No Experience required

No Experience Needed – Not Just for Sailors

“Let’s Try Sailing”

Classic Sailing has never aimed our activity holidays exclusively at sailors. Since 1997 we have introduced thousands of people to sailing and travel under sail. Our skippers will teach you to sail, and we will teach you very well, because we can’t go anywhere without you. You are the crew and on traditionally rigged vessels it is all about teamwork, so don’t worry about whether you are tall enough, strong enough, agile enough as there are important jobs for all abilities. Like any new outdoor sport or adventure activity there is a lot of jargon to learn, but even on a three day voyage you will leave feeling and sounding like a sailor.

Beginners Sailing

Sailing is not difficult nor need it be expensive but it may be difficult to know where to start for beginners. If you want to try sailing there is no point in hanging around marinas and yacht clubs hoping for the chance to sail.

Let’s face it, if a yachtsman’s desperate for a crew, you have to wonder why no one wants to sail with them? Start with the best and find out how much fun it can be. Once armed with the jargon and a bit of knowledge how a boat should be run safely you can judge free sailing opportunities a bit more objectively.

No need to buy expensive wet weather or safety gear – we provide all that. No need to worry about coming on your own – we ensure a good sailing crew. No need to worry that you don’t know anything – we welcome beginners.


“Amazing – I never thought I would enjoy it so much! I’m booking another one!” Sarah Edwards

Learning in stages- one sail at a time on Leader
Learning in stages- one sail at a time on Leader

Cross Over from Similar Outdoor Pursuits

We don’t mind if you are just coming for destination, or motives other than becoming the next Ben Ainslie. We have had avid climbers sign up for a Greenland Expedition because they wanted to suss out the granite spires for a future visit. We don’t mind if you spend 52 days on the tall ship because you are a bird watcher that wants to see albatrosses and giant petrels in their natural habitat. We don’t mind if you are an armchair Captain Jack Aubrey fan but can’t steer in a straight line or read the compass when its raining. At least you seized the day and came to try something new.

Impress your children or your grandchildren on a square rigger
Impress your children or your grandchildren on a square rigger

Our Voyages are Activity Holidays – Try Something New

Our holidays suit the team player, the social animal, the outdoor types, the kayakers who don’t mind getting wet, the campers and caravanners who are happy living in a small space, the yoga teachers who want to connect with nature and the humanitarians who want to restore their faith in human nature. The best bit is the weekend away or longer expedition comes with all the food, all the kit, all the specialist staff and guides you could need. And you home is a characterful traditional boat that will look great in your vacation photos.

You Can Be Heroes

There is a role for builders and scaffolders who relish a physical challenge without responsibilities. A tall ship is a giant climbing frame after all. Gardeners and those that work with their hands adapt to traditional sailing like ducks to water. Our professional crew are not all built like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. When conditions get tough or the unexpected happens, we need your help. Desk bound entreprenuers, teachers and computer techies wade in and revell in the chance to be heroes…..and they frequently are.

Racing without shouting - Pegasus at the Pilot Cutter Review
Racing without shouting – Pegasus at the Pilot Cutter Review

On Board Training

The beauty of our voyages is that they all start the same way with a safety briefing followed by training in how the vessel works and your role in this. It is never assumed that you will know it all. This applies to new and returning sailors so everyone starts on the same footing.

The exact details of how this is done will vary from small cutter to big tall ship and all vessels in between.

Safety Brief

The brief will include the use of life jackets, where they are stored and when you will use them. What to do in the event of a fire and where to muster. Where the life rafts and other lifesaving equipment is kept and the procedures the permanent crew will adopt for you to use them as appropriate.

Safety for extreme environments - Dan demonstrates how to put on survival suits
Safety for extreme environments – Dan demonstrates how to put on survival suits


The idea will be to get you familiar with the basics of sail hoisting and simple setting of the sails for tacking, gybing or wearing ship. (Don’t worry all these terms will be explained as part of the training.) Steering and other duties may also be described or demonstrated. All the task you are given will be supervised and assistance given until you are competent to do them on your own. (Remember we want you to come sailing again so it is in our best interests to look after you properly.)

Learning the ropes

Even on a small boat there could be as many as forty different ropes that do a variety of tasks. You will not be expected to know which rope does what at the beginning but it will be hoped you know two or three by the end of the voyage. Guidance will always be available.

Square Sail Lessons in the Caribbean on Oosterschelde
Square Sail Lessons in the Caribbean on Oosterschelde

Going Aloft

Going aloft is great fun if you enjoy the challenge. It is never compulsory and fully supervised training will be given. The more often you go aloft the easier it gets. However if you go aloft without feeling any worry then you are probably over confident and not doing the right thing.

No experienced needed for Tall ship Sailing - Stage 1 is climbing to the first platform
No experienced needed – stage 1 is climbing to the first platform

No one need be left out   – it’s a team game.

The tasks are all simple to perform once you have been shown how to do them. Many of them require a team of people to do them and that is part of the social fun of the voyage.

Look out duty

All vessels traveling through the water have to keep a proper lookout, in  marine speak this is called “underway”. You might think in these days of radar, gps and other gismos that it can all be covered electronically from the bridge by the ships officers. That is not the case, large dangers can lie semi submerged in the water, containers washed off ships are like mini glaciers, 7/8 under the sea and capable of puncturing steel hulls. Large logs and wreckage are similar dangers. The beauty of look out duty is that you get to spot wildlife first and any other exciting things in view. May be you get to shout “there she blows” as you spot a whale.

Lookout duty: Icebergs ahead on schooner Hildur in Greenland
Lookout duty: Icebergs ahead on schooner Hildur in Greenland


Taking the helm and steering the ship is one of the high points of any voyage, again training is always given before you can do this on your own. There you are helming a 56 metre tall ship through the sea with all the sails set and the ship obeys your actions. 

Helming: The Best moments don't have to be when the sun is shining
Helming: The Best moments don’t have to be when the sun is shining


Enjoy the training, get to know your fellow crew members and the permanent crew in the process and in no time at all you will feel like an experienced sailor.

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