Small boats

Micro adventuring in May – Tallulah + open boats

A course for lovers of small boats (AND pilot cutters)

We have just finished running the second ever 6 day course combining sailing 44ft pilot cutter Tallulah and two unique ‘ships tenders’.

15ft rowing boat ‘Number 8’

16ft spritsail yawl ‘Wild Boy’.

Last Autumn Tallulah’s skipper Debbie pioneered the first ‘ big boat-small boat course’ with 5 guests and 2 skippers so we managed to sail Tallulah and Wild Boy in company, anchoring near places like Restronguet Creek or Helford, and then sailing off from the mother ship into shallower waters.

This Spring we tried 3 guests so we could either all sail Tallulah offshore, or all go out in small boats on micro expeditions. Both versions seem to work!

Tallulah’s skipper Debbie, with other students like Tallulah’s first mate Will Templeman, built Wild Boy at The Boat Building Academy so it is great for us both to take people out to play on her.

The next Big boat – small boat combo – 6 day course in Cornwall

2024 Year of Skills – Beachcraft & open boat navigating

Will Boy is a historic replica of an 1882 Gorran Haven spritsail yawl. Typical of the seaworthy beach boats that were designed for inshore crab fishing off the South Cornwall coast.

Those qualities of design fit perfectly for wild camping and teaching what the Americans call ‘beachcraft’.

Number 8 is Tallulah’s regular rowing tender and has a long history of exploring the creeks and shorelines with charter guests. She also has an electric engine which helps if we are running short of time or wind.

You can navigate the shallows, beach the boat to step ashore, row right into small Cornish harbours, follow old sea routes up wooded creeks and far into the shallow salt marsh, anchor in forgotten pools and camp on beaches and shorelines inaccessible by land.

Tuck into places that only smugglers would find. Wild camp, improve your small boat skills and gain the confidence to explore without an engine. Take part in the voyage navigational planning with the skipper and learn to make full use of wind, tide, ingenuity and oars.

Learn more about Sailing Wild Boy

May 2024 Voyage Report – Featuring A Multinational crew

The voyage just ended  will be memorable because it was the week when the UK election date was announced – but we tried hard to make it unforgettable for other more photogenic and social reasons.

Tallulah gave us a dry and comfortable base, for great meals and free rafting up. We also took three days out from small boat sailing to go for a blast in the stronger winds on Tallulah. We left Wild Boy behind and enjoyed a fast 25 mile sail to Fowey for the first night. On the way back we sailed into Gorran Haven and out again, rounded the Dodman and then anchored overnight at the remote and lovely village of Portloe.

The next day we collected Wild Boy from Helford and planned a high spring tide exped for a BBQ up the far end of Percuil creek.

The next day a SE wind was kicking up a sea and a SW depression was also approaching so we reefed Tallulah and went for a bit of wave riding out towards the Manacles Reef.

Is it a course? Who comes?

It’s more of a ‘hands- on’ experimental course than a series of demos and analysis paralysis. To be honest almost every guest that comes on these trips seems to already have a boat and just wants to learn more. We all learn from each other. Its more like a ‘messing about in boats’ workshop. We nick ideas from Roger Barnes videos and Dinghy Cruising Book.

These voyages also seem to attract sailors from other parts of the world, often sussing out if they could trailer their own boats over here. Sailing on a big pilot cutter like Tallulah too, is just the icing on the cake.

 This May we had Frank from Maine, who has 5 of his own boats, Ervin from Hungary who has 3 small boats, Ludo from Bristol / Malta who was trying to pick up both big boat and small boat skills. Last Autumn we had small boat sailors from Switzerland and Germany.

What skills did we learn?

The logistics can get pretty complicated and sometimes we had to just think quickly to adapt to changing weather. A plan to tow two boats behind Tallulah under motor on a short local hop in zero wind, turned into a ‘shall we sail and tow?’ That seemed to be ok so we put the topsail up.

Tallulah thought it playful to speed up to more than 6 knots whilst towing about a ton of small boats behind, so we had to reduce sail to not strain any fittings. It was quite weird having 2 little boats faithfully following us as we tacked into the Helford River. Perhaps something not to try in August.

Liveaboard boats think nothing of towing all sorts of boats and water toys, but its not that common on a sail training boat. We are all taught that tenders should be brought on board when you leave port. All the towlines we use are floating line, but it is a team effort to set up and recover the towed boats safely.

For Ludo it was learning to row proper wooden boats that was a big aspect of the week.

For Frank, he wanted to steer a pilot cutter in a decent blow and see how they hove to.

For Ervin it was a long way to come from Hungary on his second voyage on Tallulah, and a very different sailing tidal ground from his large lakes back at home.

For me as skipper, I feel happier now with many forms of towing, and having boats sail onto the sides of Tallulah (no paint damage so thanks Will for making it look easy.)

Stepping stones to owning your own small boat?

Our next big boat-small boat course is in September 2024. See Tallulah Voyages for details. There will be more in 2025 announced soon.

Learning to sail small boats brings the concept of one day owning your own boat into the realms of possibility.  It doesn’t really matter if it is a wooden rowing boat or a fibreglass dinghy or Drascombe Longboat, it is the size and affordability that matters.

Not only can a small dinghy find quiet anchorages that are close to the shore and the wildlife of the littoral, you can also sail into drying harbours that are unreachable for yachts at low water. There is something rather satisfying about landing for free for a quick pint, ice cream, or shower.

Courses on Tallulah with Wild Boy – September and May

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