The Call of the Sea 01872 580022

Wooden Ships

Wooden frames of Agnes under construction by Luke Powell

Historic Wooden Ships

There is a fascination for wooden ships that spans the whole world. We now explore by interplanetary rockets and deep water submarines but before the world found itself we had to develop vessels capable of sailing long distances and surviving the voyage home.

A study of the development of ocean exploration shows an interesting development of wooden ships that lead to the likes of Columbus and Magellan being able to sail across Oceans and back again.

What came about in the 15th century was the combination of the best of two different styles of wooden ships, one from the Mediterranean and the others from northern Europe. The factors combined from the north were fixed iron work for a stern rudder post rather than a steering oar on one side of the stern that is less effective and very awkward to add leverage/power to in rough weather.

Also from the north a square sail set before the mast that was structurally more resilient than a lateen sail set behind the mast that consequently crashes into the mast on too many occasions weakening it and leading to its breakage. (Just as Grayhound experienced.) The best of the south was the carvel planking system, as opposed to the clinker build of northern boats. Carvel gives that smooth sided appearance to wooden ships and is structurally a lot stronger. The lateen sail was kept, at first but later adapted to a gaff sail, on the aft mast to assist in tacking and balancing the force of the sails on the ship.

You ended up with the three masted wooden ship with square sails on the fore and main, lateen/gaff on the mizzen, strong hull and easier more reliable steering. With that Western Europe went to sea to discover, conquer and bugger up the rest of the world.

Today Classic Sailing has nearly all wooden ships with the exception of four steel ships. All our pilot cutters and ketches are wooden and we have one wooden Tall Ship Tenacious.

Here are the details of our historic wooden ships.

Our Legendary Rowing Boat - Number Eight

On local Cornish voyages Eve of St Mawes tows her expedition rowing boat 'Number 8' for exploring.

New 'Number 8' built 2012

If you love rowing, coastal walking and sailing try our Sail - Walk - Row voyages or Pure Wind and Oar Power Voyages featuring Eve and No 8

Eve short breaks with rowing - dates & prices

Eve of St Mawes - Pilot Cutter

Eve of St Mawes sails in Cornwall, Isles of Scilly and Brittany

Vessel Details Short breaks, special interest weekends & longer voyages in Cornwall & Isles of Scilly with a local skipper as your guide. RYA courses.

Eve Voyages & RYA Courses Dates & prices Vanity Gaff Cutter

Vessel details Historic 1908 gaff cutter Vanity offers RYA Competent Crew and Day Skipper courses from South Devon so you have a choice of two classic boats with bowsprits (Eve in Cornwall) for RYA sailing qualifications. She also runs Adventure voyages for Duke of Edinburgh Award Residential for 16-25 years.

Golden Vanity all voyages, dates & prices

RYA Course dates on Vanity

Two Masted Ketch Bessie Ellen

Vessel Details Historic wooden sailing ship with a worldwide sailing licence. Winter sunshine sailing, mountain walking and whale & dolphin watching in Canaries & Azores. Summer voyages in Cornwall and a few voyages on the West Coast of Scotland.

 Bessie Ellen Voyage dates & prices

agnes pilot cutterAgnes Pilot Cutter

Vessel details 46ft authentic replica of Isles of Scilly pilot cutter built and skippered by shipwright Luke Powell. Agnes offers short breaks in Cornwall, longer voyages to Britanny, Scilly, Ireland and Pembrokeshire.

Agnes Voyage dates and prices

Eda Frandsen with bone in her teethEda Frandsen Gaff Cutter

Vessel details 56ft Danish gaff cutter offering an early season and autumn in Cornwall and then heads north for spring and summer with voyages exploring the Hebrides and far north of Scotland from Mallaig.

Eda Frandsen voyage dates and prices

East Greenland Expeditions with Classic Sailing on OpalSchooner Opal

Vessel details A wooden two mast schooner based based in Scorseby Sound each summer for expeditions to East Greenland and in Iceland's whale watching capital Husavik for Edge of the Arctic voyages and Spring Expeditions where you can ski with mountain guides in iceland's NE coastal Mountains.

Greenland Voyage Dates and prices

Hildur in East GreenlandHildur - Icelandic Schooner

Vessel details A wooden two mast schooner based in Iceland's whale watching capital Husavik. In the summer she offers Greenland Arctic Expeditions from Scorsesby Sund. In Iceland in spring Hildur runs 'Ski to the Sea'  where you can ski with mountain guides.

Hildur Voyage Dates and prices

Tall Ship Tenacious Sailing Holidays CaribbeanBarque Tenacious

Vessel details: The largest tall ship we offer, Tenacious was built to enable able bodied and disabled crews work alongside as equals. UK Tall Ship Day Sails, Longer adventures in from UK or European ports in Summer. Winter from historic ports in the Mediterranean and South of France.

Tenacious Voyages - dates & prices


Grayhound Lugger & Privateer - Sail her in 2013

Vessel Details In August 2012 Marcus and Freya launched the first 3 masted lugger to be built in Briain for 200 years. Sail this replica of a 1772 privateer around our festivals, or join her as she sets off an an Atlantic circuit with island hopping and coastal exploring in Northern Spain, Madiera, Canaries, Cape Verde and Trans Atlantic to the Caribbean.

Grayhound - voyage and daysail dates and prices Sailing Trawler Leader

Vessel details. 1892 original sailing trawler Leader  is on the UK historic ships register. Sail on this incredibly powerful vessel  and sense the history.  Explore Northern Ireland or Scotland  from Oban in summer as well as favourite haunts in Brittany & West Country. Brixham Heritage Race and the Isles of Scillies.

Leader Voyages - dates & prices

 Brixham Sailing Trawler Provident

Vessel details. This much loved historic wooden gaff ketch will be offering Westcountry and Brittany voyages and 10 day adventures from Brixham, Brixham Trawler Race and Paimpol

Provident voyages - dates & prices


Pick your Sailing Holiday

E.g., 23/04/2018

Search the web site.

Search form

Customer Comments

"I enjoyed our trip to the Scillies so much. We had great weather an exciting fast sail to St Agnes. The Cove was jus...

Follow us

RSS Feeds

Latest Offers & New Voyages

First name

Last name