Learning the ropes

Chart a course for these there holiday destinations. Chris Carter looks at three of the best places to learn how to sail.


For a Cornish holiday with a difference, gain hands-on sailing experience aboard the Bessie Ellen


There's no better way to learn the ropes than aboard the Bessie Ellen, a 112-year-old sailing ship and the last wooden "ketch" still under sail in Britain, which, in its heyday, took clay, salt and peat around the isles.

Passengers are a mixed bunch from "seasoned sailors" to complete beginners, says Sarah Whitehead in The Guardian. Nevertheless, owner and skipper Nikki Alford turned us "eight strangers into a crew capable of steering the tall, two-masted ship through a storm".

After said storm had passed, dinner was served in the safety of Charlestown's 18th-century harbour, near St Austell, the area from where chef Pete takes his inspiration for his dishes. "We feasted on risotto made with nettles we'd picked on the shore in Fowey," says Whitehead. "There is a definite romance to sailing a ship as old and experienced as Bessie Ellen."

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From £290 for a taster weekend Bessie-Ellen.com


The Grayhound, a small cargo vessel modelled on an 18th-century customs "lugger", is the product of two growing trends, says Andrew Eames in the FT: "Hands-on classic boat-sailing holidays and the revival of carrying cargo under sail". Admittedly, the cargo being ferried from Brittany to Plymouth was "paltry" just five tonnes of wine and beer.

But for eco-conscious consumers, an organic wine that had been transported using nothing more than wind power is more special. From the perspective of paying passengers, a voyage on the Grayhound "amounts to a sailing holiday with soul".

To be sure, this is no cruise. The passengers aren't likely to "loll around on deck". So if you find yourself in a coastal restaurant this summer, look for organic, sail-delivered wine on the menu. Then reflect not only on the sun and the terroir, but also on the folk who delivered it, "with all their sweat, salt and spray".

Seven-day trips from £525 GrayhoundLuggerSailing.co.uk


The great thing about chartering a boat in the Saronic Gulf is that Athens is your home port, says Fiona Duncan in The Daily Telegraph. So once you've had your fill of rambling among the ruins of the Acropolis, set your sails for the islands of Poros, Hydra and Spetses, all within reach on a leisurely week-long cruise.

The gulf is a good location for novice to intermediate sailors, says Duncan. "Distances are short and winds generally light. And what these islands lack in the show-stopping white sands and turquoise waters, they gain in peace and authenticity." Call in on Epidaurus on the western mainland along the way and the "majestic" Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion on the eastern side. This way you get to see the real Greece.

Cruises from £1,300 a week CosmoYachting.com


Freediving in Mozambique

Scuba-diving is a noisy way to explorethe underwater world. So that's when freediving diving while holding yourbreath comes into its own, saysIan Belcher in the FT. South Africanfreediving record holder Hanli Prinsloo(pictured) is launching a series oftrips where divers learn toincrease the length of timethey can hold their breathunderwater through yoga,enabling them to swim withmanta rays in the Maldivesand jackfish off Mexico'sBaja California.

But first to the waters offMozambique, where the"arrival of a blacktip shark...rounds off a terrific firstmorning", says Belcher.As the course progresses,you learn to dive deeper,some reaching 15 metres in the finaldays. A group of dolphins "stayed withus for an hour", which is when it beganto feel more like a "friendship than amere marine encounter".

From £2,845 SteppesTravel.co.uk

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

You can follow Chris on Instagram.