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Sailing Holidays in Western & Eastern Canary Islands

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The Canary Islands - Migrate South for Winter Sun, Sailing and an Outdoor Life

There are many reasons why many European tall ships head South to the Canaries. As a winter sailing holiday destination there are many attractions:
  • Winter sunshine with typical average temperatPilot whalesures of 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) in January.
  • Good prevailing winds;There are wind accelerations zones where the wind blasts between the mountainous islands, and quieter areas closer inshore.
  • A a group of seven islands with a mix of day and longer passages between them with the deep seas between on the migration trail for dolphins and whales.
  • Many cetacean research vessels study here and there is a breeding ground for pilot whales off Tenerife. 
  • The worlds astronomy telescopes are here in the mountains as the night skies are so unpolluted so night sailing or a wander on deck in a remote anchorage under dark volcanic cliffs is awesome.
  • The Western Canaries are great for mountain walking with surprisingly lush vegetation, pine trees and terraces of bananas and many crops. The Eastern Canaries are closer to the Sarhara with sand dunes great beaches and a mecca for windy watersports and surfing.

Journalist Andrew Eames sailed with Classic Sailing on Bessie Ellen in the Canaries - Read his travel article for the Financial Times in 2013.

Bessie Ellen Taking a Well Earned Rest

110 year old sailing ship Bessie Ellen is having a well earned refit this winter and will not be making the journey South to the Canaries in 2013-2014. If you have been looking forward to a week of winter sun, sea spray and wooden decks beneath your toes then we do have an alternative. 

Bessie Ellen will be returning to the Canary Islands Winter 2013-2014.

Lugger Grayhound - New Ship in the Canaries

In 2012 we had well over 120 people sail in the Canaries with Classic Sailing on historic sailing vessel Bessie Ellen.

This AutumnSailing Lugger Grayhound in the Canaries Grayhound lugger had 4 hugely successful voyages in the Canary Islands, and no doubt she will return again in 2014. Mountain Walking and exploring ashore with ships guides feature on all 4 voyages. This replica of a 1776 Cornish Privateer is 108ft overall with three masts and lug topsails and t'gallants which makes her a very striking vessel. She is also remarkably fast having already reached speeds of 14 knots. She leaves in November for Cape Verde islands and after a couple of weeks exploring the islands, she will make an Atlantic passage to Barbados.

Read customer Mary Bowes blog from her sailing and walking voyage in La Gomera on Grayhound this autumn

Madiera - Lazarote 10 day voyage combining an ocean passage with two very different islands to explore

Lanzarote - Tenerife - 7 days exploring the Eastern Canaries and the island chain westwards to Tenerife.

Walking and sailing around the unspoilt island of La Gomera - 7 days starting and finishing in Tenerife

Gran Canaria - Cape Verde - a 9 day trade wind ocean passage to one of our favourite sub tropical sailing grounds.

There are good value one way flight prices from a choice of UK airports to the popular winter sun destinations above.

Purpose Built Lugger for Blue Water Charter Adventure

Three masted lugger Grayhound is not so much a replacement for Bessie Ellen as a completely new holiday experience in the Canaries.

Grayhound is a newly launched replica of a 1776 British Privateer, and at 108ft overall and distinctive lug sails she will certainly grab the attention of the locals wherever she goes. Grayhound is fast in light and strong winds with speeds upto 14 knots already reached, so she lives up to her name.  Owners Marcus and Freya have already sailed around the Atlantic Circuit with their previous boats, and wanted to design something  primarily built to go blue water cruising, island hopping and exploring ashore with charter guest crew. With their young son Malachi it is also their home and their business. If you have always hankered after that dream to sell up and sail, then Grayhound can bring you the feel of ocean wandering and island hopping on a wooden boat, without having to sell your house or give up the day job. With only 8 guest crew, 4 professional crew and young Malachi this is a totally different ship board community and vibe to a large tall ship. A truly shared experience.

Grayhound Vessel Brochure

Virgin Lugger Sailors - Read Adam and Debbies blog about their first trip on Grayhound Lugger.

Explore Ashore with Grayhound Crew

One of the things that attracted Classic Sailing Directors Adam and Debbie to the Grayhound Project whilst the ship was being built was that ethos of Marcus and Freya strongly matcwild rock pool in the canarieshed our own. The believe in encouraging the whole ships crew to explore ashore, and they want to take you walking in the mountains, try surfing in Cape Verde or Windsurfing in fuerteventura and getting to the heart of an island culture, whether it be through dancing to the music or talking to craftswomen or local characters. If the other side of the island needs exploring, then they are up for trying out the local transport or hiring something together. In many islands from the Azores to the Caribbean they have friends already from months of living there as wandering ocean sailors. In short they have a newly built boat and a huge zest for life, not just the next bar.

Grayhound Canaries Sailing Schedule and Atlantic Circuit- voyage descriptions, dates and prices

Mini Ocean Passages to the Canaries - Become a Blue Water Sailor in 10 days

The Atlantic Islands of Canary Islands sit on the latitude where the butter melts and Trans Atlantic sailors turn westwards with the trade winds. Staging posts for square rig sailors and yachtsmen through the centuries, these mountainous island landfalls with lush vegetation are a welcome reward on our 10-14 day ocean passages.

There is more to becoming a blue water sailor than swapping oilskins for shorts, but a winter suntan and some ocean miles in bare feet on wooden decks certainly helps get you in the ocean wandering mood. Ocean sailors happily adapt to a watch routine and the constant motion of the ship day and night. Experience all the ships moods from glassy calms to white capped swells launching flying fish from crest to crest.

Bessie Ellen and tall ship Oosterschelde normally both have long passages from Northern Spain to the Canaries or Cape Verde. There is also a great voyage sailing further south from the Canaries into the North East trade wind belt and the very windy and tropical Cape Verde archipelago.

Ocean Sailing Passages to or from the Canaries - all vessels dates and prices.

Tell me more about sailing in Cape Verde or Cabo Verde

Explore the Western Canary Islands on traditional sailing ships

Poised on the edge of the tropics, the scenery inland ranges from volcanic peaks to primeval forest and the rich marine life offers a feeding frenzy for passing whales and dolphins. There are acceleration zones where the wind blasts between the mountains for exciting sailing and calmer spots where the ship can drift safely between islands whilst you swim in the ‘deep blue’ sea. This is helped by Tenerife having the tallest mountain in the European Union - Mt Teide which both funnels the prevailing winds and creates areas of shelter under dramatic cliffs.

The Western Isles include El Heirro, La Gomera, La Palma and Tenerife. We use Tenerife to start many voyages for the convenience of its international airport. The tourist strip in Southern Tenerife is not pretty, but it is only a short hop to the relative tranquility and unspoilt beauty of La Gomera. Alternatively up sailing past Northern Tenerife you can appreciate the more mountainous and remote end of this tourist hotspot and the snow topped Mount Teide.  Over 100 miles sail away from Tenerife is La Palma with its cloud forest and volcanic crater ridge walks amongst the pine forests. La Gomera and La Palma are both developing nicely as quality eco tourism and mountain walking destinations, with plenty of inland villages looking out over the ocean from steep terraced hillsides.

We Want to Explore Ashore With You

Grayhound owners and ships crew are keen to be your guides (or co explorers if the route is new to them) and take you walking at whatever pace fits the group, using local transport as required. They have a special voyage focusing on sailing and walking based around La Gomera. You will still have amazing sailing in the acceleration zone between Tenerife and historic Port of San Sebastian or other Gomera anchorages, and they may go for a blast to El Heiro or La Palma during the week.

More on Tenerife - La Gomera - La Palma & El Hierro - sailing and exploring ashore

Eastern Isles - Mecca for Windsurfers and Beach Lovers

New for Classic Sailing are two voyages exploring the Eastern end of the Canaries Atlantic Island Group. Only 70 nautical miles from Morocco, Lanzarote has many obvious geological links with Saharan Africa. The African Coast and Canaries fishing grounds are very rich so it is a great place to buy fresh fish. There are more anchorages off islands like Lanzarote than the steeper sided Western Isles. Fuenteventura has sand dunes that would'nt look amis in a Lawrence of Arabia movie and the east coast has a whole series of beach anchorages. Surfers, kite surfers and windsurfers have been coming here for years for consistant winds and sunshine.

More on sailing in the Eastern Canaries

Whales and Dolphins

The South West of Tenerife,  Los Gigantes, region is internationally known 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% guarantee 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.

More on Canaries Marine wildlife and what you can see in this cetacean hotspot.




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