We love beautiful classic Boats & tall ships

Our Sailing Ships Always Create a Scene

For us a real sailing boat or sailing ship is one which makes your heart skip a beat as it comes around a headland, or makes a commercial fisherman look up from his nets and smile as you sail past. They are the boats with instantly recognisable wooden masts that stand out amongst a sea of average white yachts in a port, or the tall ship at anchor creating a timeless scene as beautiful as any painting.

Our traditional boats and tall ships have been photographed, sketched and written about by admirers on the shore, but this is nothing compared to emotions stirred by sailing on them and feeling part of a ship. Be prepared to fall in love….

square rigger in the sunset with stunsails
square rigger in the sunset with stunsails

What is traditional sailing ?

Our niche is traditional sailing. Classic Sailing only promote vessels that are traditionally rigged and offer beautiful working examples of a bye-gone era. Typically our current fleet represent working boats and sailing ships from 1870’s to 1920’s. Some are well restored original vessels of prime importance to the maritime history of their country of origin. Others are authentic replicas allowing you to experience a traditional sailing holiday on strong new vessels that will survive for many more decades.

All our traditional sailing boats typically use blocks and tackles rather than winches. Instead of modern carbon materials to create towering masts they often have mainmasts and topmasts carved from solid trees. In search of speed over the centuries these vessels evolved quite complex rigs (sail arrangement) to maximise their sail area with bowsprits, gaff spars and booms that extend beyond the transom; as many yards as possible for square sails, and stun’sail booms rather than spinnaker poles.

The wooden hulls are typically caulked with oakum, deck seams pitched, rigging tarred and sails repaired by hand. If you like the satisfaction of learning practical skills passed down the centuries then we can find plenty for willing hands to do.

stowing sails aloft on Barque Tenacious
stowing sails aloft on Barque Tenacious

Traditional Looks & Modern Safety

The vessels we work with are not museum pieces. They have to pass stringent safety requirements to take you to sea so they do have modern navigational devices, safety equipment and domestic facilities below decks. Their hull and design conform to modern stability ratings and fire protection and they have to be professionally manned by qualified sailors. 

The British registered ships in our fleet are certified by the UK Maritime Coastguard Agency for commercial sailing. Foreign owned vessels we work with will be inspected and commercially coded by their national agencies. You can check a vessel’s certifying authority on our website by typing the vessel’s name and ‘ship specification’ into our site search.

Maritime Heritage at Sea

Classic Sailing staff believe the best way to conserve our maritime heritage and traditional sailing skills is for historic vessels and traditional replicas to go to sea.

Classic Sailing has spent over a decade widening opportunities for our customers to experience sailing as working crew on pilot cutters, schooners, trading ketches, sailing trawlers, and ocean going square riggers – that were once a common sight around our coasts.

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 you are giving them a future in a modern world. 

caulking irons for Halcyon restoration
caulking irons for Halcyon restoration


UK National Historic Ships Register

The following working ships on Classic Sailing website are on the UK National Historic Ships Register as significant examples of surviving historic vessels that should be preserved as part of Britain’s maritime history. We are proud to support these iconic working girls.

1892 – Brixham trawler ‘Leader’

1895 – Brixham trawler ‘Pilgrim’

1906 – Edwardian yawl ‘Moosk’

1907 – West Country Trading Ketch –  ‘Irene of Bridgewater’

1908 – gaff cutter ‘Golden Vanity’

1924 – Brixham trawler ‘Provident’

Golden Vanity and Leader
Photo by Valery Vasilevskyi – Historic vessels from Brixham – Golden Vanity and Leader

Originals, Restorations or Replicas ?

Can you tell which of our traditional boats and tall ships are originals, old hulls restored back to sailing ship glory or brand new replicas ? Can you tell which vessels have steel hulls and which are built of wood ? All our ships have interesting stories and their owners have often made remarkable sacrifices to restore them to working sailing vessels.

Working Sail has designed several replica pilot cutters, including Agnes
Working Sail has designed several replica pilot cutters, including Agnes

See our vessels section for more about each vessel


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