Providing the chance to experience a much more literal take on the coastal holiday than would spring to mind for most.
Words by Dan Warden | Images by Lucy Laught
Named after the wife of one of the Danish fishermen that owned her in the 1970s, the Eda Frandsen was purchased by her current owners in September 2020. Since then, Stella and Mungo have lived aboard the vessel, continuing the legacy of its previous owners and providing a relaxing, safe environment for anybody interested in joining them at sea for a remarkable and completely non-traditional Cornish escape.
The Eda Frandsen‘s history can be traced back to her original build in 1938; constructed at Grenå Shipyard in Denmark and originally named Legoda, the vessel was worked as a trawler until 1988. Successfully, too, which is perhaps why she was able to dodge the fate faced by so many others of her kind, being decommissioned and chopped up for wood in order to clear the way for more contemporary steel vessels. Fortunately, she was rescued from the woodsman’s axe by Alan and Jamie Robinson, who fell immediately in love with her beautiful lines and who made it their mission to sail the empty shell back to their home in Scotland. There, it was their vision to restore it and provide guests with sailing experiences along the Scottish west coast.
But their journey to that destination was fraught with challenges, and it would take five years of work, heartbreak and more work before she would finally be ready for launch. Their first obstacle was getting the vessel home across the North Sea, a journey that would coincide with a terrific storm in which many other trawlers were lost, and their survival of which would imbibe them with the faith and trust in the ship that they would need to persevere for the next half-decade. Indeed, almost three years on, just as their labour of love was on the cusp of completion, a fire broke out and burned Eda almost entirely to the ground.
But persevere they did, and over the course of a further two years – and with the help of around 50 volunteers from around the world in return for food and board – the ship was eventually ready to sail, resurrected to become the strong, sturdy and beautifully rigged gaff cutter we see today.Constructed of larch on oak frames, with a deck built from Oregon pine, the Eda Frandsen is traditionally rigged without winches, with a mainsail, topsail, staysail, three different sizes of jib, and a jib top. She also has an asymmetric spinnaker for very light winds, but perhaps what’s most intriguing are the experiences that her sea-going capabilities enable Mungo and Stella to provide.
With a total of eight guest berths, a shower and two toilets, plus bunks for three crew members, the Eda Frandsen provides relaxing and enjoyable sailing experiences with the chance to witness some of the most beautiful and remote locations in the British Isles, including Cornwall. It also offers guests the opportunity to become fully involved in all aspects in life onboard, from ‘learning the ropes’, to gleaning knowledge and seafaring traditions from the crew. At a total of 60 feet in length, she is also the perfect size for exploring – small enough to sneak in close to the coastline, yet stable enough to withstand almost any weather. For those who love the timeless appeal of traditional sail ships, she employs no winches, and by the end of your voyage, says Stella: “We promise you will have attained a whole new vocabulary of sailing terminology!”
Centred around a large saloon and dining area, the accommodation is exceptionally comfortable, and when it comes to gathering around the table at mealtimes, you’ll find plates filled with plenty of local produce. “This can include wild crab, langoustine, mackerel and scallops in abundance,” says Stella, “plus fresh herbs and vegetables from gardens close by. Food, for us, is something of a celebration, and it’s amazing how the sea air can work up an appetite.
“But I think the thing that really sets us apart from our competition, and the reason our guests return year on year, is the level of service and expertise we are able to offer, and that we are the owners and operators of the company. Actually, many of our guests identify this in their feedback. We are in direct contact with them from start to finish – from the moment of enquiry to alighting back onto dry land at the end – and I think our belief in the importance of guests having a feel for who we are and our story goes a long way. They feel a connection to the boat even before they join us on board, then when they do, they are welcomed with a five-star service.”
As well as all of this, Stella reveals that alongside her husband, Mungo, she has been working on sailing vessels for all of her adult life. “We are both Commercially Endorsed Yachtmasters, and Mungo is also a marine engineer. Mungo worked aboard the classic sailing schooner, Adix, as the Bosun for ten years, then went onto work and race onboard many of the classic yachts that you will see today in sailing magazines.
I myself have worked as a chef on many larger sailing vessels over the past decade, so together we really do understand the value of making every effort to ensure our guests have a wonderful time.”
Chartering from April to October, beginning and ending the season in Cornwall and then spending the months of May, June, July and half of September in Scotland, the best season to hop aboard the Eda Frandsen in Scotland is between May and September, with Cornwall’s waters providing a slightly longer season in each direction. You don’t need to be an experienced sailor to appreciate time spent onboard, either. “Our three full-time crew members are able to instruct in the sailing of the boat, if you’re interested in learning,” says Stella. “It is a hands-on experience and guests are encouraged to participate, but they are certainly not required to have any prior knowledge. What we want is for guests to end their trip having learned a lot and made memories that will last them a lifetime.”
Eda Frandsen begins her Cornish sailing holidays in the seaside town of Falmouth. It’s a port rich in maritime history, and it’s the third-largest natural harbour in the world. It’s also home to a thriving marine industry, including local fishing boats, boat-building and oyster dredging by Falmouth’s traditional oyster boats. Just beyond the harbour, the large Fal estuary gives way to a deep-water channel, which can be followed all the way up to Truro, sailing towards Restronguet and St Just in Roseland, before anchoring off the picturesque town of St Mawes or on the northern side of the peninsula at Portscatho. A few miles south west is the scenic Helford River, a Special Area of Conservation that boasts beautiful beaches, tropical gardens and the setting for Daphne Du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek – a wonderful and peaceful anchorage. You may also find yourself moored off the small fishing village of Coverack on the Lizard. “Or,” says Stella, “we can sail east and make for the port of Fowey. We absolutely love it here, and Eda always receives a warm welcome from the other traditional local boats that anchor here.”
What each place has in common is Cornwall’s warmer-than-average temperatures during the spring and autumn, effectively extending the season for those who want to take a break outside of the traditional summer weeks. You’re also likely to encounter myriad species of seabird skimming along the water, and the enigmatic sight of dolphins and basking sharks are not uncommon, either. “Our three-night weekend voyages are a wonderful way to experience all of this and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life,” says Stella. She also reveals that these trips are not spent entirely on the water. In fact, these spring and autumn breaks offer day sailing, as well as the chance to lace up your boots, walk the coastal paths and sample the finest selection of Cornish food and drink that’s available in the area.
“Ultimately, what we want is for guests to remember their stay forever and to be planning their next voyage before they disembark,” says Stella. “We want them to end their trip having learned a lot and enjoyed a holiday quite unlike any other they’ve experienced before, and what better place to do that than the beautiful coast of Cornwall?”