Historic sailing smack Excelsior set for return to sea

The Excelsior will make a welcome return to sea. Picture: Mike Page

The Excelsior will make a welcome return to sea. Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Archant

A familiar sight is set to make a welcome return to the shores of East Anglia.

Preaprations continue as Excelsior is to make a welcome return to sea. Pictures: Bill Hancock

Preaprations continue as Excelsior is to make a welcome return to sea. Pictures: Bill Hancock - Credit: Archant

One of the nation’s most important historic ships will take to sea once again after the crew had been on lockdown.

With the lifting of the coronavirus restrictions, the historic Lowestoft-based sailing smack Excelsior is now able to leave harbour once more.

Adapting to Covid-19, it means the 99-year-old iconic sailing smack is now able to take passengers out for day sails.

Along with other sailing charitable trusts around the UK, Excelsior Trust has not been able to carry passengers aboard its 99-year old historic ship until the restrictions were eased.

But now the boat’s sailing season has adapted to the current situation, which means that for the time being it will be offering day sail trips.

Excelsior’s Chairman Jamie Campbell said: “We will be offering trips to one ‘bubble’ which means that a family group can have the entire boat to themselves for the day.

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“This keeps both our guests and our crew safe.

“We are keen to get to sea again and are delighted that once more this much loved and familiar sight will be seen off the shores of East Anglia.”

In May, and with the crew in lockdown aboard the sailing smack, they launched a crowdfunding campaign to ensure the future of Excelsior.

After 28 days supporters raised an amazing £7,000 towards the mission to keep Excelsior sailing.

At 77ft long, LT 472 Excelsior is the last working fishing smack to be sailing out of Lowestoft.

Excelsior was built in 1921 and launched in Lowestoft as a fishing trawler – part of the town’s 300-strong fishing fleet.

Being maintained to her original features, guests can experience what life was like aboard this important part of maritime history nearly 100 years ago.

Nick Dwyer, Excelsior’s skipper, said: “A day sail experience on Excelsior will encompass a fisherman’s breakfast – bacon butty and a cuppa – and safety brief before leaving Harwich or Ipswich dock.

“Guests will be encouraged to take a hand hoisting the sails, steer the boat or sit back and watch how a professional crew does it all.

“We will either head out to sea amongst the waves and spray or stay on inland waterways and enjoy the serenity and wildlife.

“For lunch we will provide succulent Lowestoft smoked seafood or vegan alternative served by the crew.

“Soft drinks will be supplied or guests can bring their favourite tipple (no corkage).

“This is private charter East Anglia style and all proceeds support the work that we do with groups of disadvantaged young people.

“Those amongst this group have often reported what a life-changing experience time on board Excelsior has given them and we are keen to continue this work.”

The day sails will be out of Harwich and Ipswich. To find out more call 0845 308 2323 or email sailing@excelsiortrust.co.uk

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