Excelsior is a 1921 ex-fishing boat recommissioned in the 1980s as a sail training vessel. She has been operating as such consistently since then. They work primarily with young people, but they're delighted to sail with all age groups.

The Ship operates primarily out of Lowestoft, with trips along the English coast or North Sea crossings to the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France. Excelsior has also previously sailed all round Norway and the Baltic. The upcoming voyages include Northern Scotland, the Faroe Islands, and then the Baltic.

The vessel is distinctive in that she is still rigged, maintained, and sailed authentically to when she was built. Trainees learn to sail just as the fishermen from the 1920s would have sailed. Nothing has been changed on deck, except for the addition of modern safety equipment. (Her helm is 1 very large tiller!)

On board a watch system of 3 4-hour watches is led by the 3 full-time professional crew. Within this watch you will navigate and operate the ship, cook for everyone, and clean. Afterwards you get to relax on deck, and enjoy being out in nature, with no distractions.


Excelsior is one of the last surviving Lowestoft fishing smacks.
She was built in 1921 in Lowestoft to trawl the southern North Sea (fishing for cod and plaice). During the Depression of the 1930s she was sold to Norway. The Norwegians converted her to a motor coaster, removing her topmast and bowsprit and installing a wheelhouse on deck. She was used to transport general cargo around the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish coasts.
During the War she narrowly escaped being sunk when evacuating the townsfolk of Bodo, which was on fire. A bomb just missed her leaving her needing to be beached for re-caulking.
In 1954 she was renamed SVINØR, after the beautiful island where she was owned. But by the 1970s the construction of new roads linking the Scandinavian coastal communities meant that the old coasters were no longer needed and SVINØR’s owners planned to retire. In 1976 she was bought by John Wylson and returned to Lowestoft, to be restored and converted to a sail training vessel.


Excelsior can accommodate up to 12 trainees and 5 crew members. There is 1 private cabin with 2 bunks, 4 bunks in the forward section of the boat, and 6 bunks with curtains in the galley/saloon. The bunks are very wide and spacious.

The galley/saloon is the common space – very cosy, and heated by the diesel cooker. This is where most people sleep. There are 2 heads (toilets) on board, but no showers (you will get access to showers when in port.) Each bunk has its own light, and a curtain for privacy. Throughout the ship you will find electrical outlets (the British kind!) and some UBS ports where you can charge your device.


Shipping type: Traditional fishing smack

Homeport: Lowestoft (UK)

Date built: 1921

Restored: 1976-1988

Capacity: 17 (5 crew, 12 trainees)

Length: 23,6 m

Beam: 5,9 m

Draught: 2,86 m

Sail: 8-10 sails

Height of mast:

Engine capacity: 160 hp


Sail on board the Excelsior

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