Project History

The Discovery Sailing Project was founded in 1971 as an extension to the Sea Scout activities taking place on board the RRS Discovery, then moored on the embankment opposite the Temple Underground Station. The Scout Association’s ‘Discovery Committee’ ran training courses and activities in boating and sailing on the River Thames from the 1930’s until the vessel was given to the Maritime Trust and moved to Dundee in 1979. The Discovery Committee moved its operations to the West India Docks and became the Dockland Scout Project.

The Discovery Sailing Project continues successfully to take young people to sea to this day.

Our simple aim is to take young people to sea for their first time and then give them skills, training, fun and in due time, experience, in order to have the opportunity of their first command as a young skipper.

Over the years we have taken many thousands of young people to sea, many of whom are now indeed skippers both male and female. We have taken part, as probably the smallest sail training yacht, in several Tall Ships Races to Russia, Finland, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain and Ireland. We have operated from Brighton, the Hamble, Gosport, the Medway, the Thames and the East Coast.

Our young people come from all walks of life, all backgrounds, rich or poor, able and disabled.

Our first yacht was a Snapdragon 26; we progressed to a MacWester Wight class ketch, a legend 34 and since 1986 a Westerly Conway 36-ft sloop. We are presently own, thanks to lottery funding and major fund raising, a Seastream 43 with 12 berths. We have a 34ft yacht for our young skippers to sail in safe waters. We have a 60ft ex Round the World clipper yacht which sleeps 15 people.

We are able to provide the whole spectrum of sail training. The Dockland Scout Project, at their base on board the HQTS ‘Lord Amory”, provide dinghy sailing and the excitement of Drascombe gig and Whaler sailing, we can provide progressive offshore sail training from 34 feet to ‘big boat’ blue water sailing on a 43 and 60 foot purpose designed and built sail training yacht.

We are a well established and experienced sail training project being founder members of ASTO (the Association of Sail Training Organisations), a long established Royal Yachting Association Recognised Training Establishment and one of the two Scout Association’s prime offshore sailing projects.

We now wish to expand our project to give even more opportunities to young people.


1971 The Discovery Committee agrees to the founding of the ‘Discovery Sailing Project’.

‘Rhuna of Stone’ a 26-foot, bilge keel, Snapdragon with 5 berths is purchased for £2,200 in September.

The funds are raised by each of the seven London Scout Counties and the Discovery Committee donating £50 each and Terry Bown, Chris Hemment and Mike Clement finding the rest. They become trustees.

The first unwieldy committee was set up with each of the donors having some form of representation. Mike Nadin appointed as first Honorary Organiser Geoff Preshner appointed as first Chairman.

Rhuna is towed to Terry Bown’s Garage in Clapham where she has a re-fit.

1972 Rhuna is re-launched at Gillingham on 2nd May. Mooring negotiated with Upnor Sailing Club.

First weekend ‘crew’ is made up from Westminster Venture Scouts. Crew is charged £2 each towards the £10 cost for the weekend (including food and travelling costs)

1973 We move to mooring at Gosport offered by London Sailing Project

1974 Rhuna is sold and ‘Spirit of Discovery’ a MacWester 31 foot, bilge keel, Wight Class Ketch with seven (squeeze 8) berths is purchased for £5,000. The three original trustees donate their ‘shares’. The Discovery Sailing Project becomes a registered charity.

1979 Mr. & Mrs. Daw offer their hull of ‘Penkin’ and we become joint owners. We design, equip and fit out the hull as a seven-berth sloop. She is 32 feet and fin keel.

The Discovery Sailing Project becomes a registered RYA Teaching Establishment.

1981 Spirit of Discovery’ founders on the beach at Muddeford – she is a total loss.

We are given ‘Splashdown’ and an 18 foot, 4 berth, Eygethene racing yacht, which we moor at Brighton.

1982 Penkin is commissioned and sails from Gosport.

1983 The ‘Brighton Project’ starts with ‘Larvic’, a Colin Archer 60-foot ketch.

1984 Splashdown sold as we look for a new yacht.

1986 We sell ‘Penkin’ and raise enough money to buy ‘Storyline’ a Westerly Conway 36 foot, fin keeled with 8 (squeeze) berths. Based at Brighton.

Larvic ‘goes home’ to Norway and the Brighton Project buys ‘Chloe May’ a 45-foot

Falmouth Pilot Cutter and ‘Get Knotted’ a 29 foot Westerly GK 29 with seven berths.

1989 We are given ‘Morlas O Lyn’ a 28 foot fin keeled yacht which is purchased by Mr. & Mrs. Daw in return for their shares in ‘Storyline’.

1994 Brighton Project closes down and Chloe May and Get Knotted are sold. The proceeds are vested with the Discovery Dockland Trust for use by the Sailing Project to purchase a new yacht.

1996 We start the search for a new yacht.

1999 We receive offer of funding from the Sport England Lottery Fund for new yacht

2000 We contract Seastream International to build our new yacht – a 43-foot, 12 berth, pilothouse cutter. To be named ‘Discovery’

2001 Storyline is sold. ‘Discovery’ is launched and moored at Universal Shipyard on the Hamble. She is named by Lady Scott at the Dockland Scout Project in West India Docks London. She then sails to Norway in the Tall Ships Race

2002 ‘Bambi’ a 26 foot Westerly Centaur is purchased especially for young skipper training

2003 The Project rents a Building at Universals for use a workshop, store, training room and office.

2004 Awaits

2005 Awaits

2006 We purchase the Ex Robin Knox Johnson’s Round the World racing yacht ‘Thermopylae Clipper’ a 60 ft., 15 berth cutter rigged. Discovery sails in the 50th Anniversary Tall Ships Race from Torbay to Lisbon. Mike Nadin is aboard as a Veteran ‘Trainee’ from the first race in 1956.

2007 Awaits

2008 Awaits

2009 Awaits

2010 We are selected to purchase and run the ‘Alexander Fairey’ a 34 ft. sloop for the Alexander Fairey Memorial Trust. She is named by HRH Prince Edward at Universals in June.

Bambi is sold.

2011 October 22nd we hold our first annual Trafalgar Dinner