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Oosterschelde - Topsail Schooner


Three masted topsail schooner Oosterschelde

Oosterschelde has sailed as far as the Arctic and Antarctica and sailed around the world twice, including a rounding of Cape Horn purely under sail in 2013. The ship is the only remaining example of a large fleet of schooners that sailed under the Dutch flag at the beginning of the last century. Oosterschelde was built in 1917 as a cargo carrying sailing ship and continued to trade under sail in Northern European Waters, the Mediterranean and the North Coast of Africa under until the 1930s when she was converted into a modern coaster. A charitable foundation restored her to sail and she is now registered as a 'historic national monument' by the Dutch Government. Classic Sailing now have four ships that are registered historic ships in their own country, but earn their living at sea as adventure charter vessels.

Although she is still owned by a Dutch Foundation, the professional crew are often a mix of nationalities and the working language on board is English.

Where is she now? Track her on our ship's tracking page. 

Oosterschelde - Full Sailing Schedule - voyage descriptions, dates & prices

Life on Oosterschelde

Oosterschelde sailing holidaysOn board Oosterschelde—as on all of Classic Sailing holidays—you are not a passenger but part of the guest crew. You will be assigned a watch together with the professional crew to sail, steer and navigate the ship. No sailing experience is necessary. The crew will be happy to explain the functions of all the ropes.

Oosterschelde is very well known in Holland and a favourite of sea and nature lovers. Her ethos is one of active and direct exposure to the sea and sailing, the region being explored and its wildlife. Below decks the two and four cabins are fitted with a washbasin with hot and cold water. Showers are separate. The lounge is very stylish with a wood burning stove (for Spitsbergen trips etc) a piano and library. All cabins have forced ventilation and a window or hatch to open. In hot sailing areas like Cape Verde the ever present trade winds keep it a pleasant temperature below decks. She has a large galley and professional cook and you can buy drinks at the bar. On board euros are accepted but not credit cards.

On a fore and aft rigged schooner 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. With two square sails there is still an excuse (if you need it) to go aloft.

Expedition Ship

Oosterschelde is well used to running sailing expeditions to remote places like Spitzbergen, Antarctica, Indonesia with well educated guests interested in nature, walking, maritime history and local culture ashore. Whilst the ship does do social projects / sail training, for most the year the hospitality and style of sailing is geared towards adults on an adventure holiday. The landing places will be carefully selected to show you the best of each island and there will be some organised expeditions ashore.

Kit List - What to Bring

Big Ships Wheel on historic sailing ship OosterscheldeEquipment & Safety

The crew are experienced ocean going sailors and most of them are employed on Oosterschelde full time. The ship is owned and operated by Oosterschelde Shipping Company and Sailing Foundation. She is equipped to sail the world’s seas and holds all the safety certificates required by Dutch Law. As you are part of the guest crew you will be fully trained in emergency procedures. For going ashore Oostershelde has two rubber dinghies with outboards and a wooden boat. She carries lifejackets, liferafts, fire detection and extinguishing systems, very extensive medicine cabinent, EPIRB, SART, radar, GPS, SSB radio, INMARSAT Sat C fax terminal etc. If your family/friends need to contact the ship in emergencies the ship can be contacted by Iridium saterlite telephone, but cheaper to go through the ships office in Rotterdam ( Michelle or Gerben) as they are in contact with the ship regularly.

Delow Decks Accommodation Includes a Piano

Oosterschelde has one of the most stylish and spacious below decks accommodation in the fleet.

Read more about the ships interior accommodation with layout drawings and photos



Ship Specification:


Type 3 masted topsail schooner
Built 1918 (restored 1988-1992)
Port Rotterdam
LOA 50 metres
LOD 40.12 metres
Draft 3 metres
sail area 891 m sq
cabins 24 guest crew in 2 or 4 berth cabins
crew Captain, Mate, DH/Engineer, Cook, DH

Where does she sail ?

In our Northern Hemisphere winter Schooner Oosterschelde heads for Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) which is a perfect tropical trade wind sailing destination a similar latitude to the Caribbean, but off the West Coast of Africa.

This summer (2014) she will be staying fairly close to home, and taking part in the Tall Ships Races 2014 which are in Norway, Holland and Denmark.  Oosterschelde Tall Ship Race schedule 2014.

Cape Verde for trade winds & tropical sunoosterschelde crew ashore in Cape Verde

Now a regular feature in Oosterschelde's Sailing Programme, the ship sails south in the autumn to the Cape Verde Islands. This 'off the beaten track' destination makes for perfect sailing. Located off Senegal in West Africa, these nine islands are on the same latitude as St Lucia in the Caribbean and enjoy strong NE trade winds, tropical sun and virtually no rain.  They are nothing like the Canaries and the ship arranges some great jeep safaris up into the mountains and local villages. Oosterschelde is returning in 2014 for the winter.

Oosterschelde Cape Verde Expedition Schedule - voyages, dates & prices

Photo, Our local guide Ario in Sao Antao, Cape Verde 2011

For some great photos and a full description of these voyages

PDF Cape Verde Sailing Expeditions Brochure 2011-12



PDF - a photo diary of our Christmas voyage in Cape Verde



Oosterschelde promo Brazil - Africa from Visuals Studio Brazil on Vimeo.



Gilbert Pépin Location: Vernon, France 29.5.2009

I  want to thank the crew for the three magnificent days passed on board, between "Golfe du Morbihan" and "Le Havre". I sailed on numerous occasions on about ten different ships, and this sailing on Oosterschelde is the best experience I ever had. I was impressed by the good performances of the ship, and by the way the crew adjusts sails permanently so that the ship always gives the best ; it was an immense pleasure to participate of my best in all these operations. I regret that our different languages did not allow us to communicate more, because all the crew members were really very nice and very thoughtful with us. I have now only an envy: to embark again on Oosterschelde, to be on the deck to participate in the laborers of sails, to climb on the mast to help the crew, and to share again these excellent moments given by sailing on Oosterschelde !!!
(Excuse my bad English, which is the one from a French...)
Thanks again

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