Oosterschelde’s sleek lines and huge sail area has sailed her charter crews around the world twice including a rounding of Cape Horn purely under sail in 2013, and as far afield as the Arctic, Australia and Antarctica.

Be part of her guest crew as she continues to explore the very best cruising grounds with exciting schedules planned each year. It is not all hardcore sailing: Oosterschelde has the most spacious and elegant living space of all our fleet, and loves to explore warm places too like Cape Verde, the Caribbean, Brazil and Cuba.

If you want an example of sail power, Oosterschelde is the real thing. A ‘National Historic Monument’ in the Netherlands, she is the only remaining working example of a large fleet of fast schooners that carried cargoes at the beginning of the last century.

View Voyages

Ship Stats

Length Overall


Length On Deck


Year Built


Vessel Type / Rig

Three Masted Schooner

Guest Berths


Crew Berths


What this vessel does best

Oosterschelde off Cape Verde
Winter Sun. Oosterschelde off Cape Verde

What Oosterschelde Does Best

Seeks Out Perfect Sailing Grounds

For a while Oosterschelde was the Dutch sailors secret holiday favourite. The tall ship was known in her own country for her first Round the World Voyage in 1992 and sailing expeditions for wildlife and wilderness lovers in places like Spitsbergen. Classic Sailing has been working with this impressive tall ship for a decade now, and we are proud to have helped her reach a wider international audience.  Part of her success is her impeccable taste in sailing destinations.  Her small professional crew chose sailing programmes that stay close to their ethos for following the trade winds or historic routes, anchoring in wild places, appreciating nature and getting to know resilient island communities.

You don't have to go aloft but the view is great on Oosterschelde
You don’t have to go aloft but the view is great on Oosterschelde. Photo Arthur Smeets

Impressive Sail Power

Oosterschelde is a three masted topsail schooner which means she has a mizzen, mainsail, and fore gaff – all with topsails above and many jibs on her huge bowsprit.  This means you can tack her upwind like a super yacht. On her foremast she also has three square sails so at tall ships races she can compete with the biggest Class A square riggers, and she can notch up the miles downwind too.

Her lofty rig carries an incredible 9,590 sq ft of sail (891 sq metres) but there are only 12 sails.  With a small professional crew, setting the huge gaff sails takes teamwork from the guest crew, but once they are up you have an ‘ocean thoroughbred’ to enjoy. 

oosterschelde Photo Arthur Smeets
Oosterschelde by athur smeets

Tasteful Interior from a Bygone Era

You enter the ships saloon down a wide companionway stairs to a real treat.  The vast old cargo hold in the heart of the ship has been tastefully converted into a dining area, bar and library with period furnishings from the era of ocean liners.  There is even a mezzanine deck from the saloon with leather sofas to relax on.

The cabins are separate so this stylish grand space is for the guest crew to relax and socialise.  There is even a piano and a wood burning stove.  There are skylights to deck here and in the cabins that can be opened in the tropics to allow natural ventilation.

Oosterschelde has a large galley and professional cook and you can buy drinks at the bar when off watch.

Schooner Oosterschelde has a spacious and elegant saloon with a bar and a piano
Schooner Oosterschelde has a spacious and elegant saloon with a bar and a piano

I  want to thank the crew for the three magnificent days passed on board, between “Golfe du Morbihan” and “Le Havre”. I sailed on numerous occasions on about ten different ships, and this sailing on Oosterschelde is the best experience I ever had. I was impressed by the good performances of the ship, and by the way the crew adjusts sails permanently so that the ship always gives the best ; it was an immense pleasure to participate of my best in all these operations. I regret that our different languages did not allow us to communicate more, because all the crew members were really very nice and very thoughtful with us. I have now only an envy: to embark again on Oosterschelde, to be on the deck to participate in the laborers of sails, to climb on the mast to help the crew, and to share again these excellent moments given by sailing on Oosterschelde !!!” Gilbert Pépin Location: Vernon, France  

What to expect

What to Expect on Oosterschelde

Photo by Arthur Smeets. Setting the main sail requires teams on two halliards
Photo by Arthur Smeets. Setting the main sail requires teams on two halliards

Oosterschelde Sailing Style

On board Oosterschelde, as on all of Classic Sailing holidays, you are not a passenger but part of the guest crew. You will be assigned a watch together with the professional crew to sail, steer and navigate the ship. No sailing experience is necessary. The crew will be happy to explain the functions of all the ropes.

On a fore and aft rigged schooner there is more sail trimming, tacking and gybing than you might find on a square rigger, so at times on watch you may be very busy. With two square sails there is still an excuse (if you need it) to go aloft.

11 knots in tropical Cape Verde trade winds
11 knots in tropical Cape Verde trade winds

Life on Board

Oosterschelde is very well known in Holland and a favourite of sea and nature lovers. Her ethos is one of active and direct exposure to the sea and sailing, the region being explored and its wildlife. Below decks the two and four cabins are fitted with a washbasin with hot and cold water. Showers are separate. The lounge is very stylish with a wood burning stove (for Spitsbergen trips etc) a piano and library. All cabins have forced ventilation and a window or hatch to open. In hot sailing areas like Cape Verde the ever present trade winds keep it a pleasant temperature below decks. She has a large galley and professional cook and you can buy drinks at the bar. On board euros are accepted but not credit cards.

Oosterschelde is well used to running sailing expeditions to remote places like Spitsbergen, Antarctica, Indonesia with well educated guests interested in nature, walking, maritime history and local culture ashore. Whilst the ship does do social projects / sail training, for most the year the hospitality and style of sailing is geared towards adults on an adventure holiday. The landing places will be carefully selected to show you the best of each island and there will be some organised expeditions ashore.

The Captain or mate will hold a daily meeting to explain the plan for the day.  Whilst Oosterschelde is a Dutch ship, crews are multi national so English is the common language most things are explained in. 

Schooner Oosterschelde: Going ashore by zodiac in Cape Verde
Photo by Arthur Smeets. Trip ashore in Cape Verde


Accommodation on Oosterschelde

Photo by Arthur Smeets. The saloon on Oosterschelde is huge and even has a piano
Oosterschelde Ship Specification: Up the rigging on this impressive topsail schooner by Arthur Smeets

Below Decks on Oosterschelde

Oosterschelde is very spacious below decks.  There is a wide main companionway down to the main saloon, which is probably one of the most impressive ship’s interiors in the Classic Sailing Fleet. What was once the main cargo hold on this historic sailing ship, is a large open plan saloon, bar and library with an ‘upstairs’ lounge with leather sofa’s and a DVD screen – hidden in a wooden cabinet.  The saloon has long polished oak tables so an evening meal has an atmosphere not that dissimilar to a Captain’s Great Cabin.  There is a piano and a wood burning stove and books, magazines and wildlife guide in many languages.  Oosterschelde is fitted out for ocean travelling and comfortable extended expeditions well away from her home port of Rotterdam.

You can buy alcoholic drinks at the bar if you are not on watch.  Teas and coffee are free and available throughout the day.  There is a professional chef on board and meals on board are an important and much anticipated part of the voyage.  

Guests playing the piano in Oosterschelde's saloon
Guests playing the piano in Oosterschelde’s saloon. Photo by Arthur Smeets

Heating and Ventilation

There is underfloor heating in parts of the ship, plus the warmth from the wood burning stove, which is useful in destinations like Antarctica or Spitsbergen. In hotter climates there is a ventilation system and each cabin has a skylight which can be opened in all but the roughest weather.

Cabins with washbasins

Oosterschelde can take 24 guest crew overnight and has 6-7 professional crew – Captain, Mate, Cook, Engineer, and 2-3 deckhands. She sometimes carries a wildlife or local guide.

If you ever want to hire the whole ship for a function or day sail she can take 120 persons which gives you an idea of the scale of this three masted sailing ship

The majority of the cabins are aft of the main saloon down a corridor which only leads to the cabins so is fairly quiet. There are showers and toilets in the corridor just outside the cabins. There are also two 2 person cabins either side of the main companionway stairs with showers and toilets just outside in the corridor.  Oosterschelde has 2 and 4 person cabins and all have a washbasin with hot and cold running waters inside each cabin.  The beds are all bunks and bed linen is all provided.  The crew quarters is in a separate area.

Two person cabin on Oosterschelde with a wash basin
Two person cabin on Oosterschelde with a wash basin

Equipment and Safety

The ship is equipped and certified for world wide charter operation under Dutch Law, which includes all safety equipment and crew qualifications and level of training.  Oosterschelde is fairly self sufficient with a water maker and big fresh water tanks plus 15 000 litres of diesel for engine, heating and 2 generators. Navigation and communications equipment is in the wheelhouse behind the beautiful ships wheel.  Oosterschelde has radar, two compass types, GPS, echo sounder, sextant, SSB radio (medium range, Inmarsat C fax terminal, 4 VHF sets.

Contact with Family and Friends

In case of emergency the ship can be reached directly on the iridium satellite phone (number supplied to guests booking.) but this is very expensive.  The ship is in regular contact with the ships office in Rotterdam by Inmarsat Sat C when out of normal phone range.

Oosterschelde Accommodation – Deck Layout


Ship specification

Oosterschelde Ship Specification: Up the rigging on this impressive topsail schooner by Arthur Smeets
Up the rigging on this impressive topsail schooner by Arthur Smeets

Oosterschelde – Full Ship Specification 

Three masted topsail schooner – sail area 891 sq m
Built (restored to sail)19181988-1992
home portRotterdam 
Length overall 50 m
Length on deck 40.12 m
draft 3 m
guest crew24 
professional crew5 


The ‘Oosterschelde’ is equipped to sail the world’s seas. For this purpose the vessel holds all the safety certificates required by Dutch law. The qualified and experienced crew also contributes to ensuring safe passage. On board of the ‘Oosterschelde’ you will be part of the crew yourself. That is why attention will be paid to instructions and exercises of for instance safety procedures on board and your role in these, but there will also be attention for sailing instructions.

The ship is able to produce drinking water from seawater using a filter system. Preservable food is usually brought on board in the Netherlands. Vegetables, fruit, fish and meat will be bought locally. About 16.000 litres of diesel oil will also be bunkered for the generators and the main engine.

There are two rubber dinghies with outboard engines and a wooden sloop for transport to the shore.

In the interests of safety there are safety vests and life rafts, fire detection and fire extinction installations, a very extensive medicine cabinet, Epirb, radar transponder etc.

Oosterschelde hot on the heels of Europa in Australia. Photo Ruud Blokj
Oosterschelde hot on the heels of Europa in Australia. Photo Ruud Blokj

Navigation & Communications

For navigation and communication purposes the ‘Oosterschelde’ is equipped with a radar set, two compasses, satellite navigation system, an echo sounder, a sextant, an SSB radio, an Inmarsat-cfax terminal, iridium telefphones, marine telephones.

Skippers and crew

Captain and Crew Profiles on Oosterschelde

The crew generally consist of the captain, mate, engineer, boatswain, two ordinary seamen (AB’s) and a cook. The crew is qualified according to the STCW ’95 standards. This means that the captain and mate have a certificate of competency for ships of this size for a worldwide trading area, plus a special module for sailing ships. They must also have the certificates Marcom-A, Radar Observer, Radar Navigator, Medical care on board, Advanced fire fighting, etcetera. Before anyone can be appointed as an officer they need to be able to show that they have spend a considerable amount of time at sea as an AB. The regular deck crew has passed the course ‘safety at sea’, and every crew member has passed a complete medical check up which is necessary for sailing at sea. The regular crew is not only concerned with sailing the ship, but they also instruct the guest crew and help them get used to life on board. In addition, the crew is responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of the ‘Oosterschelde’.

Captain Gerben Nab

Gerben has been involved in Oosterschelde from the beginning an sailed on two Round the World Voyages.  He splits his time between being Captain on board and director back in Rotterdam and keeps this busy historic ship running.  Gerben can often be found getting stuck into practical tasks like fashioning a new bowsprit or supervising dry docking and is well known throughout the Dutch traditional sailing community.


Captain Gerben Nab is also the Operations Director of Oosterschelde
Captain Gerben Nab is also the Operations Director of Oosterschelde

Captain Maarten de Jong

Maarten is a larger than life character that has worked his way up from mate to Captain on Oosterschelde. Maarten has sailed around the World on Oosterschelde and dealt with every sort of weather. He loves to teach crews about sailing, sail trim and loves to create quite a splash when jumping in the sea!

Oosterschelde Captain Maarten de Jong
Oosterschelde Captain Maarten de Jong. Photo by Becky Prizeman

Voyages on Oosterschelde


Darwin200 LEG 32 Azores to Falmouth OS080725


Tue 08-07-2025

Horta, on Ilha do Faial, Azores


Sun 20-07-2025

Falmouth, Cornwall

Join a Darwin200 Voyage on Oosterschelde with Classic Sailing

Fully Booked


Darwin200 LEG 31 Ascension Island to Azores OS020625


Mon 02-06-2025

Ascension Island


Mon 30-06-2025

Horta, on Ilha do Faial, Azores

Sail on Oosterschelde with Classic Sailing

Fully Booked


Darwin200 LEG 30: Saint Helena Island to Ascension Island OS180525


Sun 18-05-2025

Saint Helena, Atlantic Island


Sun 25-05-2025

Ascension Island

Sailing on Oosterschelde with Classic Sailing

Fully Booked