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Bessie Ellen - Next Canaries Season & Other Destinations

Tall Ship Bessie Ellen sailing off the Canaries. Winter voyages from Classic Sailing

Sail of the Century

Financial Times – Travel Section Saturday 3rd March 2013 article by Andrew Eames

If you have just read Andrew Eames article on sailing Bessie Ellen in the Financial Times, please take a look at our vessel pages on Bessie Ellen and Bessie Ellen Sailing Schedule to see the full range of destinations and journeys around Europe and the North Atlantic.

Bessie Ellen in Scotland this summer

2013-14 Canaries Voyage dates have not been published yet, but if you want to book a specific week between December 2013 and February 2014 then please ring us for a provisional reservation without financial commitment on 01872 580022

A typical 6 day voyage in the Canaries last year was £680 without flights.

Bessie Ellen Sailing Schedule

Photo by Phillip Marks in the Canaries December 2010

Part of Our Maritime Heritage

Bessie Ellen is unique in being both on the UK National Historic Ships Register Core Collection as part of our maritime heritage and still meet the highest modern safety standards to achieve an ocean going MCA (Maritime Coastguard Agency) charter licence. Classic Sailing offer adventure voyages on Bessie Ellen all year round.

Winter in the Canariessail of the Century on Tall Ship Bessie Ellen - Financial Times – Travel Section Saturday 3rd March 2013 article by Andrew Eames

The ship and her guest crews have been successfully exploring the Western Canaries and enjoying winter sun, mountain walking and whale watching for 3 seasons. See a typical voyage decription below.

Summer in Europe

Bessie Ellen returns to Cornwall in the early spring for a full summer season around the UK and Northern Europe. The Ocean voyages between the Canaries to Cornwall offer longer challenges in the Spring and Autumn each year.

Highlights for 2013 include day sails in Falmouth, Island hopping in the Isles of Scilly and sailing and wildlife watching in the Western Isles of Scotland and Outer Hebrides.  This busy ship also manages to fit in French Festivals like Morbihan and Paimpol Shanty Festival.

Typical Voyage Description - Bessie Ellen Canaries Voyages 2013-14


The Canaries - We show you more than you would expect!

Forget any preconceptions you may have about the Canary Islands. The voyages start and finish in San Miguel Marina, Tenerife which is simple, ten minute taxi ride from the  airport. As soon as you sail away from the marina and modern tourist resorts you step back in time to a simpler age. Everybody can focus on getting to grips with sailing a wooden sailing ship with blocks and tackles and enjoying the winter sun and starry nights. We normally leave on the first evening for a short introductory sail. Over the voyage we may visit La Palma, Gomera and El Heirro. None of these islands have big international airports and only the more intrepid travellers, walkers and nature lovers stay on these islands. Travelling by boat you will see the real beauty of the Canaries archipelago and the people that live there. Unlike the Eastern Isles, which are more barren, these are fascinating Islands with green verdant vegetation and brilliant walking. 

Island passages under sun and stars

Some of the islands like Tenerife to La Palma are over 100 miles apart so after a bracing ocean sail and some night sailing under the stars you will looking forward to a new island landfall. Sailing is not only about arriving but also the chance to explore beyond the more obvious port attractions. Bessie Ellen's crew is a maximum of 12 so it would not be difficult for an interested group to hire a couple of hire cars or minibus and split the costs. The permanent crew will also have some ideas on the best things to see ashore or a BBQ or crew meal ashore might be proposed. You may just fancy a quiet beer in bar and watch the world go by, people spotting in the sun, how good is that.

Tenerife - Mountains in the North

Tenerife’s Mount Teide is actually the highest mountain in Europe and forms part of a large National Park with walks and nature trails. The skyline of this classic volcanic cone can be seen for miles as you island hop amongst the archipelago. There are winding paths between villages in the North West of this large island that few tourists ever explore.


La Gomera

Walking in Gomera from gomerawaliking.comThis round little island hides many of its assets from the casual observer and to appreciate its full value you need to venture inland. It has many splendid walks and the north west of the islands is a lot greener than the rest.

Photo of Roque Agando by

La Palma

The Classic Sailing team think La Palma is one of the most interesting and beautiful islands in the Canaries. The port of Santa Cruz, La Palma, has much old world charm and sitting outside a bar is a delight. We do recommend that you take a tour of this island to visit its verdant forest, sherry making and volcanic sites. The world's astronomy telescopes are based on the crater rim due to the clear skies and lack of pollution so the night skies at sea are amazing.




Weather and wind

As a winter sailing destination there are many attractions:- the sunshine with typical average temperatures of 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) in January; good prevailing winds; and located on the migration trail for dolphins and whales. There are wind accelerations zones where the wind blasts between the mountainous islands, and quieter areas in the lee of volcanic cliffs.


Christmas Voyages in the Canaries

There is now a regular gathering of tall ships in La Palma for Christmas and crew visiting and celebrating is the order of the day.

New Year with the pyrotechnic locals

The Canary Islanders like to make there own fireworks, not pretty ones but mostly rockets that go bang very loudly. Watch the hills for the tell tale streaks and listen as the explosions echo round the valleys.


Whales and Dolphins

Dolphins seen under tall ship Bessie Ellen's bowspritThe South West of Tenerife,  Los Gigantes, region is internationally know as a permanent home and temporary feeding ground for a big selection of whales and dolphins. The species you are most likely to encounter are  the Bottlenosed Dolphin and the Long Finned Pilot Whale. Please note it is never possible to 100% gurantee sighting of whales and dolphins as they are free to come and go as we would want them to. However every effort will be made to visit the Los Gigantes area where they are most likely to be seen subject to weather and safety.

Bottlenosed Dolphins

The Bottlenosed Dolphins appear to be grinning as they ride the bow wave and play with each other speeding through the water. If you study them closely as they swim beside Bessie Ellen you can look for distinguishing marks on the fins or around the head. We have known regular sightings of the same dolphin which makes it like greeting an old friend.

Common dolphins off Bessie Ellen's bow - by Trevor Spittle

Spotted Dolphins

These are the acrobats of the ocean, leaping and flying through the air they make some of the most spectacular displays you can imagine. However they and their displays are a rarer sight than the Bottlenosed Dolphins.

Dolphins are often seen from tall ship Bessie Ellen whilst on a winter sunshine sail in the Canary Islands
Telling the Dolphins apart...
It’s easy to tell the difference between these dolphins, Bottlenosed are silver grey all over, spotted is obvious and common have a pale yellow stripe down both sides of their body. Onboard Bessie Ellen are books and display sheets helping you identify all the wildlife you see around you, cetaceans, fish and birds.

 Long Finned Pilot Whale

Some distance from the accelerated pace of the Dolphins the Pilot Whales can often be seen as they lie almost motionless at the water’s surface. A pod of these larger cetaceans have chosen the Los Gigantes area as their permanent home. The Pilot Whale pod can often stretch over many miles of ocean.  
The larger males act as guardians at the outer edges of the pod. The groups most often seen are those that make up the nursery pods.  This includes mothers with their young and adolescent females that take turns in "babysitting" the younger animals. The pods stay in touch with each other using a complicated sonar communication system that is made up of click’s, whistles and high pitched squeals. Perhaps one day we will be able to understand what they are saying.

Other Whales

The Canaries lies on the migration route of many whales and at various times it is possible to see Sperm Whales, Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Right Whales, Minke Whales and the very rare Blainvilles Toothed Whale.


Loggerhead Turtles are the most common seen in the Canaries and to witness one of these amazing creatures swimming along beside Bessie Ellen would be a real treat. There are no breeding sites for turtles in the Canaries but leatherbacks have been seen on some of the islands beaches in recent times. Apart from Loggerhead and Leatherback Turtlers you may also see Green, Hawksbill and Kemp’s Ridley Turtles.

Manta Rays

These graceful flying machines of the ocean are found in the Canaries but sightings of them from the surface are not so common. If you go scuba diving or snorkelling in certain areas you will improve your chances of seeing them. Ask us if you have a particular interest.


Sun in the Canary Isalnds on Tall Ship Bessie Ellen


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