About the SHTP project: This Shipshape Heritage Training Partnership (SHTP) project is managed by NHS-UK and funded by a £261,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund Skills for the Future programme. It provides ten 12-month training placements at five partner sites offering on-board specialist training to ensure the significance of the various historic vessels and the ability to operate them safely and effectively is kept alive. The trainees will also undertake a tailored course in historic vessel maintenance at the International Boatbuilding Training College and an interpretation placement at the Scottish Fisheries Museum. A skills mapping exercise will provide template training models for the wider sector and an assessment framework for seamanship skills will be developed as a project legacy.


Shipshape East Anglia hosts one of the five partner organisations in the form of the Excelsior Trust, Lowestoft. The Trust conserves Excelsior and other historic sailing vessels to give supporters the opportunity to join in - sailing and socialising. Excelsior, is a gaff-rigged Lowestoft smack built in 1921 and an historic fishing vessel. http://www.excelsiortrust.co.uk/. Whilst on board Excelsior, the trainees will undertake the following:

• Learning traditional seamanship and deck work on board a gaff-rigged vessel including: sail handling; boatwork; steering; keeping look out; traditional ropework; use of capstan and winches; use of purchases; heaving a line etc.

• Undertaking specialist maintenance and ship husbandry tasks on Excelsior such as block maintenance, lubricating gear, protecting wood with oils, rigging repairs etc.

• Learning the skills encompassing a traditional boatswain’s role on a vessel of this type

• Evening and weekend sailing with members of the local Old Gaffers Association

• Working with youth and educational charter parties for the purposes of: curriculum enhancement, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme Expeditions, RYA Courses and Tall Ships’ Races, introducing them to basic vessel handling skills

• Working with charter parties involving companies and other groups, welcoming them on board and communicating safety procedures.


Shipshape Heritage Training Partnership film

The documentary has been produced to celebrate the end of the SHTP project after two amazing years.

Watch "Learning the ropes"


December 2015: Update

After the end of the IBTC course and the Christmas holidays Gabriel joined the other SHTP trainees at the SHTP Networking Day. On that day he delivered a speech on his experience during the training and the many occasions this created for him.

At the end he also announced the audience that he had been offered a job on the pilot cutter Eda-Frandsen (http://eda-frandsen.co.uk/).


November 2015: Update

November started with Gabriel attending the MCA engine course which he found incredibly informative and allowed him to learn lot about marine diesel engine and systems. The course was followed by the Group Sailing with the other SHTP trainees on the Thames barge Reminder. Was the first time for Gabriel to sail a barge and this represented a huge learning curve with many unfamiliar systems and terminology. Gabriel deeply enjoyed the challenge and he expressed the will to have a chance to crew a barge match. After the Group Sail, the winter 6-week long course at the IBTC Lowestoft started. Gabriel particularly enjoyed the rigging course.


 September/October 2015: Update

Having re-joined Excelsior in Beaulie river Gabriel sailed to Lowestoft via Gosport, London and Ipswich. They had to spend 3 weeks Gosport with some engine problems. Having completely dismantled, cleaned and bled Excelsior's entire fuel system Gabriel and the crew spent 3 days aloft getting down and servicing all of Excelsiors main and gaff blocks. This also provided him an opportunity to learn some basic wire splicing from the Excelsior's bosun. On this month Gabriel was also awarded by Trinity House of an ASTO bursary which will fund his Yachtmaster Offshore and 3 STCW95 Papers.


August 2015: Update

From late July to the end of August Gabriel sailed on the tall ship Eye of the Wind an historic square rigged brig, built in 1905 in Brake and owned by a Germany company. He sailed from Rostock (Germany) to Edinburgh through the Baltic to the North Sea via the Kiel Canal and the city of Bremerhaven. Gabriel sailed on board as trainee, which included cleaning and preparing cabins for guests, watch-keeping, rigging maintenance, working aloft with guests and assisting cook.


July 2015: Update

In July Gabriel joined Huff of Arklow as part of his Rotation 2 of the SHTP. He moved onboard Huff of Arklow in Belfast where he spent several days during the Tall Ships Festival. From there he sailed down to Bangor Marina and then further south to Ardglass passing under the stunning Mourne Mountains.

Gabriel also had the opportunity to race the Volvo Race week in Dun Laoghaire achieving the 1st place in the Cruiser class three Echo. From there they travelled south to Arklow, to the town where Huff was build 64 years previously.

Once he had arrived back on his host vessel Excelsior, he used his re-caulking and pitching skills to fix different leaks on different parts of the vessel (included one above his bunk!).


June 2015 Special Update: Excelsior to the smack festival in Norway

by John Wilson, RIBA Founder and Vice-president


 News, May 2015: Excelsior to set sail for Norway event

Two of our SHTP trainees, Daniel and Gabriel, are getting ready to join Excelsior for a voyage to Norway in June, where the Lowestoft based trawler vessel is due to represent East Anglia in an historic smack rally.      

Read more on this story.


April 2015: Update

Gabriel found that the biggest undertaking this month was the rebuild of Excelsior's main engine, which he worked alongside a local marine engineer to achieve. The engine required a total rebuild having only 4 of its 6 cylinders working.  Gabriel arrived onboard at the point at which the engine was being pieced back together and working alongside the engineer, he has now helped fit injectors, piston rings, set valve clearance, completed compression tests, multiple oil changes, bled fuel system, remounted and re coupled the prop shaft. At sea, Gabriel has been on several day sail trips which have allowed him to get to know the boat very well, having to raise and lower sail on a daily basis. A longer 5 day voyage gave him an opportunity to work with young people afloat.


February 2015: Update

After interviews held on the Thames barge 'Lady Daphne' in St Katharine's Dock, the trainee chosen for SHTP East Anglia was Gabriel Clarke.  Gabriel's ambition is to become skipper of a traditional vessel and, to this end, he had previously volunteered on various historic vessel projects including the restoration of 'Huff of Arklow' at Mashfords Yard and Trinity Sailing in Brixham.  He became a dinghy instructor aged 15 and has since progressed to gain a series of professional qualifications up to the level of a commercially endorsed advanced power boat skipper and a keelboat instructor.


Region news headlines

Wherry yachts Norada and Hathor will be opening to visitors.

Historic Vessels to take part in Heritage Open Days

Read all our news »

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