Destination UK - Maritime Britain
Photo: St Mawes Pilot Cutter Review - an annual event where you can be crew organised by Classic Sailing
Be part of our rich seafaring history
"We believe the best way to conserve our maritime heritage in the UK is for historic vessels and replicas to go to sea; not sit in a static alongside berth or museum. Sail them whilst you still can, and spread the word." Directors of Classic Sailing Adam and Debbie Purser
Classic Sailing has spend over a decade widening opportunities for our customers to experience sailing as working crew on pilot cutters, trading ketches, sailing trawlers, schooners and ocean going square riggers that were once a common sight around our incredibly varied coastline.
By booking a voyage on a traditional boat or tall ship you create living history and spectacle out on the water for all to enjoy. By actively sailing these beautiful working craft from a by gone era you are giving them a future in a modern world.
It is also a unique and fun way to explore the coast, anchorages and ports of Britain and connect with history.
Cornwall & Western Approaches - Home of the Pilot Cutter
Historically pilot cutters earnt their living by taking pilots out to sailing ships. The fastest would win the contract to put their pilot aboard to safely 'pilot' the vessel in or out of port. The most well known in Britain are the Bristol Channel pilot cutters, but the Scillies and Falmouth also had big fleets. There were hundreds of pilot cutters in West Country Ports around the turn of the 19th Century. From the Western Approaches, 'inbound' could be all the way up the Bristol Channel to Bristol, Irish Sea to Liverpool or up English Channel.
If you want to sail a pilot cutter in their traditional stamping grounds and tuck into small West Country Ports then 'Eve of St Mawes' offers 3 day sailing breaks in Cornwall and 6 day island hopping adventures in the Isles of Scilly.
Scottish Islands and remote lochs - communities linked by boat
The Scottish Highlands are carved by ancient glaciers and sea lochs reaching deep inland mean exploring Scotland by road is just plain crazy. The tough way to see the grandeur of Scotland is from the top of a mountain. The best way to gain an all round panorama of wilderness and wildlife, and also meet the locals is to sail the coast. The remote coastal communities and islanders have always used boats to get around and the rich fishing grounds are still the life-blood for some of our joining ports like Mallaig or Oban.
Our specialist in Scotland is 42' pilot cutter Lizzie May, based in Largs for short breaks but wandering the whole West Coast on longer voyages in the summer. When you sail on a wooden working boat like LIzzie May, the locals come to visit you !
A well known vessel in the Western Isles is 56ft Gaff cutter Eda Frandsen who knows the waters and the secrets of the Hebrides well. Offering 6 and 9 day voyages from Mallaig, she is a perfect vessel to explore the Outer Hebrides and further afield combining natural seaworthiness, grace and character.
Visiting the Western Isles again for a month this summer is historic trading ketch Bessie Ellen, with a couple of short breaks a some 6 day voyages from Oban.
Historic UK Ports & Trading Routes
Coal, tin, wood, fruit from the Azores, salted cod from Newfoundland, timber from Scandinavia - all carried under sail in and out of British Ports for centuries. There are very few opportunities to sail on the few sailing cargo ships that remain.
Bessie Ellen is one of the last remaining West Country Trading Ketches out of a fleet of 700. Built in 1904 for much of her working life she has continued to carriy cargoes and even in 2010 had a go at carrying wine cargoes voyages commercially. The lovely accommodatation has been re installed in her cargo hold and once more she is carrying charter crews in 2011. She returns from the Canaries in April and we be offering voyages in the West Country, Isles of Scilly and a few trips in Scotland in July.
photo: Rare visitor to these shores: Cook Island registered barque Picton Castle sails into Falmouth 2008
Pick your Sailing Holiday
Search the web site.
- Quiz - Best Tall Ship for you?
- Test your Tall Ship Knowledge
- Contact us - Ask a Skipper
- Special Offers
- 2017 Voyages
- How to Book
- Top Tips
- All Vessels Dates and Prices
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Brochures and Documents
- Gift Vouchers
- News Stories
- Flight Centre
- Travel Insurance
- Customer Comments
- Charts of the World
- Terms and Conditions
- Privacy and other Policies
- Contact Us