'Spirit', The Prince's Trust training schooner

'Spirit' is a 92' Sail Training Schooner operated by The Prince's Trust

We are unique - we only work with young people who are part of a longer term Fairbridge programme. Our sea staff are skilled in helping each young person who sails with us, to work on their personal goals and ensure that valuable learning is carried beyond their week on Spirit.


'Spirit' was built in Liverpool between 1981 and 1985 by the Merseyside Trust. The trust was set up to provide a boat building project for young Merseysiders working under the supervision of craftsmen. Spirit is a 92’ replica of a Mersey bay pilot schooner, used in the days of sail to guide large merchant ships into the port of Liverpool.

Her construction is of larch planks on oak frames. While her design is based on the original pilot schooner she has always been operated as a sail training vessel and is fitted out as such. She operates under the Maritime Coastguard Agency “code of practice” for small commercial vessels and is inspected annually to ensure her safety equipment and procedures are all in order. Below decks, she has a large forecabin to accommodate up to 12 young people, two heads (toilet compartments) three staff cabins, a main saloon and galley area, wetlocker, engine room and lazarette. Above decks, Spirit looks very much as an original pilot schooner would have, save for now essential safety equipment such as life rafts, guardrails and rescue boat.

Originally Spirit of Merseyside between 1991 and 1996 she was renamed Spirit of Scotland through sponsorship by the power company Scottish Nuclear. In 1997 she was renamed again, Spirit of Fairbridge after the charity which has operated her since her launch in 1985. She is now know simply as 'Spirit'

Between 2005 and 2007 Spirit underwent an extensive refurbishment below decks including a new engine/engine room, galley and head compartments and staff cabins. Most importantly the bilge areas under the cabin soles and water tanks have been exposed, properly cleaned back and repainted. While maintenance onboard is never ending it is hoped that the latest refurbishment should allow Spirit to continue to operate for years to come.

At the beginning of 2007 we entered a long-term partnership with Bibby Line Group Ltd, one of the oldest independent shipping companies in the world. Based in Liverpool, Bibby is an ideal sponsor for Spirit as she is a replica of the pilot vessels which would have guided Bibby’s first ships into the Mersey. The partnership will ensure that most of our core costs are secure allowing us to concentrate on funding for young people, equipment replacement and refits.


Having sailed with Spirit I have seen at first hand the difference it can make to young people from across the UK .

- Barry Fisher, Acting Award Director, Duke of Edinburgh Award, Scotland

I have nothing but admiration for the dedication and hard work the staff put in. They are always positive and enthusiastic and this rubs off, not only the young people, but on everyone they meet.

- Steve Clifford, Bibby International Logistics Ltd

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