Meet the Ships

What is a Tall Ship?

A tall ship is a traditionally rigged sailing craft. They differ from more modern sailing vessels in that they do not use newer materials (such as aluminium and steel) and have more complex rigging as a result. Traditional rigging may take the form of square rigs and gaff rigs, with separate topmasts and topsails. Popular modern tall ship rigs include topsail schooners, brigantines, brigs, and barques. The term tall ship has come into widespread use in the mid-20th century with the advent of Tall Ships’ races.

The Matthew

Type: Caravel
Built: 1994-96 in Bristol
Length overall: 24 metres
Beam: 6.5 metres

The Matthew is a full size replica of John Cabot’s ship which charted North America in 1497.She retraced the famous journey of her namesake in 1997 for the 500th anniversary of the voyage carrying the same number of crew and taking the same amount of time to reach Newfoundland. Not everything is exactly the same as the original though. The new Matthew uses some modern building materials such as aluminium bronze bolts rather than hand-wrought iron bolts or wooden nails to hold the planks in place. She also has radar, satellite communication, global positioning, an engine (for safe sailing in the busy seaways of the 20th century,) and a crew who stand a greater chance of survival when at sea as a result! Today, the Matthew is mainly based in Bristol Harbour taking visitors on short cruises.

Track this Ship HERE

Lady of Avenel

Type: Brig Schooner
Built: 1968 in Gdansk, Poland
Length: 32 metres
Beam: 7.07 metres

Lady of Avenel was built in Gdansk Shipyard, Poland in 1968. The brigantine square rigged ship comes in at an impressive height of 22 metres making this one truly unmissable! Bought by Heritage Sailing Academy in 2012 she is now mainly used as a platform for adventure sailing.

Track this ship HERE

Johanna Lucretia

Type: Topsail Schooner
Built: 1945 in Belgium
Length: 29 Metres
Beam: 5.05 Metres

Built in 1945 in Belgium as a fishing vessel, though never actually used for that purpose, she was converted into a recreational ship in 1952 and sailed Dutch waters. She was bought by a British citizen in 1989, refitted to comply with British regulations by Gloucester firm T Nielsen & Co Limited and used for training and chartered trips. Following another change of ownership, she was found abandoned in Gloucester Docks in 2008 and, after being sold to her current owner, required major restoration work to get her into the shape she is in today. She is now used for recreational, training and competition purposes.

Track this ship HERE

La Malouine

Type: French Brigantine
Built: 1972 in Poland
Length overall: 30 metres

This Brig comes from Holland where she was operated for eighteen years, under the name of Willem. This Vessel has two Masts rising to 22 and 24 meters, 11 sails and a total area of 480 square meters.This boat can take up to 36 passengers with a crew of three.

Track this ship HERE

The White Heather

Type: Cornish Lugger
Built: 1926
Length overall: 22 metres

A Cornish lugger, she has operated out of Megavissey and fished out of Falmouth, before being laid up on moorings of the River Fal. She was converted back to sail in 1988 and found a new purpose running sailing trips from Fowey. Under a new owner in 1992, The White Heather sailed to Morocco, Brazil before returning to British shores via the Caribbean. Out of the hundreds of Cornish luggers that were built, The White Heather is one of only a dozen surviving today.


Type: Lowestoft Sailing Smack
Built: 1913
Length: 24 Metres
Beam: 5.69 Metres

Believed to be the only surviving Rye-built sailing smack, KEEWAYDIN was launched in 1913 by G & T Smith, of Rye, for Lowestoft owners, and registered with the number LT 1192. She was built of carvel oak planking on oak frames, and her design and rig was based on the Brixham sailing trawler


Type: Pilot Cutter Built: 1909 in Cornwall, England Length: 17 metres Beam: 4.5 metres

A piece of living history, she is not a large tall ship but a beautiful wooden vessel. Originally Olga would have ranged from Bristol Channel to Lundy looking for telltale mast heads or smoke stacks of inbound vessels she could pilot. Now owned and managed by Swansea Museum. She takes out volunteers, community groups and interested parties fairly regularly and you may be able to join her for a voyage and is currently based at Swansea Museum