The Call of the Sea 01872 580022

Deckhand on Bessie Ellen and Irene- one month training placements


Deckhand on tall ship Bessie Ellen and Irene (4 week training berth).

See our volunteer deckhand vacancy for the full season.

Partly due to demand and interest in working on tall ships from people of all ages, we have created a way you can gain experience on an authentically rigged sailing ship as part of the professional crew, rather than just sailing as charter guests.

We recognise that not everyone can give up the day job, so we have created 2 extra deckhand training berths on gaff rigged sailing ship Bessie Ellen and also on Irene, that you may be able to take advantage of.

You can apply for a  4 - 5 week placement on Bessie Ellen or Irene for a significantly reduced berth fee. You will be signed on as deck hand. Bessie Ellen is over 24m on deck so you can log qualifying seatime for super yacht / sail training ships and start to work towards yacht rating - deck officer - chief mate - master qualifications.

Training berths as short term deckhand are approx £200 per week for a minimum of 4 weeks .


If a voluntary deckhand berth becomes available during the season, or relief deckhands are needed for crew leave, then you may be able to extend your placement or come back for free.

RYA logbooks and MCA training record books can be signed off and we can help you obtain a UK Seamans Discharge Book to record your professional seatime.

Who are we looking for ?

Please note your job description is the same as the full season deckhand and you will be living in the fo'castle. This is an opportunty for hard workers and preference will be given to those who are genuinely interested in a career at sea or in related professions like marine biology / sail training/ teaching watersports etc.

See Job description below

The Vessel - S/V Bessie Ellen

Built: Plymouth 1904

GRT 87 ton

Rig: gaff ketch with 8 sails

Length Overall: 35.5m

Length on deck: 25.6m

Crew: Skipper, Mate/Cook, 2 deckhands

 2 trainees (short term deckhands) & upto 12 guest crew

Lively to sail & graceful lines.....

With two masts and lofty topmasts increasing her height further, Bessie Ellen has a lot of sail to play with, and it takes team work to hoist the heavy main and mizzen gaff sails. In light winds or racing she can carry topsails on both masts, and forward there are 4 headsails to tack:- Staysail, inner and out jib and jib topsail, so if you like the idea of being out on the bowsprit with the ships bow wave beneath you, then there are plenty of sails to stow out there. Bessie Ellen has fine underwater lines and is fairly shallow draught so she is surprisingly responsive under sail. The ship has an ocean rated stability rating, carries all new modern safety and navigation equipment, and is currently certified for world wide commercial charter under the UK Marine Coastguard Agency / Department of Transport.

Job Description

Both vessels carry a small professional crew, so you will be supervised and trained by the skipper or the mate so the opportunities to learn a wide range of skills is greater than on a larger ship. The charter guests come to pull ropes, steer the ship and learn about traditional sailing too, so you are helping them sail the ship rather than taking them for a sail. When the going gets tough or rough, the skipper needs reliable deckhands to handle sails / stand watches / prepare anchors and mooring warps/ sort out any problems aloft or out on the bowsprit. There are no mechanical winches so you need a strong back and a level of phyical toughness.

A large part of the job is also domestic. You will be up earlier than the guests. Deckhands will be responsible for cleaning the ship on deck and below, setting out meals, assisting with food preparation and clearing away. The mate is also the cook and the owner of the vessel, so you can see that in this industry that being a jack of all trades is essential. Being a cook on a ship is a very good route into paid employment on ships and both Bessie Ellen and Irene have excellent reputations for producing good quality meals.

You may need to stand anchor or harbour watches at night, run boats ashore in anchorages - all of which would be good experience to log in your MCA Training Record Book - if you plan to work towards Yacht rating - deck officer of the watch - chief mate - master qualification route for super yachts / sail training or the Merchant Navy.

This post offers excellent opportunties to learn about maintaining a traditionally rigged ship and also  modern safety equipment and engines. One day you might be seizing rigging aloft or repairing a sail; another day you might be doing fire extinguisher checks.

If you have a strong interest in marine wildlife then an additional role could be to help develop the dolphin and whale watching aspect of the voyages.

The crew quarters in the focastle is seperate from the guest accommodation in the main saloon. Deckhands share a communal space with 4 bunks.

Person Specification

Ideally aged 18+

Physically fit and agile (good eyesight -not colour blind)

Hard working, responsible and enthusiastic about traditional boats

Prepared to live in communal crew quarters with a predominantly young crew.

No sailing qualifications required but the more practical experience you have the better. You definately need to know that you like living aboard a sailing vessel (e.g. not prone to seasickness)

Practical skills in boat maintenence, woodwork, painting, engineering, electrics or similar crafts, small boat skills, RYA powerboat operator certificate - all useful. cooking or catering skills.

Second language,or any marine wildlife knowledge also a bonus.

How to apply:

Apply by e mail with a short CV explaining  why you want the deckhand - short placement berth to:

Flights and travel to the ship are the applicants responsibility but we can advise on travel.

You will need to purchase travel insurance.

If your application is successful, Classic Sailing will invoice you for the training berth costs and supply you with full joining instructions.

Please title the e mail DECKHAND FOR A MONTH & your name

Please indicate your preference, or state dates available.






Page Sub Menu

Pick your Sailing Holiday

E.g., 22/11/2017

Search the web site.

Search form

Customer Comments

"Enjoyed every minute of it, especially when at the tiller. Worst bit ? "There was nothing I didnt enjoy". Summing up...

Follow us

RSS Feeds

Latest Offers & New Voyages

First name

Last name