Adventure Afloat; Explore Ashore
We chose our sailing locations more for their wildlife, natural scenery and idyllic anchorages, than facilities ashore. Our skippers will awake the natural explorer in you. Be the first to row ashore and make footprints in the sand; sail silently under towering Norwegian cliffs; fend off over-friendly penguins ashore or take a zodiac ride between stranded icebergs in Anarctica. There is nothing wrong in hugging an oak tree after a gale at sea, or re-living your childhood on a Cornish beach….We are not complete wilderness purists though. We do find the pub eventually !
Forays Ashore – rowing boats, gigs and zodiacs
If your charter boat does not have a decent dinghy (or two) to explore ashore, then we think you will have an impoverished view of what sailing is all about. Sailing lugger Grayhound has two 16ft rowing gigs to get ashore. Agnes has a clinker dinghy. All our tall ships have large zodiac dinghies and well practiced landing techniques. Lord Nelson and Tenacious have ships boats large enough to lower crew in wheel chairs into so they can explore islands and beaches too. We bring out the explorer in you….
Unspoiled nature around the UK Coast
Unless you are already a sailor or a fisherman you may not be aware how ecologically rich the seas around Britain are – particularly the western edge of the UK with its intricate mainland coastline and islands from the Scillies to the most Northwesterly island shores of the Outer Hebrides and St Kilda.
Fast tides and wave action to stir up the waters, ocean currents like the Gulf Stream sweep creatures from as far away as the Caribbean bringing unusual sightings like turtles or strange jellyfish. The close proximity to the vast Atlantic allows frequent visits by many species of dolphins, whales and ocean seabirds like storm petrels and gannets.
Scotland, Outer Hebrides and St Kilda Voyages
The deep waters between the Western Isles are homes to Minke Whale, basking sharks and you often see seals swimming accross the firths. Sea Eagles make their home on Rum and Lunga and the Shiant Islands have puffins. Leader offers both 3 day breaks in SW Scotland to week long summer wildlife adventures amongst the Highlands and Islands. Our small wooden tall ship Irene has a couple of voyages with sea kayaks on board and Eda Frandsen will sail from Mallaig all summer with a programme including Outer Hebrides, Skye and St Kilda if the weather is kind. Brixham Sailing Trawler Leader has a few strategically placed voyages for wildlife and stunning mountains from Oban. See our Scotland destinations pages for more on the wildlife you might see.
Isles of Scilly – bird watchers & beachcombers paradise
We have a variety of vessels that regularly visit the Isles of Scilly in summer, which offers excellent cetacean and bird watching opportunities. Classic Sailing pilot cutters Agnes and eve have been sailing to the islands for over 20 years so we know all the best places for wildlife and it is worth bringing a snorkel and mask. Larger vessels like Eda Frandsen, Leader, Pilgrim or Irene are great bases and good passage making boats and run 5-7 day Scillies voyages.
Arctic & Antarctic Wildlife – In the Wake of the Polar Explorers
Classic Sailing offer a unique opportunity to explore the Arctic Circle(Svalbard archipelago including Spitsbergen on a tall ship or East Greenland on an oak schooner) and the Antarctic Peninsula. These are termed sailing and wildlife expeditions because you truely get the best of both worlds….and on a tall ship or schooner in the style of 19th Century polar explorers. Three masted barque Europa has become well known as the tall ship that explores Antarctica every Southern Hemisphere summer with 22 day voyages from Patagonia. Tall ship Antigua bases herself in Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen offers 11 day sailing and wildlife expeditions deep into the Arctic Circle. Classic Sailing also now offer 7 day Arctic voyages from Scorseby Sound in East Greenland on an Icelandic gaff rigged schooner Hildur.
These voyages are supported by brilliant wildlife guides who run lectures, zodiac safaris and guided trips ashore.
photos right: Chinstrap in Antarctica and below is Hildur in East Greenland.
Iceland – See Big Whales & Puffins
Tecla and Blue Clipper run 5- 10 day voyages in Iceland Our Icelandic sailing partners North Sailing have made Husavik and Skjalfandi Bay the whale watching capital of Northern Europe. With a 98% success rate for sightings since 1995 and now with 6 restored oak boats offering whale watching trips, they are now branching out into longer voyages. Apart from day sailing they have 3 schooners and gaff ketch Donna Wood exploring all over the Arctic.
Blue Whales, Minke, Humpbacks, Fin whales, Orca, Northern Bottlenose whales, pilot whales, the mighty Sei whale and Sperm whale have all been sighted regularly in this remarkable bay. Snow capped mountains form the backdrop for the bay and Schooners Haukur and Hildur offer 2 day voyages to the Edge of the Arctic Circle from May to July and 5 day ski to the sea expeditions in spring. All have good whale watching possibilities and from May to August there are 200 000 puffins breeding on islands in the bay.
Bay of Biscay for Whale and Dolphin Spotting
Whilst the most abundant place to see whales is probably in Antarctic on Barque Europa, The Canaries and Azores or during the humpback whale migration in the Caribbean near Costa Rica and Cuba, there are some less well known cetacean hot spots much closer to Europe. Just off the North Coast of Spain where the ocean floor rises steeply to the European continental shelf, currents bring the plankton to the surface and create a fish rich feeding ground for dolphins and good hunting for ocean seabirds. Blue Clipper and Oosterschelde or Morgenster annually cross the Bay of Biscay in Oct and returning in the Spring.
Across Biscay Voyages and island hopping in the Canaries – dates and prices
Canaries & Azores based Wildlife Voyages
several of our ocean going ships visit the Western Canaries and Azores during the winter running dolphin and whale watching voyages in the winter sun. There is a nursery ground for bottlenosed dolphins off Tenerife and many of the worlds whale and dolphin research projects are based in either the Canaries or Azores as they are visited by many species. It is also a good place for turtle sightings and even manta rays. We occasionally have a square rigger like Lord Nelson or Tenacious in the Canaries for part of the winter.
Voyages in the Canaries – all vessels, dates and prices
Islands & Mountains
We prefer an anchorage nestled below impressive cliffs or mountains or rocking gently off a deserted beach listening to the sounds of nature, rather than tied up to a pontoon amongst the rattle of wire halliards on aluminum masts. Archipelagoes, isolated volcanic outposts in the middle of oceans, or mixing with resourceful islanders from Benebecula in Scotland to Cape Verde off Senegal or Tristan da Cuhna in the middle of nowhere are what we look for in our longer voyages.
South Georgia, Tristan da Cuhna, St Helena, Acension & Azores on Barque Europa – each spring
Mountainous coastlines also feature frequently in our chosen sailing grounds. Scotland, South Georgia, Norway, Spitsbergen, Corsica, Canaries, Madiera….and many more. A foray ashore to climb the highest viewpoint is a popular activity, but for some anchorages just gazing at the summits with a glass of wine in hand is enough after the exertions of sailing !
Exploring Hot Destinations
Cape Verde is pretty tropical. Schooner Oosteschelde will return to this group of islands next winter for some more exploring. Bark Europa is taking part in the Tall Ships Race before heading south to the sun, exploring The Canary Islands before heading across the Atlantic to Brazil and on to Uruguay. Blue Clipper will return to the Caribbean each winter. Closer to the UK, winter sun destinations include the Canaries, Azores and Madiera – all volcanic islands with lush, sub tropical flora.
Cape Verde for flying fish & bonito – Winter sun on tall ship Oosterschelde in Cape Verde
In Harmony with Nature
The wind drives us along with minimal sound and zero pollution. Nature is more powerful than we are. On a sailing boat we harness it to our best ability and sometimes its a wild and exhilarating ride. There are those quiet moments that etch themselves into our memory, when the sea and skies provide moments of pure beauty. Apart from encouraging our guests to appreciate the weather systems and restless sea, we hope you will enjoy learning about the marine wildlife we share the oceans with.