Registration number 2589
Status Registered


Function Replica
Subfunction Warship
Location London
Vessel type Galleon
Current use Museum based
Available to hire Yes
Available for excursions No


Builder Hinks, J & Sons, Appledore
Built in 1971
Hull material Wood
Replica definition Operational Hypothesis
Number of decks 5
Number of masts 3
Propulsion Sail
Primary engine type None
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Length: Overall
120.08 feet (36.60m)
Breadth: Beam
21.00 feet (6.40m)
13.45 feet (4.10m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
92.51 feet (28.20m)


The idea to construct a copy of Drake’s ship came from Californian businessmen with connections to Crowley Maritime (tugs) and their other operations, the Red and White Fleet in San Francisco and Trailer Marine Transport. They commissioned naval architect Loring Christian Norgaard to undertake 3 years of research and in 1971 the keel was laid at the Hinks yard in Appledore, Devon. Hinks had built the Nonsuch for the Hudson Bay Company and with their skilled workforce producing many vessels for the UK fishing fleet, they were the perfect yard to build a reconstruction of the GOLDEN HINDE.

The materials used were oak framing, iroko planking (no long grain oak these days) and redwood decks and masts/yards. Many of the old boatbuilding techniques were used, including trunnels (tree nails) to fasten planking. The quality of construction and strength of the build have been shown to be far higher than on any other similar historic reconstruction. GOLDEN HINDE was launched in 1973 and spent just over a year on trials, undergoing some improvements to her stability to meet Board of Trade and insurers requirements. Some of this period was at Tower Pier, where she was open to the public.

Towards the end of 1974 she left for San Francisco, where she arrived on the 9th of March 1975 to what has been described as the biggest welcome for a ship since the return of the Pacific Fleet at the end of the Second World War. Between 1975 and 1979 the ship was around the Bay Area, initially open to the public and latterly laid-up between a few film appearances. In 1979 she sailed for Japan to make the movie Shogun, then on across the Indian Ocean and back to UK waters, arriving to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Drake’s return in 1980.

She had completed her circumnavigation; a remarkable feat for this little ship. After a few months back in UK waters she sailed north to her new berth at Troon in Ayrshire. Between 1981 and 1984 there were a few charters including visiting ports on a promotion for the Royal Mail. Over the summer of 1984 she was chartered from Crowley by the present owners, visiting ports from Manchester to Portrush including the Isle of Man for the TT races.

In October 1984 they purchased the ship from Crowley and she left for a UK ports tour, commencing in Glasgow and then northwards through the Caledonian Canal to Inverness, East and South Coast ports and finally Bristol. The plan was then to sail to the Caribbean, where maybe she would make a permanent home in St Thomas in the Virgin Islands, where up to 14 cruise ships a day visited the island. After this second Atlantic crossing and whilst open to the public in Charlotte Amalie in the USVI, Expo 86 invited Golden Hinde to be part of the World’s Fair in Vancouver, British Columbia.

She sailed for Panama and then north to Canada (14 weeks at sea in the Pacific !). She was the centrepiece of the marine plaza at Expo, where over 22 million visitors enjoyed what must have been the most successful Expo ever. After Expo in late 1986 there were 3 visits in Canada before commencing a very successful series of port visits on the West Coast that covered the next 2 years. From San Diego she sailed again in late 1988 for the Panama Canal and up to Brownsville, Texas by the Rio Grande, where she arrived in early January 1989.

Further port visits followed along the Gulf of Mexico including the Mississippi to Baton Rouge and New Orleans before rounding Key West and a further two years on the East Coast, ending at Atlantic City in front of Trump Tower on the invitation of the former President ! At the end of 1991 Golden Hinde made her third Atlantic crossing back to the UK and spent the next four years going port to port with two winters in Salford Quays where the schools catchment area stretched from Birmingham to Carlisle and Hull to Holyhead. On many days it was not unusual to see over 600 students for an educational tour. In 1996 GOLDEN HINDE was invited by ANZ Bank to occupy to St Mary Overie Dock in London, to replace the Maritime Trust schooner, KATHLEEN AND MAY.

The vessel adapted the operation from an itinerant galleon to the Living History Museum she is today. Following a number of major incidents involving square rigged ships, the maritime authorities were looking for safety measures that would have been impossible if GOLDEN HINDE was to retain her integrity as a faithful copy of Drake’s ship. In 2003 the owners were approached by a local business person who wished to operate it as a charity and between October 2003 and July 2017 a series of charities ran the day to day operation of the ship. Sadly none of them fulfilled their obligations to carry out regular maintenance.

In July 2017 the owners took the ship back and full control of the operation. Today there is a team of six actors delivering the Living History programmes, two education officers overseeing the tours and learning plus collaboration with other historical and marine bodies, The maintenance team consists of a Head Shipwright and six assistants. The current refit required a fully functioning shipyard and this was created from scratch in the drained dock. We are now able to undertake most tasks in-house, with our own sawmill capable of handing the smaller oak butts and other heavy woodworking machinery. To date over £2 million has been spent on the refit; predominantly funded from within the operation and with no outside help. In the near future the plan is to build a visitor centre in the dock and architects SPPARC have created an exciting scheme for the ship.

Key dates

  • 1971 Keel laying ceremony on 30 September
  • 1973 Vessel launched on 5 April
  • 1975 Vessel arrives in San Francisco having sailed from Plymouth
  • 1980

    Return to UK via Indian Ocean. Anti-pirate sandbag gun positions on foredeck

  • 1980

    While sailing near Bizerte, The Golden Hinde is captured and held in Tunisia by the Tunisian Navy because the ship looked suspicious. Vessel was searched, then released without charge

  • 1980

    Open to the public at Southampton Boat Show

  • 1980

    Filming of Drake’s Venture with John Thaw

  • 1981

    Berthed in Troon, Ayrshire

  • 1981

    Chartered by the Royal Mail who had her sail around Britain on a postal campaign titled “Post a little Happiness" using the slogan “Picture Postcard Voyage"

  • 1984

    Port visits around the Irish Sea and up the Manchester Ship Canal

  • 1985

    Port visits around the UK

  • 1985

    October. Sails for Caribbean and St Thomas USVI

  • 1986

    March. 2nd Panama Canal transit

  • 1985

    Fourteen weeks voyage to Vancouver, BC to take part in Expo ‘86, where over 6,000 visitors a day came aboard. There was a line-up at 10 in the morning when Expo opened which continued till it closed 12 hours later

  • 1986

    November. Port visits in British Columbia

  • 1987

    Port visits commenced in Washington State, beginning in the Puget Sound and Seattle

  • 1987

    Lay off Whale Cove, Oregon to re-enact the local myth that Sir Francis Drake careened the ship there. Fired the petera guns in salute

  • 1987-88

    Oregon. Columbia River replacing mainmast in Longview with Portland for Rose Festival

  • 1988

    California including 6 ports in San Francisco Bay Area

  • 1988

    November. Sail to Panama and 3rd canal transit

  • 1989

    Arrive Brownsville, Texas. Commence Gulf port visits

  • 1989

    Navigate Mississippi to New Orleans and then on to Baton Rouge

  • 1990

    Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia  ports

  • 1990

    Chesapeake Bay

  • 1990

    Potomac River, Alexandria, Virginia, Golden Hinde visited by Senators on Mars Exploration Committee, to explore how men could endure 3 years in cramped surroundings 

  • 1991

    Return to Florida, South Carolina and end in Atlantic City

  • 1991

    Atlantic crossing,  Delaware River to Salford Quays, UK

  • 1992-96

    Port visits around UK, Channel Islands and Ireland

  • 1996

    St Mary Overie Dock, London.  Open for visitors and educational visit

  • 2003

    Final voyage to Southampton to be the centrepiece for ‘The Boat Show’ - with Dame Ellen MacArthur onboard for the last mile

  • 2017

    First major refit starts estimated to costing £1.4 million by a skilled team. Ship remains open for public and educational programmes during work


  • Feb 2024

    The Strategic Developement Fund awarded a grant of £700 towards replacement of a mast, supported by Winter & Co Marine Ltd

  • April 2021

    Golden Hinde Ltd received a grant of £29,000 from round 2 of the Government's Culture Recovery Fund. 

  • October 2020

    Golden Hinde Ltd received a grant of £200,000 from round 1 of the Government's Culture Recovery Fund. 

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