Leader is an 1892 Brixham Trawler, one of the oldest National Historic Ships still operating in the UK. She has recently relocated to Northern Ireland, to the Silvery Light Sailing project, running charter voyages in addition to sail training trips for young people in partnership with Sail Training Ireland.

The crew on Leader are passionate about teaching and sharing their love for maritime heritage with anyone who joins them on board. You can expect to learn a lot, while enjoying fantastic sailing in great company.

Having had a long career sailing on the South Coast of England, and with a huge following of fans who’ve previously sailed aboard, it’s lovely to see Leader settling in to her new home to continue this brilliant work.

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Ship Stats

Length Overall


Length On Deck


Year Built


Vessel Type / Rig

Gaff Ketch

Guest Berths


Crew Berths



Sunset over the sea, the view from the deck of heritage sailing ship Leader


Brixham Trawler Leader was built in 1892 for William Robbens at Galmpton Creek on the River Dart, just two miles across the hill from Brixham. She was one of the largest of the Brixham fleet, and fished in UK waters until 1907. Following sale to Swedish owners, she continued to fish in Scandinavia until 1953, and was then adapted for use as a coastal trader.

In the 1970s, the Gothenburg based Swedish Sea School purchased Leader for use as a sail training ship. In 1985, after nearly 80 years abroad, Leader returned to the UK as a charter vessel in Scotland, and was then a founding vessel of the Trinity sailing fleet.

Having spent many years with Trinity, providing a huge number of people with life changing sailing experiences, Leader is now under new ownership and plying her trade from Belfast. Her sail training work continues, in collaboration with Sail Training Ireland, and she is also available for public charter, with trips in the Irish Sea and up the beautiful West Coast of Scotland.

Sailing Holidays on leader with Classic Sailing


During the 19th century the fishermen and shipwrights of Brixham developed a new kind of vessel, the deep sea trawler.

Massively strong, with a deep, straight keel, upright stem and fan shaped stern they revolutionised fishing, enabling bigger catches from further off shore. These sturdy vessels typically had ketch or “dandy” rigs offering tremendous power but, being split between two masts none of their distinctive red sails were too big or difficult to manage. The boats had to be enormously strong to brave any weather, stable to allow the hard work of fishing, powerful to haul the trawl through the waves and fast to get the catch back to harbour.

By 1887 there were more than three thousand such vessels registered around English and Welsh waters. One hundred and fifty nine at Brixham. Today only a handful remain.

Painting: A Brixham Trawler, William Aldophus Knell, 19th Century

Painting: A Brixham Trawler, William Aldophus Knell, 19th Century
a real piece of maritime history

What to Expect

What to Expect on Board Leader

When you come on board Leader you will be one of up to twelve guests, with 5 professional crew. Once you’ve had a chance to settle in, find your bunk and meet your fellow guests, the Skipper will give a safety briefing to everyone on board.

This briefing will include details of responses in case of an emergency, the most up to date weather forecast and itinerary, an introduction to your crew and a chance to ask any questions you might have. You will also receive a tour of the ship with a member of crew, who will show you where all of the safety equipment is stored.

During your time on board Leader, you will be encouraged to get as involved as you want to with all aspects of sailing the ship. This can include:

– Hauling lines

– Steering the ship

– Helping to set and trim sails

– Helping to furl and reef sails

– Keeping lookout

– Standing night watch with the crew (a fantastic and atmospheric experience)

– Learning some navigation skills

– Helping with anchoring and mooring operations

For all activities that you’re involved in, the crew will explain what needs to happen and how everything works. There’ll be something to do for everyone, whatever your experience level. If you’ve never sailed before, you can learn what each of the sail’s control lines does, and practice your line handling technique. If you’re an experienced traditional seafarer then you might be leading sail manoeuvres, brushing up on your sail trim or learning passage planning.

There will be times on deck which are busy, with lots to do, but there will also be plenty of opportunities to sit back, relax, look out for wildlife, read your book or have a snooze on a sail bag!

Whether its been an active day of sail handling, or a more relaxed one enjoying the view, you’ll work up an appetite! Meals on board are fresh, delicious and plentiful, and whenever possible are eaten communally with everyone on board. If the weather is fine, lunch might be picnic-style on deck, otherwise meals will be served down below in Leader’s sociable saloon.

Whatever length of trip you choose, you’ll disembark with some fantastic memories, and likely with some new friends for life. There’s something about traditional sailing that brings people together! This is why voyages are so good for solo travellers, as well as couples and groups of friends. Whoever you arrive with, if anyone, you’ll be part of a single supportive crew in no time.

Happy crew on board Leader, enjoying traditional sailing holidays


Below Decks Accommodation on Leader

Solo travellers, couples and groups are all welcome. Leader has twelve single bunks, all with privacy curtains, USB charging port, light and storage space, in a single accommodation area.

There is heating and lighting throughout, and separate space for any wet gear so you can keep your bunk and the rest of your gear nice and dry.

The saloon is airy and bright, and has enough space for everyone on board to eat and relax together, sharing fantastic food and sea stories around the big saloon table.

There are two sea toilets (“heads”) on board, as well as a shower so you can get freshened up before a jaunt ashore.



crew profiles to follow

Big smiles from guest crew aboard Leader. Enjoy an adventure holiday with Classic Sailing

Voyages on Leader


Criss Cross the Irish Sea this Summer LD280723


Fri 28-07-2023

Cork, Ireland


Mon 31-07-2023

Dublin, Ireland

Leader under sail, the view from deck. Unique adventure holidays with Classic Sailing




High Summer Voyage through the Hebrides LD120823


Sat 12-08-2023

Belfast, Northern Ireland


Wed 16-08-2023

Oban, Scotland

Leader under sail




Hebridean Explorer to the 'Jewel of the Highlands' LD190823


Sat 19-08-2023

Oban, Scotland


Sat 26-08-2023

Oban, Scotland

Plockton village, the Jewel of the Highlands