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Bark Europa

Bark Europa has a reputation as an ocean wanderer and follows the great trade wind routes around the world. She offers a sea faring adventure and a unique way to explore and learn about nature and the elements. She is equally at home in the roller-coasters of the ‘roaring forties’ or in lighter tropical conditions where she can set an awesome suite of 30 sails.  In 2001 Europa pioneered the first opportunity for ordinary people to experience an Antarctic Expedition as crew on a square rigger. Since then she has returned to the Antarctica every year. Images of Europa under full sail or anchored amongst the ice and penguins have graced many magazines and lured non sailors and experienced seafarers off on epic ocean adventures. 

Latest voyages
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Statistics

 

  • Length overall:  184 ft  (56 m)
  • Length on deck:  160 ft 

 

  • Year built:  1911
  • Vessel type/rig: Barque

 

  • Guest berths: 45
  • Crew berths:  14

 

Ocean Wanderer with a Multi National Crew

Bark Europa has earned her reputation for piling on the canvas and really sailing at every opportunity.  A popular ship amongst traditional sailors worldwide, Europa has the pick of the world’s deckhands, and the enthusiasm of the professional crew is contagious: It is never too much trouble at night to add more sail, or motivate a bunch of wildlife photographers to put down their cameras and set a decent spread of canvas to hop a few miles down the coast....  Europa is notorious at tall ships races and in ports for putting on a show  - often sailing in under sail – almost to the quay.

 

Maintenence tasks aloft on Bark Europa. Swiss deckhand Jules.
Swiss deckhand Jules with a rigging job aloft on Bark Europa.

Antarctic Specialists

The lure of the Antarctic is hard to resist, and every Southern Hemisphere summer since 2001 this tough 330 ton sailing ship has made the long passage down to the southernmost tip of South America. Once in Patagonia, Bark Europa runs to run a series of sailing expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula, Weddell Sea and South Georgia. If you want to experience the polar wilderness as Shackleton and Scott did - then help Tall Ship Europa sail amongst the icebergs. These voyages make deep and lasting Impressions on those who sign up before the mast.  The sense of wilderness and togetherness you feel as part of the ships company; the teeming wildlife and the extreme weather from sun and lunch on deck to sudden katabatic winds, will stay with you for a lifetime.

 

Tall Ship Bark Europa nestled amongst the ice cliffs and snow domes of Antarctica
Photo by Renne Koster

Warm Ocean Sailing & Square Rig Masterclass

If you are an adventurous spirit sailing for the first time then Europa keeps the romance of sailing alive with a great library, lectures, and enthusiastic crew who can teach a range of topics. Europa captains have a sense of maritime history. This Dutch ship was originally built in 1911, and was converted into a barque rigged tall ship in 1986,  with many authentic sailing ships fittings from a byegone era. Her ocean voyages maximise the prevailing winds and generally follow the routes of the mighty windjammers and cargo sailing ships of the  18th and 19th Century.

If you are an experienced sailor and want to immerse yourself in square rig seamanship or maybe learn some Astro Navigation, then Europa is a good choice. Approaching equatorial crossings the extra sky-sail masts and yards are sent aloft and the whole crew can easily be kept busy setting the studding sails that few training ships dare rig. The 14 professional crew and guest crew soon become indistinguishable as you learn the ropes, gain a healthy tan and perhaps help out with the ships maintenance.

Ocean voyages on tall ships. Serving the steel rigging on Bark Europa
Serving the steel rigging. Always something to help with on long ocean passages

Stealing the Show at Tall Ships Races

Tall Ships Races are also great opportunities to really push a square rigger.  Europa can set 30 sails but this takes a lot of crew action, and everybody needs to keep on their toes as manoeuvring the ship gets quite complicated.

Europa crew rarely shout to get things done, so it appears quite casual - but they are very proud of the ship and like to help you sail it to her full potential. Europa is one of the smaller Class A tall ships but they are always determined to steal the scene and win tall ships race legs (and often do). Over 50% of the crew must be under 25 for tall ships races, so if you think you can show up the energetic young crew, then now is the time to apply for the limited adult berths on these race voyages.

Bark Europa under full sail with stun'sails and skysails. Photo by Brett Yates
Bark Europa under full sail with stun'sails and skysails. Photo by Brett Yates

Style of Sailing

Europa is a sail training ship so everyone is expected to take part in sailing the ship. Everyone receives training in how to sail a square rigger and be part of the ships crew. The guest crew are generally split into three watch groups. Whilst on watch you might be on lookout, helming the ship or helping the professional crew set or reduce sail. In cold locations like Antarctica the lookout duties or steering the ship are only for short bursts on deck, and you can escape to the cosy deck-house in between the sailing action.

Lookout duty with the albatrosses on Europa
Lookout duty with the albatrosses on Europa

On adventure charter voyages, like ocean crossings or Antarctic Expeditions, Europa carries a large professional crew to maximise your holiday experience and keep the ship sailing, whatever the conditions. This means you don't have to clean the ship or work in the galley and you can put as much into the sailing side of the voyage as you want. If you are an adrenalin seeking sailor who wants to help furl sails aloft at night (not at all compulsory) then there is plenty of action. If you are someone who will pull a rope occasionally and contribute to the team effort, but doesn't feel up to doing heroic stuff all the time, then that is fine as there are usually plenty of volunteers to set sails, or go out on the bowsprit. 

On tall ships races the crews are generally younger and the pace can be quite energetic. On these sail training orientated voyages you are more likely to be involved in domestic or maintenance tasks. 

See more about Europa's stun'sails and skysails and how to sail a square rigger

Relaxing on a long ocean passage on Bark Europa. Hobbies like playing a musical instrument

Life on Board

Europa is ideal for ocean crossings and longer voyages with various places for relaxing. The wood panelled library at the stern of the ship has ships models, charts, an inspiring book collection and plenty of seating for all kinds of hobbies. The deck-house is the more social relaxation space. It has good heating for colder destinations, windows all around so you won't miss any action and easy access outdoors to the main deck. There is also a small lecture room below decks.

See more about the accommodation and life on board

Ocean Classroom

We think Europa runs the most comprehensive lecture programme of any of the vessels in the Classic Sailing fleet.  If you want to learn about oceanography, the oceans role in climate change, marine wildlife, nautical history and advanced square rig sailing then a long voyage on Europa is like university of the ocean.  You don't have to go to lectures .....but its great to have the option. Without the internet you learn a lot from each other.

Learn more about Europa's lectures and skills you can learn

Astro navigation class on Bark Europa. Photo by Roland Gockel
Astro navigation class on Bark Europa. Photo by Roland Gockel

Protecting the World's Oceans

As you would expect from an IAATO approved Antarctic Operator, Europa takes care not to pollute the marine environment. Europa charter crews are encouraged to be pro-active and have saved entangled turtles, removed floating rubbish and conducted scientific research as they sail. Captain Klaas Gaastra has won awards from the Dutch Meteorological Office for services to modern meteorology and the watch on deck is involved in  weather reporting. 

See more about Europa - and the ships environmental ethos

 

The deck house on Europa is a social place to write journals or play cards
The deck house on Europa is a social place to write journals or play cards

Below Decks Accommodation

Relaxation spaces include the library, deck-house, lower lounge, poker corner, and many seats around the decks when anchored. The deck-house has a bar selling wines and beers for consumption when you are off watch.

Bark Europa interior - deck house lecture with Elliot
Deck house lecture with Elliot

Cabins with En-suite WC and Shower

Europa has 12 cabins on board for voyage crew. Cabins have heating or air conditioning that you can control (depending on where you are sailing) and all have a WC/ shower/washbasin en-suite. The air conditioning works best with the cabin door shut, but you can also latch it part open for more natural ventilation.

There are four large cabins for 4 persons and four for 6-persons cabins. All cabins are comfortable and have their own shower and toilet. During the Antarctica voyages or the long ocean crossings a maximum of 5 persons will be placed in a 6-persons cabin. If you are travelling as a couple you can decide to book a 2-persons cabin, but there are only four of these and they are more expensive.

A cheaper option for couples that are happy to co-habit, you can also be placed together with another couple in a 4-person cabin at the lower berth fee. Single travellers will usually be placed in a male or female 4- or 6-persons cabin at the lower berth fee. There is a porthole in either the cabin or the en-suite bathroom, and each bunk has its own reading light and privacy curtain. There are drawers each under the bunks and wardrobe space to store your things and hooks for waterproofs.

Duvets and sheets are provided and laundered regularly during the voyage. The cabins have 2 pin European electricity sockets to charge phones and cameras. The power comes from one of 3 ships generators.

We cannot guarantee any specific cabin or bunk to you, we can make a note of your preference, however the final cabin overview will be made on board by the captain.

Bark Europa. Each cabin has a small shower, wash basin and toilet en suite
Bark Europa. Each cabin has a small shower, wash basin and toilet en suite
Bark Europa Accommodation below decks - layout drawing

Plenty of Deck Space

The highest part of the deck is the poop deck where there is a ships wheel outdoors and a chartroom with a good view of the whole ship.

Photo by Roland Gockel

At the same level in the middle of the ship is the boat deck which sits above the deckhouse.

Right at the bow is the fore deck. At a lower level is the main deck, sometimes called the 'waist' of the ship. In good weather the galley teams likes to serve meals 'al fresco' from a big table on the main deck. There are plenty of bench seats and the deck-house if you would rather eat at a table, out of the sun. The main deck on Europa is only a couple of metres from the waterline, which means you sometimes get up close and personal with visiting whales, penguins and dolphins, but it also means in rough weather waves can sweep across it. Nets and safety lines are rigged and there are other drier routes you can take to the poop deck where you steer the big ships wheel, or the boat deck and focastle which are all high above the sea.

main deck on Europa. 'Two o clockie' meeting
main deck on Europa. 'Two o clockie' meeting

What is included

Duvets, linen, pillows, hand towels

Sailing instruction

All meals on board

Wildlife Guide on some voyages

What is not included

Waterproof Trousers & Jacket

Travel to joining port

Alcoholic or canned drinks from bar. (pay in euros at end of trip -cannot accept cards)

Cost of any e mails home by satellite.

There is a landing fee for South Georgia

Communications

Satellite phone (emergencies) 2 Inmarsat C terminals SSB and 2 VHF radio plus mobile VHFs

Medical Care

For Antarctic Voyages and long ocean passages in remote locations the ship will usually carry a doctor as volunteer crew. The Captain and several of the crew have medical training. You must have travel insurance and healthcare insurance for your own country. Please make sure you take enough medication for anything you are prone to. It is vital you tell us of any medical issues on your booking form.

Agility and Fitness

Climbing the mast is fun but not compulsory. You do need to be agile enough to climb a 6ft vertical ladder e.g. to get from the ship into a ships dinghy to go ashore. There are quite steep companionway steps and all the cabins have bunk beds.

Europa in Cape Town after 2006 annual refit
Europa in Cape Town after 2006 annual refit

Bark Europa - Ship Specification & History

Europa History

Europa was built in 1911 as a lightship for the mighty Elbe Estuary. In 1986 her potential as a sailing ship was realised and she was brought to Holland for an 8 year transformation into a three masted barque. The restoration was supervised by the Dutch Shipping Inspection Bureau Veritas and she holds certification for worldwide charter. She is an incredibly strongly built ship with six watertight bulkheads and a strengthened hull around waterline for ice.

Ship Specification

Built (converted into a barque) 1911 1986-94
Rig Bark Barque
Length overall inc bowsprit 56m 184ft
Beam 7.4m 24ft
Draft 3.9m 13ft
Air Draft (height of mast above sea level) 33m 108ft
Max sail area - 30 sails 1250 sq m 13 445 sq ft
2 engines and bow thruster 2 x 365hp  
Max guest crew (less on Antarctic Expeditions) 45  
Professional crew 10-18  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safety

Dutch Commercial Safety Certificates for Worldwide Operations - covers lifesaving equipment, staff certificates, operations.

There are also very strict rules for ships visiting Antarctica, which the ship conforms to.

Bark Europa Captain Profiles

Captain of Bark Europa Klaas Gaastra
Captain of Bark Europa Klaas Gaastra. Photo by Jordi Plana

Europa has three regular Captains:- Klaas Gaastra, Eric Kesterloo and Harko Lamberts who generally live on the ship for 3 month blocks. All have sailed Europa for many years, are excellent linguists and have a real love and deep knowledge about square riggers, the marine environment  and the ocean wildlife.

Europa Captain Klaas Gaastra

For someone who spends large chunks of his life living on a tall ship as Europa wanders the world's oceans, Captain Klaas is very well known and respected  in the tall ship sailing world. If you sail with him you soon realise why he is unforgettable !  Hard to imagine Klaas as a submariner in the Dutch Navy, now with a wild mane of hair and blue earring.  Klaas has been with the ship as Captain since she was first re-built from lightship to sailing barque, and loves to sail the ship as close to the dock as he can under sail.  If you follow Klaas on facebook you realise how much he cares about maritime history, wildlife and the worlds oceans.  You don't really need a wildlife guide if you sail with him as he has eagle eyes for identifying whales and dolphins in the distance.  Klaas has recently been awarded a medal from the Royal Dutch Meteorology Institute for his exceptional work out at sea and for services to Maritime Meteorology, so if you sail with him you can learn a lot about ocean weather from experience and years of recording actual conditions. His partner Marianne sails as Cook and they make a great team. Dutch but fluent in English, we suspect Klaas can speak quite a few languages....

Captain Eric Kesterloo

Captain Eric is also an iceberg dodger with many years as Captain sailing Europa in Antarctica and around the Oceans. We would love someone, or maybe Eric to write something about himself.

Bark Europa Captain - Eric  Kesterloo
Bark Europa Captain - Eric Kesterloo

Captain Harko Lamberts


Harko is Europa's newest Captain and before that was the mate on Europa - seen here on the poop deck with ships dog Sirius on one of his first trips (the dog - not Harko).  He has also been spotted on a bicycle, trying to cycle around Europa's deck

Bark Europa Captain Harko Lamberts
Bark Europa Captain Harko Lamberts

Ships Cook- Marianne Van de Staay (NL)

Ships Cook Renske (NL)

Bosun - Luci (Brittany)

Bosun Finn (Nova Scotia)

Bosun Matthew Morris (Australia)

Current sailing grounds
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