Region: East of England

Disabled Facilities: No

Category: Day Trip Destinations

Address: 3 Daisy Green Cottage, Groton, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 5EN

Contact: e-mail only



The East Coast Sail Trust, as a non profit-making charity (see website:, runs cruises for young people, some of whom are disadvantaged and typically we operate through contacts with schools nationwide.

We have successfully provided this sail training for over forty years and dealt with 9,000 children in that time and testimonies confirm that the work done by the Trust with young people is life-changing. This is particularly evident where the young people come from disadvantaged backgrounds or have behavioural problems, and they are presented with an alternative way of life aboard Thalatta which introduces teamwork, loyalty, dependence upon the group, independent thought, problem solving, etc; ie youth opportunities.  Many leave Thalatta having had the most rewarding week of their lives and this remains with them into the future.

The educational element of a cruise is its wide brief, ranging from seamanship skills (navigation, helming and sailing the barge, safety, using the dinghies, using the tides to best effect), problem solving, environmental awareness, developing trust and loyalty through teambuilding, understanding maritime legacy, through to catering and keeping the ship in order.

Much of these skills call upon use and knowledge of Physics (sailing and handling the ship), Biology to appreciate the fragile environment, and Maths when measuring angles in navigation, History in the context of maritime evolution and English when writing up the daily log, but all in a practical context.

We are also available to adults and the general public when not involved with children.

The Trust is also committed to preserving a heritage maritime vessel. We operate a Thames sailing barge, Thalatta, which we have recently totally restored.

Why is this venue great for School Trips and Educational Visits?

Thalatta offers a unique venue which, for example, provides hammocks for the children (cabins for adults) and immerses them in a maritime experience to deliver the educational elements above.  

What does a typical school trip or educational visit include?

The cruises offer life skills as outlined above but are not related to a specific curriculum.  However, the Trust is very flexible and should the school wish to emphasise a subject to be directed by an accompanying adult teacher/parent this is most welcome.

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What size groups do they cater for?

Sailing barge Thalatta is licenced to carry 12 passengers which typically comprises 10 children and 2 accompanying adult teachers/parents.

What can they provide you with to support your school trip or educational visit?

During the cruise children are encouraged to use the library of books and documents to support the exercises they are set; for example, what are the countries of origin are the ships in the harbour from the national flags?

Can you take photos, video or audio? Are there any copyright restrictions?

Photographs, videos, etc are acceptable provided the schools/guardians/parents approve.  We would like to use some photographs on our website to illustrate further our activities.

However, use of mobile phones, playstations, tablets, etc is discouraged because these detract from the experience.  If necessary an hour to make phone calls each evening can be arranged.

How do you arrange a risk assessment?

The Trust has a Risk Assessment which is available on request.

What does it cost?

For a standard week (am Monday to afternoon Friday) the charge for 12 people is £3,600, including food, which the school may wish to split across the 10 children. In special cases a bursary may be available to defray the cost.  Shorter cruises are costed on a pro-rata basis.

Is specific clothing required?

Wet weather clothing and lifejackets are provided as is the bedding but it is essential that children – and adults - bring sufficient warm clothing and changes of clothes since the nature of the experience is outdoor.  A full kit list is available on our website

Do you have first aid on site?

The skipper and crew are first-aid trained.

What facilities do they have for school trips and educational visits?

The Thalatta has a main hold which houses the hammocks overnight and the dining area during the day.  A galley is part of that space.  Leading off are 2 lavatories and a washroom with hot & cold water.  A shower is available although water capacity restrictions require this to be used wisely.  Thalatta has central heating for inclement conditions.

Opportunities are likely for a `run ashore’ when pocket money can be useful.

Are there disabled facilities?

Because Thalatta is mainly as she was in her trading days 100 years ago, there are no facilities for physically handicapped people who cannot negotiate the companionway (stairs).  Some other handicaps can be accommodated (eg autistic or blind) if carers are also aboard.

Do you have any testimonials from previous customers who have visited you on an educational visit?

Our website  has testimonials from previous customers. Uniquely the coaming within the main hold of Thalatta is lined with wooden plaques donated by schools over the last 40 years in appreciation of the benefits gained by their children.

Is there anything else that you feel is important and want to include in your information?

For more detail, please see 

Age of Children / Pupils: 8 – 10 years 11 – 13 years 14 – 16 years College University

Type of Visit: Boat Trips Historical Heritage Maritime Outdoor Education Outdoor Pursuits Residential School Trips Team Building

Curriculum Topics Covered: Environmental Studies Geography History

Months Open: May June July August September October November December