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Mile Building Adventure on an Irish Sea Voyage - From Oban to Bristol

300 Nautical Miles! Great crew, fantastic food and an amazing voyage to tuck sea miles under your belt whilst learning how to sail a traditional small ship. 

Sat, 07-07-2018 - 17:00
Wed, 18-07-2018 - 10:00
11 Nights
Voyage No.

Berths and voyage availability

TYPE: 2 Berth Ensuite Cabin Per Person. AVAILABILITY: Available. PRICE: 1,320 GBP. BOOK NOW
TYPE: Double Bed Cabin for 2 People - Per Person. AVAILABILITY: Available. PRICE: 1,584 GBP. BOOK NOW
*Booking fees may apply

Irene - Mile Building Adventure on an Irish Sea Voyage - From Oban to Swansea


Aimed at the more experienced sailor or those wanting to throw themselves in at the deep end this voyage will ensure that you see the British Isles from a new perspective. A relaxed pace will leave plenty of time for exploring some of the ports and islands along the way. Step back in time and sail a ship that once plied cargoes around Europe. You can escape all the usual holiday resorts in peak summer holidays and sign up for a 'hands on' adventure as crew on Irene.



  • 11 day voyage from Scotland down to Swansea
  • Expert Tuition from Irene's skipper and crew
  • Sail the beautiful traditional Sailing Ketch, Irene of Bridgewater
  • Comfortable 2 Berth Cabins with Ensuite
  • Home Cooked Food with Permanent onboard Chef.
Irene heading south from Scotland to Bristol
Irene heading south from Scotland to Bristol


Irene turns her bows south now to head home. Join her and the professional crew for a mile builder voyage which passes all the countries in the British Isles as you journey 300nm south. Departing from Oban in Scotland, you will  head between the Inner Hebrides islands to the North Channel passing between Northern Ireland and the mainland of Scotland. 

Mull of Kintyre to Isle of Man

You may head straight through the North Channel between Scotland and Northern Ireland, keeping well clear of the overfalls and white horses around the Mull of Kintyre or the strong tides around Rathlin Island. There are a few querky places you could stop at this stage like Sanda Island with its pub for visiting summer yachtsmen and no permanent residents

The Isle of Man has alternatives to Douglas like port St Mary or Peel with its Castle, and the waters around this surprisingly rugged island are rich in marine wildlife.

Irene heading south from Oban
Irene heading south from Oban

Lure of the Guinness

Stangford Loch would be quite a tricky diversion with its narrow entrance. Bangor is a welcoming rest port, but Dublin or its fishing port of Howth would be the favourite.

The Irish Sea

Continuing our southern path, we will then round the Isle of Man and the North West of England before closing the Welsh coast and heading across Cardigan Bay. Finally we will skirt round the islands of Skomer and Skokholm before turning into Milford Haven and mooring in Dale Flats. Time and weather allowing, Irene may call in at Port St Mary, Bangor or Fishguard before making her destination in South Wales.

South Wales

There is some serious mileage to cover, so at the end of each hop you can feel proud of your efforts when you step ashore to explore. There will be some long passages and night sailing to cover the distance where you need to get into the rythmn of watch keeping, but it does give a glorious excuse for a snooze in the afternoon !

This is a great training voyage at a decent time of year for those wanting to learn some coastal navigation or get some watch keeping experience as there are many fishing boats to avoid and tidal streams to help work out.


Irene sails south from Oban to Bristol
Irene sails south from Oban to Bristol



On a sailing voyage we never use the word itinerary, as skippers will always be aiming for the best sailing and shore landings for the forecast and most idyllic or sheltered anchors and ports. They are as keen as you to include some of the highlights described above and hopefully Mother Nature will help along the way although nothing is guaranteed.


Whether you are an experienced sailor or a complete beginner, the professional crew will train you to be guest crew from the moment you arrive, with the intention that everybody works together to sail the ship. The common thread to all Classic Sailing holidays is ‘Hands on’ participation on ships that use ropes, blocks and tackles and ‘people power’ to set sail.


We cater for a wide range of ages and physical abilities and how much you are expected to do varies a bit between vessels. See the vessel tab above which explains all about the ‘sailing style’ and what to expect in terms of hands on participation. There is a lot of information about day to day life, the ships facilities and accommodation on the vessel pages.


Every customer sailing with us will need to fill in basic medical questions on their booking application. If you are not sure if your current level of fitness and agility are up to a voyage, then please ring the Classic Sailing Office on 01872 58 00 22 and we can chat through your concerns and possibly find options that might suit you better.


  • Skipper & professional crew
  • Personal Safety Equipment
  • Sailing Instruction
  • All meals, snacks and refreshments
  • Port and landing fees
  • Linen and duvets
  • Third Party liability insurance
  • Waterproofs


  • Travel to Joining Port
  • Travel from end port
  • Alcoholic Drinks
  • Towels
  • Personal Travel Insurance 



Oban, Scotland

Latest port updates

For joining your vessel in Oban, the North Pier in the map shown below will be the best place to meet the crew. Your vessel will either be tied up alongside the wall, or out at anchor. Make sure you take a note of the ship's number found in your confirmation in case of any problems on the day. 

How to get here

Getting to Oban

By Train
ScotRail has trains for Oban that also leave from Buchanan Street Station.

By Road:

Head up the A82 from Glasgow and keep going all the way past Loch Lomond. When you get to Tyndrum turn to port (left) onto the A85 for Oban. Find the North Quay and then further into Town and near Tesco you will find secure parking at Oban Car Hire which does have to be paid for. Please call 01631 566476 for opening times and charges.

Other Parking Options:

Since 2018 there is now no long stay Council Parking or free car parking. Please let us know if you find anywhere that might be suitable for sailors on an Oban to Oban voyage

There are private secure car parks for a fee.

For larger vehicles like motor homes, the Visitor Centre suggests contacting the following companies for parking:

Stoddards Campsite - offers parking

Hazel Bank Motors (otherwise known as Oban Car Hire) - offers car parking

McQueen's Self Storage - offers car parking

By Coach

CityLink offer connections from Glasgow Buchanan Street train and Bus Station and Glasgow Airport.


Places to stay, Things to do, Travel companions

Oban has been described as one of the most scenic travel destinations. The sheltered port of Oban (“little bay” in Gaelic) is surrounded by views of earth, sea and sky, which have enthralled artists, authors, composers, and poets for centuries.

Known as the gateway to Argyll and the Western Isles, Oban is the perfect origin for your own journey to discover the enchantment of the west coast of Scotland. Oban has always been known as the traveller’s rest. As a small town with a resident population of 8,500 this unofficial capital of the West Highlands often swells with large numbers of visitors.

Oban is renowned for its glorious gardens, its fabulous views, the ocean promenade, islands all around, ancient monuments and castles, and outdoor activities such as diving, hiking, fishing, bird-watching – even whale spotting - especially from pilot cutters and tall ships. Queen Victoria visited the town and gave it the royal seal of approval when she described it as "one of the finest spots we have seen".

There are lots of places to stay in Oban, The Official Oban Tourist Office has the best local directory.

Bristol, UK

Latest port updates

Often, the exact location in Bristol won't be confirmed until much closer to the time. Make sure you make a note of the ship's phone number found in your final confirmation for any problems on the day. 

Below is the likely joining location for voyages with Irene in 2018. 

How to get here

By Road & Parking

Bristol has great road links.  The M4 is your best bet if you’re travelling from the west or east and the M5 if you’re travelling from the north or south. 

From the M4 take the M32 at junction 19 and head towards the city.  This becomes the A4032 and then the A4044.  The harbour is well signposted.

From the M5, take the A4 from junction 18A and head towards the city following the route of the river Avon.  The harbour is well signposted once you pass the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

A good postcode for the harbour is BS1 1HT.  This will take you to the approximate area if you’re using satnav.

As with any UK cities parking can be expensive however there are several other  options available.

Park & ride facilities are available at the following locations.

Parking is free you pay for your bus fare on the buses running to the city centre every 12 minutes.

Consider using one of the websites offering parking in an unused private space.

NCP carparks in Bristol can be found‎ or call 0345 050 7080

Rail & transfers

Bristol has excellent rail links to Bristol Temple Meads station.  This is around a fifteen minute walk from the harbour.

Feeling Guilty? - Carbon Offsetting Schemes


Places to stay, Things to do, Travel companions

The rich and eventful history of Bristol as a port stretches back over many centuries. The original town was listed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 1051 as a port trading regularly with Ireland. Bristol played an extremely important role in sea trade for hundreds of years following this, but as the scale of business and trade grew in the city, so did the need to develop the narrow and relatively small harbour. 

Classic Sailing invites to a private facebook group where you can connect with other sailors who have booked with us. If you want to find a travel companion or share ideas on accommodation options before your trip, then posting a request on this is this is a safer option than our public facebook page. (due to data protection laws we cannot pass on contact details for other sailors on your trip directly)

Your travel responsibilities

Passports and Visas***

*** “Classic Sailing cannot cover every possible visa scenario as customers may have dual nationality, or be working or living in a country different from their passport nationality.

To avoid any last-minute stress, we advise you to contact the local embassies of the countries you will be visiting in your country to find out which travel documents you need. Please start early, obtaining a visa can take some time. It is your responsibility to have the right travel documents for all countries you visit during your stay on board.

If you plan to travel onto other destinations please check you have a right to stay in the country too as you may be classed as arriving in a country as ‘yacht sailors in transit’ and not have same rights as a tourist.

Even if you don’t need a visa, please check your passport expiry date is sufficient for country entry requirements.”***

Travel, Health, Vaccinations and Safety

Security for tourists in certain countries, regions or cities can change rapidly. Please check with your own Government Foreign Office for their latest advice for travellers.

UK travellers check under specific destination at

Likewise we suggest you check if there are any recommended or required vaccinations well before departure as some take more than one jab. For UK travellers check out ‘Fit for Travel’

Travel Insurance

It is compulsory that you have travel insurance to sail on any of our voyages, but you do not have to buy the insurance from us. If you purchase your own please make sure it covers sailing as an activity, and racing if you are racing crew. Most our voyages sail further than 3 miles from the shore so check that you will be covered sailing outside territorial waters.

Classic Sailing recommend Topsail Insurance They have policies designed for sailing crew on yachts or tall ships, whether you want an annual policy or a single trip. These are suitable for UK based sailors but the page also has links to alternative companies and recommended insurance companies for non UK citizens.


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' 



  • 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 always included with dinner.

Irene under full sail

Accommodation on Irene

Tall ship Irene's saloon

Below Decks

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.' Leslie and Pat Morriss

Cabin with Double Lower Berth

double cabin on Irene

Book the Owners 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 always included with dinner.

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

Irene's Captain - Ieuan Finniear

Ieuan (pronounced Yian) moved up from mate to Captain on Irene in 2017, and pretty much skippered the full season, with a little bit of help from Alistair as relief skipper. Ieuan is back again as the full time skipper on Irene.  

Ieuan Finniear - Irene's Captain


Irene Relief Captain - Hannah


Current sailing grounds

Irene Kit List

Irene Stern Name Board Sail and Main Sheet

Kit List for Irene


  • Sailing instruction 
  • Safety Equipment (Life jackets)
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • All meals including refreshments throughout the day.
  • Bed linen, duvet, pillows. 

What's Not Included

  • Travel to and from the start and end port. 
  • Optional trips or tours taken ashore
  • Meals ashore (rarely taken)
  • Alcoholic Beverages, although wine with your evening meal is provided. 

What to bring

There is limited storage space on Irene so please pack all you belongings in a soft rucksack or bag.

  • Footwear: Shoes with a good grip e.g. trainers or sailing deck shoes. (Sandals are great for beaches but you do need toe protection for sailing). Irene has solid wood decks so waterproof walking boots are fine at sea in moderate winds and dry conditions and great for voyages where you might do some rough terrain walking like Scillies or Scotland voyages.
  • Rubber Boots or second pair of shoes for wet weather or getting in/out of dinghies. 
  • Swim suit & beach towel
  • Suntan lotion & sunglasses
  • Sun hat / warm hat, scarves, gloves
  • Clothes that dry quickly like fleeces and thermals. Mix of warm, waterproof & windproof layers. Wool jumpers are warm, even when wet, but can take a while to dry. Merino wool type shirts are good for under layers if sailing in colder climates.
  • Small rucksack for going ashore
  • Travel insurance documents/any travel tickets
  • Passport for French Voyages, Ireland or any 6 day voyage like Scillies where Brittany might be an alternative option. On French voyages Reciprocal Free Health Care Card for Europe.
  • Personal medicines/ spectacles/ seasick tablets –check which brand if you suffer from asthma or are on regular medication.
  • Camera/binoculars etc
  • Modest quantity of alcohol for evening meals if desired
  • You are welcome to bring musical instruments

Irene - Reviews

Even the anchor windlass needs teamwork on irene

The skipper knew his job thoroughly, as did the mate and they very ably supported by the crew. They went out of their way to ensure that everybody could get the most out of their holiday. The food was superlative. This was one of my best weeks’ holiday ever. John H, Whisky Wildlife and waves, June 2018



What was the best bit?

Hannah, the skipper, was a tribute to the world of sailing. She is clearly very competent and knowledgeable and instilled confidence whilst maintaining a relaxed and fun atmosphere. I therefore felt very safe and was able to relax and enjoy my first adventure at sea. I very much enjoyed the kayaking and Mike was also very knowledgable and accommodating. Lotte, the chef, was first class

What was the worst bit?

Not long enough! Door in the head didn't fully open due to the size, would have been better to have consetina door.

Why do you sail?

Never sailed before so the mix of walk, kayak and sail was very attractive

Any other comments

6 days is too short to make the most if the environment" 

Julie H. Customer Feedback Photo
Julie H. Customer Feedback Photo


What was the best bit? "Hauling up the mainsail for the first time and feeling her filling with wind." What was the Worst Bit? "There wasn't a worst bit. Trying to store the foresail in the evening while bouncing around on the netting, but I still enjoyed it." Why do you sail? "I used to sail when young, but only inland and I wanted to go out onto the sea after reading about it so often. I'm in my 70s now and want to make the most of my body while I still can. Father and grandfather were in the Royal Navy and it feels like I'm continuing the tradition" Any other comments? "Although we caught what were probably the only 3 days good weather down in Falmouth in April and so had no wind, the skipper still gave us a good sailing experience. All the crew were great, full of good humour and experience even though they are young - well, under 30, which is young for me. The cook, Alex, was attentive to my dietary needs and his meals surpassed my expectations." 

Jackie W. Guest Feedback Photo
Jackie W. Guest Feedback Photo


I had the best trip of my life on Irene, from Oban to Newlyn. We arrived on Friday and have just been to have a last look at her before going home tomorrow . I'm totally in love. With a ship! Fabulous crew and food and sailing companions and pre-sail admin and everything. Fiona F ***** 5 stars

"What a week of amazing experiences – incredible crew (thank you!), sailing and food.  Topped off by seriously good whiskies! Heaven!  KA 3rd June 2017

 "Wonderful few days with such a welcoming and friendly crew.  Excellent food, weather and company.  Looking forward to seeing you all in Bristol next year.  Thanks for everything. " EH 11th May 2017

"A thousand thanks for the wonderful time and fantastic food.  Most of all, thanks to Irene for the pleasure of her company." CB 21st May 2017


As long as the voyage is not about to start, Classic Sailing can reserve your place for 7 days without payment or financial commitment, whilst you talk to your boss, find a home to look after your dog, or check flight prices.

All Classic Sailing need from you is a completed booking form to start the process: We check availability, approve your booking form, and provisionally reserve a berth.  You place is confirmed and booking terms apply, only when you have paid the deposit. We strongly recommend you do not purchase flights or travel tickets until your voyage is fully confirmed.

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traditional boats and tall ships.

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