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Winter Workshop – Get Inspired

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Embark Disembark Vessel DurationVoyage No
Fri 15-11-2024, 15:00Smugglers Cottage, Tolverne Mon 18-11-2024, 10:00Smugglers Cottage, Tolverne Tallulah 3 NightsTH151124

This is your chance to ask questions, brainstorm ideas, go sailing

If you ever dream of owning a wooden boat, then coming to live on one for a few days in winter is probably a good idea. Tallulah will be staying afloat during the winter of 2024-25.

Keeping her in salt water is good for the timbers, saves money on boatyard craning and storage and provides us with a unique place to gather in the darkest of winter and talk boats. Cornwall is relatively mild in terms of temperature, but those Atlantic gales do blow so she will be tucked up the River Fal on a mid river pontoon or mooring. It is a very beautiful and remote spot, surrounded by oak woods, nearby salt marsh, and all sorts of wildlife sightings and sounds. A deep water channel giving her access to the sea for a sail whenever the weather is suitable.

We aim to keep her ‘sailing ready’ for those special winter days when it is worth venturing out of the sheltered River Fal to Carrick Roads and the ‘big sea’ beyond. If it is too wild, then Tallulah can stay on her mid river pontoon near Ruan Creek. This 44ft pilot cutter still makes a great platform to talk boats, enjoy this wildlife rich location and burn off some energy with a row or a woodland walk.

Once a month we will fluff up the duvets and bring the mattresses and provisions on board for a series of weekend and mid week workshops. Tallulah has a heater stove that keeps the saloon warm and heats radiators. Nearby at Smugglers Cottage there are hot showers ashore we can use.

This weekend Tallulah’s owner Debbie Purser will be running a open discussion on what it takes to run a sailing charter business and what is involved in the operations and maintainence of a wooden boat. Debbie was a co founder of Classic Sailing in 1997. She working in sail training before that and was operations manager and skipper of pilot cutter Eve of St Mawes for 23 years. Just after the pandemic she set up a wild camping business and ran 3 day trips on a 17ft open sailing boat. In 2021 she bought a larger pilot cutter 44ft Tallulah and carried on her unique blend of themed voyages. Whilst at Classic Sailing she advised many new vessel business owner start ups and acted as a marketing consultant and booking agent for adventure charter boas sailing in the UK and all over the world.

In 2020-21 Debbie was a student at Lyme Regis Boat Building Academy on their 40 week professional boat building course, but even that did not fully prepare her for the trials and tribulations of wooden boat ownership. In the last 3 years she has built a small boat, had to find affordable ways to replace a mast, replace underwater planking, take legal action against surveyors, commercially code 3 sailing boats and project manage a whole range of planned and emergency maintainence tasks on 4 very different wooden boats. Debbie has also run a RYA sailing school and worked in outdoor centres.

If you tell us your particular interest, we will try and design the weekends agenda to suit those on it. Guest speakers may be involved.

max 6 guests. Solo travellers welcome.

  • Voyage
  • Vessel

Ideal voyage for:

Career sailors, those who want to earn a living from a boat, or supplement the costs of keeping a wooden classic. Sail training charities who want to introduce charter to their income stream. Anyone who dreams of a boat of their own and want to know the pros and cons.


  • 3 nights on board – over 4 days
  • accommodation and meals on a working charter vessel
  • discussions about what it takes to run a successful charter business
  • the nitty gritty of income potential during a cost of living crisis
  • typical costs and how to keep them low
  • spacious wooden pilot cutter with max 6 guests
  • managing refits, getting wooden boat work done by others
  • creating a tribe of customers, loyal workers and volunteers
  • sailing and rowing and other outdoor activities where possible


Vessel type / Rig gaff cutter
Guest Berths 6
Beam 13.5ft
Draft 7ft 5
Deck Length 44ft
Overall Length 59ft
Tonnage 22 tons
Year Built 2008
More about the Vessel

Voyage Description

Tallulah is our specialist Cornwall pilot cutter with trips from February to October


Sailing is easy on Tallulah

Debbie the skipper has been encouraging people to sail for over twenty years and she believes everyone can get to grips with sailing. No formal course,  no shouting, just helpful hands on instruction from Debbie and Tallulah’s mate. 

Sailing in no time

After a safety briefing you will be sailing away for a couple of hours before settling to a freshly cooked super in a quiet location for a confortable night in a creek or very sheltered anchorage. No need to bring a life jacket that is provided for you.


Tallulah has all mod cons below deck, toilet, shower, a wood burning stove for the early spring and late autumn voyages. No need to bring a sleeping bag all the berths have bed linen provided. There are USB charging sockets for your phones.

Hands on sailing

The days that follow will be taken up with sailing and short trips ashore to explore a beautiful beach or quaint Cornish Harbour. You will be able to steer, helm, Tallulah, help hoist the sail and put them away, tack and jybe the boat. Don’t worry if you don’t know what all the words mean, you won’t be asked to do anything without careful instruction and guidance. 


We will send you our FREE Tall Ship Guide eBook so if you have time you can study a bit about sailing before joining the trip. (There is absolute;y no need to do this, it won’t affect your enjoyment of the voyage.)

Tallulah is owned and run by Debbie Purser. She founded Classic Sailing with Adam in 1997 and our ethos has always been to encourage people to try sailing.

No 8

Our trusty rowing boat Number 8 will be with us we explore coast of Cornwall. We tow her on taster voyages so you can ‘toss oars’ on the way to a waterside pub, or silently row up a wooden creek until you are with the curlews in the salt marsh.


We are not purists and some times it is sensible to use the powerful engine to get Tallulah to where she needs to be.  Tallulah has a barrel windlass, oil lamps as well as 12v lighting and solar panels so we try to minimise our fossil fuel usage as much as possible.

Tallulah in her home port of St Mawes

Where will we Sail?

On a sailing voyage we never use the word itinerary, as skippers will always be aiming for the best sailing and shore landings for the forecast and most idyllic or sheltered anchors and ports. They are as keen as you to include some of the highlights described below, but you have to go with mother nature, not fight her. The description below is based on what we think might be possible, based on past trips, or experience, but nothing is guaranteed on a sailing voyage.

St Mawes – The Pilot Cutter Harbour

Falmouth has always been an important deep water harbour and staging post for exploring the world and trading by sailing ship. In the 1890s many of the pilot cutters registered in Falmouth were based in St Mawes as the bay has fast access to the open sea. Tallulah’s mooring is far enough out in the bay for the crew to train you to sail off the mooring on the first evening. In summer there are many local racing fleets to dodge and off season the Falmouth Oyster Boats are out dredging under sail, trying to hang onto their unique fishery.

There are plenty of stunning locations to sail to on the first evening, from sunset spot off St Just to the grandeur of anchoring below Trellisick House. Its a short romp to the Helford River if the winds are right.

pilot cutters in St Mawes Bay

Lizard Peninsula for Basking Sharks & fishing villages

The sepentine cliffs of the Lizard Peninsula protect Falmouth Bay from the west. You have 14 miles of tiny fishing villages and great coastal walking at every anchorage from Porthallow to Cadgewith.

The fast tides and rocky reefs like the Manacles or Black Head, create eddies and plankton upwelling that cetaceans and basking sharks love to feed on. Easter might be a bit early for basking sharks surface feeding but the seabirds are starting to find nests and dolphins seem to enjoy the lack of boats about yet.

Even on a 3 day trip there will be time made to go ashore in some pretty unique places.

rowing from ship to shore keeps you fit

Unspoilt Cornwall

Helford River – Marine Nature Reserve

Helford is timeless. You feel like you are in a Daphne Du Maurier book. Dense, twisted oak trees sweep down to the water. Oystercatchers flash between rockpools, bluebells, gorse, wild garlic and primroses waft their scent out to sea. Tallulah can tack into the widest part of the river and sometimes right up through to the moorings free upper reaches if the tide is high.

helford river

Roseland Coast & Beyond

Shoot the gap between Nare Head and Gull Rock with its guillimot colony, anchor off beaches where seals breed in caves. Skipper Debbie has lived here since 1996 and explored the coastline intimately, by sailing, rowing, swimming and coastal walking. The possibilities are endless if you are not obsessed with sailing great distances. If you do want to sail for miles – we can always go on a fast reach out to sea too.

Charlestown is the home of Poldark and many over movies, and full of bars and waterside restaurants. Polkerris is another place to anchor off and row ashore for a pint in an Easterly. Fowey was a privateers lair and impressive to sail into.

dolphins at sunset


What to Expect on your Tallulah Short Break

Tallulah has a mooring across St Mawes Bay – so your first challenge is to meet Debbie on the Quay and row yourselves and bags out to your floating holiday base.

After finding out a bit about each other and individual hopes for the short break, the skipper and mate will introduce you life on a boat and how you sail Tallulah safety. The training is on going through the few days and the more guests participate, the easier it is for Tallulah to show you the best of gaff cutter sailing.

Some things on Tallulah are quite physical. Some things are easy peasy. She a has roller furling jib, but you need two halliards to hoist the mainsail (like all gaff sails). The barrel windlass is very manual and ancient in concept. There are loads of places to sit. There are high sides to the deck and there will be guard rails so walking on deck in rough weather feels very secure.

Meals are often taken on deck, but the saloon is also characterful with a big oak table and skylights above. Mindful of coronavirus still being around, we generally have all hatches open when stationary, so Tallulah has a well ventilated restaurant and al fresco options to take your meal on deck if you prefer.

Sailing instruction is informal, but the crew have wide interests so can answer most maritime questions from navigation to boat building. Never be afraid to ask to have a go at something.

Debbie & Adam on Tallulahs first voyage


Whether you are an experienced sailor or a complete beginner, the professional crew will train you to be guest crew from the moment you arrive, with the intention that everybody works together to sail the ship. The common thread to all Classic Sailing holidays is ‘Hands on’ participation on ships that use ropes, blocks and tackles and ‘people power’ to set sail.

Learning THE ROPES


We cater for a wide range of ages and physical abilities, and how much you are expected to do varies a bit between vessels. See the vessel tab above which explains all about the ‘sailing style’ and what to expect in terms of hands on participation.  There is a lot of information about day to day life, the ships facilities and accommodation on the vessel pages.

Sailing on Tallulah always makes a spectacle


Every customer sailing with us will need to fill in basic medical questions on their booking application.  If you are not sure if your current level of fitness and agility are up to a voyage, then please ring the Classic Sailing Office and we can chat through your concerns and possibly find options that might suit you better. 

Start & End Port

Smugglers Cottage, Tolverne

Kit List

What to pack for a sailing holiday on Tallulah


  • Sailing Instruction
  • Safety Equipment (Life jackets and harnesses)
  • All meals on board & refreshments throughout the day
  • Bed linen, duvet, pillows
  • Wooden rowing boat activities
  • 2 x Stand Up Paddleboards & buoyancy jackets (on summer voyages)

What is not included

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Towels
  • Wellie boots
  • Waterproof jackets & trousers 

What to Bring

Please limit yourself to one soft bag or rucksack as there is limited storage space on board. No suitcases please!

Tallulah does not have waterproof jacket and trousers yet, so please bring a properly waterproof jacket and trousers on all voyages.

Walking and cycling waterproofs are usually adequate and much lighter to pack, so there really is no need to buy a coastal sailing jacket (unless you really want an excuse to invest in your future sailing). If you need any advice, or lack of a jacket is preventing you participating, please ring us on 01326 53 1234

  • warm, windproof jacket for days when you don't want to wear a waterproof jacket
  • Hats for sun and cold weather.
  • At least two sets of warm clothes - layers e.g. tracksuit bottoms, shirts, fleece jacket, wool jumpers, thick socks, and neck scarf. It can get cold at sea even in mid summer.
  • Swim suit, towel, and suntan lotion.
  • we have space if you want to bring a wetsuit for wild swimming or SUP adventures
  • Flat shoes with a good grip e.g. trainers or sailing deck shoes.
  • Sailing boots or wellies as the sea can come over deck if rough*.
  • (An alternative to boots in summer is to bring another pair of flat shoes with a good grip in case the first pair get wet).
  • All terrain type sandals are great for dinghy trips ashore – but you do need shoes which protect your toes for sailing.
  • Scillies trips – Walking boots are useful and can be these can be worn on deck too
  • A small rucksack is useful for going ashore
  • Camera, binoculars, sketchbook, a relaxing read.
  • Passport for European or Ireland Voyages, Reciprocal Free Health Care card in Europe.
  • Please bring a passport on French trips
  • Any medication, spare spectacles. Seasick tablets - check with your Doctor, which brand if you suffer asthma or are on medication.
  • RYA Cruising Logbook or similar if you want to log your sailing experience e.g. sea miles, night hours
  • Musical instruments are always welcome.


Tallulah does not always have wine bottles for sale on board so you are welcome to bring modest quantities of alcohol, (unless it is an alcohol free voyage) e.g. to drink with evening meals, but drinking whilst sailing is not allowed.

A Note on Covid 19

While Tallulah's guests do not need to prove Covid Vaccination status at this time, it is expected that if a guest feels unwell prior to joining the ship they should always use common sense and test when appropriate to decide whether they should join the voyage, for their own safety and the safety of others onboard. It is a requirement that guests on residential voyages take out appropriate Travel Insurance and care should be taken to ensure insurance includes cover for such a case. Likewise, should members of Tallulah's professional crew including the skipper feel unwell prior to a voyage, they will always use common sense & test when appropriate.


A welcome in oak


Fantastic experience where we were given expert help and advice by Debbie and crew. I never thought we would tack Talulah into Falmouth harbour but we did, what a fun experience and soooo enjoyable. Highly recommended and will be booking up again soon, thank you

Howard - July 2023

This was the first time I had sailed, and although I suffered from seasickness a couple of times, the experience was something that I could not have even imagined. The crew were all very helpful to a "newbie" and would think of another sailing trip, but perhaps in calmer waters .

Anonymous happy customer - July 2023

Fantastic day! The skipper (Debbie) kept it interesting by rotating crew and still maintaining full control! Amazing

James - July 2023

Debbie is great, she has a great passion for sailing and is very knowledgeable about boat building too! Anthony was extremely helpful, they make a great team and they made us feel very comfortable on board. Understandably, there is limited space and privacy but I slept really well which I really did not expect! Would love to sail again with Debbie and Tallulah.

Caroline Spring 2023

Thanks for looking after us very well. Good to be in safe, sure and pleasant hands...It was a nice experience I've wanted to try for a long time. Thanks for making it a good one...I love what you're doing and your courage and I wish you great success.


Great to sail on another class of sailing vessel with an experienced skipper and mate. I enjoyed the sailing a lot. The crew were very helpful and the food was very good.


Sailing on Tallulah

Both Debbie and Jess were excellent. Both were good at explaining things and very patient. I have also been out on Moosk and Agnes. Going out on Tallulah with Debbie and Jess was by far the best experience.

Alasdair, Spring 2023
Tallulah rowing tender

Vessel Gallery

Photos and images of the striking 44ft pilot cutter Tallulah, offering charter voyages for individuals, couples and groups from 2022.  Based in St Mawes, Cornwall. No experience is necessary and a local skipper as your guide.

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