Britannia - Second Century, Second Chance

by Vicki Samuels in Winkleigh, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 26th September 2018 we successfully raised £5,311 with 57 supporters in 67 days

"Oldies" in Devon are restoring a large 103 year old sailing boat, passing on traditional skills to all ages in the Community.

by Vicki Samuels in Winkleigh, England, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

If we gained another £500, this would enable us to pay transport costs to get Oak boughs, known as crooks in boatbuilding terms, which have been promised to us from The Royal Estate in Sandringham.   

Britannia is a very important part of Britain's Maritime Heritage


  • You have the chance to be part of an Environmental and Marine Heritage project simultaneously!  A group of sixty and seventy year-olds in Devon are restoring a large, historic sailing boat, keeping alive traditional skills for the next generation.
  •  We will be sharing our expertise in shipwrighting skills with young and old in the Community, and once Britannia is launched we will offer sail training and traditional seamanship and navigation.
  •  Ultimately her future role will be the most important yet in her long working life, because she will be sailing as a flagship around the coast of Britain, to educate Communities about Ocean pollution. 


  • This project is run entirely by volunteers,  (most of them grandparents!) and all the money raised will be spent on the boat to repair her, restore her, and preserve her by keeping her sailing.  Britannia has had a long, very interesting history, which we would like to share with young people within our Community. She has changed people's lives and she has also saved a few!  She now needs saving herself and Sam and I are committed to do just that, even though we are in our seventies!  

  • Britannia is a large 60 foot Gaff-rigged Cutter, built by boatbuilders' in Kings Lynn who built boats for the Royal Family.   Launched in 1915, she is the only vessel of her kind left and for that reason alone is worth preserving, being a unique part of Britain's Maritime Heritage and a Registered National Historic Ship.


  • Britannia's frames are built from grown oak crooks from Sandringham Forest.  A couple need to be replaced but only a couple, which is remarkable in a vessel of her age.  We have permission from Prince Philip to use Sandringham Oak again to replace these timbers, thus keeping our boat authentic.   The wood that is to be replaced is more than 300 years old, and we shall be reusing it to make our donors some beautiful unique rewards


Britannia sailing in Scotland 1987


December 2017 moving to Winkleigh in Mid Devon, 500 feet up and the furthest she has ever been from the sea!

Skills and education 

f2d9059b6ff5893f985c2392f754907592fb2655.jpgTraditional boat building hand tools, still used today3f7ba489cb20e24181ad8a0a8ab51c0edaea6fb8.jpg

Traditional boat building hand tools still in use today after hundreds of years

  • The Restoration will take about 3 years and during that time we will offer various workshops and courses in boatbuilding
  •  Britannia will be a focus for young people in our local  Community to learn about their Social History and Britain's Heritage as a seafaring island nation.
  • Bringing together old and young to learn from each other - addressing the need for the older generation to feel useful and relevant, and for young people to hear their stories,  to learn from their experience, and to enjoy each other's company.
  •  Traditional sailing skills - Once launched, people will learn to sail a large, powerful vessel, but many other skills too.  The sea is awesome as well as scary, a leveller and demands respect - it can be a healing environment, a connection to nature and wildlife, - a spiritual, life-changing experience is not unusual.  Sailors learn to work as a team, to accept discipline, to respect others, and learn by doing.  They are immensely practical.
  •  Linking past and future - Britannia is a great example of sustainability - 103 years old, built of timber that was already hundreds of years old.  She will not harm the environment like plastic boats when they come to the end of their useful lives.  Built from materials that do not damage the environment, and using wind power as a means of propulsion, she is eye-catching and beautiful -  she will be a flagship for campaigning for cleaner seas, less waste, and respect for our planet's natural resources and creatures. 

Britannia in Winkleigh as part of the Community 


Our Story

  • Britannia has been a large part of our lives since we bought her in 1973.  We lived on her, brought our boys up on her, sailed her, Sam rebuilt her, and she enabled us to make a living through operating skippered traditional sailing holidays around the West Coast of Scotland and the Canary Islands.  Britannia was coded by the MCA to carry passengers, and we chartered her for about 10 years from 1987 to 1996 when sadly, she had to be sold. 


Top Left, the Worfolk Bros, builders of Britannia in 1914  - All other photos from our family album

  • Sam has rebuilt and overseen  the rebuilds of several large wooden vessels.  He was Consultant Shipwright to the Pasqual Flores, a large Square -Rigged Schooner dry-docked in Bristol, managed a boatyard and became a qualified Yachtmaster.
  •  18 years passed and fate decided that Britannia needed us again.  She was suffering from many years of neglect and we could not turn our backs on her, so with the help of several friends who had sailed with us in the past, we got her back, took her to a place of safety, and set up the Britannia Sailing Trust.
  • In December 2017 she journeyed overland from Cornwall to Winkleigh, our home now,   and since then Sam and a team of volunteers have built an enormous shed where the serious boat work can begin!
  • We have the tools, the facilities and the skills to restore Britannia's pride and we will make sure that this time, she will never fall into disrepair again.  Our aims and the Trust's  are to ensure that she is preserved, and the best place to do that is to keep her sailing at sea
  • To find out more about our life with Britannia here is a link to a film that was made last year


Our Future Plans

  • When we lived on board Britannia we had to carry our own water in 5 gallon containers.  All these years later, we still appreciate turning on a tap!  Having seen at first hand the damage to the marine environment over the last fifty years,  - plastic covering beaches on remote islands and wildlife dying, we strongly believe that it is quite possible to consume less, waste less and reuse more.  See Crew Britannia blog
  •  Britannia will bring a message to coastal communities that small changes in behaviour can make a huge difference, that it is perfectly possible to lead a simpler life,  be more respectful of nature and conservation, be more connected and  still retain a comfortable lifestyle.  
  •  It is this motivation that has inspired us to do this now, in our latter years, as it is our generation that has caused climate change, and we have to try to do something, albeit small,  for the sake of our grandchildren and generations to come who will be left with the problem that we have created.

We need money now for the boat

  • Once the roof is in place, Sams Big Shed  sheltering Britannia will be complete,  so all money raised from now on will be spent on the boat herself.  For example,  we will need specially fashioned large galvanised nails for refastening planks where needed;  timber for replacing planks and laying a new deck,  (eg one foot of planking will cost £20, -  a square foot of deck £30), blocks for running rigging, transport costs for getting Oak from Sandringham, and maybe buying Sam a new hat!


 Tasters of some of the unique rewards that you will get if you decide to support us !  


Wooden fid for splicing rope

Thank you for looking at our page and we hope that you will think it is a worthwhile cause to support.  We are giving all our time to this but cannot do it on our own!


Sam and Mike look forward to working with you.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£10 or more

Britannia Key ring

A Britannia Sailing Trust key ring and a thank you!

£15 or more

4 of 30 claimed

Set of 3 original printed cards

These cards are from an original lino print and special editions printed for Britannia Sailing Trust

£20 or more

Britannia Sailing Trust Tee Shirt

Large White or Medium Tee with Britannia Sailing Trust logo

£50 or more

Wooden hand-turned Fid for rope splicing

The wood for these fids comes out of Britannia - some of it may be up to 300 years old. They will be branded with her name for authenticity

£50 or more

8 x 4 Framed Photograph of Britannia

A Selection of beautiful 8 x 4 prints of Britannia sailing.

£65 or more

Branded Door Stop with rope handle

Large pieces of Oak or Larch that are timbers from Britannia will be branded with her name and fashioned into on trend door stops

£65 or more

0 of 50 claimed

Britannia Belaying Pin

A wooden belaying pin fashioned from timber that has come out of Britannia and branded with her name.

£100 or more

2 of 50 claimed

Print from original painting plus name on bulkhead

A limited edition of prints from various original paintings of Britannia, plus name engraved on brass bulkead

£150 or more

3 of 20 claimed

Oak doorstop, name engraved on brass bulkhead

The Oak to make these doorstops was originally from Sandringham and it will be at the very least, 300 years old. The wood will have Britannia branded in it, and the donor's name will be added to a brass bulkhead in the boat as a thank you.

£250 or more

One day boatbuilding skills workshop

You can begin to learn a traditional wooden boatbuilding skill, have your name engraved on Britannia's bulkhead and a small wooden fid

£500 or more

Day sail on Britannia with guest

A Voucher offering a chance to sail on this magnificent boat. Name engraved on the bulkhead, and a wooden fid to take home.

Got an idea like this?

Over £200 million has been raised from our crowd to support the projects they love! Plus tens of millions more unlocked by our partners.