Explorers Connect

Powering the Adventure Revolution

Cornish Tall Ship Sailing Holiday
Friday 28th - Sunday 30th September 2018

Sorry, this adventure is now fully booked but you can still add yourself to the waiting list and be automatically notified if a place becomes available.

Experience the rugged Cornish coast from sea-level and dive into Cornwall's rich maritime history - on this luxurious holiday you'll try your hand at sailing a tall ship, get sandy toes on secluded beaches, swim in refreshing rivers, and spend evenings gazing at the star-studded sky...

Middle photograph (C) Sarah Whitehead


We are giving you the opportunity to learn the ropes of traditional sailing - a great challenge for sea-dogs and landlubbers alike. The rewards are simply breathtaking: being aboard a historic ship cascading over ocean-blue waves is a thrilling experience for all ages. All your hard work pays off in other ways too, with everyday visits to quaint harbours where you can sample some delicious clotted cream ice cream and soak up the hustle and the bustle of a busy Cornish summer. Or if you want some tranquility you can sail away to any number of secluded sandy beaches, accessible only by water.

One of the best parts of staying on board are the still evenings where the peaceful little coves in which she anchors become an astronomer's dream. The star-studded sky seems infinite from the deck, where you can lie for as long as you like; observing comets, shooting stars, and the silvery moon, which often lights a shimmering path across the darkened waters. You'll be swept away by the romance of Cornwall and its stark contrast to modern life.

Built in 1904, Bessie Ellen is one of the last ketches of an era now gone forever. Today, she sails on, giving sailing holidays in stunning locations to people just like you who are looking for an adventure at sea. The old cargo hold has been converted into a cosy living space, using locally sourced timber to retain the traditional interior, where 12 guests can sleep in large berths as well as being the space where you can relax, read and eat along with making new friends.

The vessel is equipped with two large bathrooms, hot and cold running water and central heating. Bessie Ellen meets all maritime safety requirements for world wide sailing and carries all the necessary safety equipment.

Absolutely no sailing experience is necessary as the boat has a competent crew who can sail the ship. However, you are encouraged to get involved as much or as little as you wish.

EC adventures are informal, friendly and great fun! They're made up of singles, couples and small sets of friends with ages typically ranging from mid 20s to mid 40s but anyone over 18 years old and young at heart is welcome. Whether it's your first time exploring the outdoors or you're an adventure professional, EC adventures are a great way to meet like-minded people in a safe, welcoming and fun environment.


At midday on Friday, the crew of the Bessie Ellen will meet you in the historic port town of Fowey and you'll all board the ship together, moored on the river nearby. You'll grab a hot drink and your captain will go through your weekend adventure plan, along with a group safety briefing and some basic sail training. After lunch, prepared by the ship's cook, you'll set sail for the Helford river, a distance of 25 miles that can be covered in around 5 hours. During this voyage the captain will organise the group into three 'watches', and each group will have a detailed lesson on Sail, Steering and Basic Navigation. You'll also get the chance to practise your team-building skills as part of a team in charge of making the afternoon cake! On arrival in Helford, you'll drop anchor and you can either chill out on board, jump in the water for a swim or take a short walk to a local pub before returning for your two-course dinner. Then you can kick back and relax for the rest of the evening - think nightcaps and stargazing!

Saturday is an early start around 07:30 for coffee and breakfast at 08:00. If you want to stretch your legs you can take a walk through the woods along the banks of the river where the ship is moored (around 2 miles). When you get back on board your watches will be assembled and each watch will be asked to work together to perform tasks you've already learned, such as sail setting. Once everyone's ready to go, you'll spend the day sailing around the Fal river or down the coast to Coverack for an ice cream and lunch. Towards the end of the day you'll sail back to St Mawes or up the Fal river for the night. Before dinner, the crew will serve you some handcrafted Cornish Gin cocktails to enjoy.

After breakfast on Sunday, the captain will ask the group to navigate out of the Fal river under sail and head off back to the town of Fowey. As the ship sails along the coast you might have time to dock in the historic port of Charlestown or Mevagissey before lunch. Then it's time to sail back to Fowey for a final farewell - you'll leave the ship around 16:30 and before you head off home you might want to linger and sample a famous Cornish cream tea...



The guest accommodation is centered around the former cargo hold so is very large. There is a central seating area with dining tables with curtained bunks on the outside measuring 6’6” by 2’6″. Bed linen is provided but you'll need to bring a towel.

There is an honesty bar on board so can buy yourself wine, spirits or beer by the glass or bottle to accompany your evening meal.


The boat will sail from and return to the quant Cornish town of Fowey. Parking is available nearby or you can take the train to nearby Par (on the main London-Penzance line).


Download our recommended kit list for sailing adventures HERE. Please read this carefully to make sure you have everything you need when you're on board.


  • Three days sailing on the Bessie Ellen tall ship with practical and theoretical sail training lessons from the ship's captain

  • Two nights unique accommodation sleeping on board the ship in a spacious berth

  • Specialist crew staying on board with you at all times, including a ship cook and cabin staff

  • Specialist sailing clothes (please note boots are not supplied - check the kit list above for advice)

  • All meals included from lunch on Friday to lunch on Sunday, plus afternoon cake!

  • All non-alcoholic hot and cold drinks while you're on board (there is an honesty bar if you'd like alcohol)

  • Handcrafted Cornish Gin cocktails on Saturday night

  • Lots of opportunities for you to take the helm and sail the ship yourself! (with support from the crew)


Brilliant experience to be on the water under sail of a tall ship. Aspects I enjoyed the most were getting away from normal life on an adventure for a few days, sailing such a wonderful ship. learning to sail the boat, taking the helm and being fed with great food and no washing up!
I thoroughly enjoyed reliving my youth onboard Bessie Ellen. We came from Cornwall to Oban on this beautiful ship with Skipper Nikki and her brilliant crew. Great hands on sailing, relaxed atmosphere and fabulous food. A true get away.
Met some lovely people and the whole trip was a fantastic adventure to new places and new waters. Many thanks. I’ll be back again Yes I echo the thoughts of my shipmates Paul and Rachel on this passage. Bloody fantastic trip. I’ll be back too!


BOOK NOW to take advantage of our discounted earlybird pricing!

  • Discounted Earlybird price for EC CLUB Members - £399 (if deposit paid before 6th August 2018)

  • Discounted Earlybird price for non EC CLUB Members - £449 (if deposit paid before 6th August 2018)

  • Standard price for EC CLUB Members - £449

  • Standard price for non EC CLUB Members - £499

You'll need to pay a £150 deposit when booking with the balance due eight weeks before the weekend.

JOIN EC CLUB TODAY! EC CLUB Members enjoy great discounts on our weekends as well as lots of other adventure related deals. You'll also get exclusive access to local events and trips only open to EC CLUB Members. Find out more ...


If you'd like to know more about this weekend or have a particular question about this or any of our adventures, please email enquiries@explorersconnect.com or call the office on 0117 405 7497 during normal office hours and we'll do our best to help you.