Sailing On Leader: Interviews With The Salty Crew

Sailing On Leader

The other week I was invited to sail onboard Leader for three days, from Brixham to Falmouth, with Trinity Sailing.

It was an unusual trip as it wasn’t a charter, nor were there any young trainees onboard – it was just crew, and we had plenty of time and a great forecast.

We had a fantastic trip, and it was absolutely brilliant to get back out on the water on the best kind of vessel. These big gaff ketches are absolutely my favourite. Having spent a season working full-time on Queen Galadriel, a similar sized gaff ketch to Leader, I feel right at home on these rigs.

So yes, there was only one thing for it… time to hoist the SaltyJobs flag.

The trip on Leader turned out to be absolutely magical. One of those trips. We set sail from Brixham on Sunday, and then spent the night in Dartmouth, catching the last of the DART Music Festival. Because it was such an unusual trip, and we were all crew there for different-but-similar reasons, we immediately bonded and were looking forward to the journey ahead. 

Here we are, looking smart in our fresh SaltyJobs t-shirts:

Even just sailing round to Dartmouth was beautiful – we caught up with a passage race, and this yawl looked wonderful at sea:

Where to, crew?

We ended up spending two nights in Dartmouth, as we enjoyed the company of Grayhound on our second evening, hosting a BBQ onboard Leader’s hospitable decks.

After Dartmouth we visited Cawsand Bay, where we rendezvoused with Rachel after she’d spent a family day ashore, and recent relief Mate, Huw, came aboard in the dinghy for supper. 

The next day we sailed in the drizzle to Falmouth, mizzen stays’l and all…

…where we were greeted by friends from Classic Sailing, met with old Trinity crew/friends, and Holly Latham (and Clipper dog) rafted alongside us aboard Veracity for morning coffee. 

I think we might be spending some more time in Falmouth!

Whilst it was a great voyage in its own right, we also felt an immediate and strong bond, equally inspired by each others’ stories as to how and why we ended up onboard the trip.

So, sat in the pub in Cawsand, I proposed the idea of some short interviews with each of the crew, for a SaltyJobs article, because it was an unusual trip with such a great bunch of people.

I hope you will be equally inspired by everybody’s stories and something might just inspire you to run away to sea…

Interviews With The Salty Crew


Age 19 – Cook @ Trinity Sailing

Enya takes on the role of Ship’s Seamstress and Baker alongside her role of Cook! It’s her third season working for Trinity Sailing, having previously spent two seasons working as Cook onboard their traditional trawler Provident.

Enya first went sailing on a school trip when she was 12 years old, and the trip happened to be with Trinity Sailing. Living fairly locally, Enya kept going back to sail with them, and had enough experience to apply for a job onboard when she was a bit older. 

Enya is keen to progress out of the galley and onto the deck, and has taken her RYA Day Skipper to help take this step. She was lucky enough to be able to take her Day Skipper onboard Golden Vanity, the third of Trinity Sailing’s vessels, so her traditional rig experience came in useful.


Age 24 – Deckhand @ Trinity Sailing

Alberto began dinghy sailing in Italy at the age of 8, racing Optimists for four years. At 15 Alberto started sailing Fireballs, and he now has experience sailing dinghies and keelboats both on the Italian coast near Tuscany and on inland lakes.

Alberto is pretty serious about his dinghy sailing. Alongside his crewmate (also called Alberto) he has entered 1 World and 3 European Championships.

Taking his sailing even further again, Alberto began teaching as a dinghy instructor in 2016 for a sailing school on a lake near Turin.

Sounds like the life!

Alongside dinghies and keelboats, Alberto has also sailed on a First 40.7 and Grand Soleil Maxi 1.

Keen to expand his knowledge of bigger vessels, Alberto saw the Mate’s job advertised at Trinity Sailing, and was inspired to apply for a Deckhand position to build up his traditional rig experience.

Alberto’s Italian skills also live up to their reputation in the galley – he & Sarah treated us to a vegetable risotto at sea on Wednesday.

“I prefer these boats because there is more to do – there’s a bigger crew, you need greater skill… it’s more difficult, that’s why I like it.”


Age 25 – Freelance First Mate & Cook

Rachel, like most of us, found herself onboard because boats are a life and not just a job. 

After finishing a degree at Plymouth University, Rachel worked for Plymouth Boat Trips, on the passenger ferries & trip boats out of the Barbican.

Inspired to take her passion further, she visited Charlestown in 2016 and had a chance encounter with the lugger Grayhound. One refit later, Rachel earned the chance to join Grayhound for their 2017 season and had an amazing time onboard.

It was awesome to bump into Grayhound in Dartmouth during our voyage, and Rachel had the chance to catch up with her old crew.

Rachel is now on her way up to Scotland with Leader, where she has work lined up onboard Zuza, a 22m sailing vessel, for the season. Rachel’s current goal is to do an Atlantic Crossing – and she has already qualified as a Day Skipper, and has taken her STCW qualifications, alongside her strong experience.


Age 24 – Freelance & First Mate @ The Island Trust 

Dan was First Mate on this trip, and is currently doing some freelance sailing work whilst waiting for a new contract to start with the Island Trust.

Dan’s adventures in sail training first began in Plymouth Jobcentre, where he was chosen at random by a chap handing out leaflets to join in a Prince’s Trust Sailing Voyage with the Island Trust.

After a fantastic voyage, Dan was quite happy to leave it at that, but a friend asked about volunteering. As it happens only Dan ended up going back to help out, with refit at Mashford’s yard.

In 2014 Dan sailed onboard Tectona as a volunteer Second Mate, giving him the experience he needed to earn a place as paid crew the next season.

Working in sail training has been life changing for Dan, and he has gained support to build up RYA qualifications, working in the industry ever since. 

Dan has been thinking about taking his Yachtmaster Offshore exam, but would like to do it on a traditional gaff vessel, perhaps Moosk or Golden Vanity.

“I still remember that feeling of those very first 10 seconds having slipped out berth in Mayflower Marina onboard Tectona.”


Age 20 – Artist, Yachtmaster Coastal & FdSc Yacht Operations

Charlie and I have crossed paths previously in Brixham, onboard one of Toni’s boat parties on I.R.I.S., as she is a brilliant artist and has painted some wonderful art onboard. She wasn’t without her sketchbook onboard our Leader trip, and drew some beautiful landscapes. Charlie also gave me a set of watercolours to inspire my own art – thanks, Charlie.

Charlie spent some of her childhood in Lanzarote, where she sailed dinghies – and whilst she doesn’t think she was very good at it, she really enjoyed it. When she moved back to England, Charlie sailed with the Rona Trust from the age of 14. She soon became a Watch Leader at 16, and then sailed as a Watch Officer onboard the Tall Ships Races to Norway.

Charlie came to choose her A-Levels and Degree, when the mate onboard Rona – Andy Wright – wrote to her about a South Devon College maritime course. So Charlie moved to Devon from Swanage, studied for her FdSc in Yacht Operations, and spent lots of time dinghy sailing, yachting and with weekends on the water. She gained her RYA Yachtmaster Coastal and a Foundation Degree, supported by the regular student loans system.

After college Charlie met her partner and worked hard at Rockfish for a year to buy a house in Brixham. Charlie is now looking forward to going back to University to study for a BSc in Coaching & Leadership, topping up her degree to focus on outdoor education.

Charlie reckons that as long as you choose what you love when you start working, and work really hard at it, then your dreams will happen. She would love to rent her house out to go sailing, but is also really keen to study further and tie this into her future work.

“Sailing is one of the last remaining real things. And there’s a really simple reward structure – you’re on a boat, you complete a task, you can have a cup of tea or a nice view as your reward.”


Age 19 – Bosun @ Trinity Sailing

Lisa spent her childhood sailing with her family, largely on yachts such as a Hunter 35 off Chesapeke. She moved to Germany as a child, where she sailed small keelboats on inland lakes.

Lisa on the left, sporting Canadian brig souvenir

Two years ago, Lisa made the jump to tall ships, spending her summers on Canadian brigs such as Pathfinder and Play Fair. Lisa has also spent time instructing sailing on the lakes in Germany, where she still lives with her family, flying home when she goes on leave from her job onboard Leader. 

Lisa also has the German equivalent of her Yachtmaster Coastal, and is keen to do more, but probably as a part-time focus for now. She is excited about going to university later this year, perhaps to study physics, and will continue to combine this with work on sailing vessels.


Age 24 – Workaway Volunteer and BSc Marine Science & MSc Environmental Toxicology

Sarah is 24 and joins us from Spain, where she studied Marine Science to BSc level. She also holds a Masters degree in Environmental Toxicology. Sarah is of course interested to combine the two, and is looking out for an oceanography or research ship to take her adventures further.

Sarah found her way to England via a Workaway advert for volunteers to help work on Toni’s boat, I.R.I.S., the 1904 Looe lugger which is a much-loved part of Brixham.

Sarah has been living on I.R.I.S. and Toni keeps her well fed, in return for her enthusiasm to help paint and get I.R.I.S. ready for her hopeful departure to warmer shores.

In the meantime, Toni brought Sarah along on this voyage, and it was her first time at sea on a big traditional sailing ship. Despite the unfortunate lack of marine mammals (we did our hardest to spot them, and Sarah was very eager with the binoculars), it was a great experience for her.

What’s next? Sarah would like to continue with her dream of finding a research ship to join and putting her degrees to good use… whilst helping out onboard I.R.I.S. in the meantime.

Toni Knights

Age 60 – Skipper & Marine Artist

Legend in his own right, Toni Knights is a been-there-done-it-all-knows-everybody guy. Toni is a Captain and Marine Artist, skippering the traditional heritage sail fleet, and also working as a fishing trawler captain on large trawlers.

All based out of Brixham, of course. Some of you might recognise Toni and his 1904 Looe lugger I.R.I.S. from the ‘Fish Town’ TV series, featuring none less than Toni, his family & I.R.I.S. herself, stars of Brixham.

Toni’s art is just amazing, and he runs special art trips for Trinity Sailing alongside selling canvasses, mugs and cushions to fund his restoration of I.R.I.S. The crews of Leader & Grayhound gathered round to look through some of Toni’s latest drawings and paintings after our BBQ on deck one beautiful evening in Dartmouth.

It was thanks to Toni’s inspiration and guidance that I spent an hour on the deck of Leader, mid-river in Dartmouth, painting the landscape around me. It’s the first ever painting I’ve done my adult life, and I have already been inspired to do more.

I am also going to help Toni with his art, selling it online for him via a website we are setting up with a print-on-demand drop-shipping company, so once the website’s up and running, Toni can upload his latest designs to be sold on whichever products a customer chooses.

Coming Soon: we’re going to feature a couple of the crew in more detail, as their interviews were so interesting. Keep in touch to read more.


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