Bessie Ellen – Charter History

Bessie Ellen boasts some of Britain's last and most valuable maritime trading characteristics that you discover instantly on board the small Tall Ship.

Classic Yacht TV joined her in Fowey and sailed east, to Plymouth and then onto Falmouth to try out her charter style. We found that this ship will feed your historical inquisitions about adventure on the waves while being modern enough to keep you warm and safe. Down-below she retains a homely feel and that you'll find you won't chase the wildlife, it comes to you – we filmed it!

The ship carries up to 12 guests and her crew are very friendly and enthusiastic about the traditions and adventure that come hand in hand with Bessie Ellen. Cruising grounds in her virtue range from the west coast of Scotland and Ireland, the English Riviera – Cornish and Devon coasts. She also ventures to the coasts of Europe and the Canary Islands. On board, there was as much to do or as little do as one wanted and sails were filled whatever the weather. Guests were on the helm, and some where practising navigation. While under-way there's a sense that binoculars had to be within a seconds reach to spot the wildlife for some guests while others were offered chances of climbing the rigging, or reading a book in a cosy cabin.

The excitement and prospect of experiencing something that's happening all around you, all the time you're on the Bessie Ellen is something people find perpetually exhilarating. There certainly wasn't a moment that looked like the crew and host had to find something to occupy the guests with. Rather, the charter seemed it could be as relaxing or as thrilling as you’d like. Hot showers leave you feeling rejuvenated and delicious food is on demand; cooked by the chef on board, Peter Thompson, who uses local ingredients in a wealth of recipes.

Owned and skippered by Nikki Alford, you'll find that while you're on board this wonderful traditional sailing ship there is a deep sense of heritage ingrained in the ship and in Nikki's approach to chartering. It is Bessie Ellen's history that will enchant you, from the story of her build and the era of which she was conceived there are a host of stories that can be told if you're interested. Classic Yacht TV found that while we anchored off ancient fishing villages like Polperro, Bessie Ellen's story came alive in your imagination. Nikki found Bessie Ellen in 2000, and having worked on a range of ships as well as retaining knowledge and enthusiasm for maritime history, Nikki has restored this small Tall Ship for prosperity, knowing the offered experience of sailing her is a rarity.

This film concentrates on insights in to what Bessie Ellen offers, and explores Nikki's aspirations of sharing the experience of sailing the ship. Her aim she says, is to "experience not only sailing and the magic of wooden ships, but also the beauty of the sea and what that can offer – challenges and personal goals, also achievements for people who have never stepped on a ship before."

For this year's charter information please visit their website:
Call Nikki Alford on +44 (0) 7800 825382


Bessie Ellen history:

A keel for the Bessie Ellen was first laid in 1904, in Plymouth, and her hull is probably one of the last to have men direct from a generation of boat builders to have crafted real trading ships, or 'Tall Ships' that carried cargo, as we categorise them now.

These 'real trading ships' would have been working the fruit trading routes from the Azores to West Indies, the hide trade route from Brazil and the Newfoundland dried cod trade route. A large amount of them were built and registered as having their home ports in Devon and Cornwall. The port of Fowey, surprisingly for it’s size, holds prominence in the history of ships built for this work.

Bessie Ellen's current owner and skipper Nikki Alford, who restored her to sail again as a traditional ship explains that she was built in a difficult time. Her era is when that type of industry, the trading routes to the Americas, were changing and, that engines were taking over from the power of sail. Bessie Ellen was caught up in that change and in 1906, two years after the start of her build, Bessie Ellen was acquired by a North Devon home trade skipper Captain John Chichester, who was looking to purchase his own ship to trade in local waters, instead of international trade routes.

She luckily worked and survived the second world war, but in 1947 was bought by 'Captain Møller' who took her to Frederiksvaerk in Denmark. Her complete logbooks state the types of cargo, which you can still imagine when you walk down-below. She transported such as clay, peat, aggregates, salt and many other bulk cargos. CYTV have a second film on her history where Nikki exposes some of the intricacies of her history including old photographs and intimate details of Captain John Chichester that really show life in times of the early 20th century.

Classic Yacht TV starts by showing you what the Bessie Ellen is like now, as a ship 'working', not as a cargo laden trading ketch but chartering waters in western Europe with guests. The second film to be released on CYTV will feature Nikki talking about her history accompanied by old photographs.
For charter information please call or email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 7800 825382

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