N.B. Part of Brixham’s heritage fleet is to be sold after The Trinity Sailing Foundation, a charity which has taken thousands of disadvantaged people to sea for 20 years, announced it has to cease current operations and redefine its mission. The Brixham-based charity’s three historic vessels — Leader (1892), Provident (1924), and Golden Vanity (1908) — will be sold after the charity said that changing conditions in recent years mean its previous operating model is no longer viable. If any further details about the future of the three historic ships become available, the news will appear here. Sad news indeed.


Trinity Sailing operates a fleet of three historic gaff-rigged sailing ships based primarily in Brixham, still an important South Devon fishing port, and also a tourist attraction thanks to the lovely setting. The fleet also cruises from other ports along the south coast of England, and up in Scotland for exploring the Western Isles.

Trinity Sailing

Brixham sailing trawlers with Leader (left) and Provident (right). * Photo: Trinity Sailing

In addition, the firm operates a foundation, a registered charity founded in 1999, taking 600 children annually from all backgrounds, including the disadvantaged, on sail training cruises where they learn teamwork, develop skills that they did not know they had, gain confidence in themselves and make new friends. The website provides more information and videos illustrating this important program.

Sail the scenic coastal waters around Britain aboard wooden sail-powered former Brixham fishing trawlers that take 7 to 12 passengers. Built on the River Dart in South Devon between 1892 and 1924, the cruises begin at one or two nights and then on up to a week or more. In the late 19th century, these fast sailing vessels once formed the backbone of Britain’s most important fishing fleet.


Trinity Sailing

Three crew aboard the Leader. * Photo: Trinity Sailing

Ships, Year Delivered & Passengers

LEADER built 1892, two masts, 12 passengers; PROVIDENT built 1924, two masts, 12 passengers; GOLDEN VANITY built 1908, one mast, 7 passengers.

Passenger Decks

Just two and no elevators (after all, these are historic sailing ships).

Passenger Profile

British, other Europeans, Australians, Americans, and Canadian of all ages.


$ or approximately $130 per day


Operating season is end of March to late September.

  • Brittany (France) & Channel Islands (6-12 nights from Brixham).
  • Devon & Cornwall (1-9 nights from Brixham & Falmouth).
  • Dorset & Isle of Wight (6 nights from Poole); Isles of Scilly (6 nights from Falmouth).
  • West Coast of Scotland (6, 9 & 10 nights from Oban) with the first departure of the year from Falmouth and last ending at Falmouth.

Vessels are available for charter.

Trinity Sailing

Brixham heritage trawler in the River Dart, Dartmouth in Devon. * Photo: Trinity Sailing

Included Features

Excursions, sail training, meals, snacks between meals, and soft drinks.

Why Go?

Cruise in an historic wooden sailing vessel (a Brixham trawler) that once numbered in the thousands, and now just a few remain as heritage vessels. Share the experience with up to 12 like-minded adventurers who come for the sailing experience, coastal and island scenery, specific destinations to explore, and camaraderie. Anchor at night in a sheltered location, sail for part of the day and then go ashore. The skipper will lay out the day every morning at breakfast.

Trinity Sailing

Skipper Toni Knights may host art sessions during the cruise.

When to Go?

The season begins at the end of March and continues into late September.


PROVIDENT has three double cabins with upper and lower berths, and a cabin for four in the fore peak. LEADER offers open dormitory-style accommodation for 12 passengers (with privacy curtains), and same for GOLD VANITY, which sleeps seven. All three offer shared toilets and hot showers.

Public Rooms

A saloon serves as the lounge and dining room, with additional space to hang out on the open decks.


Food is sourced locally at the embarkation ports and en route the emphasis is on fresh seafood and Britain’s bounty. A typical lunch would be a cold meat platter, with cheeses, salad and freshly baked bread, while for dinner, expect something the likes of freshly-caught Brixham fish, such as Hake or Lemon Sole, served with potatoes and vegetables followed by a crème brulle. (Reports indicate glowing satisfaction!) A bar on board stocks wine, beer and cider for purchase; soft drinks are included in the fares.

Trinity Sailing

Fresh oysters while enjoying a cruise on a former Brixham fishing trawler. * Photo: Trinity Sailing

Activities & Entertainment

Participate in sailing during the passage to the next destination; go ashore on walks and hikes and general explorations along the shoreline, to beaches and into villages. Perhaps enjoy an evening BBQ ashore and a few hours of sailing after dark. Scheduled theme cruises: art, music, birdwatching, wildlife, family.

Consider a charter of a vessel and establish your own special interests.

Special Notes

The British Isles and coastal France have fickle weather and often cool temperatures when at sea so come prepared for all types of conditions that may also involve changes in the itinerary when the weather dictates. The website also introduces the foundations work and the once huge importance of the Brixham fishing trawler to the country’s economy.

Trinity Sailing

Dolphins leaping for joy alongside Trinity Sailing’s historic Brixham trawler. * Photo: Trinity Sailing

Along the Same Lines

This is a unique sailing experience in Britain’s coastal waters from the Channel Islands in the south to Scotland up north.


Trinity Sailing, The Sail Loft, Pump Street, Brixham TQ5 8ED UK; +44 (0) 1803 88 33 55;


🚃 🚃 AND be sure to read Ted’s related article, “A Chance Meeting on a Scottish Train” HERE, about how Ted first discovered Trinity Sailing!   🚃 🚃



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Laos Mekong River

To meet demand for Pandaw’s popular Mekong River cruises between Laos and China’s Yunnan province, Pandaw just announced the addition of a third ship to the region beginning in Sept 2019.  The new two-deck 24-passenger SABEI PANDAW will sail between Vientiane, the Laos capital, and Jinghong in China, traversing Laos, Thailand, Burma and China.

Laos Mekong River

Pandaw is the only line offering this Laos-China Mekong RIver itinerary. * Map: Pandaw Cruises

SABEI PANDAW is being built in Thailand and outfitted in Pandaw’s classic teak and brass. It’s specially designed for sailing on the Upper Mekong with a low draft and extra powerful engines to shoot the rapids in the Laos gorges.

For the first time it is possible for travellers to sail on the Upper Mekong River from Laos to China or vice versa. The pioneering 14-night river expedition that no other line offers acquaints passengers with tribal villages, national parks, pristine jungle, the Golden Triangle (the intersection of Laos, Thailand and Burma), and the emerald green Mekong in China’s Yunnan province. Shore excursions include trekking and mountain biking (this cruise is not for those with mobility difficulties). There are overnight stops in Luang Prabang, Chiang Saen and Jinghong.

Pandaw founder Paul Strachan said: “It has been a long held dream to sail the length of the navigable sections of the Mekong River; now we can. There is much to explore in this undiscovered region; travellers need to be up for a real adventure as the daily itinerary might change, but with a flexible attitude will have the adventure of a lifetime.”

SABEI PANDAW will have just 12 classic Pandaw cabins — eight on the main deck and four on the upper deck as well as an open plan dining room with flexible indoor or outdoor dining.

Laos Mekong River

A roomy Pandaw Sabei cabin. Photo: Pandaw Cruises

Cuisine on board reflects a blending of dishes from Laos and Thailand, with continental options available upon request.

SABEI PANDAW will be Pandaw’s 17th vessel and part of a fleet that currently plies the waterways of six countries in Southeast Asia. The other two vessels on the Laos Mekong River run are the 28-passenger CHAMPA PANDAW (built in 2016 in Thailand) and the 20-passenger LAOS PANDAW (built in 2015 in Laos) doing 10-night Mekong cruises between Vientiane, Laos,and Chian Saen, Thailand. The Laos trio all have roomy 150-square-foot cabins with sliding glass doors.

Fares include all excursions; onboard talks, classes and cultural performances; and complimentary local beer and spirits, plus soft drinks. Wine is available for purchase.

Optional pre- and post-cruise extensions visit China’s Kunming, Dali and Lijiang in Yunnan Province;  and the Plain of Jars in Laos. Go to to check out special offers.

Laos Mekong River

Like the rest of the Pandaw fleet, Sabei Pandaw is covered in lovely teak wood. * Photo: Pandaw Cruises

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The VIC 32 has got to be the most adorable little ship in the world. * Photo: Puffer Steamboat Holidays

A quirky cruise does not get any more offbeat than spending five days cruising canals, lochs and amongst islands aboard a tiny steam-powered, coal-fired Scottish coastal cargo boat built at the height of WWII maintaining the original design and concept that dates largely from the 19th century.

Snapshot: Meet VIC32, of Puffer Steamboat Holidays, a lifetime project for Nick and Rachel Walker, who during the first year of marriage in 1979 bought what is well-known in Scotland as a Clyde Puffer, once the backbone for supplying the islands and outlying areas in Scotland with everyday needs as well as heavy bulk cargo. Almost continuously since then, they have operated VIC32 as a cruise vessel. Since 2002, she has been owned by the Puffer Preservation Trust as one of about a half-dozen left, with most in stationary roles and none in cruise service. Friends of VIC32 help maintain her along with the passenger fares. The letters VIC translate to Victualing Inshore Craft.

Ship, Year Delivered & Passengers: VIC32, built 1943, 12 passengers. Its length is just over 66 feet, the maximum size to fit the canal lock chambers.

Passenger Decks: 3 decks, including the pilot house. Because of its historic nature, there is no elevator, and those with limited mobility will find it difficult to get about and on/off vessel into small launches.

Passenger Profile: They mostly hail from Great Britain, while drawing steam preservation buffs and the adventuresome worldwide.

Price: $ – Moderate rates

Itineraries: Cruises operate from late April into September with two to four 5-day cruises each month. Embarkation is Sunday afternoon after 3:30pm and disembarkation Friday afternoon. The start on a Monday morning and finish is most often at the tiny harbor village of Crinan (located on the west coast of Scotland in the region of Argyll), but also sometimes Ardrishaig, Glasgow, Corpach and Inverness. if the disembarkation port is different from the embarkation port, then arrangements are made, when required, to return to the originating port. An availability chart is available during the booking year.

Many itinearies include canal cruising

Many itineraries include canal crusing. * Photo: Puffer Steamboat Holidays

Included features: Three meals daily, plus morning coffee and afternoon tea. Fishing, birding and sightseeing in small launches are included. A few boiler suits are available. Drinks are extra.

Why Go? There is nothing quite like sailing with just over a dozen souls (including crew) in a tiny, authentic coal-fired steamboat amongst the gorgeous Hebridean islands of Western Scotland and into its lochs and canals.

When to Go? Anyone who knows Scotland at all is aware that the fickle weather can be wet and windy for several days or just the opposite, or change every hour. An availability chart lists what cabin berths are still open. Space sells out quickly, so don’t wait too long to decide on dates.

Cabins: Six cozy double cabins in the hull, with four having double beds and two with upper and lower berths. Two shared washrooms have showers, WC, washbasin and electrical shaver points.

Double bed cabin. * Photo: Puffer Steamboat Holidays

Public Rooms: A cozy single lounge with comforts for rainy or cool days. The pilothouse is nearly always open as is the coal-fired engine room.

Dining: A single dining table seats 12 and at night lighting is by oil l lamp. Breakfast is continental with fresh-baked goods; lunch is buffet; and dinner a served three-course meal. Drinks are bought at the bar. The food is reportedly very good with local Scottish produce available as well as fresh local fish and cockles, a common bivalve throughout northern Europe. Morning coffee and afternoon tea with fresh pastries are daily rituals in this part of the world.

Activities & Entertainment: Routinely, VIC32 sets off each morning to puff at about six knots amongst the Inner Hebrides to then tie up midday or early afternoon. Passengers then may go on hikes, birding outings, visit small towns and fishing villages, castles and craft centers, or perhaps fish from VIC32’s launch or use it to reach a special picnic spot. Fit souls who don’t mind coal dust can feed the hand-fired boiler; budding captains can have a turn at the wheel or handle the lines when docking.

Shoveling coal onto the adorable VIC 32. * Photo: Puffer Steamboat Holidays

Shoveling coal onto the adorable VIC32. * Photo: Puffer Steamboat Holidays

Special Notes: To learn about Clyde puffers as well as this particular one, consider reading The Last of the Clyde Puffers by Keith McGinn and also Puffer Alphabet – 32 years of anecdotes by Nick Walker. Be aware that the season usually sells out, hence an early booking is highly recommended. The website features an availability chart. Payment in GB Pounds only. Casual clothing is the norm with perhaps a few garments you don’t mind getting soiled; dress in layers because of the temperature changes. You are requested to bring your own towels, and no laundry facilities available. Check out The Puffer Cookbook, full of recipes generated on board, photographs within and the scenery beyond the railing, and personal anecdotes..

Along the Same Lines: Nothing comes to mind that is remotely close except in size — Hebrides Cruises and Majestic Line — with both far more expensive. The maintenance of the Clyde Puffer is an ongoing project requiring constant funds beyond what the vessel raises during the cruise season..

Contact: Puffer Steamboat Holidays Ltd., Crinan Boatyard, Crinan, Argyll PA31 8SW Scotland; UK 01 44 1546 830 133.


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Young passengers boarding 1902-built sidewheeler Interwalden that plies Lake Lucern. * Photo: Ted Scull

By Ted Scull.

The lakes of Switzerland are framed by the snow-streaked Alps and on a crisp clear blue-sky day, to be steamboating across Lake Lucerne or Lac  Leman, is to experience the delights of water travel a century ago.

Here is a fond look at those handsome vessels as they are operated in the 21st century.

Click here for the full article. Below, scroll through 11 photos to get a taste of Swiss lake travel.

Lake Lucerne

1902-built sidewheeler Interwalden on Lake Lucern. * Photo: Ted Scull

1902-built sidewheeler Unterwalden departs Brunnen on Lake Lucerne. * Photo: Ted Scull

First class dining salon aboard 1902-built sidewheeler Interwalden on Lake Lucern. * Photo: Ted Scull

First class dining saloon aboard 1902-built sidewheeler Unterwalden on Lake Lucerne. * Photo: Ted Scull

1902-built sidewheeler Interwalden on Lake Lucern, engine room on view. * Photo: Ted Scull

The Unterwalden’s beautifully-maintained rhythmic machinery is on view when underway. * Photo: Ted Scull

Young passengers boarding 1902-built sidewheeler Interwalden that plies Lake Lucern. * Photo: Ted Scull

Young passengers in period costume board the Unterwalden. * Photo: Ted Scull

Lac Léman

1908-built Italia at Cully on Parade Day in Lac Léman. * Photo Ted Scull

1908-built Italia at Cully sails past on Parade Day on Lac Léman. * Photo Ted Scull

1907-built Vevey in Montreux, Lac Léman. * Photo: Ted Scull

1907-built Vevey arriving Montreux, Lac Léman. * Photo: Ted Scull

1907-built Vivey on Lac Léman. * Photo: Ted Scull

Vevey sails away to the next landing on Lac Léman. * Photo: Ted Scull

Line up of 4 of 6 steamboats on Parade Day May 21st 2017 at Cully on Lac Léman. * Photo: Ted Scull

Line up of 4 of 6 steamboats on Parade Day May 21st 2017 at Cully on Lac Léman. * Photo: Ted Scull

Line up of 6 steamboats on Parade Day at Cully on Lac Léman. * Photo: Ted Scull

The line up of 6 steamboats on Parade Day at Cully on Lac Léman is about to release hundreds of colored balloons. * Photo: Ted Scull

1914-built Savoie headed across Lac Léman to France. * Photo: Ted Scull

1914-built Savoie heads across Lac Léman to France. * Photo: Ted Scull


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