Featured Ship

Pilgrim: Heritage Sailing on the English Riviera

Meet the Ship

Pilgrim, with her distinctive red sails and old fishing number BM45, is one of the oldest National Historic Ships still sailing. Built in 1895, by J W & A Uphams, one of Brixham’s most famous yards, Pilgrim was one of six similar vessels built at the yard during that year. Brixham was an extremely busy port at this time, with over 300 sailing trawlers, and played an important role in the development of trawling and ship design across Europe.

Today only a handful of these wooden sailing trawlers have survived, and Classic Sailing are proud to work with several of them in their new role as adventure charter vessels. These seaworthy and powerful sailing ships take crossing the Channel in their stride, make comfortable expedition vessels for exploring near and far, and offer stable platforms for those new to sailing.

What’s so Special About Pilgrim? History & Strengths

As the oldest surviving Brixham Sailing Trawler, and one of the few that retain their original tiller steering, Pilgrim is one of a kind. Her story is one of endurance and the perseverance of a dedicated group of volunteers and enthusiasts who have been instrumental in returning her to Brixham, keeping her sailing and providing her with a bright future as she approaches her 130th birthday.

Pilgrim was returned to the West Country from Denmark in 1999 for the first time in 87 years and in a sorry state. While fundraising efforts continued in earnest, she moved around the yards of Devon and Cornwall, before moving to Butler’s Yard in Dartmouth in 2008 for the start of her extensive refurbishment. By 2013 she was rigged and ready to sail, and participated in the Brixham Maritime Heritage Regatta. The then Prince Charles came aboard to present Pilgrim with the King George V Perpetual Cup, presented to the port of Brixham by his Great Grandfather for an annual competition between the sailing trawlers.

Pilgrim also won the 2014 Classic Boat ‘Restoration of the Year ‘ award, which recognised that the rig and deck were as close to the original build as could have been achieved.

For full specification and history of Pilgrim, check out her vessel page.

Who are the Crew?

Pilgrim runs with a highly experienced professional Skipper, as well as a Mate, Cook and deckhands. Up to two of Pilgrim’s deck crew each season are taking part in her Skipper Training Scheme: a programme of personal and professional development for young people keen to develop a career in traditional sailing.

Having a full range of experience on board makes for a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, and creates a fantastic learning environment for everyone. The young trainees are always keen to teach you what they’ve been learning, as it helps them to cement the knowledge for themselves. This also keeps the excitement alive for the more experienced hands.

As well as her professional crew, Pilgrim is supported by a stalwart band of volunteers who put their skills to use to help with sailing, maintenance and events.

What do Guests Say?

This was my first voyage on a tall ship and I had no previous experience of sailing. The crew were wonderful – friendly, calm and patiently explained and gave me confidence to help with sailing the boat. They also helped to build a warm, friendly and fun atmosphere among all of us onboard. I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to sail on Pilgrim again.


Lovely boat and great crew. No question was too daft. A highly enjoyable education.


I can’t wait for the next time- sailing on Pilgrim isn’t just a holiday, it’s an adventure full of new experiences, friendship, laughter and fun.


When and Where can I Sail Aboard?

From her home port of Brixham, Pilgrim has got a busy 2023 season of day sails, mini-breaks and longer voyages. Half and full day sails are perfect to get a taste of traditional sailing, and Torbay offers so much to explore.

At the other end of the spectrum there are her fortnight-long summer holidays to the Channel Islands and Normandy.

Explore Pilgrim’s Day Trips in Torbay

Explore Pilgrim’s Residential Sailing Holidays

Colourblind sailor and jumped-up cook

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