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Annabel J - Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter

Photo by Beken - Annabel J off the Needles

Annabel J - 54' Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter

Annabel J is an interpretation of the legendary Bristol Channel Pilot cutter. Designed to patrol on station in the jaws of the Bristol Channel, these hardy cutters were necessarily fast, easily handled and seaworthy. Built in steel with wooden decks, Annabel J will look after you in style. Fitted out below decks in a beautiful deep mahogany, her interior is a haven of warm varnished bright work, elegant upholstery and cut glass.

With her pedigree of a working vessel she can stand a lot of canvas and is surprisingly swift, even in light airs. Annabel J is the ideal passage making boat for wanting those to go further afield or experience a channel crossing at impressive speeds. Skipper Phil is also keen to encourage potential voluntary mates who can sail regularly on ‘A.J.’

Full Sailing Schedule for Annabel J - voyage descriptions, prices & dates

Annabel J Voyage Notes

Annabel J - Ships Blog & Latest News

Annabel J changes back to a tiller

Solent Short Breaks

Skipper Phil is an expert on Annabel J’s home ground the Solent and being close to the South East he offers many excellent and convenient short breaks. There is good sailing at all times of year and on Annabel J you will stand out from the crowd.  The Isle of Wight offers a great deal of protection from the waves and swell, so even on blustery autumn days you have a great all weather sailing ground with relatively flat seas.  The tides are strong so you can get challenging conditions for boat handling and it is a great teaching ground for learning how to set courses to steer to allow for cross tides. There are a lot of navigation marks to understand and a wide mix of shipping, yacht races and on the water activity going on, so plenty to learn.  With many rivers, estuaries, salt marsh, and high chalk cliffs there is a surprising amount of wildlife to see and in the autumn and spring it is great for bird watching.

Ashore, the Solent is well geared for yachtsmen and women and there are some excellent places to eat.

AJ alongside in the inner dock at HonfleurRegular Offshore Hops to Channel Islands & France

At 54ft length on deck Annabel J is the perfect boat to try your first Channel Crossing. She has a deep keel and sleek hull and plenty of momentum in a decent breeze so passage making is a lot more comfortable than on a 40ft yacht. Phil knows the Channel Isles and Brittany and Normandy coast very well. Guernsey is the capital of the Channel Islands Bailiwick and St Peter Port seems like a little piece of Monaco. With all the shopping tax free, it’s the perfect place to stock up on a few bargains. Alderney is dominated by the massive Braye harbour, sheltered by the half mile long breakwater. Alternatively you can anchor off Sark which is straight out of ‘Treasure Island’. Getting to the interior is an adventure in itself. In common with many island communities, the island wildlife is in abundance with huge sea bird colonies lying just off shore. There are always the regular visits of basking sharks and dolphins as well as the local resident seals.

Photo: AJ alongside in the inner dock in Honfleur.

Sailing in Company at the Pilot Cutter Races

 In 2013 Annabel J circumnavigated the UK so was unable to take part in several of the regattas that she regularly attends. In 2014 however we welcome her back to Cornwall for the St Mawes Pilot Cutter Review, and also regattas in Fowey, Plymouth and Yarmouth. Sail to Cornwall along the South Coast and join this spectacular event organised by Classic Sailing purely for original pilot cutters and authentic replicas. The event usually attracts 8-11 pilot cutters.  Skipper Phil loves cruising but is also a calm and collected racer with novice crews. 

Pilot Cutter Racing & Other Festival Voyages on AJ

A personal account of crewing on eve at the 2011 review


Isles Of Annabel JScilly

Skipper Phil has followed in Eve of St Mawes footsteps and is now a regular summer visitor to the Isles of Scilly. This stunning granite archipelago off Lands End has dazzling white sand beaches, crystal clear water and sub tropical plants ashore. Each year he usually has several Cornish Coast and Isles of Scilly voyages on his programme between June and September.

Read more about the Isles of Scilly as a sailing destination.


Enjoy the Best of Europe's Maritime Festivals

Brest Festival of the Sea and Doaurnenez are two independant festivals that come together every four years (2012, 2016)  to create 2 weeks of festivities. Over 3000 traditional boats from around the world converge on this corner of France to celebrate maritime history, seafaring culture, music and dance.  The seafood is good too in the festival ports and the smaller holiday ports and villages around the Rade de Brest. You can join her for either of these festivals, or package them together for a special price and save on airfares.

Sail across the channel on Annabel J to Brest, and enjoy the shore side fun and the racing within the Rade de Brest, a fantastic inland sea. Then, either fly home, or join her on the Parade of Sail down to Douarnenez for part 2 of the fun.

In other years Paimpol Shanty Festival (every two years 2013, 2015) is another popular summer event that Classic Sailing boats love to attend.

If you like wooden boats, chatting to like minded sailors, enjoy good music, wine and food, then either one of these voyages could be for you.

Pilot Cutter Racing & Other Festival Voyages on AJ

Brittany Specialist & beyond to Golfe de Morbihan

Further south Brittany beckons with the fabled port of St Malo and the Granite Rose coast to the west. Anchor amongst the Ile de Brehat in Brittany or sail up to Treguier and enjoy its Medieval Square and Cathedral. There are many small harbours with waterside restaurants in Brittany and will give you a chance to stretch your legs along beautiful beaches.

Round Britain Classic Boat Circumnavigation 2013

2013 was the Old Gaffers Association 50th anniversary. The 'Old Gaffers' refers to the Classic boats and not the age of the skippers! To celebrate, a Round Britain Sailing Challenge event was organized.  A fleet of classic yachts sailed around Britain and there were social events at major ports en-route. The map and table below shows the provisional proposed schedule for boats starting in the Solent area. They were joined along the way by classic boats from France, Holland, Ireland, Scotland and all parts of the UK. 

 "The cruise was a constant delight. I was instantly made to feel welcome and felt at ease." Robert Chester

Annabel J - Boat Specification

Annabel J Dimensions:
Length on deck   54ft
Length with bowsprit   67ft
Beam  14ft
Draught   7ft 10”
Engine & bow thruster 
Tonnage   38 tonne
Rig Gaff Cutter
Sails: gaff mainsail, gaff topsail, staysail,working jib, flying jib, jib topsail and storm jib.

Design inspired by the lines of surviving original Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter Marguerite.

Built 1995 by AP Appledore (Falmouth)

Steel hull, teak decks and cockpit

Below Decks:
Beautifully fitted out in flame mahogany wood as elegant in style as a gentleman's classic yacht. Full standing headroom.

AJ sails with a skipper, a mate on some voyages, and 8 guest crew. Below there is a 3 berth cabin up forward and 5 berths in the saloon. There are double berths in both cabins but not private. Facilities -two toilets, shower, hot and cold running water and galley area. Navigation equipment: Radar, GPS DSC VHR radio, Sat Phone, Chart plotter.

Safety: MCA Code of Practice Category 2, up to 60 miles from a safe haven.

Skipper:  Phil Cogdell owns and skippers the boat.

Voyage Fees include:  All meals, sailing tuition, waterproofs, port fees, pillows but please bring pillowcases and sleeping bags.

Involvement level:  full hands on sailing, navigation if you wish and washing up.

Full Sailing Schedule for Annabel J - voyage descriptions, prices & dates

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