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If you want to sail a wooden beauty and an iconic example of Britain's rich maritime history then Irene of Bridgewater is the real thing. Built in 1907 to carry cargoes under sail, Irene is one of the last West Country trading ketches surviving and a fine seagoing ship. She has proved herself by crossing the Atlantic several times, featured in numerous movies, entertained the rich and famous in the Caribbean and spent decades as a popular charter vessel. In 2012 Irene carried fair trade cargoes to Brazil and her working role keeps evolving, giving her adventure holidays a modern twist with an excellent reputation for good hospitality.

AWARDS  Irene voted 'National Historic Ships Flagship of the Year in 2015' 

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  • Length overall: 124 ft 
  • Length on deck: 85 ft 


  • Year built: 1907
  • Vessel type/rig: Two masted ketch 


  • Guest berths: 10
  • Crew berths: 5


The Experts View: What Irene Does Best 

Irene of Bridgewater under full sail

Relaxed Exploration or Multi Activity Adventure

You can chose between an Irene voyage where you explore at a more relaxed pace , or a journey making passage or multi activity holiday where a higher level of teamwork and hands on sailing is required. Irene is a perfectly self sufficient expedition ship allowing you go from anchorage to anchorage in locations close to nature. There are even multi activity voyages with sailing and kayaking.

Romance of the Sea - Cabins Perfect for Couples

Classic Sailing provides a huge range of options for solo travellers which is very much part of our ethos.  Irene welcomes individual bookings but she also offers a great holiday option for couples.  The ships accommodation comprises of 5 twin/double cabins with a private en suite toilet and shower room.  Each cabin has a double bed as a lower berth and an upper bunk berth. We would never put 3 people in any cabin.This gives the flexibility to have two individuals of the same sex share a cabin with a bunk each, or provide some romantic privacy for a couple, with the upper berth not used.  If you want a really special treat, the owner's stateroom can be booked with even more room and a double bed.

double bed on Irene in the owners stateroom can be booked for a bit more
double bed on Irene in the owners stateroom can be booked for a bit more


Watching the World Gig Championships on Irene


Style of Sailing

The high staff to guest ratio (5:10) simply allows you to get more out of your holiday but also a chance to just soak up the atmosphere and relax whilst the crew and the more eager guests keep Irene sailing.  There is now a distinction between two styles of Irene voyages to suit your preferred level of 'hands on' participation - 'Irene Exploration Voyages' for relaxed holidays where you can do as much or as little as you like or 'Irene Adventure Voyages' where more hands on sailing participation is expected and the themes tend to be a bit more physical like the chance to try other active sports like kayaking.

The exploration voyages are trips like West Country tours or Island hopping in the Scillies where there is generally no pressure to get involved in  all the sail handling unless you want to. The ships crew is more than capable of sailing Irene if you chose to relax and enjoy the scenery drifting past, but they will be thrilled to show you the ropes too.

The adventure voyages still offer Irene's amazing hospitality and food, but these voyages are on a mission to have fun and your hands on participation is expected.  Whether it is standing a night watch on an offshore passage up the Irish Sea or paddling a kayak around Muck or Eigg in the Inner Hebrides.  No experience is needed as the crew or activity instructor will teach you the skills you need.

Anchor windlass

Life on Board

Irene's owners explain their interior design ethos for below decks:

'We’re proud to have kept Irene as traditional as possible above decks.  We are also very pleased that we’ve made her old cargo hold below decks substantially more accommodating and most certainly not traditional!   Our four standard cabins all have a double berth with a single bunk above and enjoy a private en-suite toilet and shower room.   Despite the three bunks, we’ll never put more than two guests in a cabin – this may be either a couple sharing the double or two single travellers in the bunks.'

There is also a state room which was built for the owners. Read more about Irene's accommodation.

Irene has a tremendous reputation for the quality of her food.  We have a commercial standard galley and onboard chef to provide tasty, home cooked food to enjoy on deck and in our spacious saloon.  Breakfast, lunch and evening meal are provided along with refreshments and homemade cakes and snacks during the day.  A complimentary glass of wine is often included on the first evening. You are welcome to bring your own wine too. 

Irene under full sail


Tall ship Irene's saloon

Below Decks

Cabin with Double Lower Berth

double cabin on Irene

Book the Owner's Stateroom

There is also a state room which was built for the owners. Owners Leslie and Pat are young at heart but not sailing on Irene as much as they used to, so the state room can usually be booked if you want a special treat. This is substantially larger than the standard cabins with a separate shower room, separate toilet and its own private companionway up to the deck. There is also a large heart shaped dining table in the cabin where you can enjoy a late night game of cards with friends after a day on the water and an interesting leather seat set into halfway up the hull which provides a fabulous place to enjoy your favourite book whilst Irene is heeled over to the wind.'

Professional Chef & Complimentary Wine

Irene has a tremendous reputation for the quality of her food. We have a commercial standard galley and onboard chef to provide tasty, home cooked food to enjoy on deck and in our spacious saloon. Breakfast, lunch and evening meal are provided along with refreshments and homemade cakes and snacks during the day. A complimentary glass of wine is sometimes served with dinner, you are welcome to bring your own bottle or two too. 

professional galley on Irene
professional galley on Irene


Irene Vessel Specification
Irene Vessel Specification

Vessel Specification 

Year Built/Restored 1907
Home Port Charlestown in Cornwall, UK
Length Overall 124 feet
Length on deck 85 feet
Beam 21 feet
Draft 10’6
Guest Crew Overnight 10
Professional Crew 5
Max for day sails 15
Ships boats 1
240v from generators

Irene - Meet the Captain & Crew

Irene crew consists of skipper, mate, deckhand, chef, steward/host

Many of you may already know Ieuan Finniear (bearded left) he has been sailing Irene for many years now as both skipper, but previously as 1st mate. Originally from Mid-Wales, Ieuan spent most of his childhood in France so is also bi-lingual. 
Supporting him are experienced sailors David Sermon (standing up at the back) and Martha Priest (hiding by the staysail), both returning for another year as 1st mate along with Spanish born Alvaro Moratalla (sitting farthest back) coming back for his second season as deckhand.

Of course, there are some new faces too. Experienced seafarer, Jens Marklund (front and center) from Sweden joins Irene as relief skipper this year.

Daniel Haan (behind Ieuan) from Germany and fluent in five languages along with maritime wildlife expert, Vicky Inglis (next to Daniel) are also both looking forward to their first seasons as deckhand too!

Irene crew
Irene crew

Irene's Captain - Ieuan Finniear

Ieuan (pronounced Yian) moved up from mate to Captain on Irene in 2017 and has been with the company ever since. Multi-talented Ieuan hails originally from Mid-Wales but he spent most of his childhood in France, so is bi-lingual. A little known fact about him is that he can play the harp....but we can't fit it on Irene. 

Ieuan Finniear - Irene's Captain


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