Project information

Sails for Whales

HWDT's research vessel Silurian sails nearly 7000km each year off the west coast of Scotland conducting surveys for whales, dolphins and porpoises. That's a total of over 100,000km since 2003! But she needs some TLC to continue our vital research to aid the conservation of Scottish cetaceans.

January 2018 - April 2018

Charity information: Hebridean Whale And Dolphin Trust

Hebridean Whale And Dolphin Trust logo
  • Need


    In order to keep our cetacean monitoring project going, to gather vital data to protect Scottish whales, dolphins and porpoises, HWDT's research vessel Silurian needs work to her sails and rigging, navigation systems, a new life raft and other essential maintenance & pieces of equipment to achieve another 14+ years of research. This work will ideally take place over the winter of 2017-2018 so she is ready for the 2018 field season.


    HWDT holds the single largest long-term database of its kind in the UK, the only significant data source for west Scotland. With this substantial evidence base to draw from HWDT are in the perfect position to engage in and influence conservation policy and management discussions for cetaceans. Ensuring the endurance of the research vessel by investing in her maintenance is key to continuing our programme to provide crucial scientific evidence for cetacean conservation.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Ensure that the research vessel Silurian is fit to continue sailing for many years to come


    » Replace, repair, and/or service the sails
    » Undertake vital maintenance on the rigging and masts
    » Purchase new life raft and lifejackets
    » Other general ship maintenance and equipment purchase to ensure she is fit for the new season and beyond

    What success will look like

    By spring 2018, Silurian will be 'ship-shape' to start the 2018 field season. This investment in her future will extend her durability for many more years to come.

  • Impact


    By investing now in Silurian, we will avoid increasing maintenance and repair costs faced each year and minimise unexpected and sudden problems that might jeopardise our research work. Silurian has undertaken over 90,000km of surveys for cetaceans in the last 14 years and this work will see her exceed the 100,000km milestone in 2018 and continue to survey for many more years to come. This will be shown through uninterrupted data collection and data will be used to inform conservation action.


    Not securing the funds required could mean that we are only able to achieve one or two of the aims. The sails are the priority, and other work and equipment can follow at a later date when more funding is secured. The sails are not unsafe and so we can continue our research, but they do need attention soon and will require alternative funding to be sought.


    Receive updates on project progress, photos/videos/blog; Unique opportunity for significant donors to have logo placed on the sails; Invited to celebratory boat launch event and invited onboard Silurian; Acknowledged on website, newsletters and in the press

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £19,714

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £5,140 Sails & navigation To replace, repair and service all sails and replace the navigation system on Silurian
      £5,000 Rigging Undertake essential maintenance of the rigging and masts
      £3,960 Liferaft & lifejackets Purchase new life raft & lifejackets
      £2,000 Waterproofs for sailing Good quality waterproofs for crew and volunteers
      £3,614 Other essential equipment Other essential boat equipment
  • Background


    HWDT is based in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, in the heart of the Hebrides. Silurian is moored here, but between April and October sails more than 6500km conducting surveys for whales, dolphins and porpoises. She travels from Islay in the South to Cape Wrath in the North, traces the mainland coast and sails out as far as St Kilda on an annual basis.


    We provide a voice for the whales, dolphins and porpoises of the Hebrides; the many and varied stakeholders whose livelihoods rely on healthy and diverse marine ecosystems (e.g. eco tourism, fishing and aquaculture, etc.); people of all ages and from all backgrounds who share our passion for protecting Scotland's marine mammals; the employees of HWDT who will have better secured jobs; all of our citizen science volunteers that join us onboard Silurian to participate in our research.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Established in 1994, and conducting boat-based surveys for cetaceans since 2003 using citizen scientists to collect data, HWDT now have a 14 year baseline dataset that informs conservation and management decisions for Scotland's marine environment. HWDT has a proven track record of innovative and engaging projects to ensure the longevity of this vital research programme and has maintained the research vessel Silurian since 2003.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Tom Reade

    Tom will oversee the work and purchase of equipment for Silurian

    Gemma Paterson

    Will be responsible for managing this project and tracking the budget

    Morven Russell

    Morven will ensure that all of our supporters are engaged in the project with regular communication and will help to organise a celebratory event.

    Our Supporters

    Our supporters are vital to the success of all our projects, and will take a pivotal role in giving Silurian the TLC she needs to keep her going.