Britannia Sailing Trust

RCN SC045315, Exeter

Britannia Sailing Trust is a volunteer-led maritime heritage charity, nearing the completion of a 10 year restoration of a 108 year old wooden sailing vessel - Britannia. Britannia is one of two functional examples left in the world of a Class One East Coast Smack - a large traditional fishing boat of a type built and sailed on the Norfolk coast for centuries. Our aim is not only to return Britannia to a seaworthy condition, but to maintain that condition by keeping her working at sea. It has also become just as important to us to pass on the endangered heritage skills of wooden boatbuilding and seafaring to a new generation. We create opportunities in the heritage and maritime sectors for young people to carry on ancient traditions, while raising awareness of the modern environmental threats to our oceans and seas.

Britannia Sailing Trust organisation logo

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Total raised so far £11,240

Gift Aid + est. £1120.00






RISE UP AGAIN BRITANNIA is the title of a sea shanty composed for us by a member of Mariners Away - a legendary Devon-based shanty group who have embraced the story of Britannia's rebirth from a hulk to a breath-taking sailing ship. 

You can read much more about her history and our personal 50 year connection with this special lady here - Britannia Sailing Trust. Listen to the Mariners singing our song here.

The song tells Britannia's history but also refers to our goal of preserving the traditional skills of wooden boatbuilding, and traditional seafaring, and  passing on these skills to a new generation. As well as getting Britannia back to sea where she belongs and where she will become a working boat again, it is just as important to us now to support young people to learn the practical skills necessary to build, maintain, and sail a traditional Tall Ship.

Sam showing two of our young people where the seams need raking and caulking


Five years ago we were completing the build of a Big Shed, which doubled as a workshop, in a field where Britannia has been kept throughout her restoration, undertaken mainly by volunteers. Since then, huge progress has been made and the project has become a hub of activity in the small village of Winkleigh, where she has provided a space for people of all ages and abilities to get "stuck in. Our "Friends of Britannia" are totally committed to seeing her sailing again, and are proud to be able to be part of this massive task.  

December 2017 Britannia arriving in Winkleigh 1689673886_thumbnail_(1).jpg


The photos below show the work that has been achieved during the last five years, led by Sam, in his eightieth year!  


We are now at another pivotal moment in the restoration.   Britannia has now been launched in  Exeter Heritage Harbour  10 years after being saved from destruction and craned out in Cornwall. Her bottom has not touched water since! Many people have given their time, expertise and energy to get to this point and this has been an emotional time for all of us. 

On 24 September Exeter Quay and Canal Trust  organised a Heritage Festival to welcome Britannia's arrival to the Basin, and this is her being towed to the head of the Basin by TS Exeter Sea Cadets


The Future

With sustainable transport being the zeitgeist, what better than to use a vessel made of  renewable timber and powered by the wind to bring to the attention of those who have never seen it, the cost of plastic pollution in our seas? At all levels plastic is a killer, from sea creatures getting entangled and starving to death, or the toxic microplastics and PCB's that are ingested and slowly poisoning marine life. 

This, along with our intention of training young boatbuilders and sailors, will be Britannia's prime purpose, and with a dedicated work force and your support, we will get there!

Charity Projects


Updates 1

Vicki Samuels posted an update on 5th January 2024

Big Thank you to everyone who supported us in 2023!

It's 2024 already - Chinese Year of the Dragon, no less, symbolising Power and Good Fortune.  Amen to that! Although for all of us at Britannia Sailing Trust, 2023 was a pretty auspicious year to be remembered as the Year of Britannia kissing the water again after 10 years ashore.  We are so thankful to everyone who helped us to get there, - our trustees, volunteers, trainees, grant-makers, personal donors and crowdfunders, including Aviva, the Aviva Employees and Solas Employees who also donated through our crowdfunding campaign.  We are thrilled that due to our crowdfunder, we could afford to transport Britannia overland to Exeter Heritage Harbour, where she was launched and welcomed by the harbour authorities in a fantastic, joyful festival on Sunday 24th September.

It has been a long haul for us since we first rescued Britannia in 2013, but without a shadow of doubt, we could not have done it without YOUR help, so heartfelt thanks to you all for being part of Britannia's journey.

However, its not over yet, we have the spars and rigging to make and fit, hopefully making a start in the spring, and also complete her fitting out down below.  Our plan is to commence sea trials in 2025, but of course this is dependent upon raising enough funds.  Our crowdfunder page is still live and we would welcome any donations but particularly regular ones which will help to cover our fixed costs and enable us to continue to train our young people. 

Happy New Year!



Vicki Samuels
5th January 2024

Posted a new update

Rebecca Cranston
8th September 2023 at 6:13pm

Well done! Good to see you can do it more then once now!

Rebecca Cranston
8th September 2023 at 6:13pm

pledged £20 + an est. £5.00 in Gift Aid on 1,000 Metre Swim in Open Water

Rebecca Cranston has also backed 1 other project

Kirsty purshouse
31st August 2023 at 10:05am

Well done Kevin, amazing achievement!

Glyn Harries
30th August 2023 at 12:30pm

Well done Kevin. I enjoyed hearing about your extraordinary feat. If I had a hat I would take it off to you.

Vicki Samuels
30th August 2023

Posted a new update on 1,000 Metre Swim in Open Water

John Dyer
30th August 2023 at 10:43am

Well done Kevin !! All the best with your efforts.

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