The Stella Maris Sailing pilgrimage celebrating 100 yrs of Stella Maris’s dedicated service to seafarers and their families and led by superstar sailing Captain Russ Fairman has come to the diocese of Plymouth! Described by Russ as ‘a prayer hug for the UK‘ the pilgrimage has visited several ports in our diocese including Falmouth, Plymouth and Teignmouth and is heading for Portsmouth on sea Sunday, where there will be a wonderful celebration. In Russ’s words:

The Round Britain Sailing Pilgrimage is coming into Gunwarf Quay Portsmouth at exactly 9am on Sunday 9th July. The boat and crew can be viewed coming in from the public viewing area .We’ll then process as a group up to the final Stella Maris – Apostleship of the Sea gathering and reception at the Cathedral in a combined event with the Royal Navy’s annual Sea Sunday service – All welcome ! ROYAL NAVY + STELLA MARIS ROUND BRITAIN SAILING PILGRIMAGE SEASUNDAY SERVICE 10AM ( St Johns Catholic Cathedral Portsmouth ) 9th July. 2350 miles sailed, 70 days, 60 different crew members,23 Shoreside celebration receptions, 72 ports. Media coverage by BBC, ETWN, Premier Radio ICN, National Newspapers, Radio Stations, Diocesian News, Calchalots, Catenians. All sailed to a schedule on time.  This sailing pilgrimage around Britain to celebrate Stella Maris’ 100 + of welfare and pastoral support to seafarers and fishers has been an absolute joy – full of prayer, laughter, witness to the love of Jesus, fellowship, fun, spectacular sailing and blissful reception parties. THANK YOU JESUS , THANK YOU MARY and to so many people for supporting this watery celebration and ring of intercessory prayer sailed around Britain!’

Deborah Fisher OBE, Caritas Manager for the Diocese of Plymouth, who attended the beautiful Mass at Plymouth Cathedral this Saturday gone said ‘Stella Maris has been a strong supporter of Caritas Plymouth since its inception and forms part of a committee which oversees the work of Caritas. They are a valued partner delivering amazing work to support seafarers’

Tanya Trevena, a member of the crew for part of the journey and who also works for Caritas Plymouth, has kindly and generously shared with us about some of her experiences! Please read below:

‘It was very special to sail into Plymouth, this city that has become home for the last year. Fr. Kenneth in his homily, encouraged everyone to reach out with a loving hand, as those in Stella Maris do, to welcome and care for the stranger. We had a beautiful spread laid on by Nympha and her friends from the Filipino community and we listened to Russ Fairman, Stella Maris chaplain Ann Donelly and fellow member Bill on the undertaking not just in the work that the charity does, but also the reality of the sailing mission. Imagine you lived in a caravan and every few days a new set of three lodgers came to live with you, with no breaks, no privacy and no knowing who they are. Russ has achieved an amazing feat of love and welcome. This is not to mention the arduous sailing around the UK. These are not easy waters, and to boot, he had mostly novice sailors to teach and accompany him in his journey. He is to be commended for this great sacrifice of love that he has shown to everyone and given in support of Stella Maris. Thank you Russ. 

After our gathering we were delighted to welcome aboard visitors, to show them around the boat and hopefully inspire some new budding sailors. Leaving  by the sea again brought back a marvel at the history of all those that have arrived and left this port. May God bless each passage and these waters.

It was such a pleasure to be greeted by our supporters at Teignmouth beach and share cake and bubbly. This took me back to my childhood days of visits to Shaldon and sharing sandy picnics with family and old friends. 

Tinged with a little sadness to be leaving Russ and the boat, as all of our crew would have happily stayed on to continue sailing. On our pilgrimage, we have explored the depths of prayer, fellowship, adventure, and heart speaking to heart. It has been a privilege to sail with Russ on this epic pilgrimage, bringing awareness of all of the wonderful work that Stella Maris does. Our new little family is looking forward to reuniting for Sea Sunday this weekend to welcome Russ home and process the Stella Maris icon up to Portsmouth Cathedral with the Royal Navy’s annual Sea Sunday celebrations. 

A special thank you to all the chaplains who looked after us on our way and I have a feeling I will be joining Ann Donnelly very soon to see the work of Stella Maris in person. It has been an incredible adventure and one I am so grateful to have been a part of. God bless Russ Fairman and his family as they come back together after three months of sailing and may the incredible work of Stella Maris be blessed by Our lady of the sea, guiding their work and keeping them safe as they continue to reach out to those in the shipping and fishing industry with much needed support and compassion.’


If you would like to support the work of Stella Maris here in our diocese please contact Ann Donnelly at or visit the Stella Maris website at

And if you’d like to learn more about the Caritas Plymouth network and how to get involved please contact


Photograph is courtesy of Tanya Trevena, taken at the Teignmouth port stop on Sunday the 2nd July, and features a wooden cross created by Teresa Maguire, another member of Russ’s Stella Maris sailing pilgrimage crew!