Jump on board this historic 100ft vessel for a hands on sailing adventure and an exceptional dining experience
Bessie Ellen offers quality sailing holidays on board a classic tall ship with over 100 years of history, and is now one of the last West Country trading ketches.
This ship worked through both world wars during the last era of wind-powered trade, when ships like Bessie were seen all over England. She is featured on the National Historic Ships Register, which identifies her as a historic vessel that needs to be conserved.
Now, her working life is very different, and she spends her days cruising around British and Spanish waters, offering sailing holidays. With an experienced and hospitable crew, Bessie Ellen provides her guests with a comfortable and authentic tall ship experience. Skipper Nikki occasionally nods back to Bessie’s past by loading her up with cargo for ocean passages, transporting beer from Harbour Brewery and making the most out of the emission-free transport that Bessie offers.
Sail with Bessie Ellen and Nikki, around Cornwall, the Hebrides, St. Kilda, Norway, and Denmark, you’ll not only enjoy sailing aboard a tall ship, but experience unique coastlines, abundant wildlife, and excellent food, all sourced locally and prepared on board. Nikki and her crew are also joined by salty sea dog Bracken, who will love to go on you adventures with you!
Choose from weekend breaks, weeklong trips, or 10-day explorations for a truly unforgettable holiday.
- Total number of berths : 20
- Guest charter berths : 12
- Cabin Configuration : Shared bunks in open saloon
- Bathrooms with Showers : 2
- Day trips in sheltered waters : 60 (maximum)
- Day trips offshore : 12
- Reception/party on deck : 90
- Salty sea dog living on board : 1
- Builder : W.S. Kelly, Plymouth
- Year built : 1904
- Displacement : 98 tons
- Length overall : 35m / 115'
- Draft : 3m / 9'6''
- Air draft : 34m / 80'
- Beam : 6m / 20'
- Rig : Gaff ketch
- Sail area : 330m² / 3550′²
- Number of Sails : 8
- Engine : 310hp Volvo Penta
- Crew : 4 (+2)
What COVID policies are in place for sailing with Bessie Ellen?
There are currently no Test & Sail policies in place for the 2022 season.
Are meals included?
Yes - and we pride ourselves on the quality of food served!
Can you cater for dietary needs?
Yes, please let us know at the time of enquiry
Do I need to tip the crew?
Tips are not mandatory but are welcomed by the crew!
Do I need to bring bedding or towels?
All your bedding (duvet and pillow) is provided but please bring your own towels (washing and/or swimming)
What language is spoken on board?
English is the main language spoken, however on occasion we have crew onboard who are multilingual.
What are the sleeping arrangements?
There are 12 comfortable berths in the former cargo hold. This is an open plan area that is also used for meals and relaxing
How many toilets/showers does she have?
Bessie Ellen has two toilets/showers for guests.
Is there WIFI?
No, but you will be able to reach 3/4G when you are close to land.
Is there an age limit?
No, but we advise over 16's for scheduled voyages as there is an open saloon sleeping arrangement. There is no limit for private charter.
Can I charge my phone or camera?
Yes. We run generators every day in the morning and evening, which run the 240 volt system of normal 3 pin sockets.
Are there life jackets provided?
Are waterproofs available?
No. Please bring your own. There are a few spare for emergencies only.
Do I need to be a seasoned sailor?
Not at all. We give everyone who joins us on board the choice to do as much or as little as they like, whether the know how to or not.
Do I have to do watches?
During a passage crossings you may be asked to be part of our watch rota, this is not compulsory but is definitely part of boat life that guests enjoy when at sea for long periods.
Will there be time to get off the boat?
Yes on most of our trips we try and explore the areas we are sailing around each day, except for passage crossings where of course we are at sea for most of the voyage.
Will I be sea sick?
Everyone reacts differently but we recommend if you are worried to take some medication 24 hours before travelling.
Nikki, owner and skipper has proudly taken care of the magnificent Bessie Ellen since 2000. She provides a strong, skilled leadership and will make even the newest of sailors feel at home on the ship.Read more
Life on board Bessie Ellen is as you make it. Whether you want to relax and watch for wildlife, or get stuck in with either honing your skills or learning the ropes, it is entirely up to you.Read more
The History of
Bessie Ellen started life out in Plymouth, England, and is now one of the last remaining trading ketches in the West Country, where there was once a fleet of almost 700.Read more