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Classic Sailing is run by Professional Sailors to give you the best advice.

There’s no such thing as a silly question! 

If you have a query about anything from anchors to accessibility, sail plans to seasickness, check out our Frequently Asked Questions below, or feel free to get in touch. Not only will we answer you personally, but if you’ve asked something not already covered we may feature your question on the website and help others in the same boat…

Is a Sailing Trip Right for Me?

Will there be anyone else like me on board?

Classic Sailing are committed to making traditional sailing accessible to all, and to encouraging seafarers of all sorts. We encourage all the ships we work with to uphold the same values, and the best crews are those made up of a wide variety of people: different ages, genders, races, abilities, political persuasions and levels of experience. Everyone has something to bring, something to teach and something to learn.

So while there might not be anyone else like you on board, there’ll be a mix of all sorts of everyone!

Read our article on embracing differences for more:

Seafarers of All Sorts

Is there a minimum age?

Fresh air, physical exercise and no wi-fi! The perfect setting for a family holiday! This is very true, but depending on the age range of your family your options may be slightly more limited in terms of the trips available to you.

The majority of voyages do have a minimum age, and unfortunately this is often between 12 and 18 for vessel insurance purposes, although it varies ship to ship. However, we do sometimes have specific family-friendly voyages on offer, and day sails or shorter trips can sometimes accommodate younger children than the longer voyages. Specific youth sail training voyages can also sometimes accommodate younger, unaccompanied teenagers. Some ships can take children of any age so long as they are accompanied.

Charter a boat with professional Skipper and Crew

The age range can often be more flexible if you charter a whole boat. To do this you need to book early as once we have people booked on a voyage we can not switch to a private charter.

Get in Touch!

The simplest way to find out your options is to chat to us– get in touch via phone, messenger or email, or use the ChatBot on the website (bottom right) and we’ll get back to you with some ideas as soon as possible.

Is there an upper age limit?

It is highly unusual for Classic Sailing voyages to place an upper age limit, what is important is a reasonable level of health and fitness.

Every sailor whatever their age is required to complete a health and safety form. For some voyages and vessels extra medical forms may be required if you are over a certain age threshold or have a medical issue that could present a problem. We will inform you if this is required after we have studied your answers to the standard application form. See our questions on ‘how strong and agile do I have to be?’

How strong and agile do I have to be?

Our benchmark for arm strength is based on whether you could get from below decks to the outside deck via the companionway steps or an evacuation ladder in an emergency. We ask if you can climb a 6ft vertical ladder, which is about the length of an emergency exit ladder or a boarding ladder to get from a tall ship deck to an dinghy. If you can’t hold your body weight for these few seconds then you need to talk to us about whether our voyages are suitable.

In terms of agility it is all about being able to move around the ship safely, even when the deck is moving. Each ship is laid out differently and some are more difficult to get around than others.

Our holidays are hands on voyages where we all help as a team to hoist sails. There will always be a mix of strengths on board and everyone’s contribution is valued. You will not be expected to pull the heaviest sails up by yourself! 

You don’t need to be super fit. A normal level of fitness will be adequate; you should be able to walk continuously for 30 minutes without experiencing difficulty. 

If you are interested in one of the more adventurous voyages, have a look at our article on How Tough is Sailing in Remote Waters for some idea of what to expect.

If I have a medical condition, will it be a problem?

Please telephone us for advice, take a look at the questions on the booking form for your vessel so that you can see the sort of questions we will need to ask. Saying yes to any of the medical conditions like diabetes, or taking medication for thing like blood pressure may not exclude from a voyage. It depends a lot of the rigours or remoteness of the type of voyage you want to do, and your personal medical history.

The skipper of the vessel or ships operator generally has the final say in the decision, but often Classic Sailing can find you an alternative voyage where your condition could be acceptable. We do occasionally have to ask for a doctors note or even turn an application down on medical and safety grounds. Please note any medical information is totally confidential. We have addressed how we handle your confidential medical information to make sure it conforms with EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Read our privacy policy for more information.

Common Beginners Questions

Can I really sail on any voyage without experience?

Yes*. Our professional crews will train everybody when they first arrive on board…and the assumption is that you could be completely new to sailing. We can teach you how to coil a rope, the jargon, how to tie basic knots, pull on a rope safely, find the right ropes to haul and steer by the wind….and much, much more.

The first briefing will address most the things beginners worry about like, how to use the toilet, how will I know to get up for my watch at night, how to move safely around the boat, where to stow your gear, what to wear when the ship goes to sea etc.

Choosing a 52 day expedition to Antarctica an crossing the whole South Atlantic, might not be a first choice for a nervous beginner but if you really want to do it, then there is no restriction on beginners signing up, but we recommend you talk to us so we can give you some sensible advice to prepare yourself.

* There are a few intermediate and advanced RYA courses (day skipper, Yachtmaster Exam, career sailor placements or delivery trips that have some pre-requistes for a level of experience, but the website voyage descriptions will tell you what experience is needed for these formal training schemes.)

Do I have to go aloft?

Do I have to go aloft?
No, going aloft is always a voluntary option. On a tall ship you will be given the opportunity to go aloft, often in port before leaving the harbour, as part of the training programme. Our advice is to go aloft if you possibly can, it is the essence of Tall Ship sailing. You will always be in a safety harness whilst working aloft, and under close supervision when you first climb.

If I don’t go aloft what will I do?
There is plenty of work on deck and you may be able to go out on the bowsprit. This again would be with a safety harness and under supervision. Even if you do go aloft you will spend most of the time on deck.
Going out on the bowsprit is more popular than going aloft and you get an amazing view of the ship powering through the sea. Safety harnesses are worn.

Will I be Seasick?

You might. But this shouldn’t put you off what should be a life-affirming and highly enjoyable experience.

This is such a common question that we’ve written a whole article about it! Have a read to take the dread out of seasickness (it’s as much a mental affliction as a physical one). We’ve pulled together some prevention and remedy tactics, as well as a few observations which should help.

Read Full Seasickness Article

Is Sailing Safe?

The ocean is incredibly powerful and sometimes unpredictable, and it is vital that she is treated with due caution and respect. A bit of wild awe is part of the thrill, of course, but you have to be sure that you’re safe before you can enjoy this.

And you can be. Safety is the absolute top priority for us, the skippers and the crew on all of our ships, and we only work with vessels that are fully certified by their flag state maritime safety authority. For more information, you can read our full ‘Is Sailing Safe’ article.

Read Full Safety Article

Should I buy my own sailing gear for a first voyage?

Not really. Sailing clothing is notoriously over priced. Many of the ships can lend you wet-weather gear, and if not then outdoor hiking-style waterproof jackets and trousers will normally be adequate. Rubber farming wellies, running shoes or lightweight walking boots are fine on our wooden and metal decked ships. See our kit lists for advice and you will see that normal clothing for active outdoor sports are perfect as long as you bring enough layers.  When you have had some sailing experience, you can make better choices if you do decide to buy some kit specially.

What do I take with me?

Every voyage has a link to a kit list for that particular vessel and clear bullet points on what is included and what you might have to bring (each vessel varies slightly). Common across all trips and ships would be the following:

  • Waterproofs, if the ship doesn’t provide them.
  • At least two sets of warm clothes (layers layers layers!): it can get cold at sea even in mid summer.
  • Hats for sun and cold.
  • Flat shoes with good grip, plus sailing boots or wellies.
  • Camera, binoculars, sketchbook, a relaxing read, pack of cards, magic tricks, some good jokes….
  • Your own logbook if you’d like to keep track of your sea miles.
  • Travel documents.

As little else as possible! Pack as light as you can, and always in a soft bag that can be collapsed and stowed, rather than a rigid suitcase.

What Type of Voyage Should I Choose?

What is a Delivery Voyage / Mile Builder?

A delivery voyage is basically a sailing trip from one port to another without much hanging around in between. Often ships include these in their schedules when they have to make passage for a particular event. They also appear if a ship is en route to or from their refit port, or are just moving from one seasonal sailing ground to another.

These trips are less popular among those looking for a relaxing sailing holiday with time to explore. However they are fantastic for anyone keen to expand their sailing knowledge and enjoy a fully hands-on, active sailing experience.

Thinking of a career at sea? Want to make the transition from guest to crew? These trips are the ideal starting point. Equally, if you’re building up to a trans-ocean epic, they can introduce you to the 24 hour watch-keeping rhythms of life at sea.

What is a Delivery Voyage? Full Article

A to A, or A to B? Voyaging vs a Round Trip

You can amend your voyage search by choosing a ‘Round Trip (A to A)’ or ‘Voyaging (A to B)’ voyage under ‘Voyage Types’ in the search bar. This is a useful tool by which to filter trips that will best suit you.

If you are keen to reduce your travel complications, remove the need for flights and enjoy greater flexibility with the itinerary whilst on board, a Round Trip will likely be your best choice.

If you are keen to get some miles under the keel, discover new places and perhaps enjoy an overland adventure home again, then Voyaging will be right up your street.

What is a Taster Voyage?

Taster voyages are short trips which are geared towards beginners. They are a great way to dip your toe into life at sea without committing to a long voyage straight away. They can also be the perfect way to get to know a new ship, or just to top up with a quick fix of traditional sailing before your next big adventure!

Explore Taster Voyages

What is a Day Sail?

Day sails do what they say on the tin! Experience a day on the water, learning the ropes and enjoying a meal on board, but without spending the night. Ships often run day sails from their home port, so the crew know all the best routes to get the most out of the day whatever the weather.

Day sails are a fantastic way to share a love of traditional sailing with friends and family who may not be so keen on joining you for a trans-atlantic epic! They are also brilliant tasters for beginner sailors, and a great way to celebrate a special occasion.

What are the different types of Residential Voyage?

We divide our residential voyages into three types:

Residential Voyages, Anchoring Overnight: these trips are the most relaxing of our residential voyages, with each night spent in a different anchorage or mooring. Plenty of chance to explore ashore and get full, restful nights’ sleep.

Residential Voyages with Occasional Overnight Sailing: these trips are a fun middle ground, on which you get to experience the atmospheric thrill of sailing in the dark, but without night after night of watchkeeping.

Residential Voyages with Night Watches & 24hr Sailing: the true seafarer experience! These voyages run continuously from port to port, sailing 24 hours a day. You will be given the opportunity to join a navigational watch with the professional crew, a fantastic experience and highly recommended! You’ll still get plenty of sleep, but you will adjust to the rhythms of life at sea

Questions about food on board

Are all meals and drinks included?

All meals on board are included which is normally breakfast, lunch and dinner and may include some snacks, cakes in between. Hot drinks like tea and coffee, herbal teas are included as well as squash or water anytime. 

If you are exploring ashore all day in a location where you can go to cafes or buy snacks then you may have to purchase lunch. In remote or expensive locations the ship may provide packed lunches.

The guest crew as a whole may decide to try out a local restaurant ashore or have a celebratory last meal in harbour. Some ships will give you the choice of eating ashore or on board as long as the cook knows numbers to cater for.

Alcohol or fizzy can drinks are usually extra so bring some cash. The bigger ships generally have a bar where you can run up a bill to pay at the end. Smaller ships usually have a small supply of wine or beer you can buy to consume with meals. Where that is not possible they may encourage you to bring a bottle or two of wine to share at meals.

The consumption of alcohol is always at the discretion of the skipper and should never be before going on watch or aloft. Many ships are strictly ‘dry’ when underway.

Can you cater for special diets?

Yes, all our vessels are glad to help you with your dietary requirements to the best of their ability, the availability of obtaining specialist food items, and with consideration to galley space that is available to them. Please make sure you complete the section on diet when booking and we will get back to you with any questions that the boat may have. 

Describe the food standards and typical meals on board?

All the vessels Classic Sailing work with cook fresh and wholesome meals on board. Some have dedicated chefs and galley assistants. On some small boats the mate or deckhands cook, but as they are living on board all season, they love to cook healthy meals with good ingredients. 

On longer trips most vessel bake their own bread and have big freezers and cool grocery storage areas. We think all the boats we work with will amaze you with their food, but some are real foodie specialist, using organic or local produce or catching their own seafood. Check our our customer reviews for each individual vessel to get a flavour of how good the catering is.

Accommodation & Facilities on board

Can I charge my phone, camera or laptop?

On small vessels you may need a car lighter attachment for a 12 volt circuit off the ships domestic batteries; the larger vessels mostly have  240 volts electricity, when the generators or engine are running. Be prepared for square pin UK or European sockets, ask for vessel specific details. Sometimes the sockets are in every cabin, or you might have to wait your turn in a communal area. Bringing a rechargeable battery pack can be very useful, but we’d also highly recommend just letting your phone battery die and having a break from it!

Where are the toilets, washbasins and showers?

Every ship we work with has a way of heating the water for a hot wash or shower. There may be a limited supply of hot water on the smaller ships, or even on the bigger ones if you are trying to mimimise your carbon footprint (hot water is heated by the engine, or an electric immersion element powered by a diesel generator).

Some ships have a WC en suite to your cabin, or it might be in a corridor nearby. On bigger ships there may be a loo at main deck level.

Some vessels have Wash basins and showers ensuite or a wash basin in each cabin. Others have a seperate wash room/ shower room or several male and female shower rooms.

Privacy – Where do I change?

A few centuries ago it was considered normal to sleep with your family or guests under one roof. Today we are used to privacy and our own bedrooms so it seems a bit weird to share a cabin with a stranger.  After the first night most discover it is not really a problem as long as everyone respects each others right to a bit of privacy when dressing. 

On boats where you are all in bunks in one big space then there are usually curtains and reading lights so you can change in your bunk. On bigger ships you will probably be in a single sex cabin or in a two person cabin as a couple.

You can often chose what cabin type or size you want.

Everyone worries about snoring guests. It can happen and bringing ear plugs just in case is a good idea. You will find all that healthy activity makes sleep come quite easily for most.

Travel Documentation

Do I need a passport or visa?

The simple answer is yes. Border Control Vessels or Port Authorities can ask the skipper for everyone’s passport at any time. If you don’t have a passport, speak to us as some other form of ID might be ok.

Classic Sailing cannot cover every possible visa scenario as customers may have dual nationality, or be working or living in a country different from their passport nationality.

To avoid any last-minute stress, we advise you to contact the local embassies of the countries you will be visiting in your country to find out which travel documents you need. Please start early, obtaining a visa can take some time. It is your responsibility to have the right travel documents for all countries you visit during your stay on board.

If you plan to travel onto other destinations please check you have a right to stay in the country too as you may be classed as arriving in a country as ‘yacht sailors in transit’ and not have same rights as a tourist.

Even if you don’t need a visa, please check your passport expiry date is sufficient for country entry requirements.”

Health, vaccinations and Safety

Security for tourists in certain countries, regions or cities can change rapidly. Please check with your own Government Foreign Office for their latest advice for travellers.

UK travellers check under specific destination at Government Foreign Office

Likewise we suggest you check if there are any recommended or required vaccinations well before departure as some take more than one jab. For UK travellers check out ‘Fit for Travel’

Getting There

I’ve submitted my booking form, can I now make my travel arrangements?

NO! The ship may need to clarify your booking or ask questions about your health and medical information. Please don’t make any travel arrangements until you have had final confirmation of your booking from the ship and have paid your deposit.

How should I get to the joining port?

There are many considerations to make when planning your travel to and from the joining port. Have a look at our article on travel for advice on where to find information and how to make your trip as environmentally friendly as possible.

If you’re not an experienced traveller, you can also see our article on how to create a travel plan, including what you should consider to ensure you travel safely.

Bear in mind that if travelling to some of our colder or more remote locations, we would recommend purchasing flexible flights if possible, as the chances of being re-routed or significantly delayed are higher in areas with more extreme weather.

How do I find the ship?

Our ships location in port is often controlled by the port authorities and the authorities will only allocate a docking position a few days before the ship is in port. The ship will inform you as soon as possible of their exact joining location.

You will receive detailed joining instructions from the ship as part of the booking process. These will include the relevant contact numbers. It is very important that you keep a record of the ships contact number with you, and that you provide an accurate contact number for yourself, in case of any last minute changes for you or the ship.

Should I arrive in port the night before?

It depends a bit on the joining time. Most are in the afternoon or evening, but not all voyages. Our joining times are when the ships crew want you on board so they can welcome you and start a safety briefing and familiarisation training before the ship sets sail. They may have to leave the quay quite promptly, so it is polite to ring them in advance on the ships emergency contact phone, if you think you are going to be late.

If you are joining an expensive voyage where there is very little chance of catching up with the ship if you only are delayed, then it makes sense to arrive a day before and stay in a hostel, air b&B or hotel. The Antarctic voyages are a good example as the domestic flights down to Ushuaia from major hubs like Buenos Aries are often affected by bad weather over the Andes. We will normally tell you in the port description if we think you should be there early. It also means if your luggage goes missing you have more time for it to catch up with you or buy replacement essentials.

Generally booking your transport home on the same day as your voyage ends is not such a problem as Captain’s are fully aware that all guests may have to catch a flight or train that day and will generally try and arrive the evening before, or be anchored very nearby.

Can you recommend a hotel or cheaper accommodation in port?

We do have a few hotel or hostel recommendations on the port pages of our regular ports, but with over 300 ports it is hard for us to vet quality or prices. Typically they are places the changeover professional crew use and are adequate and cheap rather than top end hotels.

Join the Classic Sailing Sailors Facebook group: this can be a helpful way to connect with others on the trip you are joining, or who have travelled to a similar voyage previously, and you can share advice with fellow sailors.

Your accommodation on board is included in the voyage price from the evening of the date your join to the night before your leave day. If you arrive early the ships crew are usually happy to take your heavy bags off you so you can go off and explore the port until joining time. The crew have a very short time to turn the vessel around for the next voyage and do a lot of maintenance, moving quay berths, re-fuelling, cleaning and catching up on sleep themselves, so we can rarely accept requests to arrive early or stay an extra night.

What if I am late arriving? Will the boat sail without me?

Transport connections can go wrong, and chances are you may not be the only crew member running late. It is very rare for a boat to go off without you, but it is disruptive for the voyage plan and other customers holiday enjoyment to have to delay, or repeat training programmes for late arrivals. Don’t panic if you see the ship departing the dock. It may just have to move to an anchorage and can still pick you up by dinghy.

If you have ‘blown it big time’, or it’s due to strike, accident, emergency at home and you really can’t make it without you or everyone else on board missing a big chunk of the voyage, then after discussion with you (if you are contactable) the boat may have to sail without you. Do talk to the ship and Classic Sailing office and you may be able to claim on your holiday insurance, or join at a later port.

MAKE SURE YOU TAKE OUT TRAVEL INSURANCE to cover your costs in the unlikely event that you miss your voyage.

Traditional Sailing

What is a Gaff Rig?

Think of ‘Traditional Sailing’ and many people’s mind jumps immediately to the classic image of a square-rigged tall ship. The vast majority of traditional ships in the world don’t fit this Hollywood image however. In Western Europe, the most prevalent rig for a sailing ship is the gaff rig.

One key distinction between gaff rigged vessels and their square rigged counterparts is the positioning of the sails. Square rigs feature square-shaped sails that are attached to ‘yards’ perpendicular to the mast, hanging athwart-ships. Gaff rigged vessels utilise sails suspended from a ‘gaff’, hanging fore-and-aft. This configuration offers greater control over sail shape and allows for efficient tacking into the wind.

For a deeper dive into the benefits, history and distinctive features of a gaff rig, have a look at our Gaffers article:

Gaff Rigged Ships and How to Sail Them

Can I Climb the Rigging on a Tall Ship?

Yes! And you will be encouraged to do so. 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 adrenaline buzz is huge, even if you have done it before, and the higher you get the easier it is to spot wildlife too.

Read our article on climbing the rigging for more information on how to climb safely, when not to climb, and how to make the most out of your experience aloft!

Climbing the Rigging