Guides and tips

Information about sailing on a Tall Ship

By Julia Boll
29 May, 2019
Sailing on a tall ship is not like any other type of navigation. Take the best of sailing on a sailboat and the best of a cruise and you'll be able to start imagineing it. Each journey on a Tall Ship offers a different experience. Some trips are designed for vacations, to relax, with the full crew on board taking care of you. Others, on the other hand, are practical in all their essence. In these you will learn as much as possible from the crewmembers, while you intervene in the operation and day to day of the boat. Each one is free to design their own experience. There are many options, which will allow you to choose how you want to spend each of your days in your sailing adventure on a tall ship.
Table of Contents
To show
  • Are all trips on tall ships part of the Tall Ship Races?
  • Why should I choose tall ship sailing?
  • Do I need sailing experience to go on board a tall ship?
  • Where can I find a Tall Ship to sail on?
  • How do you spend the time on a tall ship?

Are all trips on tall ships part of the Tall Ship Races?

Not at all! Tall Ship Races are carried out to give young people the opportunity to navigate and learn in magnificent boats by professional skippers. These races bring together people from all over the world in a friendly competition and are held annually in various parts of Europe. While Tall Ships Races are well known for tall ships, vacations and recreational trips are also very common. The trips on which you can register with Sailwiz have no competitive component , so they are not registered in the Tall Ship Races. If you need more information about this aspect, do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Why should I choose tall ship sailing?

Sailing on a tall ship is a unique experience, not a lot of people have been aboard one. You have the opportunity to live this practical learning experience on a boat of a much larger scale than you are probably used to, with the instruction of experienced skipper. There is much to learn, but after a few days on board, you will feel comfortable performing various tasks with the rest of the crewmembers by your side. However, if what you want is to relax, there are also many activities you can do as well. From lying on the deck with a good book enjoying the sun and the breeze, to have a drink on board with your travel companions.

Since the size of the boats varies greatly you can be from 20 to 50 crew members. One of the largest ships, if filled completely, could accommodate 170 people. One of the biggest advantages over this is that there will probably be a great variety of nationalities that will bring a great variety of unique perspectives and great stories. The sense of community on board is very important, sailors on board tend to have a very relaxed behavior and love to welcome others, so you will become part of the crew right away.

Another reason why you should not miss an adventure on a tall ship is the view. If the weather permits it you can climb the rig, so you will see how far the horizon reaches with nothing in between the sea and you. Surrounded by waves in all directions, with few birds in sight, you'll find the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, followed by a view of the stars like you've never seen them before. Sounds hard to beat, right?

Do I need sailing experience to go on board a tall ship?

No, experience is not required! It's great if you have experience, but you will be all essentially at the same level when you start sailing on a tall ship. You will all have a lot to learn, regardless your previous experience. The captain and crew will be more than willing to show you everything you need to know and everything that interests you! There are no bad questions and, if you wish, you can use your time on board as a true learning experience, assimilating everything so you can become an experienced crew member the next time you join a trip on a tall ship.

Where can I find a Tall Ship to sail on?

There are tall ships sailing all over the world. In Sailwiz you can find crossings through Portugal, France, Cape Verde and Spain. Some of these trips include passing through several islands, wich includes stopping and anchoring so you can swim, paddle and explore the terrain. Other trips are more focused on spending more time sailing through the open sea with your travel companions and, if you are lucky, also with sea turtles and dolphins.

How do you spend the time on a tall ship?

Every tall ship experience is organized differently, with varying degrees of comfort and hands-on work expected. On an educational and hands-on tall ship experience, the crew of the ship needs your help! They are there to teach you everything you need to know so you can be a helpful member of the crew. On a trip like this, you will have a watch. A watch is usually a 4-hour shift that happens twice per day. Everyone on board is assigned a shift and, during your watch, it is your responsibility to work with your fellow crew members to keep the ship going. You may be spending time on the bridge with navigation and radar or trimming sails on deck. If you’re lucky, your watch will be during sunrise or sunset so your “work” is accompanied by some stunning views. Imagine being required to be awake for a sunrise on the ocean!

Not every tall ship experience is like this. If you choose a tall ship that is meant for vacation, you will not be required to spend 8 hours on watch. The only thing holding you to a schedule is the fact that breakfast is only served between 7 and 9am! Even then, you can find a snack on board if you manage to miss a meal. Tall ship vacation trips give you the freedom to spend your time how you wish. Think of a shrunken down cruise ship. You do not have the modern luxury and space of a cruise ship, but you do have the comfort and freedom of one, some even including swimming pools, libraries, spas and lounges. If you wish to spend your days napping on the deck or reading book after book in the sun, you may! All the while, the chefs are cooking up gourmet meals, cleaning the dishes, making your bed, and ensuring you a comfortable stay on board. Many of the luxury vacation-oriented tall ships plan their itineraries like a cruise ship as well. You can choose trips that head into port almost every day so you can explore the islands, taste the local food and enjoy the beaches.

There are also tall ship sailing trips that combine this vacation experience with the learning and hands-on aspects of an educational trip. You can expect to have a lot of time on board to read, chat with other guests and enjoy yourself, but you are also invited to help the crew when it comes time to trim the mainsails. You are not required to take part in any of the work or the watch system, but the crew welcomes your help and they even welcome you on the bridge so you can ask questions, learn about the instruments and contribute like a crew member (to the best of your ability). If you tire of that, head downstairs and play cards with the diverse group of guests in the dining area, hang out at the bar with some strangers to share sailing stories or take a mid-afternoon nap because no one is stopping you. If you are looking for this kind of experience, the Santa Maria Manuela is your ideal tall ship.
  • Julia Boll
    International business development of Sailwiz. An adventurer at heart looking to expand Sailwiz to new corners of the world so you can find your perfect next adventure.
What did you think of this article?
The average rating is 4.25/5
We use owned and third party cookies to improve your browsing experience.
If you continue browsing we consider that you are accepting its use.