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Tecla - 1915 Historic Gaff Ketch


Tall Ship Tecla for Expeditions and Arctic Adventures

Tecla has circumnavigated the globe, sailed around Cape Horn, won numerous tall ships races, and is now carving her name as a great expedition ship. She is an original herring drifter built in 1915 to fish the North Seas under sail and her gaff ketch rig is very authentic. Tecla is owned and skippered by a Dutch family of 4 professional sailors, often with two generations sailing her. Since 2006 the Sluik family have launched Tecla onto the world stage with great energy and enthusiasm, helped with multi-national crews of all ages.

Tecla Sailing Schedule - All voyages dates and prices

Where does Tecla Sail?

Outer Hebrides & St Kilda

If you love sailing and mountains then Tecla is heading for the West Coast of Scotland in the spring.  Tecla crew are a hardy bunch and set off earlier than most to reach their favourite parts of Scotland. Her annual 'pilgrmmage' from her home in the Netherlands, around the top of Scotland and into Classic Sailing's most Northerly Scottish joining port of Ullapool, beats about every UK charter vessel if you like to be the only ship in an anchorage.   The snow may still be on the mountain tops but the Inner and Outer Hebrides offer ideal sailing conditions for a fast ship like Tecla.  If the conditions are right she plans to sail to St Kilda, but there are plenty of islands and anchorages to explore in the Outer Hebrides, Shiant Islands, Summer Isles or the more sheltered lochs around Skye, and further south the Small Isles of Rum, Eigg and Canna.

Tecla Scottish based voyages and St Kilda - descriptions, dates and prices

The Way of the Viking - Orkney, Shetland and Faroes

A route steeped in myth and legend, Tecla follows the 'way of the Vikings' and other early traders who sailed between Britain, Ireland and America.  They used the Orkneys, Shetland, Faroes, Fair Isle and Iceland as stepping stones to Newfoundland Banks, as well as trading between Viking settlements in all the places inbetween.

Skipper Gijs describes the Orkney Isles as a Northern version of the Scillies with Scarpa flow creating sheltered sailing waters between islands and white sand beaches.  In contrast the Faroes rise high from the turbulent seas and form some of the most dramatic coastal landscapes and highest sea cliffs in Europe. Often shrouded in mist with giant waterfalls, there is something of the land of legends about the Faroes. On a clear day you could stand on a summit and soak up a panorama that really couldn't be anywhere else but the Faroes. A truely unique place and should be on every sailors bucket list. 

The Shetlands and Fair Isles create much sought after knitwear and have a unique culture and Shetland has Robinson Crusoe like beaches where your footprints are likely to be the only footsteps.

Orkney- Shetland & Faroes Voyages - descriptions, dates, prices

Early Summer in Wild Iceland

There is more to Iceland than 'Game of Thrones' and it has been winning Best Country to Visit top ten lists for travel awards for several years. So if Iceland is a 'hot' destination for outdoor enthusiasts, what makes it a great mid summer sailing ground? Firstly it is not as cold as the name suggests. You can find patches of snow and glaciers, but there are also wild flower meadows with gambolling arctic fox cubs. Norse vikings thought it was paradise and many settled here including Erik the Red.

The photographs from Tecla's first few years expeditions around Iceland show you how crystal clear and summy it can be. Like Scotland the weather can be fickle but the wildlife or scenery never disappoints. Iceland is a bird watchers paradise and the NW fjords have sea cliffs, puffins and seabird colonies that make St Kilda look rather tiny.  

Offshore and in the deep fjords keep your eyes peeled for the spout of a whale, or the tail flukes as they dive their favourite feeding waters. The coasts of Iceland are rich in fish so don't miss a chance to tow a fishing line.

"Greenland has awesome mountains and is great if you want to see icebergs.....but if I had to choose between Iceland and Greenland, I would chose Iceland for the decent sailing and prolific wildlife." Debbie Purser, Classic Sailing Director

Tecla Voyages in Iceland - descriptions, dates & prices

3 Week Expeditions to East Greenland 

Classic Sailing has been running week long voyages in Scoresby Sund on Opal. Hildur and Donna Wood for over 5 years, but these are very different in nature from Tecla's expeditions. The ships are already there and you fly in and enjoy the flat water sailing amongst icebergs, glaciers and towering spires. There is very little wind in Greenland itself in the summer so these mini expeditions are a better choice if the allure of Greenland is stronger than your urge to put sails up.

If you are a keen sailor then enjoy the true challenge of sailing Tecla from NW Iceland accross the 400 mile Denmark Strait to one of only two human settlements on the East coast of Greenland. The Inuit settlement of Ittoqoortomitt sits at the entance to Scorseby Sound - a 350 km deep ford system that freezes for most of the year. As soon as the sea ice starts to melt, Tecla expeditions begin. Tecla is a well proven steel ship with a skipper with two Greenland seasons under his belt on his own ship Tecla, and three Antarctic seasons as first mate on Bark Europa. Spend approximately a week exploring Scorseby Sound and tundra trekking in the warm sunshine of the Greenland summer high pressure system, and proudly sail your ship back to Iceland too. A good choice for keen sailors

Tecla Greenland Expeditions - descriptions, dates and prices - limed places

What Tecla Does Best

Tecla has circumnavigated the globe, sailed around Cape Horn, won numerous tall ships races, and is now carving her name as a great expedition ship. She is an original herring drifter built in 1915 to fish the North Seas under sail and her gaff ketch rig is very authentic. Tecla is owned and skippered by a Dutch family of 4 professional sailors, often with two generations sailing her. Since 2006 the Sluik family have launched Tecla onto the world stage with great energy and enthusiasm, helped with multi-national crews of all ages.

Pioneered Coastal Sailing Around Iceland

Tecla are as close to being our Iceland coastal sailing specialists as you can be without actually being an Viking. They have invested 3 whole summers into creating and proving their iconic voyages around the West and North coast which all include a chance to enjoy the NW Fjords and the mighty Hornstrandir cliffs and National Park. Sailing along this wild coast for leisure and adventure in Iceland is something fishermen do all year around, but is not particularly common amongst Icelanders and we think they are really missing a trick. The West Coast and NW Fjords are where where the Viking's settled as there were fjords, anchorages, huge seabird populations and rich meadows.

Tecla is a homely ship because for 12 months a year she is the family home. The saloon and galley is the warm heart of the ship below decks, but you also have en suite cabins with hot showers and radiators. When the sun is out there is 90ft of deck space to curl up with a book or journal. With a guest crew of 12, exploration ashore can be as physical as you want: Whether you prefer beach-combing at sea level, or climbing with the more energetic to the highest sea cliffs. Gijs is Tecla's main skipper in the summer and loves hill walking and mountaineering is irrepressible when it comes to exploring ashore.

The North Coast of Iceland is one of the most reliable places in Northern Europe for whale watching, especially if you want the chance to see larger species like blue whale, humpbacks, . Don't just take Tecla's, or our word for it....see the statistics for North Sailing Whale watching day trips in Skaljfandi Bay.   Just think how much more wildlife encounters can be possible a longer Icelandic sailing voyage.

In the Wake of Great Explorers

The Tecla crew are an energetic bunch. The owner-skippers are ‘up for adventure’ and their sailing programme really reflects that ambition. This is not a tall ship that sits on its laurels. Skippers and siblings Gijs and Jet, research their destinations well, and have a great sense of history and place. The library on board reflects their constant wanderlust, but they also like to really get to know a cruising ground. Their parents, former skippers Janette and Jan, keep a steady hand on the tiller back at base, or you can find them occasionally on board. They have two ships dogs which can join them in some countries.

After carving a name for herself as a winning contender at tall ships races (read about her tall ship victories), she undertook a world voyage with charter crews in 2013-14. Tecla has been island hopping in Cape Verde; explored the Brazilian coast; crossed the South Atlantic to Cape Town. Sailing in company with her bigger companions Europa and Oosterschelde she not only kept up with these ocean going tall ships, but was frequently ahead of them.

Charter crews went looking for the 'Sardine Run' off Mauritius, crossed the Indian Ocean to Australia and took part in a tall ships race from Sydney to New Zealand.  Tecla braved the Southern Ocean, crossing the South Pacific and Rounding Cape Horn, so she proved she was a tough ship, and fast enough to keep up with and often beat her bigger companions Europa and Oosterschelde.

Experienced Ice Pilots

In the winter, Skipper Gijs regularly sails as mate on square rigger Europa in Antarctica and South Georgia, and makes no secret about his fondness for high latitudes and wild places. Sailing the iceberg strewn waters of the Weddell Sea and navigating Bark Europa in the broken sea ice, fog and blizzards around the Antarctic Peninsula have hugely added to Gijs's ice pilotage experience. Landing crews by zodiac in remote Antarctic locations with potentially dangerous wildlife is another useful skill he has brought back to his Tecla Arctic Expeditions. The passage between Iceland and Greenland Scorseby Sound is not typically as windy as Antarctica, but navigating through the icebergs and sea ice as it breaks up and drifts down the Greenland East Coast requires a certain patience and experience.

Another added bonus is that Gijs has worked with some of the best polar wildlife guides with Arctic and Antarctic expertise, and he is well read in historic and contemporary polar exploration journals and wildlife conservation.

Style of Sailing

Tecla is very much an adventure charter ship so the style of sailing is 'hands on' but her well trained staff recognise that her expedition style voyages attract all types and ages of guest crew. Whether you are a keen traditonal sailor who want to learn all the ropes, a bird watcher or a sea lover who just wants to experience a romantic way of travelling, you can all feel part of this little ships community and do what you can manage to help sail the ship and contribute to life on board. She originally sailed with 16 but now prefers to keep guest crew numbers to only 12, so you find the ship pretty spacious. She is about the same length on deck as Irene.

Tecla does some big trips with fairly small professional crew of four for the size of the vessel, so there is more expectation for everybody to help sail the ship on these offshore voyages. Guest crew will be divided into groups called watches and on a passage there will be a watch keeping routine. Watch keeping means that when it is your turn to be on watch you will need to be out on deck trimming sails, steering and helping navigate if that is your interest. You will always have the skipper or mate with you as the watch leader, so they is plenty you can learn, and its a great time to get a bit more individual attention, sailing tuition or if the sailing is straight forward, put the world to rights. It means the other watch team can relax on deck or below decks. knowing you are concentrating on getting the best out of the ship, and notching up the miles towards your next destination, day or night.

On a fore and aft rigged ketch there is more sail trimming, tacking and gybing than you might find on a square rigger, so at times on watch you may be very busy. 

Most of the deck layout of the Tecla has been kept in a traditional style from her days as a herring drifter and then cargo ship. On deck you will find traditional details like dead-eyes rather than bottlescrews, and a lot of wood work. Sails are set by hand, a big part of the electricity used on board is generated by the dynamo on the propeller.

Tecla has a tough riveted steel hull and a lot of sail so she is both powerful and lively to sail.  There are ratlines so you can climb aloft to take photos or just for the buzz.

Life on Board

The saloon is a nice place to socialise and relax below decks.  Upholstered seating and a large library of exploration and wildlife books in several languages add to the homely feel and a radiator keeps things warm, as does the galley area opposite.  You can chat to the cook, but don't try pinching the cakes till they are ready.  

There are two person cabins with cozy duvets and linen provided. The cabins have heating (radiators) and a huge amount of headroom. You can latch the door open for more air in hotter climes and there is an opening porthole for natural light. All cabins have a toilet (that doesn't need any pumping!) and a shower en-suite.

Read more about the accommodation and ships specification.

Gijs and Jets mum Janette is often the cook on board, when she is not running the sailing business from home.  On some trips the family dogs might be on board, but it depends a bit on the shore-side regulations.

All the family speak good English and the working language on board is English. Some special diets can be catered for, but many of Tecla's voyages are 3 weeks away from provisioning ports and sailing in remote areas with no human habitation or fresh food shops so they cannot accept those who require a strict vegan diet.

Voyages in places like Greenland or even NW Iceland are a long way from any hospital, so you do need to be in good health for these voyages.

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