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The Best Ocean Passages for Mile Building

The Best Tall Ship Ocean Voyages - perfect for Gap Year Travel

The beauty of sailing through the day and night on a reasonably large sailing ship is you can notch up thousands of miles without too much effort. You also gain a wealth of experience if you fully immerse yourself in sailing, watch keeping and navigating duties. Its easy to take time to learn as much as you can from the professional crew.Ocean Wandering Tall Ships 

The following Classic Sailing vessels currently have ocean voyages from 10 to 100 days

The voyages below are our pick of the best from the next 1-2 years programme, but for an up to date list of all our ocean voyages on a variety of vessels from 8 days upto 79 day voyages see the full schedule.


Signed on as 'Tall Ships Crew'

These ships are all sail training vessels so you are signed on as ships crew. This means you can log the miles as seatime for various marine qualifications from qualifying miles towards your RYA yachtmaster offshore or sea time for superyacht or merchant navy.
Our professional crews have wide interests and many ocean mile under their belt so you may be able to learn aspects of astro navigation with a sextant, oceanography, meteorology and marine wildlife. Some vessels and some voyages are better for lectures and one to one teaching of certain skills than others, so talk to us if you have a particular interest and we'll help you find the best ocean passage. Living at an angle becomes quite normal after a while. It's not as frugal as Nelson's day. Watermakers and large freezers save the day.

Distance in Nautical Miles

Here are some of our longest voyage legs. To help those interested in mile building we are adding a rough estimate of the nautical miles you might cover in the voyage descriptions (click on the voyage descriptions below). If you have more time you can spend months on ships like Barque Europa following a trade wind circuit like the sailing cargo windjammers of the 19th Century and early 20th Century.  

Best website for calulating distances of our voyages is but don't forget theses are shortest distances for aircraft flights. Ships under sail have to go round the dry land and zig zag a bit.

1.  Mini Ocean Taster and Small Ships Crew 

approx 650 nautical miles in 11 days

Sail 1904 historic wooden trading ketch Bessie Ellen from Cadiz to Tenerife. This tough two masted tall ship is traditionally rigged and  immaculately kept and regularly sails to the Canaries for a winter sun season. If you want to be part of a smaller crew than the square riggers we offer, Bessie Ellen sails with upto 12 guest crew, plus skipper, mate and cook and 1-2 deckhands.  This is a great taster to get in the rythmn of ocean sailing out of sight of land in deep blue seas and a welcome escape from European winter, without expensive flights.  Earlier legs are Fowey, La Corunna, Vigo and there are also deckhand vacancies for career sailors.

7-18th Nov 2015 Cadiz to Tenerife - 11 days on Bessie Ellen.

2. Europe to Patagonia and Around the Horn

"As a square rig sailing 'Rite of Passage' this ticks all the boxes. Life will never be the same afterwards" Frank

Approx 7510 nautical miles and 100 days.

You could go to university in September, or you could try the 'University of Life' out on the ocean.  We are not saying signing on as crew on a tall ship will be a better alternative to university course, but the Barque Europa crew is truely multi national. They try hard to give you an education in terms of lectures on seamanship, wildlife, ocean currents and meteorology and you will meet people from all walks of life who may give you ideas on where your life might take you next.  Not just for young people, this voyage takes you away from a European winter to the tropics and south America, before plunging you deep into the roaring 40's to Round Cape Horn the hard way and ending in the Chliean Fjords. Voyage legs are Hoorn, NL - Lisbon - Canaries - Salvador-Punta Arenas.  If you can do the whole trip there is a substantial DISCOUNT.

Celebrate 400 years since the Dutch discovered Cape Horn

8 Sept - 19 Dec 2015 - 100 days on Barque Europa - 4 voyages combined

3.  Hot Equator Crossing with Skysails and Stunsail's

2000 Nautical miles - 28 days

In the tropics, Bark Europa flys stunsails and skysails. These impressive 'canvas wings' increase her total sails to 30, but you have to keep a close eye out for squalls and be ready to hand them (drop) quickly. Balmy tropical nights, taking sun sights with sextants, lots of traditional ship maintainence you can help with if you wish, and camping mats if you want to sleep on deck under the stars. The ship has air conditioning below decks but you can also eat meals on deck.

If you have never crossed the equator then beware Neptune and his enthusisatic helpers. You will gain a sea name for entering Neptunes Realm, but not without an initiation be careful what you do on the way to the equator.

5th Oct to 1st Nov 2015 Tenerife to Salvador, Brazil - 28 days

4.  Around Cape Horn the Hard Way - Experience the Wild Southern Ocean

approx 5500 Nautical miles - 46 days

Sail around Cape Horn from East to West, against the prevailling Westerlies without resorting to the ships engine. That is the challenge Bark Europa has set her guest crew in 2015. The winds come in the form of depressions so Europa's Captain can use his vast experience in sailing these waters to use every front and wind shift...but you might have to sail a long way South, possibly into iceberg waters. We can guarentee albatrosses and petrels and the voyage ends as you wind your way through the Chilean Fjords to Punta Arenas in Chile. Perfect timing for trekking in Patagonia next. Not a voyage for anyone with health issues.

4th Nov to 19 Dec 2015 46 days and a lot of miles

5.  Classic Trans Atlantic at Christmas- UK to Caribbean

Approx. 4500 nautical miles in 55 days

Traditionally ships from Europe sailed South down the edge of Europe to the coast of Africa 'until the butter melted' and then tey were at the right latitude to cross the Atlantic in the NE trade winds. This perfect wind direction for square riggers offers a great way of eating up the miles day after day. 65m Three masted tall ship Tenacious is sailing from her home port in Southampton to Antigua via Canaries and Cape Verde. This 55 day voyage is only available for those sailing 'all the way' but she will spend a few days in Cape Verde so you can explore this 9 island archipelago. You may arrive early in the Carribean so island hopping in the Leewards is possible. This ship is for able bodied and disabled crews.

5th Nov - 29th Dec 2015 Southampton - Antigua on Tenacious.

For more island hopping in the Caribbean - see her next voyage leg from Antigua to Costa Rica, via Panama Canal.


6.  Mutiny on The Bounty - Pacific Crossing

4700 Nautical miles - 55 days

The largest wooden tall ship built in Britain this century, barque Tenacious is sailing to the far side of the world this winter via the Caribbean, Panama Canal and the mighty Pacific Ocean. 

For a true blue Pacific crossing this is the best leg for empty ocean miles for the first part of the journey. As you enter French Polynesia visit remote South Sea islands like the famous Pitcairn Islands where the Bounty Mutineers finally discovered a refuge that no one could find. The voyage ends in Tahiti so you can also see the paradise that tempted Fletcher Christain and crew to ditch Captain Bligh. This ship is for able bodied and disabled crews.

29 Feb to 23 April 2016 Costa Rica to Tahiti - Pacific Crossing

7.  South Sea Island Wandering

Approx 1900 nautical miles - 35 days

See the atolls and coral reefs from the rigging of a tall ship as you sail Tenacious between Tahiti and Fiji.  This is an amazing mix of sparkling seas and ocean swell and anchorages within sheltered lagoons where you can snorkel and explore ashore. There will be stretches of continuous ocean sailing but plenty of islands on the horizon to tempt you onwards. Samoa, Tonga and Fiji and hundreds of possibilities within each island group.

3rd May to 6th June -  Tahiti - Fiji - 35 days

8.  Meet the tribes - Vanuatu and  New Caledonia

The tribes on these Pacific islands are a resillient bunch, despite the terrible typhoon in 2015. Tenacious crew are a mix of able bodied and disabled crews, who have also faced adversity with determination, so somehow it seems to help connect with the locals when you visit remote outposts like these.

The ship will sail on to Australia, hopefully via Lord Howe Island, before sailing in between the Heads of Sydney Harbour. In 2014 her sister ship Lord Nelson visited Australia and now it is the turn of Tenacious to re meet some of those new friends.

26 June - 30 July Fiji to Sydney - final part of Pacific crossing


9.  Cape Horn to Cape Town - Weddell Sea, Antarctic & South Georgia Expeditions

Approx 5500 miles. Much coverted by experienced tall ship sailors around the world, but achievable by anyone who likes ocean sailing, the famous 52 day 'ANT5' voyage on Barque Europa is one of the best tall ship voyages in the world. Sail accross the Drakes passage past Cape Horn amongst the albatrosses to Antarctica. Enjoy a week exploring the Antarctic Peninsula, and more remote Weddell Sea before sailing downwind in the Southern Ocean to one of the most most prolific wildlife breeding grounds on the planet - South Georgia. After a week exploring the anchorages of this mountainous sub antarctic island with thousands of penguins, seals and seabirds, Europa sets sail again for Trstan da Cuhna and some warmer sailing to Cape Town.

 55 days including Chilean Fjords, Cape Horn, Antarctic and South Georgia Expedition on Bark Europe - Voyage Details

10 Beat SAD - Migrate South to Cape Verde

If you are affected by SAD - or Seasonally Affected Disorder and get the blues when the winter nights close in you best bet is to head a long way South. Cut your carbon footprint for a month by living on Tall Ship Morgenster as she sails accross Biscay, down the Iberian Coast and ever South via Canaries until you reach the boisterous but hot trade winds, flying fish and deep blue seas.

1-28 Nov Rotterdam to Sal, Cape Verde 28 days from €1900 euros

Lifetime Sailing Goals - Are any of these yours ?

Follow in the footsteps of polar explorers -  Sail downwind in the Southern Ocean amongst the icebergs and albatross to South Georgia, following the epic route of Shackleton's desperate rescue bid in open boat 'James Caird' - Check out Bark Europa voyages

Cross the roughest stretch of water in the world - Drakes Passage below Cape Horn - Check out Bark Europa voyages

Cross the Atlantic,  tropics and the equator on a ship with stun'sails and skysails - See Bark Europa Ocean wandering voyages

Sail a tall ship down the Antarctic Peninsula to about 65 degrees South - see Bark Europa expeditions

Sail a square rigger in the Arctic Circle & spot polar bears - See Barquentine Antigua voyages

Explore the Arctic on a wooden sailing ship - see our Greenland voyages on Icelandic schooners

Explore the Caribbean and Central America on a square rigger that can take able bodied & disabled crew - See Tenacious world voyages

Talk to the Experts

If you can't find one that fits your dreams then ring us on 01872 580022 as we know what is in the pipeline for future voyages

Full List of all our current Ocean Voyages





Left column, text and content here


Tropics on Bark Europa

Life at an angle on board Europa

Bessie Ellen bowsprit in the Canaries

Europa deck awash Photo by Sandy Gale.

Europa off Cape Horn by V Vasilevskiy

Tenacious by Max

Europa Captain Klaas by Jordi Plana

Nekko Harbor, Antarctica by Vasilevskiy

Learn to play gituar on a long ocean passage


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