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Specialist Courses

We could call this the ultimate sailing course menu for those who seek more than RYA courses can offer.

Take a look at our fleet. There is not a production GRP yacht in sight. We love the steady heel of a deep keeled schooner, the timeless romance of steering a course at night with a big ships wheel and no digital display in sight. We prefer to teach you to sail quietly in to anchorage on a 22 ton pilot cutter without resorting to an engine. Rowing ashore without a noisy outboard is not a slow option if you have a good rowing tender.

But where do you go to learn the old skills? the big boat skills? and the inshore intricacies of manoeuvring small inshore craft or dinghies without engines into tiny ports and up tidal creeks?

We offer big sailing boat skills if you think that one day you want to crew, skipper or own a yacht with more than one mast. You can try out ketches, schooners and luggers . If outrageously long bowsprits are your thing then we have pilot cutters to learn to bring alongside or race. For square rigger skills we two very manuevrable brigs and a topsail schooner.

Classic Sailing also offer sail handling courses on small boats. We don’t claim to be dinghy sailing experts but if you want to try small boat sailing in sheltered coastal waters on our replica Gorran Haven crabbers, then there are a range of courses on Outdoor Girl and Wild Boy. Some courses use pilot cutter Tallulah as a mother ship, so you can do both big boat and little boat sailing in one week, without having to rough it. Also we have 2 night sailing and wild camping expeditions purely on Outdoor Girl in South Cornwall.

Sail a square rigger

Sail a gaff rigged boat

Sail a lugger

small sail and row boat skills

Learn Skills for bigger sailing vessels

Much of our fleet are deemed ‘too big’ to teach RYA cruising courses. At 44ft on deck and 59ft overall our current RYA teaching boat Tallulah, would be considered at the larger end of the recommended size for teaching Day Skipper. Above 48ft, there are no recognised UK courses for teaching boat handling skills on heavy displacement vessels. Classic Sailing have trained many big boat professional skippers with a pilot cutter as their first command, so Tallulah is a good stepping stone to bigger vessels but we can give you larger sailing ship experience too.

You can train for MCA superyacht qualifications to operate high tech equipment on a ships bridge, and even ‘drive’ a large ship with a computer simulator at nautical college, but there is no UK MCA / STCW course that teaches you ‘hands on’ sailing skills on bigger vessels. The RYA have a Watch Leader syllabus, but as these are limited to a max of 5 students per instructor, few large charter yachts can afford to run these courses as their business model requires more paying crew than 5.

Classic Sailing have always aimed to fill that gap. In the old days you would have sought an apprenticeship or a cadetship on the vessels you want to learn on. With our website you can focus on the sailing locations you want to sail in, and the type of vessel you want to master – whether it is for personal satisfaction, a boat ownership goal or a career path. The voyages may not be formal courses but the skippers and crews are there to help you get the most out of your learning experience – whatever your level. Like any work experience you may need to earn a bit of trust with the permanent crew, to gain a chance to try something new.

Occasionally the vessels we promote have specific volunteer watch leader or deckhand trainee posts on larger vessels, or job vacancies to get your foot on the ladder. We will promote the places via social media or classic sailing newsletters so make sure you follow us on facebook / instagram or sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.

See our fleet of vessels

Small Boat Sailing & Beachcraft

Travel around the Cornish coast the greenest way possible by rowing and sailing 17ft open boat ‘Outdoor Girl’ with a local skipper as your guide.
Outdoor Girl is a spritsail yawl that was designed for inshore crab fishing, 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. In 2024 Outdoor Girl’s smaller sister will be available too. A 16ft replica of a 1882 Gorran Haven crabber – Wild Boy was built by Classic Sailing founder Debbie Purser and fellow students at the Boat Building Academy.

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.

Read about Outdoor Girl and courses

Other things to learn on a boat

In addition to our RYA courses which follow a set syllabus, Classic Sailing offers a tantalising choice of voyages where you can learn more informally, whilst on a sailing holiday or courses on specific skills like boat building, small boat camping, small boat handling under oar and sail, maritime art and photography, wellbeing at sea, polar expedition training and much more.

More Courses

learn traditional and modern navigation

28/12 Course

Shorebased Courses & Workshops

Classic Sailing offers a range of courses and marine adventure related skills that you can do on land, or in the winter when sailing

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Sabbatical - Setting Sail into a Rejuvenated Future

21/12 Course

Ocean Classrooms & Citizen Science

Learning and Education at Sea There has never been a more important time to learn more about our ocean systems and how it effects

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Provident Morag crew smile steer

13/12 Course

Learn to Sail – Beginners

Are you ready to try sailing? There are many ways to learn to sail, but we also want to help you fall in love

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