|Sat 02-09-2023, 15:00St Mawes, Cornwall||Fri 08-09-2023, 10:00St Mawes, Cornwall||Tallulah||6 Nights||TH020923|
This is a comprehensive 6 day course for all levels of sailors who want to focus on the skills to sail classic wooden boats of all sizes with style and confidence. It is probably the only place in the UK to learn dinghy cruising skills on historic wooden replicas.
Pick and mix from a huge syllabus of topics, with something new to learn for all levels of ability.
We use 3 wooden boats to teach on:
44ft Tallulah – a long keeled pilot cutter that is 69ft overall will be your accommodation and main teaching vessel for the week.
16ft Wild Boy – Spritsail yawl – open beach boat with legs
17ft Outdoor Girl – spritsail yawl
A unique course where you can learn big boat skills on our pilot cutter with a skipper who has sailed many types of traditional rig from square riggers to schooners. Also we have 2 boats you can sail off the beach and into small harbours. Improve your small boat skills and beachcraft on these versatile but engineless craft. Wild Boy and Outdoor Girl are 16ft replicas of 1890’s Gorran Haven crabbers -a type of seaworthy craft that where once common all along the South Cornwall coast. They only draw about 60cm so can explore far up Cornish creeks and drop crews off at the beach. Debbie has used them for wild camping safaris so if you want to learn skills for dinghy cruising then this is your chance.
Pick and mix from a huge syllabus of topics, with something new to learn for all levels of ability.
£100 per person from these voyage fees goes towards the lease of the small boats ands help directly with their upkeep.
See also our Small Boat Raids and dinghy cruising course (with Tallulah as the mother ship) , if you want to plan expeditions and boat camp overnight.
max 6 guests on this course and a mate. Your instructor is Debbie Purser who founded Classic Sailing, has been a professional skipper for 25 years and is still a RYA Yachtmaster Instructor. She has recently learned to build and repair boats on the 40 week professional boat building course at The Boat Building Academy.
Solo travellers welcome, but we also have a lovely double bed cabin for couples on board Tallulah.
Beginners with taste who want a broad introduction to all types of boats. Keen sailors who dream of owning a little wooden lugger or a 2nd hand classic dinghy you can fit on a trailer. Sailors who dream large and want to explore the skills they need to live on a big boat. Wannabee career sailors who want to work on a big yacht or tall ship and travel the world.
The Royal Yachting Association will offer you several routes into the sport of sailing, but the RYA cruising courses are very much weighted towards sailing 30-40ft yachts that are mass produced and made of plastic. They also have separate courses for open sailing dinghies. These are typically taught on fast, 1-2 person plastic dinghies so you can race in a design class of similar boats at sailing clubs. If this is the sort of sailing you want to do, then RYA courses are perfect.
Tallulah’s skipper Debbie is a RYA Yachtmaster Instructor that has taught sailing skills and navigation for the full range of RYA courses from Start Yachting to Yachtmaster Offshore. She ran Classic Sailing as a RYA sailing school for 10 years, successfully adapting the RYA course syllabus to boats with bowsprits.
She has always wanted to design sailing courses more tailored to those who love small wooden boats and classic yachts. Whilst the fundamentals of sailing are the same for all boats – modern and traditional, there are very few places you can try out and perfect your sailing skills on characterful keel boats, classic dinghies and yachts with long keels and sail rigs like gaff, lug or sprit rig.
These courses on Tallulah and our small open boats aim to do just that.
The 6 day course can be tackled by beginners, but it is also aimed at more experienced sailors wanting watch leader and command skills for classic boats of all sizes, or anyone who thinks they one day might like to own a traditionally rigged boat. It includes sailing, seamanship and trainee skipper skills on 44ft Tallulah, 17ft open spritsail yawl Outdoor Girl (or Wild Boy) and our trusty expedition sized rowing boat ‘Number 8’
If you don’t have the time for a week long course we also have a 3 day taster course for beginners and keen sailors wanting a taste of classic boat sailing. It will not be possible to sail the spritsail yawls on these shorter courses as their use is tide dependant and we want you to get to grips fully with Tallulah.
Handling ropes & Sails: Basic mechanics, crew teamwork & working with your own body weight, muscles and the wind – How to handle large sails and ropes with loads on. Where to stand to be safe during sail hoists and drops, how to secure ropes and ease them out under load.
Personal safety – how to be a competent beginner, contribute to the overall safety of the boat and be able to make informed decisions about sailing on other peoples boats.
Sailing fundamentals: Understanding how sails work and how to steer and manourvre under Sail. Tacking gybing, backstays and all the jargon demystified.
Communication & shared responsibility: On a RYA course this is where you are trained what to do in emergencies. Drills and learning how to use fire extinguishers or bilge pumps are important but there is more to it than that. One day you might have a boat of your own. Even if it is a small dinghy, how you communicate with your crew is critical. Do they understand their role?
Unless you are a wealthy boat owner who leaves everything to a paid crew you will have to rely on friends, volunteers and family members to sail the boat and avoid emergencies. Are they clear when they have some responsibility to do something? It might be keeping a lookout or knowing what to do if someone falls overboard. This course teaches you what your role is and where you have a responsibility to help. One day you may be passing those skills onto others.
‘parking’ your boat
If you asked skippers what parts of sailing generate the most stress then many will say slowing down and mooring (‘parking’) big boats in tight spots in ports and harbours. The more you can understand about the forces involved then the more alert and useful you will become as crew preparing to moor alongside, pick up a mooring or anchor. There is a lot more to it than worrying about which knot to use to tie a fender on…..but te best knots and fenders in the right place are a good start.
Intro to Navigation – Common sense pre planning. Navigation is not just for skippers. It is interesting for all the crew to be involved. Nobody wants to get lost. Basic intro to tides and weather. Where to find answers so you can anticipate what your arrival spot is going to look like when you get there, and what the hazards might be on route.
Carbon free skills. Learning boat handling under oar in our 15ft clinker dinghy. Try sculling with one oar or even test drive our silent electric outboard. Use a stern anchor to make a beach landing safer. It the weather is suitable we can try some picking up mooring bouy under sail manoeuvres with 20 ton Tallulah.
Learning to live on a boat. Never under estimate the importance of these skills. We want your sailing experience to match your dreams. Below decks can be heaven or hell. Sailing is a civilised as you learn to make it. Marine toilets, cooking with gas, storing food safely, keeping cloths dry, looking after your engine and batteries for electrics, respecting privacy in a communal environment, understanding bilge pumps and seacocks.
Conserving the ocean environment – Tallulah’s skipper is interested in marine wildlife and conserving the ocean ecosystems. A short break on Tallulah is a great opportunity to learn about the rich seas around Britain. Traditional sails are quieter than the bang and crack of carbon racing sails and we see and hear a lot of wildlife as sail the Cornish coast and rivers.
What next – Buying boats, sailing on other peoples, careers at sea, restoring wooden boats or building your own. Debbie has tried them all so you can quiz her about the best way forward and some of the amazing opportunities to explore the world under sail.
Debbie has two spritsail yawls. they are both replicas of a 1880 Gorran Haven Crabbers. These carvel construction wooden boats historically were kept on the beach and used for crab fishing with pots. They are seaworthy, tough and the large main sail can be dropped quickly when you need to row. Similar to a Drascombe longboat but without a pesky centreboard casing to get in the way of sleeping on board, these boats are brilliant for the latest trend of raids and dinghy cruising. Debbie has run wild camping expeditions with ‘Outdoor Girl’ in the first year of lockdown and this open sailing vessel with two masts has proved itself with 100% bookings for exploring the shallow water between LW and HW. Whilst the dinghy cruising guru Roger Barnes loves Brittany, we think South Cornwall is close to perfect for dinghy cruising, but don’t tell too many people. Debbie and fellow students at The Boat Building Academy built a second Gorran Haven crabber called Wild Boy in 2021. Both boats are kept on the beach at Freshwater Boatyard in St Mawes so it is relatively easy to row ashore and collect one for some small boat sailing practice.
It is a nice break from the heavy sails and teamwork of sailing Tallulah, to jump on a boat that can be sailed single handed. There are many second hand boats that can provide similar affordable fun. This is a chance to explore the possibilities. Could you make the switch to camping stove galley boxes, the slower pace of engineless sailing and a high level of skills regarding anchoring, running outhauls and deliberate beach landings.
There is a pair of oars and two large 13ft sweeps and a sculling oar on Number 8. If the conditions are suitable this is a very stable clinker rowing boat to set off on you own for a bit of recreational rowing, or go exploring along the shore with a few co rowers. The mate or skipper will make sure you have a grab bag, vhf and lifejackets and can demonstrate the skills to get back to base, or come with you if there is any doubt. We also have a SUP on board.
If you can come gently alongside a pontoon with a rowing boat, no rudder and a pair of oars and tie up to suit wind and tidal forces, then you are already gaining the skills to do it with a larger yacht.
Skipper Debbie has spent 20 years exploring this local bit of Cornish coast by pilot cutter and rowing boat. There are some great spots for seal watching or bird watching, as well as secret coves and stone landing quays.
Now we have a bigger pilot cutter, the low carbon theme remains. Trusty expedition rowing boat Number 8 is still with us. We tow her on most 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 though, so there is heating, hot showers, fridge, radiators and stove on board, and these need a bit of engine or diesel to work. Tallulah has a barrel windlass, oil lamps as well as 12v lighting and solar panels so we try to minimise our fossil fuel usage.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the home port of Classic Sailing. A seafaring village on the East side of Falmouth Harbour.
The historic Quay in St Mawes Harbour (TR2 5DW) is the official rendezvous for all Outdoor Girl Voyages. Plan your travel for the quay in your first instance.
Our alternative meeting point in St Mawes is Freshwater Boatyard, Freshwater Lane (TR2 5AR). Outdoor Girl has a beach mooring on the shore to the left of the main slipway at this tiny boatyard on the Percuil River, which is best for some combinations of wind and tide.
This is still within the village and only about 10 minutes walk from the village quay and main (pay & display) car park. There is sometimes free street parking in this area in Buckeys Lane, Pedn Moran or Freshwater Lane itself. As with all street parking please make sure there is room for fire engines to get through and no drives are blocked.
Do not drive down the steep driveway into Freshwater Boatyard. It is a small working area and no room to turn. and no parking.
For some voyages we may pre position Outdoor Girl in a new exploration area within the Falmouth and Helford Estuary network to make better use of the winds and tides and sheltered water. Debbie will contact you at least 48hrs before the voyage with final joining instructions by email and text. All confirmed customers will be sent Debbies mobile number for emegencies or late arrival.
The A30 is the best route into Cornwall for St Mawes – if you follow a Sat Nav you will probably be taken via King Harry Car Ferry which is not the quickest route but is worth doing for the experience.
The best way is to leave the A30 at Fraddon and follow the B3275 until it meets the A390 where you turn left for a little way back towards St Austell. Then follow the signs to the right for the A3078 which ends in St Mawes.
There are two car parks in St Mawes both trouble free and you can pay by card
St Mawes Quay Car Park is very convenient as it is where you join your voyage but is a little more expensive.
St Mawes Central Car Park run by the St Just in Roseland Parish Council is recommended. It is just a minute walk from the Quay.
You can pay for a number of days with a debit card
To get to St Mawes by train, buy a ticket for Falmouth Town Station and come accross Falmouth Harbour by passenger ferry..Falmouth is on a branch line from Truro which is on the main London – Penzance rail line. Trains come into Cornwall to Truro from many parts of the UK and it is only 30 minutes down the brach line to Falmouth but beware there are several small stations in Falmouth. Get off at Falmouth Town Station..
Falmouth Town Station (the Dell) is ten minutes walk from Customs House Quay where one of three ferries runs to St Mawes in the summer. In the winter it is about another 15 minutes walk to the Prince of Wales Pier.
Ferry is the best way. St Mawes Passnger Ferry timetable for both piers https://www.falriver.co.uk/ferries/st-mawes-ferry/timetable. This has a live update to confirm which ferrys are running on the day. It only stops in really bad weather.
St Mawes Ferry 01872 861 911 or 07855 438 674
Ferries are hourly in winter and three per hour in the summer and the journey is 20-25 minutes.
There are buses from Truro to St Mawes but they are very infrequent and take about an hour.
Newquay is the nearest airport but it is poorly served by public transport. A taxi to St Mawes can cost over £60
Classic Sailing recommend Treesisters charity as a carbon offsetting scheme and we have our own Classic Sailing Forest you can add tree planting to. These community tree planting schemes are all in parts of the world that desperately need reforestation and have maximum scope to reduce CO2
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
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.
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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St Mawes, Cornwall
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