details to the local office. If arriving from outside the EU you must complete form C1331.

    For information on bonded stores please see notice 69A, available on the UK Government website.

    For further information contact the National Yacht Line or call the National Advice Service on +44 (0)1204 374930.

    If your voyage qualifies, bonded stores are available from Zetland Bonded Services.

  • Weather and shipping forecasts

    Shetland lies at 60°N, but enjoys a warm climate for their latitude, thanks to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. In summer, the weather is relatively dry, although changeable. Fog occurs on average three days per month and gales on less than one day per month.

    Shetland Coastguard broadcast weather on VHF and MF Radio telegraphy at 0105 UTC and every four hours subsequently, alternatively contact Shetland Coastguard on +44 (0)1595 692976.

    You'll also find the latest weather forecasts on the Met Office website.

    Weather bulletins for shipping are broadcast daily on BBC Radio 4 at the following times: 0048 and 0520 (long wave and FM); 1201 and 1754 (normally long wave only).

    The bulletins consist of a gale warning summary, general synopsis, sea-area forecasts and coastal station reports. In addition, gale warnings are broadcast at the first available programme break after receipt. If this does not coincide with a news bulletin, the warning will be repeated after the next news bulletin.

    Local forecasts are broadcast on Radio Shetland (92.7FM) between 5.30pm and 6pm local time, weekdays only.

    Mobile apps such as Windy or Predict Wind can also be useful.

  • Yacht and boat charters

    60N Sailing has a Sun Odyssey 43 Sparkling Spirit available for bareboat or skippered charter with berths for up to eight. For enquiries, call +44 (0)7778519862 or email admin@60Nsailing.co.uk.

    Agnes Kay Charters offer for skippered charter MV Agnes Kay II, a beautifully converted fishing boat suitable for a variety of leisure and professional needs. Agnes Kay II is based in Shetland, with liveaboard facilities for up to eight passengers, or day charter capacity of up to 12. For enquires, call +44 (0)7879990701 or email ewan@agneskay.uk.