Climate Change

Classic Sailing & Climate Change – Draft Strategy

How Classic Sailing Customers Can help fight Climate Change – A Draft Statement

With the world’s climate possibly reaching a tipping point, Classic Sailing is taking a long hard look at the impact our sailing holidays are having on the planet. Mostly we feel our vessels and voyages are a force for good, and leading by example in terms of cleaner seas and green transport. There are a few areas that we are not so squeeky clean. Promoting voyages that can only be reached by flights is a big nut to crack, if we want to carry on exploring the worlds oceans, islands and coastlines.

This is a draft statement of intent for 2020 – awaiting feedback from our customers, but we aim to act quickly and implement these action areas in January. You can email us with any comment via under the heading ‘climate change.’

If you have less time then we have a very SHORT Questionnaire about your attitudes to travel and climate change which will help us shape our policies.(takes under a minute to complete).

Questionnaire – Your Attitudes to Travel & Climate Change

Change the Way We Travel – Not the Climate

Times ‘they are a-changing’….and so are attitudes to travel. Classic Sailing voyages have embraced environmentally friendly ways of exploring for over two decades and carried cargoes under sail. Our customers have crossed oceans to link continents by sail way before Greta Thunberg was ever heard off, but we really can’t be complacent. The Planet’s climate could well be at a tipping point and we want to be part of the solution, not adding to the problem.

Classic Sailing is not Anti Travel 

Travelling has been part of human history ever since hunter-gathers set out by land and sea. It might not be strictly essential to our modern existence but exploring and travelling to new places enriches our lives. It gives us a real experience and understanding of other cultures and what is going on in the natural world that stays etched in our memory and becomes part of our story. 

Sailing is still a very environmentally friendly way to travel, the whole ethos of our vessels is to sail as much as possible using the wind to maximum advantage.

‘Flight Shame’ &  Holiday Dilemmas

At the moment it is not what we do on the boats that is a problem. The wider issue is how we join the voyages. 
This means until flights are eco-friendly (and electric planes and low emission planes are being developed) we must be aware of the carbon problems we create and find ways to combat the issue.

Seeking a solution

The two founding directors are very aware of the problems our journeying can create but the wanderlust to sail distant seas is still deep within us and we suspect in you too.  We want a positive solution as much as you do.

It is time to take stock of what we do as a travel company. Now is the time to take fast action to halt global warming and make sure the next generation can enjoy the travel experiences and sailing opportunities that we have had on a wildlife-rich planet.

Classic Sailing Environmental Track Record

Classic Sailing has had an environmental policy for over 20 years. We believe spending your holiday on a sailing vessel and travelling by using wind power, tides and human effort is an environmentally friendly activity. Living on a self-sufficient ship, working as a team and respecting the natural environment also has many benefits for society, individual wellbeing and the planet. We do plenty of good stuff but we all need to up our game.

We Need Your Help

Classic Sailing environmental policy needs updating to take account of global warming and climate change. Classic Sailing Directors feel we should be doing more, but we can’t achieve much without our customers helping us.

Climate Change & Sailing Holidays
Classic Sailing Draft Strategy

This Climate Change statement sets out what Classic Sailing plans to do in 2020.

1.    Encourage Carbon Positive Contributions with tree planting

We want to help our customers that are flying to join a voyage find ways of offsetting the carbon they use. This will be totally voluntary and not part of our price structure. We are fully aware that carbon offsetting by tree planting is not perfect or fast but we were won over by UK charity Treesisters existing track record of planting nearly 7 million trees so far in collaboration with local communities in forest critical parts of the world.

Why tree planting for sailors?

We are taking other measures to encourage our charter guests to sail locally and find ways to conserve our oceans and beautiful planet, but we believe tree planting is one of the most efficient and effective methods for mitigating flights.

We’re partnering with reforestation campaigners TreeSisters, because their tropical planting projects restore ecosystems, increase biodiversity and alleviate poverty whilst sequestering carbon to help mitigate climate change.

Many of our vessels are constructed in wood or use large amounts of timber for deck, masts, spars and furniture, it feels natural to us that tree planting has a synergy with our vessels.

Confusion over Carbon offsetting calculations
There are huge variations and controversy about calculating your flight carbon offsets. 
Ideally we would like customers to calculate their carbon use and try and contribute enough to any reputable carbon offset scheme be carbon positive rather than just carbon ‘neutral’. 

For those of you who just want to get on with some positive action we have chosen a carbon offset scheme you might like to contribute to right now.

Help us grow a Classic Sailing Forest.

Donations are purely voluntary but we urge you to donate enough to make a carbon positive difference if you can, or at least offset to a carbon ‘neutral’ balance for any flight.

As a very rough guide we recommend customers donate 10% of flight costs or more to be carbon positive and 5% of your flight costs to be carbon neutral, but any contribution is a step in the right direction.


Our Company Goal for 2020

Classic Sailing pledges to donate 66 trees a month from January 2020 to kick start the project. The two founding directors are making personal donations too.

With your help we aim to plant 10 000 trees through treesisters projects as our company goal in 2020.

Classic Sailing will publish annually the sums raised for the Classic Sailing Forest and the number of trees planted.

You can visit our Classic Sailing Forest Fundraiser Page to add donations and check progress at any time.

As the vast majority of our customers are infrequent flyers and already make personal efforts to lessen global warming and pollution, we are not going to populate our website with flight shaming reminders everywhere, but on each port page and the booking form there will be links to Classic Sailing – Grow a Forest- Scheme, if you are able to contribute.

Read More About TreeSisters Work & Planting Projects


treesisters sailors grow a forest
treesisters sailors grow a forest

2.    Encourage Customers to Fly Less 

This is not as crazy as it sounds for a responsible travel company….but we know from experience it is hard for caring individuals to reign back their travel ambitions to do this, whilst they can still see frequent flyers not giving a damn.

Classic Sailing encourage vessel owners to publish their programmes as many years in advance as possible, so you can plan a big trip less frequently and enjoy the anticipation, whilst squeezing in more local adventures. 

We have a huge choice of voyages all over the world will continue to so provided we believe we have taken positive climate change actions. 
What is long haul for a British sailor might be on a South American sailor’s doorstep, so worldwide marketing does have its benefits.

Why not try Island Hopping from the mainland. The Canaries, Caribbean, Cape Verde. We have sailing ships that uses these locations to extend their season and provide winter sun for customers. You might be able to add the ocean voyage to these islands (or the voyage back to the mainland) to your holiday plan, instead of just going for a week of island hopping and booking a flight there and back.  

3.    Stay Longer – Make sailing your travel journey

If you must fly to the ends of the world to go sailing, make the most of it. Classic Sailing has ocean voyage legs you can join together to travel around big chunks of the planet by wind power.

We encourage vessel owners to offer discounts for sailing more than one leg to keep you on the ship longer. In two months you could sail 6000 miles and cross between continents and your car has stayed at home!

If you are planning a GAP year or career break,  travelling around the world to visit distant relatives or for a work project, consider fitting in a sailing experience with existing travel plans. 

Would you like us to partner projects nearer our more frequent voyage destinations where you can stay and get involved in conservation projects?

4.    Have As Much Fun with Lookalike Destinations

Honestly ‘off the beaten track’ in Norway is scenically as good as New Zealand’s Milford Sound,  less wet and with no sand flies. The Outer Hebrides is a good substitute for the Falklands – It has gannets instead of Albatrosses, puffins instead of Penguins and sand dunes without land mines. At Classic Sailing we are masters at finding substitute destinations for long haul flights that are beyond some customers budget. Just ring us on 01872 580022.

5.    No Fly Voyages

Classic Sailing is introducing a new website in March 2020. The advanced voyage search will allow you to filter your voyage choices on environmental grounds. for example:

Chose ‘no fly’ voyages that start and finish in the same country or region that can travelled to by public transport like trains or ferries. Sadly we can’t do much about the price of trains versus planes in the UK, but in mainland Europe it is generally cheaper to use land based public transport with lower CO2 emissions.

6.    More Round Trips – Coastal Wandering

We encourage vessel owners to offer more voyages that explore an area fully, starting and finishing in the same port. These loose itinerary, coastal wandering trips make it easier for skippers to sail as much as possible without resorting to motoring. Many of our vessels do this already as they like to become a local expert on a sailing ground. It gives so much more to a holiday if you skipper knows the local wildlife, has links with the coastal communities, and buys produce from local businesses.
You can find these already by using our voyage search and selecting ‘ Coastal Wandering’ in the voyage type.

Good examples include:
Eda Frandsen – sailing from Mallaig
Victory Chimes – Rockland, Maine
Johanna Lucretia – Plymouth on Devon-Cornwall Border

7.    Sailing Skills for DIY Adventures Close to Home

As a business we love getting you hooked on sailing for life so you were always looking to book your next sailing adventure, sail somewhere new or try a different sailing rig. 

This idea might be shooting Classic Sailing in the foot commercially, but we think the time has come to encourage more of our customers to buy a boat that suits their budget and create their own adventures close to home. 

We are not talking millionaires super yachts here but second hand classics, keel boats and even rowing boats. It is not as expensive as you think. We doubt it will totally kill your wanderlust for distant seas, but it could be a lot of affordable fun.

Co founder Debbie has already made a start in 2020 by offering tasters on Outdoor Girl, for anyone who wants to take a small open boat on a Cornish Micro expedition – give open boat sailing and wild camping a try and see if it is for you.

Moosk is a 42ft Edwardian Yawl that can boost your confidence to skipper a classic wooden boat – whether you plan to buy a boat or bare boat charter other peoples. For practical skills sign up for a RYA Day Skipper or a Yachtmaster exam prep course. Classic Sailing also offer theory courses to learn Navigation and seamanship on line.

“7/10ths of the world is ocean….and sea level is rising. There has never been a better to learn to sail!”



Engineless boats - Get the oars out on Outdoor Girl
Engineless boats – Get the oars out on Outdoor Girl

8. Be a Sailing Purist – Engineless boats & rowing boats 

Any of you who sailed on a Pure wind power challenge with Debbie or James on ‘Eve of St Mawes’ will know that sailing without an engine or use of diesel for generators presents many challenges, but think how much you can brag about a pure wind power holiday. 

We do have 2 vessels in the fleet without a main engine. The historic schooner 127ft Victory Chimes and 17ft spritsail yawl Outdoor Girl do not have main engines but they do have other means of propulsion. 

Victory Chimes has a push boat to shunt her into port, if she is going alongside. 

Outdoor Girl has oars as well as sails and can sail right up to the beach or into tiny harbours under oar. The rest of the fleet have engines, but it is how you sail, and how often you reach for the starter key that counts, not the presence of a powerful engine.

anchorage to anchorage doesn't need an engine
anchorage to anchorage doesn't need an engine on Victory Chimes

9.     Only pick windy places to sail

Chose places where you can sail as much as possible.

There are certain types of sailing you can do without an engine, and then there are voyages where an engine is unavoidable. On our website you can search for ‘Coastal Wandering’ voyages which are typically round trip voyages with no desperate itinerary. A skipper with good local knowledge can create the best sailing without motoring, as long as the wind blows. 

There are also ocean wandering ships in the fleet that make good use of classic trade wind routes to maximise sailing. Europa, Tecla and Blue Clipper in particular offer routes that commercial sail cargo ships have used for centuries. 

10. Renewable ways of generating electricity on board

Tecla has a prop shaft generator to recharge her batteries when sailing – which minimises use of deisel generators. Opal has a silent electric engine for whale watching. In Iceland all shore power to recharge ships batteries etc is generated from renewable energy.


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