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 mathew tall ship

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.

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Type: Topsail Schooner
Built: 1934 in Denmark and converted in the 1990s

Vilma was originally constructed in Denmark in 1934 for the and was used for fishing  on the North Sea coast.. She was retired out of fishing in 1996 and was then converted to the topsail schooner and is registered to carry 12 people.

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Kathleen & May

TS Royalist

Type: Brig
Built: 2014
Length: 32 metres
Height: 27.66 metres

The TS Royalist is the Sea Cadets flagship, a training brig that takes 24 cadets to sea for six-day voyages. The vessel was designed by Acubens, built during 2014 / 2015 at the Spanish shipyard of Astilleros Gondan. The Princess Royal officially named the Marine Society and Sea Cadets’ flagship, TS ROYALIST.

Making it’s TSA debut the Royalist will be a real spectacle to add to the festival. Being a training vessel, it will be closed to the public at specific times for Sea Cadet’s training exercises, meaning festival goers will get to see a working Tall Ship in action as cadets undertake such tasks as climbing the rigging and setting the sails.

PLEASE NOTE TS Royalist will be leaving Gloucester Docks on Monday 27 May at 7am. TS Royalist is a working vessel and the flagship of the Sea Cadets, training the next generation of mariners.

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La Malouine

Type: French twin masted Brigantine
Built: 1972 in Gdansk Poland
Length: 22m
Beam: 6m

Built in Gdansk in Poland in 1972 under the name of Bogdan, the boat was originally a tug that served in the former East Germany until 1992. It was renamed Willem and then La Malouine by then owner Francois Bertrand. It is now owned by Roy Kerr and currently based in Dumfries, Scotland.

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Kathleen & May


Type: Replica 18th Century three masted customs lugger
Built: 2012 in Cornwall
Length: 32 Metres
Beam: 6 Metres

The original Grayhound was built in Cornwall in 1776 and is believed to have been used as a revenue lugger. Fast forward more than 200 years and the replica was built by Marcus Rowden and Freya Hart just two miles from where the original was crafted. She is a 5/6th scale of the original but still has the eight cannons.

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Brian Boru

Type: Two-masted traditionally rigged gaff ketch
Length: 20 metres
Beam: 6.5 metres
Draught: 2.6 metres

Named after the famed Irish high king, this beautiful sailing ship first started out as a herring ring-netter in the early 1960s and was finally decommissioned in 2006.
Her previous owner Tony Mcloughlin, a master shipwright, spent three years renovating the ship which echoes the historic sailing drifters of the early 20th Century. She carries a full complement of gaff ketch rigged sails, and has a
powerful marine diesel engine.
The ship now operates under Irish licence as the only passenger and sail training vessel of her type in Ireland and carry 12 passengers and three crew.

Track this ship HERE