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Ocean Sailing

Ocean Passages - 8 days to 79 days

Crossing an ocean on a square rigger - real voyages of discovery

It is possible to live ashore comfortably, and dare we say boringly, but you will never know your true strengths and weaknesses, or what you can achieve working with others. Crossing an ocean sailing on a square rigger or a smaller traditional sailing boat is a challenge and a lifetime ambition you should seize whilst you still can. It is also a very ethical way to go between continents - powered by the mighty trade winds - as part of your world travel plans.

The beauty of the open ocean sailing

Is it boring ? What will I do ? Paint a sunset, mend a sail, follow an albatross, help the cook bake bread, climb higher up the rigging each day, switch to ocean time, breathe deep and take stock of your life.

What did civilisation do before TV, facebook, the internet ? They talked, entertained each other with stories, co-operated with their fellow humans to achieve things, taught each other new skills, read books, shared dreams for the future, set each other challenges, lived in fear and wonder of nature. Without Google you turn to each other and books for information. Let the people onboard surprise you with their indepth knowledge of  very diverse subjects. All our ocean going vessels have a collection of reference and inspirational books on board.

 You establish a routine that is relaxing and comfortable but keeps you occupied. Sailing at night with absolutely no light pollution makes the night sky brilliant. Experience all the seas moods from glassy calms to white capped swells launching flying fish from crest to crest.

trimming sails on GrayhoundAm I up to extended offshore or ocean sailing ?

These longer voyages are ideal adventure sailing holidays for the ambitious sailor, world traveller or determined romantic. Some love the physical challenge of being hands on crew, others muck in but their real passion might be ocean bird spotting or just finding time for themselves.

Though no experience is required, you do need to know you enjoy sailing and be reasonably confident about your health and stamina.  It can be a long way from the nearest hospital - days rather than hours. These voyages are long and you will be part of a watch system helping sail the ship day and night (typically 4 hours on, 8 hours off type rota). The ship will be in constant motion so things like getting into a top bunk or eating meals at an angle can be hillarious but also exhausting. Sleep is not usually a problem, once you get used to the pleasant concept of naps in the daytime, whilst the ship rushes on through the waves. 

All our current ocean passages - descriptions, dates, prices

Mile Building Voyages

The beauty of ocean sailing through the day and night on a reasonably large sailing ship is you can notch up thousands of miles without too much effort, whilst gaining a wealth of experience if you fully immerse yourself in sailing, watch keeping and navigating duties and take time to learn as much as you can from the professional crew.
These ships are all sail training vessels so you are signed on as ships crew, so 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. You may be able to learn aspects of astro navigation with a sextant and in the Pacific on Soren Larsen you can find out how the Polynesians navigated.

Bark Europa Photo by Lucy HollisBarque Europa - Circuit from Antarctica to South Africa, Europe, South America.

Barque Europa is a classic three masted square rigger with a reputation for ocean wandering, In tropical seas she can really spread her wings with stun'sails and skysails which extend her canvas to an amazing 30 sails. Whilst she is off on a Round the World Route in 2013 (places still available on some legs) She typically spends summer in the Northern Hemisphere for Tall Ships Races and sails thousands of miles back to the Southern Hemisphere for an Antarctic Summer Season.

There are usually discounts if you sail on several legs on Europa, so you could spend a substantial part of a career break or GAP year signed on as crew  'before the mast.' 

Barque Europa Ocean voyages  - dates, prices, itineraries


South Ocean Roller Coasters & Antarctica

Antarctic Voyages involve some impressive ocean passages including sailing in the Roaring 40's, Southern Ocean in the wake of Shackleton, Scotia Sea, Weddell Sea and the infamous Drakes Passage below Cape Horn. The longest Europa Antarctic Expedition is 52 days and 5500 miles.


Lord Nelson - Caribbean,

Ocean voyages on tall ship Lord Nelson with Classic SailingBritish barque Lord Nelson is off on another ambitious ocean oydessey this winter. In 2013-14 she was the first square rigger to sail around the world with able bodied and disabled crew. Her next sailing adventure includes a Trans Atlantic Cross to Antigua. Christmas in the Caribbean and a series of month long expeditions in the Caribbean, the Bahamas and finishing in Bermuda before returning across the Atlantic to the UK.  The route covers a huge amount of sea miles and much is well off the beaten tourist track..

Lord Nelson - Ocean and Island Voyages in the Caribbean - descriptions, dates and prices



Schooner Oosterschelde - Cape Verde Sunshine & Easy Ocean Sailing

Impressive three masted schooner Oosterschelde has just sailed around the world with charter guests including Brazil, Australia and Antarctica in 2013-14. Oosterschelde spends each European winter in the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa. You can sail her to Cape Verde this winter from Valencia in the Mediterranean or join her in Cabo Verde for a less challenging but  windy mix of blue water sailing, island hopping and jeep safaris ashore. On the same latitude as St Lucia, this 'off the beaten track' destination has strong trade winds, tropical sun, hardly ever rains and 9 very different islands to explore.  The passages between the windward and leeward group are no longer than 150 miles but a perfect taste of ocean style sailing with flying fish, turtles, and steering at night in shorts.

Oosterschelde  in Cape Verde- dates and prices 


Mini Ocean Voyages on tall ship Bessie Ellen

Bessie Ellen has a world wide charter certificateIf you really want to be a valuable part of a small, close knit team on the open ocean, then our smallest tall ship Bessie Ellen has a maximum of 12 guest crew.  This 1904 hist oric wooden ship once carried cargoes around Europe and Africa and now safety coded for ocean sailing worldwide. A gaff ketch with 4 headsails, she has a more versatile rig than a square rigger to sailing in all wind directions. 

If you want a genuine ocean sailing experience without expensive air fares then Bessie Ellen often has shorter ocean passages like Cornwall to Northern Spain accross Biscay, or UK to the Canaries or Azores.

Bessie Ellen ocean passages schedule -dates and prices


We are always adding more voyages of discovery so please watch our News and Updates for the latest information,

or tell us what you are looking for below and we will e mail you.

photo from aloft by Debbie Purser. Christmas in Cape Verde on Oosterschelde

Charter Sailing in Cape Verde on Oosterschelde



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Photo Workshop on Eve 2014

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