Elena Maria Barbara
A Replica 18th Century Topsail Schooner

We would like to make it clear that the present owners of the Elena Maria Barbara (Mr. Andrew Thornhill and Elena Maria Barbara Ltd.) owe no money to Mr. Owles or Roving Commissions Ltd. Any debt is owed by one or other previous owners. The Elena will start its final stage of restoration in the near future and visitors will soon be able to visit the Elena and observe the restoration work.

Externally ELENA MARIA BARBARA, once restored, will be an exact replica of an 18th century armed tops’l schooner. This class of ship was notable for its speed and seaworthiness and was a great favourite of the British, American, Russian and Scandinavian navies who used them to pass messages speedily between ships of the line, their squadrons and their naval bases. Later versions were also widely used in the early 19th century as mail ships and by customs and revenue services and the class was immortalised by Patrick O’Brian in his Jack Aubrey novels, as Ringle.

Although ELENA is of recent construction, built to a design by naval architect Andrey Ahkmeton, she is based on a set of lines drawn up by Fredrik Af Chapman and taken from his monumental work ‘Architectura Navalis Mercatoria’ published in 1768. She was built at the Grumant and Askold shipyard in Petrozavodsk on Lake Onega, Russia and launched on 16th July 1995.

ELENA, the last of five 18th century stylised vessels formed a part of ‘Peter the Great’s Navy’, a fleet built specifically for the city of St Petersburg’s tri-centennial celebrations.


Despite her prestigious pedigree, ELENA MARIA BARBARA has suffered over time from economies in her original construction, poor maintenance and several changes of ownership and use.

This refit presents the opportunity to secure and actively enjoy the ship’s long term future. This chapter in her history will go far beyond restoration, by improving on the construction materials, design and fit-out of her original build in 1995 therefore enabling a much more active and fitting use.

An ambitious and extensive refit to a high specification is currently in progress and is being overseen throughout by a classified marine surveyor to ensure it achieves international accreditation and certification.

The refit will be followed by a well-developed and year-round managed maintenance programme to make sure ELENA MARIA BARBARA has a long and prosperous life ahead.

As her ongoing refit will shortly re-start we are looking for skilled shipwrights, electricians, engineers and plumbers to assist in the next 18 months worth of work to completion and launch of the finished ship ELENA MARIA BARBARA at Cardiff. Application for any of these posts with CV are welcomed.

Please post all job enquiries and CV's to: info@elenamariabarbara.com.

Improved Hull Structure & Period Detail

  1. Solid oak frames and keelson with larch planking externally throughout.
  2. Replacement of deck, topsides and other hull planking, stem, figurehead, forepeak, quarter framing, transom, deck beams, deck furniture, deck houses and stern windows to original patterns.
  3. Fitting of an 18th century pattern windlass with hidden motor. New stern davits to carry a ship’s gig whilst keeping the decks clear for second ship’s boat. Both to authentic period detail.
  4. Installation of operational swivel guns.

Authentic Standing & Running Rigging

  1. A new fore mast, bowsprit and spars have been made and the sail plan altered to make the rig historically accurate; even down to hand-stitching of sails and full use of natural fibres.

Comfortable Interior

  1. A remodelled owners great cabin. Creating a magnificent master suite.
  2. Relocation of the galley and saloon to improve access and better facilities for both guests and crew.
  3. Improved shower and heads facilities in a new below decks layout for guests and crew.
ELENA MARIA BARBARA - Technical Specification
Title Description
Built: June 1995
Lake Onega
Length Overall: 29.4m
Length on Deck: 17.6m
Length of Waterline: 16m
Beam: 4.65m
Height: 2.65m
Depth of Hold: 2.3m
Draft: 2.25m
Sail Area: 234SqM in 8 sails
Height of Mainmast: 18m (above deck)
Engine: Volvo Penta TAMD
145 hp
Fuel: 1,500 L
Water: 1,700L
Crew: 3 or 4
Accommodation: Masters Suite
Double Cabins x 2
4 Crew Berths

Elena is intended to be completed by the Summer of 2013. She will be moored in Cardiff ready for her first season of operation.

The final sailing and marketing programme is still to be finalised. But, thanks to Elena’s shallow hull, her draft will give her access to many of both European and the world’s most desirable harbours and moorings, creeks and coves around our coasts, She is expected to become a fixture at the world’s leading Tall Ships gatherings. Initially, the focus will be on the UK, Europe and the USA. In time, visits to Australia, New Zealand and Polynesia are possible and could be added to her itinerary.

Attendance Fees

Vessels of Elena’s calibre have proved to be in high demand at international events, as they provide a major draw for both the public and the media. She would be expected to command significant attendance fees for Tall Ships gatherings, regattas and corporate events. The city ports of London, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Falmouth, Penzance, Milford Haven, Leith and the Breton ports of Brest, Douarnez and Quimper have already expressed an interest in seeing Elena on their quaysides. While international trade fairs such as those held in Monte Carlo, Bilbao and Maryland are also expected to be a further source of regular appearance fees.

Corporate Hire

Elena will provide a spectacular setting for corporate dinners, parties and meetings while attending events. She could also be available for corporate hire between locations. Elena will offer a standard of luxury compariable to that of a super-yacht for a much more affordable price.

Crewed voyages

Elena can take up to eight passengers on luxury voyages for as many as 35 weeks of the year. To provide additional income she will be taking on passengers as she moves between appearances.

Film and TV hire

Thanks to the attention to detail and historical accuracy of her design and build, we also expect Elena to be in high demand for film and television appearances. Fees from these would depend upon the nature and time requirement of the work, it's location and time taken to reach filming sites.

Floating museum

While in port, tours around Elena will offer a fascinating insight into life aboard a classic sailing ship. Entrance fees and sales of souvineer merchandise will offer an additional income stream for the upkeep of the vessel.

The Crew

A schedule of this intensity is extremely demanding – both on the crew and the ship. To make sure that Elena runs both smoothly and safely, the operators feel it is essential that there is a permanent crew who can develop a bond with and understanding of the ship and her operation. For this reason, Elena’s crew will be salaried on a 12-monthly basis. We are currently looking for a permanent crew and would be pleased to hear from any interested parties.