The Classic Sailing love affair with pilot cutters has been reborn with the introduction of 44ft Tallulah to the fleet.

Tallulah, and the small expedition boats that compliment her voyages, will be based in St Mawes in summer and the River Fal in winter. Collectively they offer all year round coastal exploration of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly from the shallowest creeks and salt marsh to the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

Tallulah is owned and run by Debbie Purser, one of the original founders of Classic Sailing. If you sailed with us in the early days when 38ft pilot cutter ‘Eve of St Mawes’ was our brave blue flagship, then we think you will love Tallulah. Much more space below, racer lines but that same drop, dead gorgeous looks that only a Luke Powell cutter can provide.

A huge asset to her Cornish voyages is Tallulah’s 15ft rowing tender “Number 8” that can take the whole crew off on a foray ashore, explore shallow creeks and get even closer to wildlife with no outboard engine noise. Shallow water expeditions on Spritsail yawl Outdoor Girl are also possible with Tallulah as the mother ship.

Ship Stats

Length Overall


Length On Deck


Year Built


Vessel Type / Rig

gaff cutter

Guest Berths


Crew Berths


What this vessel does best

Our expert view: What Tallulah Does Best

Anchoring in ‘out the way’ places

Tallulah’s skipper Debbie has spent 25 years finding secluded anchorages as far from the crowds as possible in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Our skippers have a keen interest in marine wildlife and the coastal landscapes they sail along. Debbie spent 2020 exploring the Cornish coast at the micro level in a 16ft open sailing boat, whilst looking for well hidden wild camping spots. If you love nature but have also have craved the stimulating company of strangers during lockdown, then we think 6 guests and 2 crew on a boat as big as Tallulah is just about perfect.

sunset in the isles of scilly

Learn the skills to live a coastal life

Forget rubber dinghies & outboards. If you have just turned every head on the beach by anchoring under sail, then the best follow up pose is to row ashore in a proper row boat with 13ft sweeps.

This is more than a holiday. The skipper and mate on Tallulah want you to ‘live the coastal life’ with them whilst you are on board, and look like yoiu have been doing it for years. By introducing you to smaller boats as well as Tallulah, the crew aim to give you to confidence to create your own version of messing about in boats one day, whatever your budget. Its not just the sailing skills either. Maybe we can get you to feel at home helming a big pilot cutter, diving off a boat to swim in the deep scarey sea, or gliding over sea creatures and rock pools actually standing up paddleboard.

Blue Health – wellbeing & boaty bootcamps

You can pub crawl on a boat and sink gin and tonics as the sun goes down, but sometimes its just nice to walk up super alert and feeling you could take on anything in the world.

Tallulah offers plenty of voyages where wine and beer is enjoyed of an evening, but she also has a few voyages with an emphasis on fitness, eating well, sleeping well and trying out new outdoor activities. Why not try living on board a sailing ship without pressure to drink alcohol in the evenings. The skipper will encourage you to try wild swimming, be happy to row ashore with you for a run or a bit of yoga on the beach. Meals will be vegetarian with a choice of refreshing non alcoholic drinks.

What to Expect

What to Expect

What to Expect – Sailing Style

Tallulah was originally built for a couple to sail, so there are a few things to make life easier like a furling jib, but you still have to ‘sweat and tail’ plenty of halliards. She is a powerful and fast pilot cutter with a jib, staysail, gaff main sail and topsail to play with. When the boom swings over to the other side when tacking and gybing, there are 2 sets of runner backstays to adjust.

The skipper and mate will explain the emergency drills so you know how to help. We will ask give you a crash course in sailing a pilot cutter on the first afternoon, cemented by immediate hands on practice. We generally sail somewhere on the first evening (so you can’t escape…)

The requirement for everyone to do something comes in bursts of activity when you are needed to alter course, or when setting sails (up) or handing them (down). If you get a chance to go in a straight line for a bit, life is easy.

There is a surprising variety of voyage types on Tallulah and each has a slightly different style.

If you are on passage to the Isles of Scilly or Scotland then there will be formal watches day and night so there is always an alert lookout, helm and navigator and down time for the off watch. Once in the Islands the navigation is quite advanced so even day sails might involve some attention to your surroundings as guest crew.

On a short break the sailing tends to be in 3-4 hour stints between breakfast, perhaps with an extended stop for lunch and a sail into the sunset before an evening anchorage. As long as the crew have enough people round on deck to steer or respond to a course alteration then a nap or sunbathe during the day is a perfectly civilised thing to do. If you want to learn something then just ask.


Tallulah has a few intensive courses where sailing is the main thing and we will fit in as much learning experiences as the crew can handle. We do occasionally sail with volunteer mates and add opportunities for experienced or cheerful hands to bolster tougher trips for a reduced voyage fee It is worth learning the boat operations like anchoring, man overboard drills, hoving to, parking Tallulah alongside and small boat handling. Tallulah has a training syllabus you can work through if you are keen to gain valuable sea time.

Skipper Debbie and many of the guest skippers are RYA Yachtmaster Instructors so you can ask us any aspect of sailing, sailing careers or share your hopes and dreams.

Evenings – Usually either the skipper or mate will cook and the other can take the more energetic guests off to swim, row, paddleboard or go ashore for a beer or coastal walk.

Sailing and wild camping. Debbies other boats are 2 spritsail yawls which offer dinghy style cruising and camping ashore or under a boom tent. If you want to connect with your inner Bear Grylis then Helford, Restronguet and the River Fal estuary are a fantastic shallow water playground for shallower draft boats than Tallulah. Finding a place to sleep for the night is quite an art.

You can either book a mini sailing and camping expedition on Outdoor Girl or Wild Boy separately or sign up for our 6 day course with 3 days on Tallulah as the mother ship (with all mod cons) and 3 days roughing it on an open boat (Outdoor Girl or Wild Boy)with the mate as your instructor.



Headroom, Heating, Open Hatches

The layout on Tallulah has the feel of an open plan boat, but her length and breadth allows for 4 separate sleeping areas. She has lots of skylights, portholes and deck prisms for the sunlight to shine in and show off all that lovely varnished oak

It is a layout that works well for individual adults, couples or small groups that don’t know each other yet.  Aft are the skipper and mates berths near the nav station. The saloon has a tucked away pilot berth and an easy to get to saloon seat berth, but the starboard side has only seating, a stove and bookshelf of wildlife and foraging guides, maps and explorer tales.

Forward of the mast, in the most stable part of the ship, are 2 bunk bed berths to starboard with easy access to the washroom and a forward hatch above you for extra ventilation at anchor.

Tallulah lamp

For a special treat, there is a double bed for couples in a seperate cabin. Forward of the big bed is a single berth that can be used if there are no couples on board and we need 2 guests in the forecabin. If you are feeling really indulgent you can book the whole forward cabin double bed for solo occupancy for a bit more money. There is an air vent in the bow and the large forward hatch remains open overnight. In Autumn and Spring the stove heats big radiators in all the cabin areas.

There is a spacious washroom and WC – currently with a rather unimpressive shower….but at least the hot water tank is huge.

Tallulah has a big engine which heats a lot of water, and an electric immersion if you are plugged into shore power. The diesel stove also heats water and radiators. There is a heated towel rail in the shower and radiators in the oilskin locker.

The galley has a fridge and cooling beer and wine in the sea is easy. Tallulah does not have a dedicated chef but we would never employ a mate or skipper who does not like cooking. All meals are freshly cooked but we do need your help with the washing up.

You are welcome to bring alcoholic drinks on Tallulah to drink and share with evening meals. On well-being and yoga retreats please respect the wishes of those who don’t want to be tempted!

On any voyage we can cater for vegetarians, vegans and special diets for health reasons. Please remember the galley only has 3 hobs and 1 shelf in the oven so if we get too many complicated diets on one trip we may have to say no to your booking.

There are very limited facilities to charge phones and cameras. We hope to improve this.