The Tall Ships are in town – How do you get onboard?

Are you too late?

Probably, they fill up by Easter.


Sign up for the Newsletter to get the latest news.

The Tall Ships races are so popular you have to get ahead of the game.

Tall Ships races are true spectacles to behold!

So many masts, sails and bits of string, so many different sizes, shapes and types of rig, it can all seems quite overwhelming!

While it’s fantastic to stand and watch from the shore, you may be wondering how you can get aboard and into the heart of the action!

Joining a vessel for a Tall Ships event – whether taking part in the race or just sailing in company – is a wonderful experience you’ll never forget.

So how do you get on board?

You can check here to see if any of our ships have availability.

See our current availability for Tall Ship Races, festivals and events here


We also regularly post about events on our social media pages so do keep your eye on them!
Classic Sailing Facebook Classic Sailing Instagram

Tall Ships file one by one into Dublin

Your First (or your 50th!) Tall Ship Event

There is always a good mix of new sailors and old salts aboard Tall Ships for events like this. For many, this is where a lifetime passion for traditional sailing starts – as was the case for me! So it’s no surprise if you find you have a lot of questions! Hopefully the paragraphs below will go some way to answering them, but do get in touch with us if you want to know more. We’re a team of professional sailors who have all taken part in Tall Ship events as crew, cooks, trainees and guests!

Contact Us

Joining Your Tall Ship

Tall Ship races, events and festivals have a tendency to draw large crowds. Ensure you know how to get to your start port in good time taking in to account traffic, road closured for the event. parking, busy public transport and, if you’re going to need accommodation the night before you embark, availability of local hotels. This might not be an issue in large ports like Bristol, Dublin or Sunderland but certainly for small fishing port events like Mousehole Sea, Salts & Sail Festival or Looe Luggers it’s worth booking ahead.

Getting Home Again

For the Tall Ship races you’re likely going to be sailing form one port to another, often in a different country so plan your return journey to get back home again. We ask you not to book any transport or hotels until you have had confirmation that your place is secured on the voyage.

Please ensure your travel insurance will cover the cost of your travel/additional accommodation should the voyage not go ahead or be delayed – while this doesn’t happen often, due to the nature of sailing voyages the weather plays an important part in getting you to your disembarkation port. Race legs factor this in as best they can and you may arrive at your end port a few days before your disembark date – you will be able to stay aboard the ship in port until your scheduled disembarkation date and there is usually plenty of things to do both aboard and ashore!

Finally, don’t forget your Passport! Even if you’re not expecting to end up in a different country, the ship may be diverted due to weather and there may be an option to head to foreign port – for example, voyages to the Isles of Scilly or the Channel Islands may go to France as an alternative.

Top tips to make your travel more eco friendly

What to pack for a Tall Ship Event

It can be difficult to know what to pack when the weather is changeable. While under way, you’ll be out in the elements a lot of the time so it’s important to at least pack a good, water resistant coat to keep you dry, a jumper to keep you warm and T-shirts for when the sun comes out. In addition to these 3 key items, you can find a suggested kit list on every voyage description and we also send you one on confirmation of your booking.

It’s not just about clothing either – remember to pack things for your down time such as a good novel, sketch book or camera. If you have a personal logbook be sure to bring that along and have it signed off by the Captain! Most vessels will ask that you pack your clothes and other items in a soft, squashable bag rather than a hard suitcase as space is usually limited in the accommodation areas of our vessels. Check out our handy What Should I Wear? and What Should I Pack? guides for more info.

Going out on the bowsprit gives you a great perspective of the rest of the ship!

Learning the Ropes

Whether you have never been on a ship before or have 1000 sea miles in your logbook, the crew of your tall ship will always show you the ropes to ensure you know how to handle them correctly and safely. Every ship is unique in the way they hoist sails (sweating & tailing or bell ringing?), make off the lines (locking turn or not?), helm (tiller or wheel?), where the halyards and sheets are led to (peak to port?) – the list goes on! While prior experience or sailing knowledge is not necessary, it’s great to get a head start on the lingo and terminology of tall Ships with our free, downloadable Tall Ship Guide.

Watch Systems and Daily Life

So now you’re onboard your Tall Ship! The buzz is electric and you feel a great sense of pride and excitement as the crowds look up at your ship. You’re bags are stowed, you’ve met the crew and your fellow guest sailors and you’ve had a rope briefing. Tall Ships are big and can have a lot of people on board during a Tall Ship event.

To ensure you get to take part in all aspects of the Tall Ship experience and to ensure there is always ample hands on deck at any one time, it’s likely you will be split into groups, or “watches” and allocated a Watch Leader. While your group is ‘on watch’, you may be responsible for manning the vessel; helming, keeping a look out, adjusting the sails etc. Another watch may be cleaning down the ship and preparing food and another watch may be asleep or having general down time. Watches typically last 3-4 hours and rotate so that you each have a turn sailing the ship, completing domestic tasks and getting some down-time. Watch systems are generally used during tall ship events and longer charters. Again, see our Tall Ship Guide for more info on Watch Systems and daily life aboard.

Going Aloft

One of the questions we are most often asked is “Can I climb the rigging?.” On a tall ship voyage you will be encouraged to climb the rigging. If you enjoy it, this will be part of your job as working tall ship crew. It is never compulsory and you will have more than one chance to try it. We think to climb aloft at sea is one of life’s natural highs. The adrenalin buzz is huge, even if you have done it before, and the higher you get, the easier it is to spot wildlife too! Read more about ‘going aloft’ here.

Going aloft is optional but very much recommended - we encourage hands on sailing!
Going aloft at sunrise

Ready to set sail?

We hope this page has provided the useful information and inspiration needed to get you on your way! If you would like to know more about Tall Ships, events or any aspect of your sailing adventure, feel free to contact us:

Contact Us

Sign up Below

Marketing Assistant, Tall Ship Sailor & Co-Host of the Off Watch Podcast

More Stories

05/07 Festivals

Logbook: Falmouth Classics & Shanty Festival 2024

My partner Jack and I were thrilled to join Pilot Cutter Tallulah for this year’s Falmouth Classics & Sea Shanty Festival! The Festival has

Read More

14/06 Featured Ship

Tecla Webinars

Read More

28/02 Educational

2024 – Classic Sailing’s Year of Skills: Confident Crew

Throughout 2024, we’re shining the spotlight on the various ways our customers get more with a Classic Sailing booking. Sailing on a traditional vessel

Read More

28/06 History

What’s that smell?

A smelly Story This is a true story that happened when I was skippering Eve of St Mawes. Luckily I am unable to remember

Read More

21/06 Darwin200 Around the World

Oosterschelde – Unexpected Voyage Availability

Oosterschelde – Unexpected Voyage Availability

Read More