Nikki Alford

Owner and Skipper of the Bessie Ellen, one of the last surviving Westcountry trading ketches.

After buying Bessie Ellen in 2000, it is a rarity to find Nikki on dry land. She is passionate about her ship and giving her guests a modern adaptation of classic sailing while maintaining a huge amount of respect for nature and its inhabitants.

She is passionate about sailing in Scotland and the Hebrides and has spent many years exploring these waters, building up her knowledge base ready to show guests all the best spots off the beaten track. Her love of nature and the environment doesn’t go unnoticed and she tries to sail as much as possible just using wind power. Not only is this friendly on the planet, but also gives her guests a truly authentic classic sailing experience.

A strong skipper with many tales to tell (make sure you ask her about the pirate incident), Nikki is great company to have on your holiday from both a practical and personal point of view. Whether you’re a total rookie or a hardened seafarer, Nikki will make you feel at ease with any duties you choose to undertake and make sure there is always a helping hand if you’re unsure of anything.

She also loves to cook and believes that dining onboard is nearly as important as the sailing. Expect fresh-caught fish and lobster, perhaps even exchanged at sea with the local fisherman for a loaf of freshly baked bread. And don’t worry, there are always plenty of fresh bakes for guests too!

Nikki is also the proud owner of Bessie Ellen’s sea dog Bracken. A tiny terrier, he is getting ready for his first season on the water and cannot wait to meet guests. Bracken will only be sailing on Bessie Ellen within UK waters so won’t be sailing overseas and will be living in the Captains Quarters. Nikki appreciates that although they are dog lovers, not everyone may feel the same way. We want our guests to have the best experience and if this doesn’t involve a sea dog, we completely respect that and Bracken can remain ashore at his second home. So, if you are allergic or worried about Bracken being on board, please let us know when enquiring!

Skipper profile

Nikki Alford

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 Nikki Alford's Adventure Logs
Life onboard

Bessie Ellen

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 Bessie Ellen's Adventure Logs
The History of

Bessie Ellen

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