Nautical Courses, skills training and consultancy services

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As knowledgeable east coast maritime historians and authors, Michael Emmett & Kevin Murphy are consultants to researchers for film and television, authors, students and journalists. Please contact them for assistance with any project by email or telephone:-

Michael 07811 469505 Kevin 07784 770996

or write to the address at the bottom of the page.


Preserving the boats only goes so far, preserving the skills of the sailors is equally important as is shown in Michael & Kevin's new book Working Traditional Sail featuring Lore of Weather & Tide.

As historical maritime consultants we offer nautical skills training, nautical courses, historical information and advice on the skills of the shipwrighting, rigging and boathandling - for researchers, historians, students, and enthusiasts in maritime knowledge of the past.

We also offer one-to-one courses on net making, ropework and navigation. Our rates are 150 per day, group rates on request. Our instructors are all "time served" tradesmen (see opposite) with a wealth of knowledge, that is today, invaluable to the student who appreciates the worth of a true apprenticeship as against empirical study.

picture of navigation instruments

picture of a selection of rigging tools

Navigation instruments

Rigging tools


Our speakers have covered, for some twenty years, the subjects of traditional coasting sailing craft and fishery matters. These talks give an insight into the life style and humour of the old waterfront which they experienced first hand. For either serious education lectures or entertaining after dinner speaking the subject matter will be delivered in the spirit of the evening you are planning. Some supporting film footage and photographs are available to further capture the mood of a bygone era. For further details email us at the address at the bottom of the page.

"Thus passing on the handed down knowledge, old masteries, techniques and traditions, the accumulation of two thousand years endeavours. This before the glory of a workboat under sail becomes nothing more than an empirical study for an academic."1

1 Sentiment of Hervey Benham, Last Stronghold of sail 1948.

Michael Emmett
comes from a family whose ties with commercial sailing on the River Blackwater can be traced back seven generations. He was introduced to sailing on his fathers' boat Topsy and later shipped aboard the Claydon family's fishing smacks. One of these he bought from them when just fifteen years of age. In 1980 he had Ostrea Rose built for his business- the Maldon Oyster Fishery. 1999 saw the sale of Ostrea Rose and the building of her replacement Black Rose. Michael has been instrumental in preserving the traditional skills of sailing and has been a consultant on the re-rigging of many vessels. Michael has published two books- Blackwater Men and Living in the Backwaters as well as the new book Working Traditional Sail featuring Lore of Weather & Tide with Kevin Murphy.

image of Kevins Murphy's Bargemasters ticket image of Michaels Boatmasters ticket

Kevin's Bargemaster's

Michael's Boatmaster's

Click on images to view

Kevin Murphy
’s maritime heritage comes via his uncle, a fisherman on the west coast of Ireland and an aunt whose family at one time owned and worked the Galway hooker American Mor. In the early 1980’s Kevin became interested in Thames sailing barges and in 1986 quit his job in a London bank to become mate on the sailing barge Reminder. After two seasons he passed his sailing barge masters exam and spent the next thirteen years as master of Reminder as well as being relief master to over 50% of the fleet. He also spent three winters working for James Lawrence Sailmakers of Brightlingsea which included working on the complete overhaul of the sails of H.M.S. Warrior.

picture of Cadets leearning to splice in the lovely surroundings of St. Katherine Dock in London
Cadets learning to splice.

pictur of Michael Emmett serving a wire picture of Kevin laying out sail cloth for a new sail
The masters at work

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Maritime course, nautical skills: Traditional Charter offer Historic Maritime Consultancy, historical information and advice, and Nautical Skills Training to researchers, students, individuals and groups. Maritime courses include netmaking, ropework, knots, navigation, shipwright skills, boatbuilding, rigging, and boathandling skills, maritime bookshop, maritime heritage.