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Schooner Opal

Opal arriving in Icland for the first time.Schooner Opal

Our Icelandic sailing partners and Greenland specialists have now bought a third oak schooner to run East Greenland Expeditions for Classic Sailing. The family run business, based in Husavik, have now have a fleet of seven wooden vessels. Their shipwrights have now saved six Icelandic oak fishing-boats and are busy putting the finishing touches on Opal's interior so she wil be ready for the 2013 Greenland Season in Scorseby Sound.

photo: Opal arriving in Iceland for the first time.

Fleet of Seven Oak Vessels

Their fleet now consists of the two Icelandic fishing vessels converted to gaff rigged sailing schooners (Hildur and Haukur), 4 Icelandic ex fishing boats converted to day sail whale watching vessels, and their latest addition 24m gaff rigged schooner Opal. Originally a Baltic fishing vessel built in 1952, this strongly constructed ship was converted to a blue water sailing schooner in Denmark and her oak hull has copper sheathing. Now the Icelanders are busy giving her a new purpose as an expedition ship in the far North and Arctic Circle.

Each of the sailing schooners will still sail as adventure charter vessels exploring the Iceland coast and Greenland, or are in constant use as whale watching boats in North East IcelaSchooner Hildur in Greenland icend - one of the most reliable locations to see big whales in the world. The story started in 1995 with the restoration of the wooden fishing boat Knörrinn and saving it from destruction. In the construction of these oak boats, Icelandic carpenters elevated their craftmanship to a fine art! Regulations concerning both the choice of materials and the strength of these boats, were particularly strict in Iceland, but the legacy now is that the port of Husavik has a small fleet of extremely seaworthy wooden ships and three schooners that can venture as far afield as Greenland.

Wooden Boats Around the World Unite !

Classic Sailing are excited to find another pioneering company that has a passion for preserving their national heritage and are active in supporting the coastal and maritime culture and customs by renovating their boats and building by the harbour in Husavik.

All of the fleet in Husavik are traditional wooden fishing boats, which have been carefully restored and adapted to a new role without compromising their original character. All the boats undergo strict inspection and are approved by Lloyd's Register.

Icelandic Voyages - Sail into the Arctic Circle

Magical photo of Blue whale in IcelandThe small port of Husavik is home to Schooners Hildur and Haukur and the rest of their whale watching fleet.  This family run business has made Husavik and Skjalfandi Bay famous for whale watching with a 98% success rate for whale sightings since 1995. Species spotted include all the big ones - Blue Whales, Humpback whales, Fin, Sei, Sperm Whales, Northern Bottlenose and ones of everones hit list like Killer Whales.  North East Iceland has awesome waterfalls like the mighty Dettifoss and some great walking and pony trekking in National Parks nearby.

Classic Sailing are offering 2 day and 2 night voyages on Schooner Haukur which include a domestic flight from Reykjavik to Husavik, transport to the port and a hands on sailing voyage accross the best whale watching bay in Northern Europe to the offshore island of Grimsey.  You are now officially within the Arctic Circle and have an unusual island to explore with thousands of bird on the sea cliffs.  The sail back goes via the island of Flatley. Within the sailing package is free entry to the whaling museum in Husavik and your evening flight back to Reykjavik.

Edge of the Arctic Short Voyages- voyage descriptions, dates & prices


Sailing Expeditions to East Greenland

Since 2010 schooner Hildur has been venturing North, deep into the Arctic Circle, to the rarely visited East Coast of Greenland. Voyages start in July after the sea ice has receded and allows access to Scorseby Sound. She is now replaced in 2013 by larger schooner Opal. The Greenland Expeditions have prooved so popular the number of voyages has grown from 3 to 7 week long voyageGlacier backdrop in Greenlands

The ocean 'hop' from Iceland is quite challenging with icebergs being swept down from the North, but once Hildur tucks into Scoresby Sound she has a spectacular sailing ground for the short Arctic Summer. A few adventurous yachts now explore West Greenland, but the East Coast requires a more specialist commitment to run charter voyages.

These 7 day voyages include a flight from Iceland directly to Scorseby Sound in Greenland. 350 km long this extensive fjord system offers arctic wildlife like musk ox, polar bear, narwhal, spectacular rock walls, mountains and glaciers.  The ship carries an experienced wildlife guide who is also a sailor and there is plenty of hiking ashore too.  For more details see the individual voyage descriptions.

Sailing Expeditions to East Greenland - voyage descriptions, dates & prices

Arctic Greenland Expeditions - Brochure & Debbies Travel Blog

Ski to the Sea Expeditions in Iceland - voyage descriptions, dates & prices


Schooner opal sternShip Specification - Opal

Rig:            Two mast gaff Schooner

LOA:           32m (105ft) length overall

LOD:          24m (78ft) length on deck

Beam:        7m

Sail Area:   380 sq m (white sails)

Gross Tonnage:   68 ton

Displacement: 127 tons

Hull:          Oak

Built:          Bodenwert, Damgarten, Germany 1952.  Converted to Sail 1970-83

Flag:           Iceland. Registered Port: Husavik

Guests:      12 guest crew overnight (70 day passengers)

Skipper Heimir sailed Opal to Iceland from Denmark, via the Faroes and is very excited with his new vessel. The ship has crossed the Atlantic 8 times with her previous owners under Danish Flag.


See our page on Opal Accomodation below decks for more on saloons, berths, bathroom facilities etc.

Opal accommodation is mostly in two person cabins with bunks so fine for solo travellers or couples but there is also a double cabin - see photo right.

The Icelanders have a great style for interiors creating a cosy but stylish expedition base and home for you aboard their vessels. Photos are of the interior from her rennovation just after her purchase from Denmark in 2012 

Kit List for Greenland Voyages

PDF to come - but these pages are printable


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