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How do I get ashore Captain? – Classic Sailing Ship to Shore Options

Ship to Shore – How do I get onto dry land once more?

This might sound a bizzare question if you envisage a sailing voyage going from port to port. Surely you put on your best ‘going out’ clothes and step lightly onto the pontoon or quayside?

If you have sailed on a traditional sailing ship with 20ft of bowsprit, then there are several very good reasons why you might not be moored alongside. Your beautiful vessel might simply not fit in a marina space, or it might be that they prefer an anchorage where your only company is the birds and seals.

So if you have signed up for intrepid adventure with us, how does each vessel ferry its guest crew ashore from a mooring or anchorage?

Ships boats towed between islands in the Caribbean on Grayhound
Ships boats towed between islands in the Caribbean on Grayhound

Don’t build a raft

As Golden Vanity crew found out a few weeks ago, the answer is not to build a raft out of 4 fenders. The concept and the construction was sound, but the carrying capacity was not very practical for a run ashore. 4 fenders would support one person in a tuxedo, or two people in swimsuits, but the sea trial with 6 crew was rather Titanic like.

raft building with Golden Vanity Crew
raft building with Golden Vanity Crew

Exploring ashore – version 1 – The inflatable tender

Its not wood and it’s not sexy but just about every ship in the Classic Sailing fleet has an inflatable rubber tender of ‘zodiac’ (other brands are available) and a petrol driven outboard.  They are noisy, convenient and pack up small when the ‘mother ship’ is sailing between ports. 
You can’t get close to nature, but sometimes the wildlife comes to you!

Whilst environmentally it pains us to say it – they are occasionally rather fun. When the seas are flat, you can launch them at sea and circle your stately sailing ship at 3 times the speed, taking photos. They enable you to anchor in deeper water and still safely reach the shore, when 4 trips in a rowing boat might be too much.

over friendly leopard seal with very sharp teeth
over friendly leopard seal with very sharp teeth

Antarctica or oceanic islands with big swell often offer hardcore Zodiac landings, which need careful planning and perfect execution of that ‘stepping ashore move’
In sub zero water temperatures of Antarctica the standard landing procedure for shore runs is:

  1. Crew member as ‘landing assistant’ in the surf in a dry suit (with the penguins)
  2. They Spin the bow of the zodiac around so if faces the surf
  3. Guest crew sit on sponsons and swing legs outboard
  4. Disembark dinghy in boots off the stern of the zodiac
  5. If it goes wrong….change into shore going shoes and spare socks!!!!


Salisbury Plain Landing with the Penguins in South Georgia
Salisbury Plain Landing with the Penguins in South Georgia

Exploring ashore – version 2 – row your boat

So which of our vessels has a decent rowing boat?

The only totally carbon free option is on sailing lugger Grayhound who have two 16ft rowing gigs they use for everything.

True to her heritage as a cod fishing ship,  four masted schooner Santa Maria Manuela has deck space for several Newfoundland fishing dories with oars and a sail you can try on some coastal hopping voyages. The photo is in the Lofoten Isles but she sails in warmer climes like Portugal, Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde.

Santa Maria Manuela still uses her dories with guests
Santa Maria Manuela still uses her dories with guests

The pilot cutters also tend to carry a beautiful wooden punt on deck, which are beautiful to row (or to sail) ashore.


Explore ashore – Stand Up Paddle Board – Lets Go SUP

A modern solution for many of the roving vessels in the fleet is to carry stand up paddle boards. 
Some of the vessels in the fleet have SUPS for you to use and they go to some drop dead gorgeous warm places like the Caribbean or Cape Verde to try them out. They are also great in colder destinations for creeping up on the coastal wildlife and looking down into the water as you paddle and glide.

Swim ashore….

It’s always further than you think. Please don’t try this without back up safety cover…..and if you are going the other way, make sure you have a viable swimming ladder to get out the other end.

Or you could just walk on water

Tecla Crew about to walk on water in Orkney
Tecla Crew about to walk on water in Orkney

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