Over one hundred years old, Bessie Ellen is glorious example of a traditional working schooner built near Plymouth in the UK’s West Country. She is also, very importantly, Britain’s last wooden coasting ketch still under sail. The boat travels widely taking in coastal explorations, traditional sailing festivals and wildlife-watching weeks.
The friendship with TransEurope Marinas began when members Saint-Quay Port d’Armor, Brest and Roscoff chartered the boat for a wonderful day out sailing during the “Semaine du Golfe in the Gulf of Morbihan in Brittany, France. SV Bessie Ellen is one of the week-long event’s regular participants, sailing amongst a huge gathering of about a thousand traditional vessels such as wooden day-sailers, traditional working boats, classic yachts and tall ships that come to take part in rallies, sailing flotillas and regattas.
Jean-Michel Gaigné, from Saint-Quay, part of the group on board Bessie Ellen was absolutely delighted with the experience, describing the day as “brilliant” and returned to shore fully impressed by the fantastic welcome offered by owner Nikki Alford and her team.
Upon meeting Nikki and seeking some comfortable time below during a rather wet day at the Southampton boat show, TransEurope members consequently agreed to support the vessel as their first TransEurope Marinas honorary member. This then allows the Bessie Ellen to enjoy the TEM discount in each of the growing network’s member members: currently 60 members across seven different European countries.
Nikki Alford was pleased with the response:
“Bessie Ellen is thrilled to be accepted as TransEurope Marinas’ first honorary historic vessel member. Since completing the restoration of Bessie Ellen, we have found it increasingly difficult to meet rising marina costs in the UK along with the huge costs of running such a vessel. This has lead the vessel away from her home to find cheaper alternative berths for winter layups or even operation ports. TransEurope Marinas are the first port group to offer Bessie Ellen massive discounts to their marina berths in western Europe which means our ship is able to find a member port anywhere in her extensive sailing itinerary, from her home port in Plymouth to further destinations such as Portugal and the Canary Islands.”